Our Man in the Field: The Process of the IP Solution, Part I

Solving IP integration challenges while implementing a CCTV solution

Overall, as most folks are well aware there is a major revolution going on -- the move from analog to IP. I know this personally, because I have been promoting and fighting it for the past five years. Promotion from the perspective of the advantages of the whole idea of digital. Fighting it because of the unorganized lack of truth presented in the majority of the promotional hype surrounding it. The bottom line is that the more that I delve into this wondrous, newer technology, the more problems I tend to uncover. The deeper I look into the new, it's the broader the reflection of the old that I see. OK, that's a great philosophical opening to get your attention. So where do we go from here?

Over the past few weeks, I have bounced from one situation to another while in the middle of designing what should have been simple IP solutions. The first situation re-taught me a lesson that I learned 25 years ago. That lesson was this: "Not all controllers are compatible with all cameras. Equally, not all cameras are compatible to each other."

The second situation took me back 20 plus years ago as well. The lesson was that, "There is a process to the design of a CCTV system. It was developed within the analog era and will long survive the digital rush." Since I have always been a stickler for the process of learning through investigation, I have decided to take both lessons learned and turn them into a series about designing and managing IP solutions. The process will be built with a major emphasis on the theory of design and application. As we go, I will do my best to get technical without being boorish. Whom will these articles be written to? Designers, Sales people, Installers, IT Folks, Field Service Personnel, Security Directors and End Users. Why such a diverse crowd? Simple, I have yet to find a single group that could go the distance without the others. The sooner that everyone realizes and respects this fact, the sooner we will get past this phase of change between analog and digital.

In this particular column, I will concentrate on the situations that have led me to realize the need for the development of the series. This little recount of two separate situations should make a large majority of you feel less alone. For others, it may slow you down a bit and help you to become better IP developers ... I know that it has for me.

So what happened? The first situation was easy. I was asked to do a simple update and layout for an existing CCTV system. So I did. I added six visual positions to an existing five-camera system. I relocated three of the existing five cameras to present better angles of view. Overall, it was a very quick design that included about three field hours and two office hours to complete. Once finished, I took a good look at my design and decided to suggest that the client throw out the whole mess and take a serious look at a total IP solution. The client jumped for it. About 20 hours later, I had the start to the solution. Notice that I said the start to the solution. So why so much time? Surely, we were only looking at replacing some cameras, a recorder, and updating wiring, right? Wrong. The camera portion was fairly easy. After all, I already had all my notes from the analog portion ... purpose, lighting, lensing, and fields of view.

However, in the process of "going digital" with the cameras, I found myself having to do a bit more research than I intended. I didn't want to create a design that equipment couldn't match, so I jumped on the Internet, the telephone, and into a whole pile of specification sheets. Keep in mind, that after all these years, I still do not sell equipment. I also do my best to remain neutral for recommendations of manufacturers, so picking equipment from my limited awareness is not my developed forte. At any rate, I ended up having to use three manufacturers to come up with camera equipment that would meet the needs and requirements of the application.

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