Creating a successful video surveillance system has become very different than it was 10 years ago. Taking a backseat in the process is the traditional point-to-point analog surveillance system consisting of analog cameras transmitting over coaxial cable (coax), UTP or optical fiber. Traditional analog systems are very much in play and are still being specified and used very successfully; however, network or IP video is gaining significantly every year.
Whether you are planning an analog video CCTV or IP video network, here are some tips to consider when planning your video transmission system.
1. Choose the system that best meets your needs, whether it is analog or IP video.
Although IP is now on the leading edge, analog systems still work well, are cost-effective and easy to install. If you are recommending an analog system, what distances are you facing? For extended distances, fiber optic is a better choice. Instead of being limited to the accepted 750 -1000 feet distances that coax cable supports, fiber offers distances in kilometers and miles for multi-mode fiber; and larger numbers of miles and kilometers using single-mode fiber optic cables.
Media cost is very close, but optical fiber gives you the option of transmitting up to 32 channels of uncompressed full-motion, full-color, real-time video and eight channels of camera control data simultaneously on a single strand of single-mode optical fiber, at distances up to 35 miles.
Most CCTV projects are a fraction of that distance, but it gives you a perspective on the bandwidth available. Fiber optic video transmission allows for RS-232, RS-422 and RS-485 or “up-the-coax” camera control data and audio to be transmitted along with the video. It also gives you options regarding video quality and can easily transmit RS-250C Short-Haul quality; 10-bit digitally encoded video with no latency over these distances.
When you factor in the cost of fiber optic transmission vs. traditional coax or even UTP, it becomes an easy choice. Fiber Optic networks also give you many options in terms of system topology. In addition to point-to-point and star topologies, fiber optic networks can be designed as add, drop and repeat; and as closed-ring, redundant networks.
2. IP or Ethernet-based video transmission networks are becoming a greater focus as a solution to today’s video transmission challenges.
The move to IP video networks using IP cameras and network products has produced a significant technology shift. Technology continues to evolve and ever-improving advancements such as megapixel and cloud topologies have surfaced, and this has helped secure the demand for IP systems.
The advantages that a complete, networked solution gives you are significant. Ethernet is standards-based, so in theory, if you interconnect different manufacturers’ components, and transmit all types on signals over the same network — video, intercom, access control, data and more — everything should operate seamlessly. The flexibility in how you connect these edge and network components is also very attractive.
Scalability is also very important and you can easily add on additional edge components at a much less expensive rate much more easily. The network itself has incredible intelligence for self-monitoring, redundancy and optimization.
You now also have lots of intelligence pushed out to the edge of the network, enabling capabilities like analytics and systems monitoring that far exceed older abilities.
3. Encode, rip-and-replace or retrofit?
Once the decision has been made to move to an IP CCTV Network, you are faced with a few options regarding video transmission. If the move is in a current facility with an existing analog CCTV System, you must:
- Encode the existing analog video;
- Start over completely; or
- Retrofit existing equipment and media.