Public Surveillance: Choosing the Right Camera

As municipalities across the country continue to add more and more cameras for public surveillance, we wanted to learn more about the advantages of some of the most commonly installed cameras. So we asked Dan Morrissey, Integrated Systems Manager with ADT National Accounts, to explain a little bit about the advantages of analog, IP-based digital and mega-pixel cameras.

Here’s what we learned:

Analog cameras- Analog cameras offer some time-tested advantages. First, there is a well-established base of trained designers and technicians within the security industry. Analog cameras also offer a superior price/performance value for the camera sensor itself.

Given the long history of development, a wider range of sensor form factors and application-specific performance are available. They are also great for situations where environment or distance is a factor because there is a broader range of rugged housing and mounting options, as well as diverse physical media for communications (coax, twisted pair, fiber optics, etc.).

Last, by participating in a “closed” system, the security of the video data is considered more inherently secure, although video supervision is essential.

IP-based digital cameras- IP-based, or network-based digital cameras offer the ability to free video surveillance from the “closed” in “Closed Circuit Television” or CCTV. By allowing the camera sensor and video data to take advantage of existing business networks, much of the specialized infrastructure for obtaining and viewing surveillance video can be eliminated. Some cameras operate using an in-line network power source—Power-over-Ethernet or PoE, supported by a large number of Ethernet Network Switches. This eliminates the need for a separate low-voltage power source required for analog cameras.

Both analog and digital cameras have options for wireless transmission of video data, but the increasing ubiquity of network-based wireless components and systems offers IP-based cameras efficient communications options when no physical media is available.

Mega pixel cameras- Mega pixel cameras have evolved to become a high resolution variant of the network-based camera, offering the ability to see levels of detail in video image many times that of traditional camera sensors. Mega pixel cameras are a good choice for larger surveillance areas and offer the potential for a significant reduction in the number of camera sensors needed.

This higher resolution, paired with suitable software applications and functions allows for real-time and after-the-fact pan, tilt and zoom functions without the hardware costs of traditional PTZ, or risk of losing other video data while performing the zoom function.

Now that we’ve learned about the advantages of each of these different types of cameras, come back soon to read what Dan had to say about the disadvantages and how they can work together.