A Catalyst for IP Migration

Sept. 6, 2016
HD analog solutions are offering a viable staging point for an eventual IP switch

The video surveillance industry has been in a state of transition. IP video is leading the migration from analog to network solutions, and image quality is the driving force; however as an industry, we have not actually reached a point where all video surveillance systems are network-based, despite the fact that network cameras were first introduced two decades ago and the fact they are more sophisticated than their analog antecedents.

When it comes to image quality, IP cameras are indeed on a different playing field. Network video surveillance systems with a 4K resolution offer an image quality that is about 22 times better than the overall quality of standard 480p analog SD-resolution. With this kind of technology available in the market today, it is hard to believe that the movement to IP has been so slow and that analog video solutions have been on the rise since 2012.

If IHS Research’s 2016 predictions (https://technology.ihs.com/api/binary/572252) hold true, a total of 28 million analog-based video surveillance units are expected to be shipped globally this year. It isn’t the standard 480p SD-resolution analog video that is powering this rise — it is its precocious younger sibling, HD analog, that is experiencing a breakthrough year. This relatively recent development is one of the reasons why the transition to IP has decelerated.

A Closer Look at HD Analog

An analog-based video surveillance system — whether standard or HD — includes four basic components: cameras, displays, recorders and cables. The primary difference between standard and HD systems is in the quality of image resolution. Whereas standard video can only reach a maximum resolution of 480p, HD analog resolution begins at 720p, with 3, 4 and 5 megapixel HD analog solutions now at the forefront; in fact, some manufacturers are planning to release up to 8 MP (4K) HD analog solutions in the future.

HD analog image quality is made possible through the use of a DVR, which compresses the signal and converts it to digital format. The fundamental cables used with standard systems are also used in HD. This technology is ground-breaking because it allows for HD quality video to be transmitted over conventional cabling — namely, coaxial and UTP.

Unlike analog-based systems, IP video surveillance systems are designed for Ethernet, or category-type cabling, not coaxial cabling. Ethernet over Coax conversion products are available for IP systems, but for some end-users, cost makes it a difficult choice.

The Ideal HD Analog Customer

Simply put, current users of analog systems are slowing down the migration to IP systems. They are the business owners who have invested perhaps thousands of dollars on an analog infrastructure that has miles of expensive cabling running through the walls of a facility. They can be the small business owners who have five cameras keeping an eye on their retail shop or the mid-sized business entrepreneurs that have 16 cameras safeguarding a corporate building.

These types of end-users do not want to throw away their analog investment — they want to use what they have, and they prefer to slowly incorporate IP elements to their established surveillance systems; however, they do not always know that this is an option.

A common HD video misconception among end-users is that upgrading to HD automatically means switching to IP — and this is far from the truth. With HD-CCTV solutions that transport analog video over coaxial cabling, the need for IP diminishes. It is also worth mentioning that the transmission distances of HD analog surpasses not only IP transmission distances, but also the transmission distances of standard SD-resolution analog. This translates to higher quality video transmission over longer distances.

Thus, your customers need to be educated on their upgrading options. If an end-user is looking to increase a 480p SD-resolution image to HD resolution, the customer should be educated that there are analog-based solutions that allow HD video images using already-in-place coaxial cabling infrastructure; thus the customer would only need to upgrade the cameras and invest in a DVR. The integrator should make the customer aware that a DVR upgrade will not only dramatically improve the image quality, but it will also allow access to video analytic features that weren’t possible using the previous system.

This is just one migration scenario of many possibilities. What’s important is that end-users are informed of their choices when upgrading their analog systems.

Besides having happy customers that are satisfied in knowing that their analog investment is not entirely lost, integrators benefit from a slow transition by not having to convince their customers to make an invasive and costly leap to IP. As an integrator, it is easier to sell your customers on a few units than on an entire system replacement or conversion equipment.

Setting the Stage for IP

Despite the rapidly growing market for IP, the market for analog is also thriving; however, the analog journey will  inevitably lead the migration to IP, as the same customers who upgrade to HD analog will want to upgrade to IP at some point. These end-users will eventually contact you for another upgrade, which means more business.

To make the complete migration to IP, it is important to think ahead and incorporate current solutions that will make the transition easier in the future. Some video surveillance equipment manufacturers have developed equipment that is compatible with both analog and IP units, such as hybrid and tribrid DVRs. With a tribrid system, the option of using standard analog, HD-analog and IP cameras is available; thus enabling a customer to keep the same tribrid DVR when they eventually do upgrade to IP.

Other equipment that help ease into the IP migration include encoders, which transform analog camera signals to a compressed IP signal. This allows the compressed signals to be sent over an IP network, which enables end-users to view live video over a web browser or with video management software on a remote computer. Decoders are also great migration devices, as they convert digital signals to analog. This is helpful when analog monitors are still in use, since these allow for digitized images to be viewed on analog devices.

Lou Bellock is Product Manager – Hardware for Hikvision USA & Canada. Jenny Galvan, Copy Editor for Hikvision USA & Canada also contributed to this article. To request more info about the company, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/10215768