Making the Switch to IP Video Surveillance

Updated: April 30, 2009

Businesses are rapidly dumping analog video-surveillance gear in favor of highly flexible and more reliable IP-based systems. If you think your company is ready to trade in its analog cameras, coaxial cables and VCRs in favor of cutting-edge digital equipment, or it has yet to deploy any type of video-surveillance system, here's some information to help get you started.

Why Switch?

There are several reasons for installing an IP-based video surveillance system:

  • Scalability: IP video-surveillance systems can scale upward at one-camera increments, unlike many non-IP digital systems that require 16-channel jumps. Additionally, frame rates and storage capacity can be raised simply by adding more hard drives and servers.
  • Integration and Convergence: Businesses can add IP video-surveillance technology to their primary business network, taking advantage of a communications infrastructure that's already in place. This approach allows video services, technologies, management systems and costs to be shared across applications, such as access control , conferencing and process monitoring.
  • Remote Accessibility: Unlike analog video-surveillance systems, IP deployments can be controlled and monitored, via the Internet, from a desktop or mobile computer located anywhere in the world.
  • Enhanced Performance: An IP-based video-surveillance system opens the door to the use of intelligent video analysis. By studying human behavior and automatically detecting the presence and absence of various objects in real time, intelligent video analysis promises enhanced, automated security at an overall lower cost.

Switching to an IP-based video-surveillance system is not a decision to be taken lightly. Careful planning is required to ensure that the changeover goes smoothly and doesn't imperil your business's overall data-networking capabilities. Here are the key points to consider.

Network Capacity: Is your network ready to accommodate the extra burden that video imposes ? Video data is a bandwidth, throughput and storage hog, so make sure that your existing servers, hard drives, switches and related network equipment are up to the extra load that video imposes.

Transmission Media: IP video-surveillance adopters face two basic connectivity choices: Ethernet cable and wireless . Both approaches present advantages and disadvantages. Cable tends to be more secure but can be expensive to purchase and deploy. Cables also can be cut by intruders or vandals, and they will degrade over time, especially in outdoor locations. Wireless connectivity, on the other hand, allows cameras to be installed in places where it would be difficult or impossible to route cables. On the downside, cameras must incorporate wireless compatibility. Also, since most outdoor wireless cameras are battery-powered, users have the extra burden — and expense — of periodically replacing batteries. (Motion sensors will help conserve power by shortening the time that cameras need to operate.)

Security: IP video is vulnerable to most of the same security threats as other types of data traffic. Therefore, a security event that takes down the overall business network will also cripple the IP video-surveillance system, leaving business assets in peril at a time when protection is most needed. Wireless-surveillance deployments can also be jammed by sophisticated thieves intent on disabling video oversight before they begin their evil work.

The bottom line is that analog video surveillance is rapidly becoming obsolete, so most businesses will eventually be forced to switch to IP-based systems. That's why it's important to begin learning about IP video surveillance today, so you can begin planning an efficient, cost-effective transition to the new technology.

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