Following is a quick look at seven advantages of moving to an IP-based system.
Reduced Total Cost of OwnershipThe potential savings in using an IP video system can be found in a number of different areas that grow exponentially in accordance with the size of the installation. Existing cable infrastructure and PC hardware remain a part of the new system, so startup costs are kept down and there isn’t a need to “rip and replace.” In the case of moving from analog VCR tapes to a digital IP system, storage is less costly, partially due to the elimination of man-hours associated with retrieval and duplication of the VCR tapes.
FlexibilityWith a centralized network connected to the Internet, live and recorded video streams can be accessed and controlled from any remote location, providing security with the ability to access and distribute accurate information any time during the day or at any point when an alarm is raised. This is in contrast to the analog system, which in most cases will only provide after-the-fact surveillance of a particular event. There are almost no restrictions on where remote adjustment IP cameras can be placed and it is apparent that IP offers a level of flexibility not present in the analog system.
ScalabilityThe open-ended nature of an IP deployment allows for plug-and-play. This is particularly advantageous to large, enterprise-level deployments such as airports, government agencies or large manufacturers. Expanding from 50 to 100 cameras can be done with far greater ease simply because many of the physical cabling requirements have been eliminated. On the flip side, smaller security systems can add cameras one at a time and have them running almost immediately.
CompressionUsing advanced video compression algorithms provides security administrators with the ability to maximize bandwidth given that compressed video consists of less data. This obviously allows for greater storage of video without a loss of overall image quality. This can be a benefit in the transfer of information from one security hub to another as opposed to the unwieldy transfer of physical tapes. The major concern for security professionals here is that the compression algorithm be properly designed. If not, then the danger exists that original video will be lost or distorted when the compressed files are played back.
Image QualityDepending on the level of quality in such areas as image sensors, processing power and compression, digital images available with high resolution megapixel cameras can provide a degree of resolution and detail that simply is not found in standard analog cameras. In addition, IP cameras possess the heightened ability to capture moving objects with a greater degree of clarity, allowing images to be viewed without the blurry effect that often besets analog images when a picture of a moving object is frozen. Most IP video systems also function better than their analog counterparts in low light situations.
IntegrationThere are both short- and long-term integration advantages with IP. Contrary to some beliefs, the installation does not spell the end of existing analog cameras. Video servers, for example, can be used to convert an analog camera into a fully functional IP unit, giving the ability to stream digitized video as if it were emanating from an actual IP camera. In the long run, however, open standards will provide an enterprise with smooth integration into a variety of technologies from different manufacturers, avoiding the proprietary lock-in that can occur when attempting to upgrade an analog system. This, in essence, future-proofs the system and creates a continually developing environment.
EncryptionEnterprises can secure IP-based surveillance systems by the same methods of encryption and authentication employed by leading financial institutions and commerce Web sites for secure Internet-based transactions.
In summary, the seven factors are the inherent advantages of an IP-based video surveillance system.
Sidebar: Fast EvolutionIP video for corporate security purposes has truly become a fast growing market. Industry analyst J.P. Freeman and Co. Inc. estimates that IP cameras will comprise more than half of the security camera market by 2007, with the global network video market reaching $790 million in 2005 alone.
Sidebar: Openness, Broadband ImpactThe use of open standards allows enterprises to follow one of two routes: either a best-of-breed approach or a single-vendor approach in which all of the image capture and transfer solutions function under a single product suite.
Despite its current sluggish nature, the move toward broadband access in the U.S. is well underway and organizations would be well served to investigate IP-based video solutions the next time it becomes necessary to evaluate their overall surveillance needs.
Sidebar; Seven Factors to ConsiderReduced Total Cost of Ownership – Uses existing infrastructure during evolution
Flexibility – Anywhere, anytime viewing
Scalability – It’s plug-and-play
Compression – Maximizes bandwidth
Image Quality – High resolution cameras give more detail
Integration – Servers, open standards smooth integration
Encryption – Protect images, transmission like banks do