Is it time for the big move or just a couple of cautious steps?
You need to factor in a myriad of elements when considering when and how to migrate from legacy analog security video to digital. And there are numerous ways to skin this hybrid cat.
For Eric Rowland, security program manager at Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center, bringing in megapixel cameras and encoders while squeezing more performance out of his legacy analog cameras worked best.
With scalability a migration goal, Dave Young, Chapman University’s director of information technology, picked technology for both current and future video surveillance needs.
The big move can be complex and harrowing. Issues can range from site locations, if an existing system is proprietary, means of communications, quality of images, storage and retrieval as well as the economics of transition technology such as digital video recorders (DVR) and encoders.
But the bottom line is that analog, hybrid or digital is really a business decision. Along some hybrid paths, security may have to manage two systems while contending with the capital appetite (or lack) of the enterprise.
Of course, movement away from analog is, along with most big purchases, impacted by the slow worldwide economy. No matter the drum beating at industry events, “Clearly the economic downturn has disrupted historical growth trends within the global video surveillance market,” says Gary Wong, an analyst at IMS Research. Still, he adds, the transition from analog video surveillance to higher value network video surveillance in the Americas drove growth in 2009.
Tech advances are, nonetheless, eye-catching. Of course, with the growing attraction of megapixel and high-definition cameras, there is an obvious need to move to the data network. But “take a stepped approach. Leverage as much of your existing investment in a business sense. IP will come with natural attrition as some gear gives out as well as in new construction,” says Nick DeKeyzer of SafirRosetti, a security consulting, public safety, investigative and executive protection firm.
Still, if you want to walk down the migration path, there are many factors to consider. It all hinges on individual situations. Is the systems integrator comfortable with IT? If a facility manager is involved, is this person less comfortable? Is there budget and bandwidth? How much storage is needed? And what’s involved and who does the maintenance?

More Detail in Better Images

Dave Rowland at Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center (EGSMC) in Lafayette, Colo. played technology smartly to leverage his existing gear. To monitor both the interior and exterior of the facility, the parking lot, entrances, and other high-risk areas, EGSMC installed 48 cameras ranging from one to five megapixels and eight analog video encoders to improve performance of its legacy analog cameras. With one workstation and two monitors located in the security office, officers manage the system using control center software with HD stream management and store five terabytes of surveillance data on each of three network video recorders (NVR) for 30 to 60 days of continuous footage. The new security equipment is from Avigilon.
One design key: The encoders take an existing investment to capture more detailed and better quality images and allows “me to use my 32 legacy cameras much more effectively,” notes Rowland, who can now manipulate images for better results and maintain image integrity much longer than he could before. “The image quality of our analog cameras has greatly improved in both live and recorded mode and activity is much more fluid.” With the hybrid method, “we have the ability to integrate the two systems together while the NVR system handles them all and with image enhancement software, too.” 

Education’s Allure

Education is another hot sector for hybrid and IP-based security video. At Chapman University, the value of IP video surveillance has been proven. Having validated the theoretical benefits, University officials are creating a system of digital security cameras to take advantage of a fiber-optic network that serves the 76-acre tree-lined university campus in Orange, Calif.
A key consideration in moving to digital for the university is scalability – the system is being implemented in stages to cover various geographic parts of the campus. Looking for a scalable, IT-based system with an emphasis on image quality, Young picked technology from Panasonic for current and future video surveillance needs.
The Department of Public Safety consists of 11 full-time officers, a part-time officer and an administrative assistant. The department employs electronic devices including fire alarms, red ring-down phones and blue-light emergency phones located throughout the campus.
With the IP-based platform, Chapman is able to grow with the efficiency of network cameras, while co-opting the legacy system into a single interface.
“Video quality is important to us, but when considering DVRs, we hit some awkward scaling limits,” Young says. “Some suppliers told us their DVRs could support 16, 20, 30 or 40 cameras, but at the frame rate and resolution quality we needed, that’s almost never true. You get maybe four cameras to a DVR, and that really changes the cost equation – for every four cameras you’re buying a new DVR. It just doesn’t scale very gracefully, not to mention the DVR needs to be collocated or very nearly collocated with the cameras, and that presents its own set of problems.” Young opted for a networked system.
“We already have very robust network architecture of fiber-optic cables between the buildings. We are able to leverage that, augmented by in-building Cat 5/Cat 6 as our campus-wide communication infrastructure out to the cameras – that was huge,” Young says.
A hybrid approach can also encompass a mixture of security video, sensors and wireless. Just ask Jarod Stockdale, national security director at Ahern Rentals, in Las Vegas. With operations in 19 states and a couple of billion dollars of equipment in its yards and another couple of billion dollars of equipment in the field, Stockdale sought a verified video design to cut theft and vandalism.
Among the security solutions at Ahern Rentals is Videofied from RSI Video Technologies, which combines a PIR motion sensor, digital camera and infrared illuminators for true night vision. Alerts travel by cellular to the company’s central station as 10-second video clips of incidents. For site clients, the security director has another unique process in place. “If we dispatch the police and they make an arrest, a person representing the site must come out and make a complaint. It’s the best way to maintain credibility,” Stockdale says.

Open Platform Benefits

The charm of open platforms in a video migration is clear in upgrades at the Barry Family Campus Corporation (BFC), which centrally and remotely handles operation of the Minneapolis Jewish Community facilities including school, daycare, health, recreation and cultural facilities.
The solution was integrating Milestone IP video surveillance and access controls from Paxton Access. Video from existing analog cameras is converted to digital data via video encoders and additional network cameras have been added in new locations. The campus operations are now set up for a unified system with central control of the community facilities and activities, day or night, with remote access to see the video and respond fast to out-of-hours alerts. The surveillance software integrated with access modernizes existing HID cards into a networked, video-enabled solution that is more effective and efficient to maintain with the standard IT resources, infrastructure and equipment.
BFC Operations Director Bruce Margolis started to look at networked solutions to bring the campus up to date, but didn’t have enough budget to do a new security installation. He wanted to keep the analog cameras that were still working fine, so IT infrastructure integrator Paragon Solutions Group implemented a hybrid system with encoders converting the analog video to digital feed into the management software. A separate Virtual LAN for security was created that is easy to expand over time. As the analog cameras reach their end of life, BFC is adding network cameras. 

Hybrid Homework: 7 Questions to Answer

The technical challenges and opportunities when considering hybrid video or a more fully formed digital video rollout includes many aspects often overlooked. Before you jump in the hybrid waters, answer these seven fundamental video security design questions, as provided by the experts at national systems integrator SDI System Development.Integration. You can better understand where the “devil is in the design.”
1.      Which cameras do I have that I can keep using, and which new cameras should I buy?
2.      What type of video management system do I need?
3.      How do I, how can I connect my cameras to my video management system?
4.      How, where, and for how long will I store my recorded video?
5.      How can I employ video analytics?
6.      How and where should I view live and recorded video?
7.      What other systems can I, should I integrate with my video security system?