Security cameras have become a common feature of modern security systems. However, technology continues to move forward and analog systems are becoming outdated. More and more facilities are moving away from analog to IP video surveillance systems. There are a number of reasons for this, ranging from budgetary to technological. Let’s look at the top four of them:
- Image Resolution – All analog video cameras use the NTSC analog video standard, which was created in the 1950s. No matter what the camera’s manufacturer claims the image quality is, it is still being transmitted and recorded using this standard. It is an absolute cap on image resolution that you can’t get around. On the other hand, IP cameras come in a broad range of resolutions (measured in megapixels, or MPs) from which to choose depending on your specific requirements. For example, a 1.3 MP IP camera (generally the lowest resolution camera on the market) has almost 4 times the resolution of an analog camera. With this added resolution, faces become clearer, license plates become easier to read and larger areas can be covered by a single camera.
- Scalability – Generally, analog cameras run a coax cable transmitting the video to a VHS recorder, which records straight to video tape or a DVR (Digital Video Recorder), which turns the analog signal into a digital signal for storage and review. The problem with this is that the VHS or DVR has a finite number of ports that cameras can be plugged into. Once you max out that number of ports, you would need to either buy a new VHS or DVR with more ports or a second, separate machine to run the additional cameras. IP video networks have the clear advantage when it comes to adding new video cameras. First, since IP cameras connect to the IT network, there is no limit to the number of cameras that can be connected. Second, the need to run a cable from the camera to the DVR is eliminated – you only need to run a cable to the nearest network switch. In addition, in IP-based systems the video is recorded using NVRs (Network Video Recorders), which use multiple hard drives and often employ a backup technique know as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) to disperse the data across multiples hard drives for data safety and efficiency. Finally, since the data is being transmitted digitally, it can be transmitted across the internet, allowing for multiple locations to utilize the same NVR, meaning that a new video system does not need to be set up at each site, allowing for scaling beyond your existing facility.
- Ease of Installation – Many find it hard to believe but at this point IP video security systems are actually quite easy to install. Today, most IP cameras are actually plug-and-play, the same way your computer’s webcams are. In addition, the cabling is easier as well. With an analog camera, which has a single cable that can only transmit its video signal, it will also require a separate power cable and, if you want added functionality such as PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) controls for the camera you’ll need another cable for that. However, IP cameras use a single cable that can be used for everything. Using PoE (Power over Ethernet), IP cameras can be powered through the same cable that transmits the video signal and any PTZ commands. Finally, as mentioned above, since IP cameras run on the network, you don’t have to run the cable all the way back to the DVR. Instead, you only need to run it to the nearest network switch.
- Analytics – Historically, analog CCTV systems were very reactionary. They used human monitoring to catch events in real time and stored past video feeds for review to reconstruct events after they have happened. When monitoring, someone would have to sit at a bank of monitors and watch the screens for any situations developing. This was a very time and labor-intensive activity and was dependent on human infallibility, which we know doesn’t exist. Occasionally the person watching the monitors would miss something because he or she was looking at the wrong screen at the wrong time or just suffering from fatigue after staring at the screens for hours and hours. Then, with the advent of Video Management Systems (VMS), video security became pro-active. Software was introduced that could monitor all the video feeds simultaneously, using analytics to detect potential situations developing before they actually occur and trigger alarms that humans can respond to accordingly. These analytics include facial recognition, loitering, line crossing, object taken and many more.
As the technology continues to improve, we see the cost of IP cameras dropping as well. As the cost of IP cameras becomes more competitive with analog cameras, combined with the above-mentioned benefits of improved image resolution, scalability, ease of installation and the ability to apply video analytics, now is the time to move your video security system from analog to IP. To learn more about how to begin the process, download our whitepaper “Transitioning from Analog to IP Video”.