A User's Guide to Digital Video Surveillance


Analog continues to dominate the security market representing 80% to 90% of the market (depending upon whose numbers you subscribe to.) More importantly, these figures do not take into account the significance of tens of millions of analog cameras, DVRs and the legacy infrastructure currently in service. Customers with substantial investments in analog infrastructure are interested in getting a longer useful life out of their current systems, especially in these trying economic times.

By comparison, IP based CCTV solutions are more costly than analog systems of comparable quality, more complex to install and require extensive supplementary management.

The issue we see is, for decades analog video systems, as well as access control and alarm systems were installed and you forgot them; little “technical” maintenance was required. The customer was not interested in hiring expensive professional staff to maintain esoteric systems.

Where the incentive for change to IP cameras is greatest is in applications that are not supported well by analog such as megapixel recording, analytics on the edge and large scale wireless transmission. Of the IP cameras sold, high megapixel cameras represent a fraction of 1% of the overall market.

From a “future-proofing” perspective, hybrid DVRs, which accommodate both analog and IP cameras, offer expandability without limitation to transmission method.

In regards to cabling and installation, the use of “permanent horizontal” cabling makes the most sense. More importantly, with power and video over UTP it does not really matter what type of camera or recorder is on either end of the Category cable.

IP camera technology is relatively new and underdeveloped. In time, improvements to image processing, encoding and networking technology will prevail over the cost and reliability advantages of analog CCTV cameras - but not for many years, perhaps. At the same time analog technology does not remain idle and continues to progress.

In transition, a move towards more open and uniform standards will benefit consumers who now face both backwards and forwards compatibility challenges from a marketplace crowded with a myriad of incompatible products and formats.

Today, you have to worry about which IP camera or encoder, works with which NVR and DVR. Then you have to consider will the next generation of IP cameras or encoders work with the NVRs and DVRs, in which you have already made a significant investment.

Ideally, end users should be able to connect any IP or analog camera into any DVR or NVR without complication, interoperability concerns or obsolescence fears. Thus, we are a big proponent of open standards, which seem to have evaded the CCTV industry.

In the interim, high definition and enterprise wireless applications are the IP camera’s strengths. For most other CCTV applications, analog cameras are ubiquitous, more practical, reliable, easy to operate and install and are cost effective.

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