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Image To ensure a cost-effective and smooth customer rollout from analog to network video environments, you may wish to consider the following five approaches:

February 4, 2009  By Robert Moore

First, consider the existing cameras your customer has in place. You
may not, in fact, need to throw out existing analogue cameras if they
meet your customers’ needs. There are exceptions, of course. If cameras
are older than four years, they may be nearing the end of their
lifecycle. The cost of maintenance increases the older the camera, and
often the image quality deteriorates over time. So ensure that
installed cameras will meet your customers’ ongoing forensic
application needs (e.g., is there a need to identify faces, license
plates, etc.?). If older cameras won’t meet customer needs, it’s a good
time to do a full swap-out to network cameras with better capabilities
such as megapixel resolution offering far higher resolution. Should you
determine that existing analogue cameras are appropriate, incorporate a
video server at the “head end” so you don’t have to worry about running
new cables.

Look at the following to determine what video server will work to
IP-enable analogue cameras: To convert a single analogue camera, use a
one-port video server. To convert a “head end,” count how many cameras
terminate in that space. Video servers come in a wide variety of port
configurations from 1, 4, 6, 8, 12, etc. — to as high as 84 ports
found in a rack-mounted solution. With more than four ports, use a
rack-mounted solution to minimize clutter and unsightly cables. In
cases where a network camera doesn’t exist, such as covert
applications, combine a one port video server with PoE capabilities to
power both your video server and camera from a PoE-enabled switch,
router or mid-span. Video servers, like network cameras, can provide
intelligence at the edge — such as analytics.  It may be cost
advantageous to do these analytics at the video server versus the
central server.

Next, analyze the current network infrastructure. If Cat 5 or 6 cabling
already exists in the building, the video system can tap into that
infrastructure in a very inexpensive way. If you are replacing analog
cameras with network cameras, and Cat 5/6 cabling doesn’t exist, you
can use existing coaxial cable. A variety of converters allow you to
run IP over existing cable. The next areas to consider are storage and
bandwidth.  If you are implementing a security system within a central
building, creating a network with proper bandwidth should be no
problem. And it won’t be terribly expensive to improve the system.
Bandwidth may be more of an issue when incorporating remote sites.
You’ll want to conduct an audit to determine your WAN capabilities. New
compression standards, such as H.264, provide significant savings in
bandwidth, so make sure the VMS is H.264 compatible. Also, the more
information you record, the more you’ll need to store. So if your
customer wants to store data for more than a couple of weeks and is
recording at high frame rates, H.264 is the way to go, since it reduces
storage requirements by as much as 80 per cent.

Following this, consider the video management system. Chances are that
your customer is currently using DVRs to convert analogue signals to
digital through a hardware DVR. You have three choices in the IP world
– hybrid DVR, software NVR (network video system) and hardware NVR. The difference between a software NVR and a hardware NVR is that a
software NVR can go on any PC server, whereas the hardware NVR is
preloaded on a PC server. If one has not already been selected,
software NVRs may be the best choice, because their total cost of
ownership will be lower than the others. The reason is that with
today’s PC server technology, you can purchase all of the memory and
hard drive storage you require at today’s prices, whereas if you
purchase a hybrid DVR or hardware NVR, your long-term costs will be
much higher, as those components are bought as part of a closed system.
In some cases, customers have already purchased hybrid DVRs. These have
an Ethernet port that integrate with network cameras. In such cases,
you won’t need to change the software infrastructure, assuming you have
enough recording capabilities for the expanded system. Another
consideration is how to integrate new equipment with other systems,
such as card access control systems. Make sure your selected VMS
software is compatible with these other systems.


Finally, consider how expandable your system will be to accommodate
future needs: Typically, organizations put in security systems for a
lifespan of seven to 10 years. So implement a system that can
accommodate future uses and capabilities. Using software NVR vs. DVRs
will help. Implementations of more than 32 cameras will exceed the
capabilities of DVRs, requiring the purchase of additional units.
Ensure that your installed equipment takes advantage of the latest
compression software, H.264, which is now considered a best practice
for limiting bandwidth and storage requirements in transmitting and
storing network video. That will put you in a position to deploy this
technology down the road — even if you don’t have an immediate need for
it. If future applications may require megapixel network cameras,
consider acquiring them today – and make sure you have the bandwidth
planned for, since these high-resolution devices may require three to
five times as much bandwidth as existing analog cameras.

Moving to network video systems doesn’t need to be disruptive or
expensive. You may be able to use existing cameras and cabling and by
identifying your current and future needs, you can cost-effectively
implement a quality system that “future-proofs” your customers.

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