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Ask the Expert

Cameras are an integral part of most security systems, often the first item that integrators recommend and that security directors check when there is a problem. Technology has greatly advanced in cameras and networks, allowing rapid transmission of data to remote storage systems. The new age of Internet protocol video transmission utilizes internal local area networks or wide area networks and the Internet to send data almost instantly via the Web.

ISSUE: What are the latest breakthroughs in video transmission, and how do they work?

SOLUTION: IP video transmission takes advantage of new cameras that send digital video data rather than analog signals. IP cameras are among the industry’s hottest products and can be added or subtracted from a security system through an easy, plug-and-play installation, similar to printers and faxes on a computer network.

With the proper compression of the data, camera video can be transmitted over any computer network, from a small company’s in-house LAN to a large conglomerate’s multinational network, connecting security directors all over the world.

However, to make the most of this digital data, integrators and IT directors are setting up individual networks to transmit data. The data is directed to a server that stores the video transmission for archive review. New NVR software allows viewing on individual cameras, either live or recorded, over the IP camera network. When using an analytics software program, high-level data is required.

Another growing transmission path utilizes wireless networks. This eliminates the need to run wires for IP transmission, saving on the cost of both labor and material. As wireless technology continues to grow, wireless networks will have even larger bandwidth abilities to take advantage of further IP video solutions.

Mesh networking, increasingly used in campus and citywide installations, can provide expansive network coverage. There are several nodes in this system, and the data travels through each until the data reaches its destination. Even if a node fails, another can pick up the data and keep it moving to its destination.

Digital video data also can be transmitted to mobile devices, such as PDAs and cell phones, making security camera images more flexible and useful. However, there are downsides because the technology may require the use of corporate bandwidth. Network administrators and IT professionals can be quite protective of the network—and getting enough bandwidth could prove challenging.

ISSUE: With these new technology options, is there still demand for older, less expensive solutions?

SOLUTION: Due to costs and varying needs, for the foreseeable future, there is still a place for older, proven technologies such as fiber optics, twisted pair cable and coaxial cable. The most costeffective method for short distances is still coaxial—a technology that has been around for more than 100 years. For brief, straight runs, look no further. However, if you need a solution for longer distances, look at twisted pair cable. It is often run between walls because it is thinner and more flexible than coaxial. Fiber optics is best-suited for long-distance transmission over many miles and is immune to electromagnetic interference but is a more expensive solution.

Talk to your integrator about the optimum mix of old and new technology and evaluate the factors that are most important to your security system, such as cost, flexibility and convenience.

READER QUESTION: Our manufacturing operation has a 12-camera video surveillance system. We record video on a DVR with 1 TB of storage. It has worked well for more than a year, but I keep reading about NVRs and wonder if we are large enough to benefit from a network recorder. Is it an affordable option for a small company?

SOLUTION: As with many companies, you probably have an existing infrastructure of analog cameras. Manufacturers have developed NVRs that can handle both analog and digital cameras. That way, there is no need to abandon an existing camera system.

If you are looking to move to video analytics in the future, you might want to consider a hybrid configuration. That way, when you add cameras, you have the choice to go either analog or digital, depending on your needs.

Find an integrator who can explain the differences between analog and digital and who can speak to your IT department. The integrators who expect their customers to be knowledgeable can provide the highest level of partnership that is needed between an integrator and end user.

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