Ask the Expert
- By J. Matthew Ladd
- Jun 01, 2008
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
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
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
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
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