Natural Selection

IP video standing in line to take place of DVRs

Video surveillance over IP is the next step in the evolution of CCTV technology. It’s time to enter the era of networked video -- one in which video surveillance and, eventually, the entire security management system are going IP.

Networked video, or video over IP, uses private and public networking to allow access to real-time video anywhere there is a network connection. However, not all video over IP systems are created equal. More advanced solutions enable the end user to leverage an existing network, without new coax cable. The newest, and most advanced, of these systems are fully softwarebased to ensure a more future-proof solution through easier upgrades and greater flexibility and scalability.

Enter the NVMS
The DVR and network video share a number of beneficial features and functions: recording to digital hard disk; no tape maintenance; consistent, high-quality images; fast, easy image retrieval; and access to recorded video over IP networks. However, a more comprehensive comparison of the two technologies reveals that network video technology offers a number of significant advantages over a standard DVR.

A traditional DVR gives IT and security personnel only limited flexibility and control. For example, with traditional DVR technology, each time a camera is added, new coaxial cable is added. Each new hardware or application often requires an additional system platform. With a full-functioning network video management system, all video surveillance and CCTV applications run on existing infrastructure. This is important for two reasons: First, because the network already exists, end users are able to digitize the signal at the source -- the camera -- and then run it on the standard Ethernet network. Second, end users can add cameras, access control, door alarms and intercom without the additional expense of installing new cabling. With an NVMS solution, the end user is purchasing a technology standard (IP), as opposed to a black box. An NVMS solution is easy to understand and control; it’s like buying independence and gaining greater freedom.

Comparing the Technology
An NVR offers all the features of legacy DVRs -- recording of video and audio; fast image retrieval time; encryption of all the digital information; wireless viewing from cell phone or PDA; system control via a map or a camera list; and automatic, event-driven pop-up screens and audio clips. It also offers complete matrix functionality a software-only solution, virtual redundancy using the network and the ability to add a single camera simply by adding a software license.

Using the existing network. Connect an NVMS system in two ways -- through an existing Ethernet network or by leveraging the existing network infrastructure -- to create a security network. Either way, end users eliminate the need to pull wires or trench fiber, and there’s no need to run additional coax cabling.

Matrix capability. Unlike a DVR-based system, the NVMS camera and/or video source is all-digital, so the network becomes a true virtual matrix switcher, complete with all the capabilities of an analog matrix switch. Also it’s part of the network, so it can share information and resources.

Scalability.With an NVR system, adding a camera is as easy as ordering licenses -- no major expense, no technician and no downtime.

Reliability. Unlike a DVR, an NVR can have complete redundancy simply by redirecting the video to a new destination over the network in case of server failure. What’s more, with the NVR’s single port encoders, end users eliminate the single-point-of-failure problem common to most DVRs.

Frame rate and image quality. With top-of-the-line NVR solutions, end users can view all cameras at one rate (30 fps NTSC/25 fps PAL), same as on a matrix system, and record at a different frame rate (from 1-30 NTSC/1-25 PAL fps per camera) -- enabling maximum efficiency in managing bandwidth demands for transmission and storage.

Storage costs. An NVMS reduces storage demands by employing multiple video compressions over the network instead of coaxial cabling. An NVMS solution can save 20 to 30 percent in recording and storage costs over the DVR just by moving the video compression to the source -- the camera -- away from the traditional recording unit (the DVR).

Hardware costs and flexibility. NVR technology adapts to a user’s current infrastructure and hardware. It runs on off-the-shelf computing hardware, not proprietary hardware like a DVR -- bringing system costs down significantly. When new PC hardware with greater CPU processing power becomes available, you can add them to new installations with full compatibility to other locations running different hardware because the NVRS software has interoperability with every other location.

Protection. Standard DVRs don’t have virus protection, so each time a virus attacks, an end user may have to clean or reinstall all the DVRs. Because the NVR is based on standardized networking protocol and runs on an off-the-shelf computer, it stays equipped with the latest virus protection.

Future proof. Buy a DVR, and you own a box. In two or three years needs will change, but the box won’t adapt. Worse, the entire system may need upgrading or replacement. The NVMS is a software-driven system; you never have to throw it away. As new versions of NVR software or different compression methods become available, users can upgrade without changing any hardware.

There’s no doubt that DVR technology has delivered significant improvements in terms of capabilities and overall security system management. But the current analog-input DVR box is by no means the final word in the evolution of CCTV recording technology -- far from it. If an end user is going to go digital, don’t just change the recording to digital -- change the entire system to digital.

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