Chain of Command

Hybrid video provides flexible IP migration for grocery stores

A leading grocery chain's corporate security and loss prevention departments had requested an overall upgrade to the region's facility surveillance systems. These facilities included grocery stores with gas stations and regional distribution centers. The departments were directed to integrate the most cost-effective progressive technology, increase the camera count and be able to easily relocate existing cameras.

F&N Enterprises of Tucson, Ariz., a low-voltage system integrator specializing in commercial and residential installation of burglar, fire and surveillance security systems, are experts in the deployment of structured cabling, voice and data infrastructures, using UTP and fiber optics. After searching for the right fit, the grocery company chose F&N for the upgrade.

Upgrade and Update

Each project location varied slightly in camera count. Stores within the grocery chain required 24 to 64 cameras. The distribution centers needed more than 100 cameras at each location. Multiple racks and recording equipment were located in the management's office space in each facility.

The system upgrade required the best technology, ease of use, superior video imaging—day or night—and full location coverage. There also was a requirement for public-view monitoring, remote information/image retrieval and a more advanced system of image management. The transmission methods that were considered included IP cameras powered by PoE via Cat-5 unshielded twisted pair to an NVR; analog cameras via standard video coax—already in use—to a hybrid DVR; or analog cameras powered by a hybrid video power supply via Cat-5e UTP to a hybrid DVR.

All store locations were already cabled for voice and data using Cat-5 UTP cabling. The corporate mandate also included a strict adherence to the EIA/TIA 568B termination pin-outs and UTP structured cabling standards for voice and data transmission. It was cost-effective to use the same cabling infrastructure platform for surveillance applications when possible.

Unique System Considerations

IP and analog cameras via UTP both allowed cameras to be powered remotely, thereby maintaining the 568B standard.

Many of the stores had fuel stations located at the front of the property. Each fuel station also needed surveillance coverage. If they chose to use coax cable, they would need to install more than 15,000 feet of cable. This confirmed the commitment by corporate management that the decision to go with standards-based UTP was the correct one. The use of UTP reduced material and labor costs by 50 percent.

Officials chose to use analog cameras via an NVT UTP hybrid video network. The NVT system was scalable and manageable, standards based and affordable. Another selling point of using NVT was that it allowed for a possible infrastructure stepping-stone in the future. By installing the Cat-5 cabling, it provided a system with better performance standards, as well as having the cabling in place for a mix of IP cameras should the need arise in the future. That made the overall systems more flexible. In the future, certain areas of the store may be targeted for IP enhanced video, but all areas are ready for upgrades.

F&N Enterprises installed a Cat-5 patch panel in the rack housing with the DVRs and monitors at the head end. Standard patch cords were used to connect the RJ-45 connectors to the NVT DigitalEQ™ Active Hub. The output of each hub was directly connected to the DVR via standard NVT supplied coaxial jumpers. Wire management was used to create a clean and professional looking installation. A single-channel NVT device was installed at each camera location.

At the fuel stations, the solution provided for a rack-mounted NVT passive hub and an NVT active hub in the head end rack. While the powered hub was not required by NVT specs, it did allow the video signal to be equalized to match those signals provided by instore cameras.

Analog, high-resolution mini-dome cameras were used throughout the project. Most of the UTP runs were around 150 feet. Run length to the fuel stations were typically 1,200 feet.

All cameras on the project were powered by the NVT PVD power supply cable integrator hubs. These hubs supplied video, control and camera power using a 568B standards-based UTP cabling network, which was organized, easy to understand and future proof. Once installed in a central position, the hubs powered a co-located group of cameras, which was connected to the system via power-video transceivers that are small, easy to hide and tamperproof.

Cabling Infrastructure

All of the Cat-5e UTP cabling that was installed replaced existing coax. The network was converted to structured cabling via UTP, and the Cat-5e was cost-effective and easy to pull and terminate. Cat-5e transmission performance is well within that required for the video transmission application.

"The NVT product is really a quality piece of equipment,"said Fred Francis of F&N. "It's well suited for its use. We did have a problem with one hub where we didn't get any AC for ports one to eight. The returnswap was immediately handled by our distributor and NVT, and we had a replacement the following day. The NVT tech support department is well trained and knowledgeable, and they treated us respectfully.

"I've seen 5,000 feet of Cat-5 cable running video with superior picture quality. Installing it in the fuel station scenario above saved money and time and offers crystal clarity.” Choices regarding the media used for the cabling infrastructure allow the end user more flexibility in their future systems' needs. The most common media for IP transmission is UTP.

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