A look at the overwhelming benefits of IP Network Video systems over analog CCTV systems, tells why this market dominance by Network Video and Network Cameras is inevitable. Some of these benefits are easy to quantify on a dollar basis. Some are not as easy to assign a dollar figure but are convincing none the less. Following is an examination of those benefits.
Lower Cabling Costs
The most easily identifiable financial benefit between CCTV and Network video is the cost of cabling. The Cat 5 cabling used for Network Video is a fraction of the cost of the co-axial cables used for CCTV installations. In addition, the cable runs for Network Cameras are much shorter than those for CCTV, as the Cat 5 cable runs from the IP Camera to a wiring closet used for the data network. In the wiring closet the cable plugs into a data switch, which in turn connects via one wire to the network. These cable runs from the Network Camera to the switch are a maximum of 300 feet but are normally much shorter.
On the other hand, analog CCTV cameras must connect directly back to the recording device, which could be a run of thousands of feet with video quality decreasing as the distance increases. Plus, if the cameras are PTZ then a separate PTZ control cable must be run from the camera to the DVR. Finally, if alarm-in/alarm out devices are required, a third set of cables must be installed from the DVR to the camera location.
So, the combination of Network Video's requirement for fewer cables of much shorter length at a fraction of the cost per foot, give it an obvious cost benefit over CCTV. This benefit is amplified when the difficulty of working with co-ax is considered, not to mention the use of Power Over Ethernet (PoE) - which eliminates the need for a power outlet at each IP Camera or wireless transmission, both of which are gaining in popularity.
A Network Video system can be configured for exactly the current requirements. As requirements grow, expansion is as easy as adding Network Cameras to the network in increments of one, and industry standard storage (i.e. hard disks) to the file servers. Expanding a DVR based CCTV system means adding camera capacity in units of 16 for the proprietary DVR, and installing the complicated and expensive cabling of analog cameras. Hopefully, the storage capacity can also grow on the DVR as the number of cameras increase or more frequent archiving will be required.
Adherence to Standards
Network Video hardware, software and networking protocols adhere to industry standards. For hardware this industry standard is Wintel PC servers, where there is much competition translating into lower prices. You can go to any distributor and search for the best priced servers and add-ons such as disks and memory. For software and networking protocols, Network Video solutions adhere to programming standards making them open to third party application add-ons like access control and video analytics.
DVR based hardware/software solutions are proprietary to each manufacturer and therefore are not open to competitive pressures as are the components in open systems. If you need another server (i.e. a DVR) there is only one place to get it the same place you purchased the original system. Once the customer is locked in to one vendor, that vendor can charge what they want because there is no alternative except to scrap the system and start over, an expensive undertaking requiring the sunk start-up costs of installation and training for the proprietary DVR system to be written-off.
Remote Viewing, Management and Recording
In large, multi-site installations, large savings can be realized with Network Video through the ability to not only view, but also record video and manage operations from anywhere. It is no longer necessary to duplicate staff, room and storage equipment at each location as would be the case with CCTV. Control with Network Video can be centralized at one location and recording/and or back-up can occur at any server around the world. This lack of duplication across many sites with Network Video, leads to easily identifiable staff and bricks and mortar savings.
Video data can be recorded and stored at locations remote from the cameras, resulting in better data security.
The central control and management feature of Network Video provides the easy to quantify benefits mentioned earlier of fewer staff, but it also offers benefits that are more difficult to quantify. The use of Wintel technology leverages existing technical expertise within IS departments as Network Video uses the same technology - both system and network related as traditional IS applications. Proprietary CCTV/DVR solutions require a new skill set to be developed or acquired.
The advanced features of Network Video - especially Network Cameras also contribute to increased operational efficiency. CCTV/DMR solutions require continuous monitoring and recording of video, an obviously costly and inefficient undertaking as most of the video shows nothing occurring. IP Cameras will detect motion, trigger alarms and initiate recording only when motion occurs. They will also buffer images before the motion is detected, moments which can contain crucial information about the incident. Finally, not only can alarms be triggered but e-mails containing still images can be sent alerting individuals that an alarm has been tripped.
The motion detection feature is the first of what are now referred to as Intelligent Video or more commonly, Video Analytics. Emerging Video Analytics are getting increasingly sophisticated and are beginning to be embedded in advanced Network Cameras. Object tracking, people counting, and detection of a host of other events and activities including stopped vehicles, unattended baggage, perimeter breaches, loitering and theft can now be accomplished with Network Cameras loaded with Video Analytic software. This advanced hardware/software combination in the IP Camera allows the monitoring/alarm function to be automated, which is much more efficient than having humans with limited attention spans try to watch and identify suspicious activity for eight hour shifts.
Finally, the ability to share video evidence with concerned parties is much more efficient with Network Video as compared to CCTV/DVR solutions. Video sequences can be made available for remote viewing or sent electronically to the appropriate people in the next room or around the world.
Improved Security Effectiveness
The final and perhaps most important - benefit that is hard to quantify is that Network Video systems are much more effective at providing security than traditional CCTV systems. Analog CCTV provides information that is good for after event investigation or evidence, but offer little in the way of automatic, real time event notification or immediate response potential. Therefore, traditional CCTV offers no real chance of preventing an event, unless an extremely alert individual happens to be watching the correct camera feed and is astute enough to notice suspicious behavior or patterns.
The automated and advanced features of Network Cameras mentioned earlier provide automated, real-time event notification, which allows better analysis and a timelier decision/response to events and thus, a better chance at prevention. These advanced features of Network Cameras - although hard to quantify - lead to much more effective security operations. This benefit will be multiplied in the future as new and innovative Video Analytic algorithms are developed for various alarm states.