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Converting CCTV to IP Cameras

IP Cameras Are Not Always The Answer

When Converting CCTV to IP Cameras, the first thing you have to ask yourself is WHY?

Why do you want to convert?

  • Older cameras in need of replacement?
  • Wiring problems?
  • DVR needs to be replaced?
  • Management problems?
  • Security and reliability of recordings?

These are all valid problems, but is IP the right answer?

The overwhelming majority of people buying cameras today do not choose IP cameras. While most people see the move to be inevitable, serious debate exists on how long it will take to get there. Recently a number of analysts have even slid back projections for when IP camera sales will overtake analog.

Problems with IP cameras:

Primary Problems

  • IP Cameras are too Expensive Compared to Analog Cameras – It is common knowledge that IP cameras cost more than analog cameras.
  • Storage for Megapixel cameras is too expensive – The biggest economic problem for megapixel cameras is the cost of storage. Almost all megapixel cameras in production today use MJPEG encoding which is 2x to 4x less efficient than the codecs used for analog cameras.
  • Smart Cameras are still in their infancy – big questions remain about how well smart cameras will work.

Secondary Problems

  • DVRs offer limited support – Many DVRs offer limited or no support for IP cameras. This certainly reinforces the problem for IP cameras.
  • Lack of Integrator Training – Security integrators correctly see that IP is not ready for most of their customers.

None of the above means that any specific customer should not use IP cameras. Use of IP cameras depends on specific application and logistic uses.

However, main reasons for not converting to IP Cameras:

  1. Rewiring – staying with updated or upgrade analog CCTV cameras means no rewiring
  2. No bandwidth overload – switching to IP can drown and substantially increase both network and ISP costs
  3. Storage – Cloud-based solutions are vastly lower cost than storage of megapixel digital images
  4. IP cameras represent multi-point security vulnerabilities on your network
  5. It is easy to convert your existing CCTV system for digital without converting to IP cameras

An Introduction Into IP Cameras:

An Internet protocol camera, or IP camera, is a type of digital video camera commonly employed for surveillance, and which, unlike analog closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, can send and receive data via a computer network and the Internet. Although most cameras that do this are webcams, the term “IP camera” or “netcam” is usually applied only to those used for surveillance. The first centralized IP camera was Axis Neteye 200, released in 1996 by Axis Communications.

There are two kinds of IP cameras:

  1. Centralized IP cameras, which require a central Network Video Recorder(NVR) to handle the recording, video and alarm management.
  2. Decentralized IP cameras, which do not require a central Network Video Recorder (NVR), as the cameras have recording function built-in and can thus record directly to any standard storage media, such as SD cards, NAS (network attached storage) or a PC/Server.

Analog closed circuit television uses established broadcast television formats (e.g. Common Intermediate Format (CIF), NTSC, PAL, and SECAM). Generally speaking, each make of IP camera will differ in its features and functions, video encoding (compression) schemes, available network protocols, and the API to be used by video management software.

In order to address issues of standardization of IP video surveillance, two industry groups were formed in 2008: the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA). While the PSIA was founded by 20 member companies including Honeywell, GE Security and Cisco, and ONVIF was founded by Axis Communications, Bosch and Sony, each group now has numerous members.

Potential Advantages:

  • Two-way audio via a single network cable allows users to communicate with what they are seeing (e.g. gas station clerk assisting a customer on how to use the pay pumps)
  • Flexibility: IP cameras can be moved around anywhere on a network (wireless)
  • Distributed intelligence: with IP cameras, video analytics can be placed in the camera itself allowing ability in analytics solutions
  • Transmission of commands for PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras via a single network
  • Encryption & authentication: IP cameras offer secure data transmission through encryption and authentication methods such as WPA, WPA2, TKIP, AES
  • Remote accessibility:[4] live video from selected cameras can be viewed from any computer, anywhere, and also from many mobile smartphones and other devices. Remote accessibility also prevents police officers from confiscating video and audio evidence that you can use against them
  • IP cameras are able to function on a wireless network
  • PoE – Power over Ethernet: Modern IP cameras have the ability to operate without a power supply. They can work with the PoE-protocol
  • IP camera communication signals are not just electronic voltage, it is numerically decoded as bits and bytes with security features and TCP/IP protocol

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Higher initial cost per camera, except where cheaper webcams are used
  • High network bandwidth requirements: a typical CCTV camera with resolution of 640×480 pixels and 10 frames per second (10 frame/s) in MPEG mode requires about 3 Mbit/s
  • As with a CCTV/DVR system, if the video is transmitted over the public Internet rather than a private IP LAN, the system becomes open to a wider audience of hackers and hoaxers
  • Criminals can hack into an IP CCTV system to observe security measures and personnel, thereby facilitating criminal acts and rendering the surveillance counterproductive