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Digital Video Surveillance: A Modern Security Solution

Luz A. Berg Comments
Continued from page 1

In fact, they are so common that the expression itself—false alarm—has rapidly become a cliché in modern English. Owners of alarm systems have even been fined for false alarms in many municipalities. Video surveillance, whether performed by a property owner or a central monitoring station, provides live visual verification, thus eliminating false alarms.

Traditional guard services are still effective, but can be cost-prohibitive and unreliable. In areas with low labor rates or high cost of living, guards might be tempted to look the other way for a piece of the action.

CCTV technology has been around for years and will probably survive for many more. But the major movement currently in the security field is the convergence of physical security and information technology (IT), exemplified by the proliferation of digital video surveillance.

Costs, Choices and Common Sense

Whatever you decide for your security system, make sure that it’s future-proof. Don’t invest in equipment and systems that will be outdated or obsolete in just a few years. Long-term overall cost must be taken into consideration as well as initial expense. CCTV cameras may be relatively cheap compared to IP cameras, but over time, it will be more costly to repair equipment that is nearing extinction. As with any newer technology, as it matures, IP camera prices and cost of ownership will be driven down.

Total deployment costs and overall return on investment must also be taken into consideration. Although CCTV cameras may be cheaper, they are often more expensive to deploy. Expensive coaxial cables typically cost 30 percent to 40 percent more than a high-quality network cable. One coax cable must be attached to each and every camera and threaded to a multiplexer, which requires another coax cable feed from the multiplexer to the monitoring screen or recording device. IP cameras use Ethernet cable. One cable can forward images simultaneously from hundreds of cameras within the network.

Whether you flip through the Yellow Pages or search the Internet for digital video surveillance, you will face hundreds of choices. Beware of integrators selling you on a “digital system.” When they sell you a DVR or NVR system, only the recording medium is digital—the camera is still analog or CCTV. A true digital video surveillance setup consists of IP cameras that can be networked and generally provide higher-quality images. Any PC or server can be used as the recording medium.

If you have already invested thousands into an analog camera system don’t despair! In order for this older technology to benefit from all the functionalities of digital technology, CCTV signals can be digitized to mimic the features of IP cameras using video servers or encoders. Only then can a CCTV system be truly networkable and incorporated into a centralized management system.

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