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City Surveillance Visualizes IP Advantages
a&s International 2010/10/26

While analog is still being used by some expansion projects, others are choosing to go hybrid. As for greenfield projects, almost all decide to go the IP route due to the many cost-saving and feature advantages an IP system can offer to the successful implementation of a city surveillance system.

While analog is still being used by some expansion projects, others are choosing to go hybrid. As for greenfield projects, almost all decide to go the IP route due to the many cost-saving and feature advantages an IP system can offer to the successful implementation of a city surveillance system.

Still, the analog option has not been completely removed and is being used in expansion projects. “Currently, there are a lot of existing systems being upgraded, and many of them are a continuation of analog,” said Iain Cameron, MD of Mirasys. “Users are already familiar with analog, and they are able to perform live monitoring functions better than IP due to bandwidth constraints. Some prefer analog because they consider it to be more efficient. Also, multicasting allows all government agencies to receive feeds from the same camera, and this is easier done with an analog system. Another way to upgrade a system would be through a hybrid path. The drive for this change is due to the ability to deploy HD cameras and to be able to cover a larger area. Going hybrid would allow the existing system to remain, which provides a certain level of effectiveness and lowers the overall cost of the upgrade.”

However, for newer projects, analog systems are rarely used.“Most greenfield systems, which are around 90 percent of the market, are IP-based, and analog cameras are increasingly focused on extensions to legacy networks,” said Matthew Messinger, Senior Communications Consultant for Government and Public Safety Communications, North America, Motorola.

The move to IP is logical, considering the many advantages IP systems have that are deemed important to a large, citywide deployment. “In outdoor surveillance, the focus has predominantly been on IP video, rather than analog,” said Ksenia Coffman, Senior Marketing Manager for Firetide. “When analog cameras are deployed, they connect to the IP wireless network over analog-to-IP encoders. For these new deployments, rather than upgrades, the use of the latest IP technology is not surprising.”

According to Lindsay Hiebert, Marketing Manager for Cisco Systems, the latest research reports that IP, digital SD, megapixel and HD technologies continue to grow annually, while analog technologies continue to decline.

The number of cameras that need to be deployed can increase costs significantly if using an analog system. If a wireless solution is used, cost savings can be as high as 90 percent when compared to using cable or fiber, Coffman claimed. “One of the drivers for the change from analog to IP systems was the fast increase in the quantity of cameras asked for in these projects,” said Jose Martin, VP of Sales for Latin America, IndigoVision. “Projects in the past only intended to cover a city with less than 50 cameras, but this number had risen to more than 100 cameras a few years ago, and now to 1,000 cameras. The increase in the complexity of the system has helped facilitate the push to IP.”

Running fiber or leasing a network can be an expensive practice — also a reason for which wireless is common in this type of deployments. “A wireless transmission system provides a cost-effective alternative to install citywide surveillance systems in a timely manner, which has thus led to a great increase in the number of wireless city surveillance projects,” said Cosimo Malesci, VP of Sales and Marketing for Fluidmesh. “Also, in order to increase the ROI of a system, many municipalities open up the wireless backbone system to other applications. By creating a multiservice network, the cost of the infrastructure is split between different applications, making it more budget-friendly for a city.”

Also, open platform IP enables decoupling of software from hardware, which allows for best-ofbreed solution, limitless integrations, faster innovation and more value creation for end users, Fullerton said.

Image quality is very important for city surveillance, and requirements include HD video, progressive scan, wide dynamic range, dual-streaming and day/night operation. Reliability is a huge concern, and cameras should have flexible power options for easy deployment, as well as embedded security and networking to keep data safe from hackers. Also, because cameras will be placed in outdoor environments, they must include rugged housings to withstand harsh conditions, Hiebert said.

Cameras can be placed anywhere when using wireless transmission. “Wireless networks can place surveillance cameras in locations without existing network infrastructure, and this is crucial for public-safety agencies whether they are looking to revitalize urban areas or prevent and prosecute crime,” Coffman said. “Also, wireless networks are easier to arrange in a short span of time; thus, temporary networks can be set up for special events or emergency situations.”

Customers are becoming more and more interested in HD technology since it provides clearer and sharper surveillance images, better analytics and greater adaptability with cameras that can provide multiple video streams and independent resolutions, Messinger added.

IP-based systems also enable better flexibility in terms of planning. “There's huge inertia in the government planning processes: Most projects in place today were started around five years ago,” Fullerton said. “City-planning cycles are extremely long, and trying to change the cabling for these projects after the plans and budgets are already in place can be too expensive. Even when planners can see the benefits of new technology, the whole process of going back and changing what has already been planned and approved can be too cumbersome for all who are involved.” Thus, for progressive public planners, an easily adaptable system is called for, one with an open platform and can allow for the inclusion of more modern technology as it becomes available.

As with all new technologies, IP-based systems are still met with doubt due to issues such as initial costs and storage requirements. “The inhibitors for migration to IP-based solutions are primarily formed around the decision-making processes and traditional policies used to allocate current and future investments,” Hiebert said. “These barriers include stand-alone decision making across different government jurisdictions; investment priorities that favor less expensive products but do not consider the hidden long-term costs or future needs; looking at investments in isolation rather than from an integrated network platform approach; and the availability of accurate ROI assessments that show both trade-offs and the long-term benefits/costs versus short-term.”

Some of the upfront initial costs include camera costs, increased transmission costs and storage requirements, which have become key challenges to HD adoption. “HD cameras require roughly four to 10 times greater bandwidth and storage than SD cameras,” Messinger said. “While these requirements are achievable with today's technology, the increased impact on cost points must be carefully considered. Analytics are also only just becoming capable of processing high-resolution streams. Plus, the critical performance barrier of 30 fps for 3- and 5-megapixel cameras was only recently surpassed in 2010. Any true trend in adoption and usage is yet to be properly understood by the market.”

Integration of an IP-based system is also very different from that of an analog system. “One of the largest challenges is the substantially different set of skills required to install an IP-based system,” Malesci said. “Integrators are obtaining the required knowledge by signing up for training, as well as hiring dedicated personnel. However, the process is a slow one, and there is still a good portion of CCTV integrators that have yet to start this conversion.”

Interoperable and More
Interoperability using open platforms is crucial to setting up a long-lasting system that can be built upon in the future. “The vision and reality of a ‘connected' physical security solution is to provide end-to-end video surveillance, as well as ‘urban security' and ‘safe city' services,” Hiebert said. “Open standards and platforms will support all of the equipment and infrastructure, as well as serve other purposes, to significantly enhance security.”

New concepts are being debated and accepted, and new technologies will always arise. According to Messinger, the future will embody advanced analytics and correlation, such as noncontiguous tracking of people and vehicles and facial recognition in a crowd. Sensor networks, including chemical, biological and nuclear, will be integrated, and mobile handheld devices will be available for remote viewing. It is only when a technology matures and its performance stabilizes will it be considered by the integrator and installer community.

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