Network Cameras in High-Tech Facilities?

Sites with fewer than 100 cameras are usually analog, addressable over IP and connected to a DVR, said one industry expert. "This is more cost-effective than a full IP system," he said. Even though the primary advantage of an IP camera network is wiring, a repeater is required every 300 feet. Unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cameras allow for cabling up to 1,000 feet. Using network cameras with such networks would not make sense financially.

The primary benefit of IP is remote access along with live view via the Internet (with analog cameras and a web browser). The important component is the DVR, not the camera. In North America, analog remains popular as few installers understand IP. Wireless contact-key fobs can be used to provide access control in sensitive areas with more sophisticated systems for vehicle access.

"Marketing of network cameras at security exhibitions," said Simon Chen, Regional Sales Manager ASEAN at Verint Systems, "does not reflect the reality of end user needs and applications. Network cameras have many advantages and these have been touted by all; they are not, however, universal-application tools."

While there are many benefits to deploying network cameras, added Chen, limitations such as distance (cameras have to be installed up to 100 meters from the network switch and recording) do not make their use feasible. Multi-channel encoders, though, can significantly reduce cost of ownership. "Video management systems transform loss detection from a manual, resource-intensive operation into an efficient, automated process."

The timing to upgrade from analog to digital, for many, is not right; most prefer to stick with a combination of analog cameras and encoders at the edge, remote video monitoring to oversee disparate sites, and video management.

"Many early adaptors of network cameras," said A.H. Tan, Operations Manager at Empire Automation in Malaysia, "have moved back to analog combined with remote video monitoring and management because of drawbacks involving IP. Plants often choose different camera brands for different locations depending on the application. This is where analog cameras triumph. No camera manufacturer has built a universal brand that can be used in all end-user environments and under all weather and lighting conditions."

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