Transitioning from Analog to IP Cameras? Don’t Pull Your Hair Out, Here are 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Upgrading

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Taking your legacy analog camera system to the next generation of IP video can have its pitfalls.  There are 5 mistakes to avoid when migrating your existing camera system to an IP solution.

The belief that you have to replace the entire system
Often I talk with people who believe in order to have an IP network video solution they have to start from scratch.  Most of the time this is simply not the case.  The existing cables and cameras can be re-purposed and used in the new IP network solution.

 Here’s how:

 1. By using specialized media converters the existing coaxial cable can be reused.  These media converters turn standard RG-59u coaxial cable into 100Mbps Ethernet connectivity.  These media converters also allow for increased distance limitation.  A standard CAT5e network cable is rated for only 328 feet where as a coaxial cable using media converters can go up to 5000 feet.  Using media converters saves you both time and labor of installing new cable (CAT5e and fiber) and easily allows you to replace the analog camera at the end with a new IP network camera.

 2. Analog cameras don’t always have to be replaced.  These cameras can be encoded using a network camera encoder.  Encoders are available anywhere from 1 to 16 cameras.  The encoder takes the analog input from the camera and transmits the video back out on the network.  That video transmission can then be recorded by a network video recorder.

 Not ensuring compatibility with existing cameras

Although most analog cameras are pretty straight forward and can easily be encoded there are a few exceptions.  Cameras that have Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) or movable cameras can be tricky.  You need to make sure that the cameras will be controllable from the camera to the encoder and from the encoder to the network video recorder.  There are many types of communication protocols that are used to control Analog PTZ cameras.  So you need to verify that all of the components will work together in order to reuse the existing analog PTZ cameras.

 Loss of command center functionality when replacing a matrix switch

 For large systems that include a matrix switch, you want to make sure that guards and staff who directly interface with the system do not lose functionality.  Upgrading to a new IP network system and losing existing capabilities can be a major setback to any upgrade.  Make sure that you fully understand how the system is used on a daily basis and how video is viewed both live and in playback.  When designed properly, the new IP network system should be easier to use and add functionality for the users.

Sacrificing new camera resolution and images per second when you don’t have to

a common problem with older Digital Video Recorder (DVR) systems is the maximum resolution and the images per second the camera could record at.  Typically one or the other had to be sacrificed due to lack of processing power of the DVR.  Using quality IP video encoders can resolve that issue and provide full D1 (640 x 480) resolution and live video of 30 images per second.  Before selecting an encoder, make sure you do not have to choose one or the other.  With a good quality encoder you won’t have to make that sacrifice.

 Not properly compensating for additional storage

 With better resolution and more images per second comes the need for additional storage.  Make sure you calculate the additional amount of storage you will need when using full resolution and 30 images per second i.e. – if your old DVR was set at 2CIF (720 x 240) resolution and 7.5 images per second and you needed 1 Terabyte of storage for 30 days then at D1 (640 x 480) resolution and 30 images per second you will need 8 Terabytes of storage on the new system.

 There are many benefits for re-purposing the existing camera system when upgrading.  So there is no need to completely start from scratch.  See what can be reused and make the best of it.  Reducing the overall cost or being able to add additional coverage will help improve budgets and the overall quality of your security system.