Analogue or digital IP CCTV? The CCTV technology debate continues…

In response to the True Cost of IP CCTV article by Mark Harraway (Country Manager, Controlware) that was a rebuttal of Mike Newton’s, (CEO of Dedicated Micros), claims that IP CCTV solutions are expensive and unreliable compared to analogue / hybrid solutions, Miguel Sabbe of  DiViSec – Digital Video Security adds his views.

In general, as Mark puts it, it (the original Mike Newton article) seems to be more of a sales pitch rather then a general debate. It goes without saying that I am convinced of the future of true and pure IP.

Allow me to state in detail some of the remarks I have:

•Network failure ? Only poorly defined systems/networks tend to fail. A properly built and configured network is among the most reliable components of an organization. Why else would any and every major organization and entity rely on networks to transfer information and valuable data?

•The burden put on a network by an IP CCTV system, is not purely the fact it’s IP, but rather the type of components put on it, and the actual configuration of the network. Again, poorly configured networks will consume far more resources than properly configured ones.

•As for components put on the network, there is no common standard in cameras, in compression algorithms, in image quality, in fact there is no common ground whatsoever on IP cameras. Some manufacturers even call mjpeg a digital compression algorithm. Point is that there is an enormous difference in bandwidth (and thus in network load) between different IP cameras, even amidst cameras of a same brand! Chosing a proper IP camera, with decent H.264 compression, and a proper implementation of this algorithm, will deliver bandwidth for effective network efficient streams.

•If high numbers of devices need to be implemented, a multicast network should be considered. If multiple, external or public network connections need to be defined, a trancsoding engine should be considered, as correctly suggested.

•Decentralised architectures, edge-enabled systems, as opposed to client server architectures, could indeed be defined as slightly more reliable, simply due to their configuraiton. However, even in typical IP environments (which are here referred to as client/server) back-up storage, fail-safe recording, guaranteed functioning, failover network, dual ring configurations, etc, can be foreseen, with the same limited cost! This client/server architecture is actually also the ‘result’ of the lacking of any common denominator or language in IP CCTV so far. Hopefully, ONVIF or PSIA will solve this issue going forward. At that time, all units and all devices should be capable of communicating directly with one another, thus creating the absolute key advantage of an IP system.

•As for the example of a 750 camera system, and the cost ‘estimation’: first and foremost, the points mentioned are correct indeed of course; network performance, servers costs, CPU requirement for analytics, etc, etc, all put high demands – and thus high costs – for the system! However, at this moment the only environments where I have found 750 cameras running on one single LAN network, storage being centralised in one single location, is either an airport or a casino. Both are high risk, high security facilities, where cost of the CCTV system is less dominant, to say the least.

•Any enterprise, where the security director or the integrator, has the least bit of common sense, will distribute their architecture, thus pushing processing, recording, storage, etc as far to the edge as possible. The least one will do in such projects, is to create different nodes or clusters, each of which “function” on their own.

•The specification, and thus also the cost, of a decoding server, is again related to the lack of a common algorithm: the ‘burden’ to decode an mpeg-4 or H.264 stream is again heavily dependent on the quality of this stream, or the way the compression algorithm is implemented. When using “good” cameras, one can achieve a high number of streams onto one single machine, thus displaying up to almost 100 streams on a single machine. All however depends on the cameras, their compression algorithm, the way it has been implemented, etc etc.

•As for driving video walls, the limits there are defined by video wall manufacturers, rather then by IP CCTV manufacturers. Having said this though, it is true that you do not necessarily need expensive multiple units, decoders, and video wall drivers. Far more effective (and cheaper) solutions exist in the market today!

•The concept of the ICR seems somewhat contradictory to the statements made earlier on distributed architecture: with such ICR, one puts all functions into the camera itself, and the camera is actually referred to as a ‘server’. What processor(s) are used ? How much heat is dissipated ? How much noise is generated ? What are operational specs for such device ? What dimensions will such device have ? With the definition of this ICR, it is again referred to failure of the TCP/IP structure or the network. Repeating the first question, how often do we actually still see true network failures?? Does this ICR have 2 processors? Which? FPGA so they are field upgradeable ? Or ASIC which means they aren’t? How is licensing handled/stored/managed?

•Most interesting aspect of this whole paper: there is no mentioning or referral whatsoever to non-IP parts. The only key message I find in this paper is that of a distributed architecture, vs a centralized one, no more, no less.

All in all, one might argue that several things hold true, that there are numerous reasons to remain with ‘old’ analogue technology, that IP isn’t necessarily the answer to all our concenrs and questions. However, the drive to this new technology, which I prefer to call the merger into IP, in line with what happens all around us, is simply forced onto us by the market itself! Every product or technology we use in our CCTV business, is a direct derivative from a consumer product (VCR, CCTV camera, DVR, NVR, …..). So in this respect, our industry simply follows developments of consumer electronics. So as for what the future brings us: simply look at consumer markets; access anywhere, anytime; full wireless systems; broad bandwidths available all around; massive data transfer over (even public) networks; full HD television; multi mage pixel cameras (still as well as moving images), ever increasing HDD sizes; ever longer storing of images; gigabit networks even in residential environments; ….

The industry is simply going digital, full stop. Look at Sony for example, world’s biggest manufacturer of sensors. For several years already, no more R&D is spent on traditional sensors; all investment are going into digital technology. So even if one would want to remain with analogue, the industry will simply prevent this. This evolution, combined with price decrease of digital technology components (network cost, switches, routers, PC, servers, HDD, storage, …) shows that the shift towards a complete digital world is simply inevitable.

The point of an end-to-end solution vs multi-vendor solutions is – to my belief – a key advantage of the IP world: one can pick and chose various parts and components, and create his solution with different building blocks from different vendors. This way, the customer is ensured he has a solution that perfectly meets his demands, that fits his requirements perfectly, and that offers the best price/quality ratio. Manufacturers in their turn can focus on their core competences, and develop strong VMS systems, high quality IP cameras, cost effective storage systems, new processing & analytics algorithms. When (not if) we have common standards in our industry, customers will be able to simply pick and chose products, systems and solutions, and have the ability to easily connect them together.

To read the original articles about the analogue Vs IP CCTV debate and receive a free cost breakdown for a 750 camera system (mentioned as an example in the original article by Mike Newton), click here.

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12 Responses to Analogue or digital IP CCTV? The CCTV technology debate continues…

  1. controlware says:

    Thanks for your time with this Miguel this is a very comprehensive post. Just one point from Controlware’s point of view. The 750 cameras figure came about because that was the total used in the original article by Mike Newton. He claimed that an IP based system for 750 cameras costs £1.8m and a hybrid system £600k. That is why our cost breakdown was for 750 cameras to disprove that IP based CCTV are that expensive. By the way we also included in our costs a complete controlroom upgrade that were not mentioned in Mike’s original pricing.

    To read the original articles and get the cost breakdown click here.

    If any users are looking at IP either replacing or upgrading their existing system we would be happy to put together some costs for you. Send an email to me (Ben Hutchins) here.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mehrdad Farjadian, Ben Hutchins, Security Media Pub., John White, John White and others. John White said: RT @Controlware Analogue or digital IP CCTV? The CCTV technology debate continues… http://bit.ly/8XUIRJ http://bit.ly/d7YHxD […]

  3. […] Analogue or digital IP CCTV? The CCTV technology debate continues … […]

  4. David says:

    The information is clear and really useful. Thanks for sharing.

  5. williammorales93 says:

    IS IP network video and NVR’s better then Analog DVR’s and CCTV cameras?

    Analog is just as expandable as IP (add endlessly in modules of 4, 8, 16, 32 up to 64) As for implementation I’m afraid analog it is still quicker to “Plug & Play” as opposed to networks unless you happen to have a fiber optic backbone.

    Many people have a misconception that IP has Superior scalability than Analog but with the advancements of DVR’s this simply isn’t true. With Ascendent’s X3 DVR you can monitor up to 16,000 cameras using our Central Management Suite. Individual cameras can be located on or off site and connected simultaneously.

    Analog is just as expandable as IP (add endlessly in modules of 4, 8, 16, 32 up to 64) As for implementation I’m afraid analog it is still quicker to “Plug & Play” as opposed to networks unless you happen to have a fiber optic backbone.

    When you are using the internet to connect multiple sites together analog transmits over the internet faster with less latency using less bandwidth. This allows you not only to view and monitor a situation in real time but it also allows effective control of PTZ cameras. This can not be done with IP due to its amount of lag and latency on a LAN; let alone a WAN connection.

    Ascendent Technology has allowed standalone DVR’s to work as IP servers so that Ascendents X4S DVR’s convert analog cameras into IP cameras (like IP servers 4/8/16ch) in a 1U or 2U rack mountable case. This way you get the best of both worlds; a DVR that works autonomously with on site storage, playback and searching and a fully functioning IP device allowing video to be distributed over networks and recorded on NVR’s to create a wide-scope CCTV system. Unlike most companies, Ascendent does not charge for their Tri-fusion software. When you buy an IP product it will ship with our 64CH Tri-fusion unlicensed software allowing you to create and manage a cost-effective CCTV management. Solution

    Cost effective
    It is far more difficult (and expensive) to maintain a network than “Plug & Play” cabling. Not to mention when a problem happens on a network it is very hard to isolate the problem as one hub can take out 50 cameras where analog failures are isolated to a specific camera. Baluns are now used to send video and data up to a mile over a standard cat5 cable where standard POE distance is approximately 330ft.

    What is the Advantage of IP?
    Many of the so-called “advantages” of IP simply don’t hold true in the real world. IP is mainly marketing hype. Outside of a few niche applications such as single camera installs where Mega Pixel cameras are needed or large scale wireless projects which represent about 2% of the total CCTV market, IP has very few advantages compared to analog based on performance, cost and reliability. Most companies touting IP will often use MP cameras to demonstrate the advantages of IP.

    Note: if you are not using a good DVR then IP cameras will offer better performance. The argument in favor of analog is based on using a good DVR and high-end CCTV products. Ascendent’s iOne series camera and X4S DVR will outperform any IP camera at the same resolution.

    It seems when comparing analog and IP technology people take IP from 2010 and compare it to analog technology in 2005.

    Who is Pushing IP?
    Large companies like Bosch, Pelco, Honeywell and AXIS can change both hardware and software so once you use their cameras you have to keep using there cameras. Universal analog cameras can be used on any DVR and can have other companies develop software for them.

    IP cameras are based on CMOS, a sensor constructed using an array of pixels. Unlike CCD’s CMOS do not have a capacitor to store the charge for each pixel. The rows of pixels are activated sequentially rather than individually. Analog cameras are typically based on CCD image sensors containing hundreds of thousands of picture elements, called pixels. Each pixel contains a light sensitive element and a capacitor.

    This means CMOS sensors have an inferior ability to cope with ambient lighting such as back lighting, bright light, dark shadows contrast and IR, also known as real world scenarios.

    In short, unless you have perfect lighting a good CCD camera will outperform an equivalent CMOS camera.

    File Size:
    Smaller file sizes allow more images to be sent and the faster they can be processed improving both FPS and speed. File size is the heart of any DVR and goes far beyond just its streaming capabilities. It determines the recoding time and how fast it searches and renders video. Ascendent’s X3 DVR achieves file sizes as low as .2KB on normal image quality on a CIF image no IP camera on the market will come close to this. The file size of a DVR impacts the performance of the DVR in just about every aspect from speed to longevity and is often the most important spec of any DVR.

    IP cameras use outdated compression technology such as JPEG and MPEG4 rather than H.264. A system with over 9 IP cameras will not perform well on most existing infrastructures. It can even bog down the network to a point that it affects other devices such as POS, storage and other peripherals located on the network. Most routers and switches are not designed to handle IP cameras. They may have enough bandwidth but they are not able to process the amounts of commands. 9 IP cameras at 30FPS produces 230 instructions per second. Standard routers have enough bandwidth (up to 1GB) but can’t handle the amount of tasks (instructions) so frames get dropped. Latency is introduced and the effectiveness of other devices such as POS, printers and data storage can be affected and compromised.

    If you compare a D1 resolution image with a 2MP image you will notice very little difference. There are some low quality analog cameras and DVR’s but if you see a good D1 resolution image such as Airship’s or Ascendent’s Hardware compressed TI DSP images you will be impressed.

    IP has its place for certain applications and in some cases IP cameras are the only way to successfully complete a particular project particularly for large scale wireless projects or applications that have a fiber optic backbone.. But, for 90% of applications analog is cheaper and offers higher performance with a lower cost of ownership.

    • controlware says:

      I agree that for lower channel counts an analogue dvr might well be the best way to go but as for the rest I think you are fighting a bit of a losing battle.

      For larger systems over say 30 cameras its IP all the way. Its not just us saying this either if you look at every tender now a days they are all specifying IP. It is the only technology being specified.

      On the recording side why use multiple DVRs that are a single point of failure when you can use RAID storage that can be made to be resilient and even distributed over a number of sites.

      From the customer point of view it also costs in since they can use their exisiting network. Fibre does not always need to be used.

  6. PTZ Camera says:

    By a long shot, one of the best article l have come across on this valuable subject. I quite go along with with your assumptions and will thirstily look forward to your future updates.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Cole, Paul Wright and James Watson, John White. John White said: Comment on Analogue or digital IP CCTV? The CCTV technology debate continues… by PTZ Camera http://tinyurl.com/243xr34 […]

  8. Long Range IR Camera says:

    Many people have a misconception that IP has Superior scalability then Analog but with the advancements of DVR’s this simply isn’t true, with our X3 DVR you can monitor up to 16,000 cameras using our Central management Suite each camera could even be from a different DVR and a different site.

    And when you are using the internet to connect multiple sites together analog transmits over the internet faster with less latency using less bandwidth allowing you not only to view and monitor a situation real time but also effective control PTZ cameras, which cant be done with IP due to its amount of lag and latency on a LAN let alone a WAN connection.

    What Ascendent Technology has done is allowed our standalone and DVR’s to work as IP server so that our DVR’s convert analog cameras into IP cameras (like IP servers 4/8/16ch) in a U1 or U2 rack mountable case. This way you get the best of both worlds you get a DVR that works autonomously with on site storage, playback and searching but also a fully functioning IP devices allowing video to be distributed over networks and record on NVR’s to create a humongous CCTV system when using our Tri-fusion platform. (unlike most companies Ascendent does not charge for their software you buy an IP product it will ship with our 64CH unlicensed software) Our standalones can even record at one resolution and stream at another, as well as VBR and CBR to totally manage the amount of data that is sent by every camera individually, (many IP servers don’t offer all these features)

    Cost effective
    It is far more difficult (and expensive) to maintain a network then cabling that is just plug and play. no to mention when a problem happens on a network it is very hard to isolate the problem as one hub can take out 50 cameras where with analog all failures are isolated to that specific camera (unless its the DVR which have lower failure rate then NVR’s). Since the advent of Baluns you can now send video and data up to a mile over a standard cat 5 cable where the standard POE is about 330 feet.

    What is the Advantage of IP?
    Many of the so called advantages of IP simply don’t hold water in the real world, IP is mainly Hype and marketing and outside of a few niche applications such as 1 or 2 camera installs, where MP cameras are needed or large scale wireless projects which represent about 2% of the total CCTV market, IP has very few advantages compared to analog based on performance, cost and reliability. (yet all companies touting IP will often use MP cameras to demonstrate the advantages of IP)

    Note: if you are not using a good DVR then IP cameras will offer better performance by above writeup is based on using a good DVR and high end CCTV products. (our Ione camera and our X4S DVR will outperform any IP camera at the same resolution)

    I am curious as to why people think that IP has so many advantages over analog, it seems when comparing analog and IP people take IP from 2010 and compare it to Analog technology in 2005.

    IP video is more about marketing then it is about performance as larger companies like Bosch pelco Honeywell axis can change for both hardware and software and once you use there cameras you have to keep using there cameras unlike universal analog you can use any camera on any DVR and they can have other companies develop software for the allowing them to get into niche markets without having to developing new product lines. it also locks you into a product line quite often with annual license fees and upgrade charges)

    Also IP sounds great, plug and play, Better image quality, use existing infrastructure, who wouldn’t want that unfortunately this is often not the case.

    IP is like wireless (in theory its perfect) if that was true there would be no wired cameras or analog cameras it would all be wireless IP.

    IP cameras are based on CMOS
    Analog cameras are based on CCD (usually)

    CCD image sensors contain hundreds
    of thousands picture elements, called pixels. Each pixel contains a light sensitive element and a capacitor.

    A CMOS sensor is constructed using a array of pixels, but unlike CCD’s CMOS do not have a capacitor to store the charge for each pixel.The rows of pixels are activated sequentially rather then individually

    This means CMOS has some significant disadvantages compared to CCD, this means CMOS
    have inferior ability to cope with ambient lighting such as back light, bright, deep shadows contrasts, low light and IR this is also known as the real word.

    In short unless you have perfect lighting a good CCD camera will outperform an equivalent CMOS camera.

    CMOS unless it implements progressive scan technology does not handle motion well you get dithering and streaking similar to mpeg4 when there is high amounts of motion.

    File Size
    File size is crucial whether its for remote viewing, storage or transmissions because most DVR’s on the market record at real time performance (30FPS per channel) so on a 4CH is trying to send 120, 8CH 240, and a 16CH 480 images per second which requires way to much bandwidth even for the most extreme internet connections.

    File Size:
    The smaller the files size the more images that are able to be sent and the faster they can be processed improving both FPS and speed. File size is the heart of any DVR and goes far beyond just its streaming capabilities as it also determines the recoding storage time, how much you can back up at once, how fast it renders and searches video. (Ascendents X3 DVR achieves file sizes as low as .3KB on normal image quality on a CIF image no IP camera on the market will come close to this)

    The file size of a DVR impacts the performance of the DVR in just about every aspect from speed to longevity and is often the most import spec of any DVR.

    IP cameras have up to a 5X larger file size then analog cameras. (at same resolution) I have seen MP cameras that on 2MP resolution are over 300X (%3000) larger then our X3 DVR on a CIF image. This is an extreme case but generally speaking IP cameras have a much larger file size.

    This is because mot IP cameras especially economical ones or 3MP+ uses old outdated compression technology such as J-peg and Mpeg 4 rather then H.264. ( Even when they use H.264 since they Use CMOS which have lower signal to noise increases the file size) This means that if you want to do over 9 IP cameras most existing infrastructures simply wont do the job and can even bog down the network to point that it affects other devices such as POS, storage and other peripherals located on the network.

    Most routers and switches are not designed to handle IP cameras they have enough bandwidth but they are not able to process the amounts of commands. (9 IP cameras 30FP is 230 instructions per second) standard routers have enough bandwidth (up to 1GB) but cant handle the amount of tasks (instructions) so frames get dropped latency is introduced and the effectiveness of other devices such as POS, printers and dats storage can be affected and compromised.

    So like analog you often ether have to put in new cabling infrastructure for the IP cameras or completely overhaul there existing one which is often more expensive then doing analog cameras using baluns and cat 5 cabling (not to mention lower cost of ownership and higher reliability as a $40 router or switch cant take down 20k worth of cameras).But If you compare a good D1 resolution image and compare it with a 2MP you will very little deliverance any many times I have had people who choose the D1 using out 550TVL camera due to its better color reproduction and its ability to handle changing ambient lighting conditions.

    Don’t get me wrong there are some brutal analog cameras and DVR out there but If you see a good D1 resolution image such as Airships or ascendents Hardware compressed you will not be so quick to join the IP bandwagon.

    IP does have applications and in some cases IP cameras are the only way to do a project but I would estimate that for 90% of applications analog is cheaper offers higher performance with a lower cost of ownership and higher reliability.

    IP is a young and emerging technology and I have no doubt that in the future it will outperform analog cameras but its not a mature technology yet. Once we start to get standard IP platforms, get rid of license fees’ and existing networks have larger bandwidths then IP video will be a good solution, but until then analog is the way to go.

    Unless you are using a 5MP+ and have a fiber optic backbone or just need one camera it is almost always better to go analog over IP video.

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul Wright and John White, James Watson. James Watson said: Comment on Analogue or digital IP CCTV? The CCTV technology debate continues… by Tweets that mention Analo… http://tinyurl.com/2d87bxz […]

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