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IP Video and the Shift from Analog to Digital Surveillance

Aug 14, 2008 12:40 PM, By John DeWitt

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Pivot3’s storage system

Pivot3’s storage system will provide more than one 1PB of storage to support 1,000 IP-based video surveillance cameras at the Creek Nation Casino Tulsa.

As with other types of corporate AV systems, digital, IP-based video has emerged gradually over the past decade as the de facto standard for new corporate surveillance systems. The security-intensive casino environment exemplifies this trend. Two Native American gaming facilities, for instance, recently announced their moves to digital systems, citing numerous advantages—including vastly improved resolution, capacity and scalability of cameras, greater control and automation, enhanced remote-monitoring capabilities, and secure storage of vast volumes of digital video. But there is a catch with IP video: The need to justify IP video’s higher price tag as well as the immense cost of replacing many millions of existing analog video cameras systems.

Video security systems are an immense market. It is projected that the global video-surveillance market will reach $46 billion in 2013—a 340% increase from 2006, according to a white paper authored by Mustafa R. Qutub, director of investor relations at Visual Management Systems. Years ago, video security systems consisted solely of analog cameras and VHS recorders. The first CCTV system was installed in New York in 1969, Qutub writes. Today, some 20 million analog security cameras remain in use in the United States alone. But analog video—which still commands a significant portion of new system sales, due primarily to its lower cost—suffers from numerous limitations, including lower image quality and degradation of stored data. The emergence of digital video recorders (DVRs) have vastly improved data management by storing the analog video signal on a hard drive. But the combination of IP-based digital cameras and digital data-storage solutions represent the high-performance surveillance system of choice.

For instance, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation recently opted to implement Pivot3’s High-Definition Storage system for a new video-surveillance system in the Creek Nation Casino Tulsa. The system, planned and installed Connections IT of Tulsa, Okla., will use the Pivot3 clustered storage to support the bandwidth and capacity needs of nearly 1,000 HD IP cameras installed in security-sensitive locations—including table games, cashiers’ windows, and kiosks. This installation, supporting more than 1PB of storage, represents one of the largest virtual matrix systems (VMS) deployed in the world today—according to the firms’ announcement.

The decision to implement IP-video-based systems, however, is not an easy one for organizations that have already made an extensive investment in analog camera systems. The Lucky Eagle Casino in Washington, in operation since 1995, opted to supplement its analog system with megapixel IP cameras from Arecont Vision performing critical tasks that require higher performance.

“It is important that our surveillance operators clearly see the indexes of the cards,” explains Miguel Grijalva, director of surveillance for Lucky Eagle Casino. “We need to view suits and clearly distinguish between a heart and a diamond, and the analog cameras we had were not providing enough of this detail.”

Another approach—a hybrid analog-digital solution—fosters the adoption of IP video while still using existing analog camera assets. Visual Management Systems’ TrueHybrid upgrades surveillance systems by converting analog data directly from cameras into a digital format, eliminating VHS or traditional DVR storage.

The TrueHybrid system is able to receive both analog and IP camera feeds, storing data digitally and permitting onsite playback as well as remote access. Therefore, current users can maintain their existing cameras, lenses, and cables instead of having to replace entire systems. The TrueHybrid system includes advanced search capabilities, extensive storage space, and the ability to seamlessly integrate up to 256 camera feeds from as many locations onto a single head unit.

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