Dispelling the myths of IP video: Myth #9: IP surveillance is less reliable than alternative technologies

November 2007 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

In this series, Roy Alves, country manager of Axis Communications South Africa, examines 10 myths about IP video.

Because Internet Protocol (IP) surveillance systems are dependent on an information technology infrastructure, there exists scepticism in the market over their reliability as a surveillance system. This scepticism is, however completely unfounded!

From the camera level through to the system's power supply, IP surveillance systems were developed with business continuity as a priority.

Although relatively new compared to analogue cameras, IP cameras have really come into their own in terms of their reliability and have certainly surpassed analogue cameras with regards to their intelligence.

With their tamper-proof housing, network dome cameras are a great example of the reliability that is inherent in IP cameras. For instance, leading network dome cameras come with a built-in fan/heater to ensure uninterrupted performance in both extremely hot and cold conditions.

Furthermore, network cameras have the ability to detect interruptions in video transmission and send an alert when such interruptions occur. They can also sense when the lens has been covered or the camera's position has been tempered with.

To supplement their technological and mechanical intelligence, network cameras and network systems have another ace up their sleeve. The technical term is Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE is a technology that is available exclusively in network systems that allows for the integration of power into a standard local area network (LAN) infrastructure, making it possible to supply power to any network camera through the cable by which it is connected to the network.

This means that network cameras can be placed at remote locations, far from power outlets, without the need for long power extension cords. Remotely placed analogue cameras, on the other hand, depend on long extension cord for their power supply.

Whenever used, extension cords should be kept as short as possible. Extension cords that are too long suffer from a form of resistance called voltage drop. The longer the extension cord, the higher the resistance, and the less effective it is as a power supply.

Not having a power outlet near a camera can be problem, but not having power at all is an even bigger problem. Living in South Africa, where power outages can last for days, a reliable alternative power supply is important for ensuring business continuity. The uninterrupted power supply (UPS) has become the preferred alternative power source for most businesses.

Unfortunately for companies using analogue surveillance systems, these systems are not easily connected to a UPS. Through PoE, network surveillance systems, however are much easier to connect to a UPS, ensuring continuous operation, even though prolonged power outages.

Another issue often raised as an area of concern for network systems is their reliance on the Internet. This might have been an issue in the past but Internet services in South Africa have greatly improved in the last two or three years. There is now a broader range of services and service providers to choose from, making it easier to get a reliable, always-on Internet service at a good price.

In addition, especially in large corporations, it might make sense to install a new dedicated IP surveillance network and use it in conjunction with the existing general-purpose network. A switch or router can then be set up to automatically connect the IP system to the general-purpose network in the rare case where the dedicated surveillance network fails. For extra support, a backup switch can also be used to supplement the primary switch, thereby significantly bolstering the system's reliability.

Network surveillance systems have been successfully deployed in the most sensitive of environments, including banks, airports and prisons. Their continued use in these areas is proof enough of their reliability as a security solution. From their intelligent cameras to their innovative use of power, network systems will always be more reliable than any analogue system.


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