Bye bye coax - hello UTP

May 2002 IT infrastructure

Both locally and internationally there is a definite move away from traditional CCD cameras toward digital signal processing (DSP) cameras in the security arena - and CCTV control systems are also embracing digital format more and more often.

In short, CCTV is becoming IT orientated at a rate of knots.

The main reason is that VCR systems simply cannot store and archive the amount of data coming in from today's installations. Take for instance a typical casino installation sporting 300 or more cameras. VCRs traditional three-hour tapes would demand a huge amount of management, not to mention storage, in a demanding setup like this.

The digital route renders many advantages. For example, footage is electronically watermarked so tampering is easily identified, also making the footage admissible in court. All material is stored on a hard drive and now termed 'data' - no longer 'video'.

Another big advantage of digital technology is the speed of retrieval it delivers, streets away from combing back through dozens or even hundreds of tapes.

Global trends

The global industry move towards digital technology includes some other hi-tech advances, such as cameras harnessing UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cabling. UTP cabling is a fraction of the price of traditional coaxial cabling - between one-sixth and one-fortieth of the cost of coax cable. In many cases, the existing telephone cable can be used, saving the cost of installing new cables.

UTP is also physically much smaller than coax and is colour coded. It is one-tenth the size and weight of coax and is easier to transport to the installation site and to work with. It is also quicker to terminate and uses lower cost tools, saving time and money.

Many signals can be run on one multipaired cable as well. On a 25 pair cable (which is less than 10 mm in diameter), you can run 25 different signals, including video, telemetry, low voltage power and switching in a small space.

Pictures are uniformly sharp, clear and noise free at the monitor and you get a good quality picture that is not affected by other signals in the locality. And it is much easier to add cameras in the future on a system - all you need to do is run back to the closest distribution point.

The list of places where UTP can significantly reduce the overall costs of materials installation is a long one: within or between buildings, lifts, hospitals, prisons, casinos, schools and universities, shopping malls, hotels and resorts, warehouses, amusement parks, car parks and garages, entry gates, traffic control and railways.

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