IP Cameras, Part 1: What’s Holding You Back?

Filed under: IP Cameras

If you are responsible for your organization’s or customer’s video surveillance system and are still using analog video cameras, you’ve probably been pushed at least once or twice to make the leap to IP video surveillance – or risk getting left behind in the ‘dark ages’.

And it’s just as likely that you’ve already looked at the general benefits of an IP camera, weighed them against the increased system cost, and concluded that it wasn’t quite the right fit for you (or your customers) just yet.

You wouldn’t be alone. There are several factors that can deter an organization from moving to IP video. For this article, I’ll stick to the top four that I see regularly.

1. Higher Cost – A higher price tag is the number one reason most customers cite as a barrier to transitioning to IP cameras. When looking at the additional price compared to benefits, it can sometimes be very hard to justify adopting a new technology.

2. Existing System Compatibility – Arguments in favor of moving to IP cameras often don’t take into account the fact that a majority of organizations already have existing video surveillance systems. You might find that the IP camera you want to install is incompatible with your current system, or that there are limitations due to the incompatibility of technologies (e.g. the IP cameras don’t work on existing matrix systems). This can result in disjointed systems that don’t work very well together and are difficult to grow and maintain.

3. Networking – While it is true that you can technically re-use an existing network infrastructure, the reality is that those infrastructures have generally been put in place for something else. At a bank, for example, the network was originally designed to facilitate important financial transactions – any good IT department will rightly ask, “What risk will this additional IP video system put on our day to day operations?” This certainly takes away from the simplicity of making the ‘leap’ to IP surveillance.

4. Installation & Configuration – Physically installing an IP camera is very similar, maybe even easier, than installing an analog camera. However, configuring an IP camera once it’s installed can be a totally different story.

  • First, you need to find it on your network. Many tools can make this a straightforward task, but that’s assuming that your network is working. If you can’t find a camera, it can add several levels of debugging to get things going.
  • If problems arise after configuration, you need trained personnel to determine the cause and fix it quickly. If you are an integrator, you probably already understand that this means getting your people up-to-speed on the IP video technology or bringing in experts to help. Either way, it can mean more time and/or costs compared to analog cameras.
  • Focusing manual varifocal high-definition (HD) IP cameras can be a challenge. Achieving the correct focus requires quite a bit of precision and network latency issues can make it even more difficult.

That said, once you have an IP camera up and running, there is a lot more flexibility in terms of configuring it to suit the needs of your specific application. You can configure an IP camera remotely, which means you’ll save money since, in most cases, you don’t have to physically access the camera to get it right.

Time for a Second Look
Those are the main reasons why organizations continue to install analog surveillance cameras, and they are all very valid.

But – and you knew there was at least one coming – there are several very compelling reasons to start using IP cameras.

Read Part 2 of this post to find out why it might be time for a second look.

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