The technology migration from analog video surveillance systems based on videocassette recorders to networked systems that use Internet protocol (IP) to connect digital video recorders (DVRs) is in full swing, according to a survey of security managers conducted recently by Security magazine. Approximately half (49.5 percent) of respondents already have an IP-based security video system, while 32.1 percent say they plan to purchase a turnkey IP-based video system within the next 12 months.


Some customers – including Dean Miller, fire chief for General Motors’ power train plant in Toledo, Ohio, – are attracted by the ease of reviewing incidents with DVR-based systems.

“Our goal was to get something more reliable and to be able to critique incidents after the fact,” Miller explains. In comparison with GM’s previous VCR-based system, which required scanning through multiple videotapes to review an incident, the new system enables Miller and his security colleagues to search by day or hour. “We can record almost half a year,” he adds.

Networking makes the new system even more flexible. “What I like best is that I can access it remotely,” Miller asserts.

An organization’s information technology department also may help drive an upgrade to a networked video system. Lynn Thompson, security coordinator for the facilities management division of the state of Kansas in Topeka, says his organization’s information technology department recently asked that a previous analog video system be converted to an IP-based system.

IT personnel, who were charged with maintaining the fiber-optic and wire connections on the security video system connecting eight buildings, felt they could maintain an IP-based security network more easily. Meanwhile, security personnel had their own agenda. “We needed to have more control,” Thompson insists.

That extra level of control comes from integrating the video surveillance system with the organization’s other security systems, a capability that 40.1 percent of security managers responding to the Security magazine survey report having in their video surveillance systems.

The new Kansas system, which already has been installed in the state’s Capitol and a parking garage, is integrated with the organization’s intrusion protection system.

“If a door that isn’t supposed to be open is opened, the cameras will swing to that door,” Miller notes, adding that what he thinks is best about the new system is its flexibility. He likes being able to set certain cameras to record only on motion and having the ability to monitor the system from his desktop.

Approximately half (49.5 percent) of respondents already have an IP-based security video system, while 32.1 percent say they plan to purchase a turnkey IP-based video system within the next 12 months. Source: Security magazine informal Web survey of end-users, December 2004


When the tribal nation that owns the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., recently decided to install a networked video surveillance system in the casino, resort and neighboring buildings, it shared some of the goals of General Motors and the State of Kansas.

As with GM, security personnel wanted to be able to review incidents quickly. “The quicker we respond the better, because we don’t want to hold up the play of a game while we investigate,” emphasizes Larry Sherwood, surveillance technical manager for the casino and resort.

As with Kansas, the ability to integrate other security systems also was important. Although the casino and resort’s previous analog video system had been minimally tied together with an alarm system, the new system – which also is connected with the access control and point-of-sale systems – takes that integration to a new level.

“We’re looking at much more than when an alarm goes off, you go to a camera,” Sherwood points out. “We can look at who went through a door at a certain time. To do that in the past, we would have had to match back-and-forth between two different systems. Now there is a single file, you click on it with a mouse and it pops the incident up.”

The ability to integrate with other systems is also important to the security supervisor for a company responsible for servicing and protecting an important oil pipeline. The pipeline service company has begun to upgrade the security system to include two-way microphones and internal motion detection.

“When the camera sees movement, it will key an alarm and someone will look at it to determine if it’s one of our vehicles,” explains the security supervisor, who asked that neither his name nor that of his organization be used. “They will also be able to talk with the person at the other end.”

For the pipeline service company, as for 49 percent of security managers responding to the Security magazine survey, reliability was the single most important selection criteria. Reliability is especially important to the pipeline service company, the supervisor maintains, because the company’s system covers such a large geographic area and maintenance people have to travel great distances to service the system.

Other important criteria, according to the Security magazine survey, are ease of installation, which was chosen as the most important selection factor by 19 percent of respondents; a slim-line profile, named by 12 percent; and the ability to tie into existing video security equipment, which was named by 11 percent of respondents.

For 49 percent of security managers, reliability was the single most important selection criteria. Ease of installation was next most important.Source: Security magazine informal Web survey of end-users, December 2004

Networking issues

One of the key issues that security managers must address in planning a networked video system is whether to have it operate over the corporate computer network or on its own independent network.

Some IT departments may prefer to see the video network run on the corporate network, perceiving that it will be easier to maintain and control. But for similar reasons, security personnel may want to have their own network.

For the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort, the solution was to keep the two networks separate. Sherwood refers to the casino and resort video network as a “video area network that parallels the LAN.” The advantage, he points out, is that, “We use identical equipment, which makes it easier for the IT people – and we have headroom. We could have put both networks together, but then we would outgrow them quickly. This way, if either of us has a problem, we can loan bandwidth to each other quickly.”

The pipeline service company is one of only a few companies that have used another new technology option in networked video, the IP-addressed camera. Although most organizations continue to use analog cameras whose signals are converted to IP at the DVR, the pipeline service company did install one camera that connects via IP from the point of origin using a wireless link.

That option was chosen, the supervisor explains, because it eliminated the need to run wire or fiber-optic cable during the winter.

Another new capability that results from using a networked video surveillance system is the ability to store archived images remotely. As with IP-addressed cameras, demand for this solution is just beginning to develop.

Only 12.4 percent of respondents to Security magazine’s survey say they use off-site storage. But some organizations, including Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort, are considering that possibility for the future.