Veteran security professionals are sure to agree that the technological progress made in the video surveillance industry over the past 20 years is nothing less than remarkable. Particularly on the recording side, what equipment manufacturers have managed to do is make something that was already good even better.
There’s a divergence of ideas within the rank and file of alarm dealers and security integrators that center on the use of analog versus digital data/image storage systems. The question is, do analog video DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) continue to provide the industry with a cost-effective, viable means of video storage? Or, is the industry steadily moving toward an all-digital NVR solution?
The Always Present DVR
In a survey taken earlier this year in the Surveillance Installers forum on Facebook, out of the 163 professionals that participated, 57 percent said they believe analog will never entirely go away. The forum, comprised of 11,000 members, contains professionals, manufacturers and end users.
“When the customer is trying to keep the cost down, I’ll use analog, although I’m not willing to cut labor costs,” says Timothy Brinton, owner and general manager of Frankton Telecommunications LLC of Dover, Pa. “When I have a tech working on the job that is great with wiring but doesn’t understand IP networking, I will also use analog. When I have a line run longer than 200m, I use analog. When we can save money by using an existing coax network, I use analog. Anyone that says they’ll never use analog is only limiting themselves.”
There’s no doubt that analog HD/DVRs are popular with some installers, while others claim they’ve never touched one and never will. In most instances, those who use HDcctv do so in residential and SMBs (small to midsize businesses). Those who say they won’t use analog usually default to digital IP cameras, which means the focus of these individuals is in larger commercial and institutional venues where network-based video is the rule and not the exception.
According to Ted Wilkinson, national sales director with Axis Communications, Chelmsford, Mass., “These days you’re most likely to find analog systems in smaller installations within budget-sensitive markets. For many of these customers, basic analog service still suffices. That said, there are analog users who want some of the benefits of IP systems but they’re reluctant to scrap their existing system or they are limited by budget. In these situations hybrid systems are still an attractive alternative.”
One thing is for certain, DVRs in general have undergone tremendous advancements. Today’s analog DVR usually supports both Composite SD (Standard Definition) and HD (High Definition) HDcctv cameras, all of which rely on RG59 and RG6 coaxial cable. The latter utilizes HD-TVI, HDCVI, AHD, and/or CVBS formats, which rely on modulating video data onto a carrier signal, sending it up the coax to the DVR at the head end. Many of the same DVRs also support IP.
“DVRs are not as common as they used to be, but we are seeing a resurgence with analog HD cameras,” says Aaron Saks, product and technical manager with Hanwha Techwin America, Ridgefield Park, N.J. “People want to keep their cabling and power infrastructure in place, and upgrade to HD. They can now replace their DVR and applicable cameras, while leaving certain cameras in place.”
NVRs: Bigger, Better With More to Offer
This Tim Horton facility, and most others, is protected by a NVR with an outgoing connection to a centralized VMS for enterprise-level access, on-site storage, and overall system control by remote means.
IMAGE COURTESY OF LYON PALMER OF SHADOW SECURITY
There’s little doubt that when it comes to the storage of and easy access to video, NVRs are by far preferred in commercial and institutional settings over that of older DVRs. “I would say that currently NVR systems make up the majority of solutions in the industry and have exponentially grown over the last several years,” says Eugene Kozlovitser, technology director at BCD International, Buffalo Grove, Ill. “Outside of the cloud or hybrid cloud-based systems, the NVR market is strong and has become very versatile as edge devices get more complex and intuitive.”
Steven Valentin, project manager, Jacksonville with BCI Integrated solutions of Tampa Fl, agrees. “Application versatility on NVRs is much more robust than that of the DVR, which typically is used for analog-based cameras limited to the installation length of wire. NVRs, however, take advantage of being able to handle cameras anywhere in your network.”
The technology incorporated in an NVR, being newer and network oriented, offers higher-quality images with larger storage capacities. In many cases, an integrator can install more than one SSD (Solid State Drive) or traditional magnetic hard drives as demands dictate over time — and at a lower price point than analog storage technologies.
“NVR-based systems undoubtedly offer the most cost-effective option for video storage, offering integrators and end users the benefit of simple and easy installation, low maintenance and the assurance of stable and high-performance, high- and ultra-definition recording and retention,” says Jeff Montoya, Eastern regional sales director for IDIS America, Coppell, Texas.
David Grey, product group senior manager, video appliances, Genetec, Montreal, Quebec, takes it one step further. He says that while NVR solutions using DAS (direct attached storage) have become the norm for medium to large deployments, consumers continue to look for more advanced solutions that are better suited for remote management and large-scale data analysis. “This can be accomplished using an NVR, but often is better addressed with a hybrid architecture where management is done in the cloud and some, or all, of the data remains on site,” he says.
While it’s assured that the video surveillance industry will continue is migration toward an all-IP video storage solution, the continued use of analog DVR technology is likely. However, the implementation of a more robust, fault-tolerant wireless solution may very well all but eliminate the need for analog in retrofit situations at some point ahead. To make this happen, traditional Wi-Fi will likely experience a number of upgrades, thus all but ending the apparent stranglehold that analog via metallic cable has had on our industry.