Making the IP Transition

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the security and life safety industry, we have been hearing the buzz about IP-based systems for the past 10 years. While IP systems are experiencing rapid growth - demonstrating the industry is indeed heading in this direction - there is still a tremendous amount of installed analog infrastructure in place.

Many security directors want to take advantage of the benefits of IP-based systems, yet their budgets may prevent them from replacing all of their equipment while it is still functioning as intended. This scenario presents an opportunity for security dealers and integrators to introduce transitional technology upgrades in the form of hybrid analog/IP solutions - allowing their customers to leverage a part of existing investments while gaining the increased flexibility and advanced capabilities of IP systems.

Hybrid Video Systems

Instead of the expensive “rip-and-replace” approach that is commonly used to move existing video installations to IP, a migration strategy involving a hybrid solution allows end users to buy into a longer-term transition that often better suits their budgets. The cost of the transition can be spread out over time.

Hybrid upgrades to video systems can be accomplished in a number of ways.

IP video encoders can serve as the bridge between analog cameras and the network, converting analog camera signals to digital format for viewing, recording and storage. Once converted, these video streams can be managed in the same way as those from IP cameras.

Hybrid digital video recorders that accept both analog and IP camera inputs can also be used by customers who wish to keep existing analog cameras, but invest in IP cameras for any additional surveillance requirements. Both types of cameras can be viewed side by side on a single monitor. A hybrid DVR used with the modular technology available in some cameras allows security directors to have cameras upgraded from analog to IP at the pace they choose, as the upgrade is completed with a simple module switch that does not require replacing the entire camera system. With this future-proof technology, they benefit from a system that will meet their ongoing requirements, while dealers and integrators gain a “built-in” opportunity for additional revenue.

To add advanced IP capabilities like video analytics to installed analog systems, integrators can simply “bolt on” devices for this functionality. With embedded analytics, intelligence is built into an IP encoder - the “bolt-on” device - giving the encoder the ability to detect behavior. By looping video from a DVR to the encoder and back, and configuring the DVR to handle these alarms, integrators can add analytics to customers’ existing analog cameras.

Hybrid Intrusion and Life Safety

For security systems, integrators can enable their customers’ existing intrusion control panels to communicate over the Internet or intranet instead of phone lines. Information transport solutions or modules will convert reports from the control panels’ traditional telephone dial up communicators into IP packages. The modules then send these secure IP packages over the Internet to the receiver at the central station monitoring the facility.

This type of hybrid solution is also available for fire alarm control panels and is accepted in many states. For both life safety and intrusion systems, IP provides higher speed alarm communications to the central station compared to traditional telephone dial up.

Using IP for communications with the central station can also reduce costs for end users by eliminating the dedicated phone lines previously used for this purpose. A lower total cost of ownership is an important consideration for security and life safety directors, and communicating this message may help dealers and integrators convince their customers that the time is right to upgrade to a hybrid system.

Building a Hybrid  Business

In times when new security installations are not as abundant as they once were, security dealers and integrators can look for upgrade opportunities with existing customers to keep the sales pipeline full.

The market’s interest in and curiosity about IP-based systems is strong, yet many security and life safety directors may not be aware that a hybrid solution is available to them. Upgrades that help end users reduce risk - adding analytics to an existing surveillance system - or help them reduce operating costs - converting to IP alarm communications - may pique the interest of a customer who is faced with increasing pressure to improve security within a limited budget.

Jeremy Hockham is the president of sales–Americas for Bosch Security Systems, Inc. He can be reached at