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Video surveillance systems review

21 April 2015, by — admin ()

In our previous reviews on various information security, employee supervision software and hardware monitoring systems for offices we have already stressed that many tools can effectively function only in combination with video surveillance systems.


Main difficulties associated with these systems are in:

  • them being rather expensive
  • extremely difficult selection of the necessary equipment
  • equipment compatibility

The more requirements are imposed on a ready-for-use video surveillance system, the more difficult the product selection is.

Below we review main surveillance systems classes and take a closer look at modern solutions.

Analog video surveillance systems

By today’s standards these systems are considered to be old-fashioned. They usually consist of a recording device (recorder), analog cameras and a monitor screen to watch the recordings. The only major advantage of such systems is their simplicity. The unit replacement is easy to perform, losing recordings because of hacking or a computer virus is impossible, while the price is very attractive.
Yet, this simplicity results in obvious disadvantages. Such systems have limited functionality, cannot be used en masse, and implementation of new features is impossible.
Today the market offers some rather powerful and functional analog video surveillance systems (some even having an online streaming feature), yet these decisions are quite strange, however cost attractive they might appear, because of the cameras’ low prices.

PC-based digital video surveillance systems

Modern video surveillance systems use digital protocols, while a hardware recorder is replaced with a PC or a PC-based device.
Such systems are very user-friendly, have great functionality and scalability.

Cameras are usually connected via local area network. If there is a large number of cameras, PoE (Power over Ethernet) technology is often used either for outdoor installation or for the sake of the wire saving. This technology allows using a single twisted-pair wire that will both supply power and take the video signal. Naturally, the PoE technology must be supported by a router with a camera connected.

Disadvantages of such systems are pricey cameras (in comparison to analog ones) and computer’s vulnerability to viruses and attacks. Additionally, the twisted-pair wires used for these systems have limited length (up to 100 meters between the routers) and are subject to very strict installation specifications.

Furthermore, many people believe the digital systems software is far from ideal. It’s either not professional enough or too expensive.

There are also some interesting multiple card solutions. These consist of a PC, a capture board and analog cameras that allow for user-friendly, flexible and an affordable video surveillance.


Online video surveillance

This is a complex of rather new technologies that haven’t fully occupied their niche.
The general idea of this technology is that of a camera being able to record a video on its own, to code it and to transmit it into the network (either local one or the Internet). Any computer device is able to connect to the network and stream the video.

Cameras can be connected to the network both via the wire or Wi-Fi which reduces the number of necessary wires. As of today, IP-cameras are the most expensive, yet they offer the best stream quality available. Many cameras even support remote control.




Today such cameras can be seen in small offices or streaming live events from open spaces (street video surveillance).
Another type of this kind of devices is GSM-cameras. They don’t even need any Internet access. Being equipped with a SIM-card, GSM-cameras will stream a video to anyone who makes a call from any compatible device. Being very compact and self-inclusive, these cameras are often used for surveillance of small premises (such as warehouses or garages).


Popular opinion regarding video surveillance system selection can be summarized as follows:

  • When you approach a professional video surveillance systems installation company, you are most likely to be consulted about an analog system installation since that is something such companies are used to work with.
  • When you approach computer savvy guys (administrators, SCS specialists), you are most likely to be consulted about a digital system installation since these systems are of a higher quality and have typical setup process and control.

The truth is that it’s just matter of time before digital technologies will finally drive analog ones out of the market.

Whichever system you may choose, video surveillance system installation has to be approached with due attention. A single camera hidden in the corner of a dimly lit room will only show you how someone is stealing something. And everything will change after you place a camera at the room’s exit. Provided you have plenty of light turned on, you will most likely be able to see the face of the culprit.

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