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Converting your Analog CCTV System to a Digital Video Recording System: Factors to Consider

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/26/2010

Are you sold on switching to a digital CCTV system? Would the switch burn a hole in your pocket? What are the factors you ought to consider before making the switch?

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    If you have an analog CCTV system, you may want to switch to a digital system to avoid having to be around to pop in tapes when you run out of recording space.

    You may also be impressed by the remote monitoring system facility (viewing what’s happening at your site without being there) a digital system provides. You can connect your cameras to a network equipped with a video server, allowing you to store your video images there. This facility also allows you to view your surveillance video footage from any computer in the network. If you’re connected to the Internet, you can view surveillance footage from anywhere in the world.

    You would also have heard of the ability of a digital CCTV system to integrate with other systems (sending an email of your captured image to the police station).

    But then you may ask whether switching to a digital CCTV system would burn a hole in your pocket. What then about the huge amount of money you had invested in the analog CCTV system? Would it all have to go to waste?

    Banish the worry at this instant. You don’t have to totally discard your analog system to enjoy the benefits of a digital system. You can still use your camera, lenses and cables you’ve invested in. Modern DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) are designed to be compatible with older analog systems.

    If you’re sold on switching to a digital surveillance system, you may want to know the factors you need to take into account before making the switch.

    There are three important factors you need to consider before making the switch. They are network bandwidth, hard disk storage space and software application.

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    Bandwidth

    If you’re utilizing a local network for your surveillance system, you would not have to worry about bandwidth. However, if you ‘re going to use PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to dispatch your images smoothly, say at 30 frames per second, you would need a bandwidth of at least 120 kilobits per second.

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    Storage Space

    It all depends on the quality of the video footage you want and how smooth a motion you desire. The amount of space taken up by your surveillance footage will depend on the compression format you use. If for example, you need surveillance just to monitor your employees, you may opt for a weaker compression and a lower frame rate - say at 15 frames per second. If your site has a high security risk, then you would want quality video footage, at 30 frames per second, in case you need footage for evidence purposes.

    In a nutshell, a higher quality video would require more hard disk space.

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    Software Choice

    Software choice would depend on your surveillance needs. Do you need built-in motion detection, intelligent patrolling features or remote access via Internet? If so, you could consider Xprotect Business from Milestone.

    If you’re looking for remote camera configuration, direct or automatic camera control and message forwarding you may want to consider SeeTec.

    There is also H264 Webcam Free to try if your budget doesn't allow for software purchase, It's a remote surveillance software for Windows which can handle up to 4 video channels. It can also capture footage up to 30 frames per second and works with USB and analog cameras.