Group advocates standard for HDTV-based video surveillance

"IP cameras are not the future," alliance chair says

A recently formed group has proposed a standard for high-definition video surveillance systems that allows HDTV signals to be transmitted digitally over conventional closed-circuit TV media without packetization.

Todd Rockoff, executive chair of the HDcctv Alliance, says the first version of the standard, available to members now and to the public in September, was developed to promote interoperability in different vendors' HDTV cameras, digital video recorders and monitors.

A new generation of HDTV equipment for video surveillance in broadcast-quality high-definition digital video is arriving as an improvement on older analog systems, Rockoff says.

These HDTV-based surveillance systems can be deployed easily over existing closed-circuit media, such as cabling commonly used by corporations, government and retailers for their older analog video systems, he says.

The HDcctv Alliance industry standard, if implemented widely, would offer baseline interoperability among the major components of these new HDTV video surveillance systems. The group also expects to work on other types of technical guidelines in the future.

Rockoff says that HDTV used with an HDsdi serial digital interface over regular coaxial cable offers some advantages over IP-based camera equipment, another type of video surveillance technology touted to replace older closed-circuit analog surveillance.

IP-based video, which requires packetization to transmit video streams over routing infrastructures, uses more network bandwidth and "a few megapixel cameras on them will bring them to their knees," Rockoff contends.

While the HDcctv Alliance is not against packetizing video streams per se -- it can be appropriate when video needs to be sent over the Internet, for example -- it's not necessarily the right choice when video streams are collected internally, Rockoff says. "An IP-based camera has a built-in delay of at least half a second," he says, noting it makes it hard for video-surveillance workers to control the "speed dome," the pan, tilting and zooming.

"IP cameras are not the future; HDTV is the future," Rockoff says.

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Ellen Messmer

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