Magazine Article | March 19, 2012

Moving From Analog To IP-Based Video Surveillance

By Chris MacKinnon, contributing editor, Business Solutions magazine.

To address the security needs of a large grocery retailer, systems integrator Faith Technologies suggested an upgrade. Faith’s customer, Woodman’s Markets, was already using hybrid surveillance systems at various locations, so the SI proposed an all-IP-based security solution, highlighting the reduced cost and improved performance compared to the old systems. The client gave the upgrade the green light in 2011, and Faith Technologies, a full-service electrical and specialty systems contractor and systems integrator with 1,500 employees and roughly $228M in annual revenue, went to work.

Client Sold On More Reliability, Less Service
Faith installed Axis’ network cameras, Milestone Systems XProtect Corporate video management software (VMS), and an Intransa VA200ST iSCSI storage system in the most recently completed Woodman’s Market. The Axis network cameras installed included P3301, P1344, P1343-E, and 215-E. Some of the basic features offered by these cameras include: 360-degree pan with auto-flip, multiple H.264 video streams, power over Ethernet, and a day-and-night function. Jeremy Latzig, security systems integrator with Faith Technologies’ specialty systems division, explains, “This installation expanded an existing Milestone and Axis surveillance system implemented by Faith Technologies in 2009. Faith’s portion consisted of the design, material, installation and programming of the video surveillance system.”

Prior to the installation of the new Axis equipment, Woodman’s was using an analog DVR camera system made by a different vendor. However, Latzig says constant hard drive failures on the DVR meant one employee needed to be dedicated to servicing the surveillance system. He adds, “In addition, DVR failures meant shipping the units back and forth between the outlying stores and the corporate headquarters. A failed DVR meant an entire section of a store could be lacking protection for extended periods.”

Latzig says he selected the Milestone Corporate VMS because it is an enterprise-class VMS providing the necessary tools (e.g. multiserver and multisite solution, multicast support, map function, camera navigators) to manage a large, dispersed system, as a single system, while at the same time providing tools for clients in dayto- day monitoring and investigation. He also says Axis cameras can be maintained and upgraded in batches, lowering maintenance time exponentially.

IP-Based System Grows From 600 To 1,200 Cameras
Latzig says that while implementing the upgrade to the customer’s analog surveillance system, he proposed enhancing their existing surveillance capabilities by adding megapixel IP cameras to high-sensitivity areas. Latzig comments, “Woodman’s agreed, and we installed the new camera systems at their existing 11 stores. Overall, the Axis equipment cost 10% less than the previous vendor’s solution. Maintenance costs are also less as a result of the ability to log in remotely to the cameras to troubleshoot problems.

Faith’s installation in 2011 was Woodman’s first fully IP-based surveillance system. Latzig says Axis cameras are less prone to failure as compared to their analog counterparts. According to Latzig, the complete installation took about four weeks. He says end user training was limited to the store manager and his assistant, as Woodman’s corporate leadership had been fully trained during the first project in 2009, and the total training consisted of two 2-hour training sessions.

Initially, Woodman’s was concerned about the difficulty of managing a large IP surveillance system from across the state, as well as how it might impact the retailer’s WAN when a client started requesting video remotely. However, so far there have been no problems with the reliability of the system.

During the next year, Faith Technologies will begin upgrading two existing Woodman’s stores to fully IP-based systems as well as installing a full IP camera system in a new store. This will add nearly 600 cameras to Woodman’s IP surveillance system, which will then total more than 1,200 Axis cameras. This translates into more business for Faith Technologies and a good addition to a growing portfolio.