High-def video surveillance standard viewed as boon to users

HDcctv Alliance launches with new industry standard

The standard will allow end-users to mix and match HDTV cameras and digital video recorders between vendor equipment.

The standard will allow end-users to mix and match HDTV cameras and digital video recorders between vendor equipment.

A new industry group officially launched Tuesday with a proposed standard for closed-circuit high-definition TV for video surveillance, and end-users applauded the effort to promote interoperability in a new generation of monitoring gear.

The HDcctv Alliance announced Gennum Corp., EverFocus, Ovii, Stretch and Comart System as charter members. The group plans to make its HDcctv Interoperability Specification 1.0 publicly available in September, and some members, including Stretch (a maker of processors and digital video recorders), said they would support the industry standard in that timeframe.

Carl Lindgren, surveillance technology manager for the Sycuan gaming commission, which oversees the Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, Calif., says standards are an important factor in his plans to replace older analog-based camera systems. The main options would be either IP-based video systems or high-definition video, which could use closed-circuit cabling already installed. Standards for HDTV video-surveillance are intended to make mixing and matching HDTV cameras and digital video recorders possible between vendor equipment.

The HDcctv Alliance standard doesn't preclude using IP-based transport when needed to send video streams beyond a closed-circuit network. But the Alliance is keeping its focus on high-resolution broadcast-quality video that doesn't have to be broken into packets and compressed, a process the HDcctv Alliance says can add time delay and increase bandwidth demands.

"The transport mechanism is the key question," says Lindgren about which direction to take for future video-surveillance systems. He's keeping an open mind about whether to go with IP-based video down the road, and will be evaluating Cisco's IP-based video systems, for instance. But he says the Sycuan Casino's existing corporate IP network is not a good candidate for adding packetized video-surveillance streams for two reasons.

One is that this would add too much traffic to the network and the other is that the casino is under the obligation to monitor the IT department since the casino's surveillance has to cover all facilities."So I don't want it in the hands of the IT department," Lindgren says

Switching to IP-based video could end up being very costly if a major network upgrade is needed. But the tribal casino is considering a major re-modeling, so it might be done anyway.

Stretch, a member of the HDcctv Alliance, supports IP cameras as well as high-definition TV equipment, says Bob Beatchler, vice president of marketing. The advantage in high-def video over a closed-circuit network, though, is not only outstanding picture quality but the ease in upgrading existing analog systems because you can use existing cabling, he says "They'd just have to replace the camera and digital video recorder," says Beatchler. "They don't have to rip up the enterprise."

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