Shop Customer Satisfaction
For IP manufacturers, the production line is the beginning of service
- By Mark S. Wilson
- Mar 01, 2011
With ISC West coming up on
the docket, it will be interesting
to see what video vendors
will be emphasizing. Odds are that
we will see scores of messages about
better widgets -- higher-resolution cameras,
unique VMS software, clever storage
schemes and the like.
You can take it to the bank that
the word “ONVIF” (Open Network
Video Interface Forum) will be highly
displayed. And it should be. After all,
end users want the increased benefits
of digital and IP video surveillance,
but end users and integrators alike run
into big roadblocks on the journey
from analog to digital. With digital surveillance,
it is no longer simple to mix
and match analog cameras and DVR
brands. The basic components of a
digital network video system are often
non-standard, including the IP camera,
NVR and VMS.
This is the crux of ONVIF’s importance.
ONVIF-certified products work
with other ONVIF-certified products. If
a product carries ONVIF certification,
integration is standardized. If the integrator
and end user agree on using only
ONVIF-certified products, we are on our
way back to the plug-and-play world.
Reading the Blogs
Increasing compatibility is the type of
thing that dependable manufacturers
are undertaking. But their responsibility
doesn’t stop with product improvements.
If you have been reading video
surveillance blogs recently, you’ll know
that some bloggers have been castigating
video manufactures on their lack
of service and commitment to their
customers. Their point is simple: Video
manufacturers are very good at introducing
the latest and greatest products,
but they seem to believe that is where
their responsibility ends. After accepting
the purchase order and delivering
the product, the rest -- working out the
specifics of the individual system -- is
up to the integrator and their customer.
It is these types of “products” -- service
and individual attention -- that one
doesn’t see in a trade show booth. For
instance, if you want to migrate from
analog to digital, what is the cost of doing
so? And how much does it cost to
add encoders to your analog cameras?
What about tearing out the analog
control center and totally replacing it?
What if it’s not yet fully depreciated?
Can’t systems coexist for awhile? What
if you decide the digital system doesn’t
work for you and you want to return to
analog? Ask some school districts that
had to grapple with these questions
when they found, per state law, that
they needed to store 30 days of highresolution
video. The answers to those
types of questions won’t be highlighted
in tradeshow booths.
Does Your Integrator
That’s a very important question to
ask. You need to know what type of
training the manufacturer is providing
its integrators. Does the manufacturer
provide hands-on technical productcertification
classes that train integrators
and dealers to install and optimize
IP surveillance cameras to deliver the
best evidence to their customers?
As a result of completing such training,
dealers, integrators and installers
will know how to install, configure and
support IP cameras. Working with others
in the class, they will be able to leverage
new networking opportunities
for working together on future projects
and have new insights into the functionalities
their organizations will need
to successfully compete in the future.
They also will leave with resources for
additional training after their certification
Additionally, by actually working
with the products, dealers, integrators
and installers gain an increased understanding
of IP technology, meaning
they obtain confidence in installing
and configuring IP video products, and
receive verification of their knowledge
through certification testing.
Here’s one question you might ask
your manufacturer to determine if it
provides the type of training you would
want your integrator to have: Does
your training program provide BICSI
and ESA members with credits?
What If Things Don’t Work?
Remember the last system you put in --
that gnawing feeling in the pit of your
stomach when it was time to “turn it
on,” that sinking feeling when it didn’t
work? Were you and the integrator left
alone to try to figure it out? Bloggers
have again been noticing this.
Let’s face it: Sometimes things go
haywire. For instance, the architect
drops in and the camera mountings
don’t match the interior. But they are
available only in black and white. A
contractor made a mess of the wiring.
He’s not to blame; nobody told
him about the surveillance system. The
customer comes in midway during the
project and alerts everyone that her
boss also wants to be able to add a new
feature to the application, one the VMS
Here’s a real-life example: When
a major metro system needed to add
more cameras and alarm management
to its existing surveillance system, it
also wanted to ensure it would have
flexible system priority management;
powerful, network-centric alarm management;
a synchronous system for all
devices; and a pathway to future upgrades.
There was one big problem: The
solution comprised components from
The manufacturer was able to help
the integrator solve the problem with
some product tweaks. First of all, a 20
priority level was placed between the
keyboard and camera. Without getting
technical, this meant the system could
quickly denote changes in conditions
and respond to them, ensuring priority
conditions would be executed first.
If there were an accident, the system
could focus on the trains involved, their
location and the points leading to it.
The manufacturer also corrected the
system so that alarm signals could be
sent to the central control server via
the installed Ethernet and customized
the solution so that all devices would
have a synchronous system. As a result,
the metro’s surveillance system’s
components are more compatible with
each other, and the customer got what
That’s the type of effort that integrators
and end-users want to see
from manufacturers. The problem is
that you can’t see this “product” in
the exhibitor’s booth; you need to dig
This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Security Today.