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Today's Technology - An Insider's View
Video surveillance permeates our lives
today; it is part of a changing world.
We recently sat down with Jeff Whitney,
vice president of marketing for
megapixel camera manufacturer
Arecont Vision to get an industry insider’s view on
where the video surveillance market is today, how we
got here, where we can expect it go in the near future,
and what his own company is doing to keep up.
Q. What’s behind the rapid growth of IP technology in
A. There are many factors driving the evolution of
video surveillance to IP.
A security department in the past would typically
deploy a surveillance system with operating software
integrated on a VCR or DVR connected to analog
cameras. All were from the same vendor, and the
same manufacturer might also deliver the access control
system. The user may have liked some features of
the surveillance system, but not those of the access
control – or vice versa.
Enter IP technology.
Open interoperability standards such as ONVIF
are key to the benefits of IP. The security department
is now able to deploy a surveillance system with the
best megapixel cameras, the best VMS software, and
the best servers and storage. IP infrastructure also
allows the integration of other technologies such as
video analytics, access control, identity management,
and physical security information management, all
with the best choices in their category. No proprietary
system can match that.
Despite the huge growth in IP surveillance systems,
the market is still young, and there remains a large install
base of legacy analog technology deployed.
Q. You mentioned the cost savings of IP technology.
What impacts have the state of the economy, security
budgets and modern security challenges had on the video
A. IP network technology continues to be the choice
for an ever larger number of new surveillance systems.
In large part, this is driven by the desire to cut costs,
deliver improved video, and ensure the delivery of a
From a cost reduction perspective, it begins with Cat-
5 IP network cable being less expensive to buy than
coax, and less expensive to install. The IT organization
is often more involved in the video surveillance
system today than in the past. IP networking has long
been a common architecture in IT environments and
further drives video surveillance infrastructure onto
IP. That in turn ensures professional network management,
standards and further reduction of costs by
the involvement of the IT organization.
While costs and budget impact are always important,
no amount of financial savings makes a winning
solution unless the video delivered meets the
needs of the organization. Megapixel cameras have
continued to evolve from when Arecont Vision was
the first to introduce 2MP network cameras in 2004.
The industry’s best professional IP megapixel surveillance
cameras now offer improved image sensors,
quality optics packages, reduced camera size and
new features and capabilities.
With these enhanced capabilities, reduction of
cameras is a common benefit while improving overall
coverage and situational awareness. Fewer cameras
mean lower VMS license fees, since a single megapixel
camera can eliminate multiple analog cameras
while delivering significantly increased coverage and
The legacy practice of using PTZs to cover areas
with a single camera was the norm in 2006 when the industry’s
first multi-sensor megapixel panoramic camera
was introduced. Now in our 5th generation, other vendors
offer multi-sensors today.
In the case of PTZs, multi-sensors eliminate the
moving parts that can wear out or need repeated adjustment,
reducing not just initial hardware costs but
time and money for maintenance.
Q. Let’s follow up on multi-sensor cameras. This is
the hottest growth segment today in video surveillance.
Why are multi-sensors taking off?
A. After being the only manufacturer seeking the industry’s
attention for multi-sensor cameras for a long
time, it’s a pleasant change to have others now offering
their own early products. A single 180o, 270o, or
360o multi-sensor panoramic camera can cover the
entire viewing range of a PTZ, and always be monitoring
and recording the entire field of view. A PTZ in
general is looking the wrong way about 80 percent of
the time to capture an entire incident on video, since it
is either on a programmed pattern or manually operated.
When a PTZ is not looking at a specific area, it
isn’t capturing what is happening in that region which
defeats the purpose of the surveillance system.
Another reason that the market is growing so quickly is that customers are
increasingly using multi-sensor cameras to cover large open spaces. Spaces like
loading docks and manufacturing areas, restaurants and bars, corridor intersections,
lobbies, parking structures, parks and walkways, airport terminals and train
stations, and more. The camera can be easily mounted on walls, ceilings, corners,
poles, and emergency call boxes and connected by a single PoE IP cable. This reduces
required camera counts, cuts costs, improves coverage, and delivers superior
high definition video.
'The most advanced of these multi-sensor cameras are not restricted to specific
views, but can be adjusted to cover multiple angles within a 360o area omni-directionally.
That means that on a four sensor camera, three lenses could be pointed
to cover a corner of a building or street intersection with 270o of coverage, and
the fourth pointing straight down to eliminate blind spots. The best cameras also
feature lens choices so that wide angle, telephoto or standard view lenses could be
used for each sensor.
Q. Recently we have seen quite a few stories about cyberattacks impacting network
infrastructure that includes IP cameras and IoT technology. What is the industry
doing about this and manufacturers like Arecont Vision in particular?
A. All network devices can be subject to cyberattacks at some level. The whole
world is growing in connectivity, including with the Internet of Things reaching
into appliances, cars, industrial machinery, and just about any type of electronics.
As a member of the Security Industry Association’s Cybersecurity Advisory
Board, I can assure you that many of our manufacturer members are actively
seeking to reduce the threat for their customers. The answer is a combination
of integrator and security user education, following best practices, and deploying
cyber-hardened products. The board is currently focused on publishing best
practices recommendations and educating our members and the industry overall
on the evolving threat environment and in how best to protect their organizations
No product should be connected to the Internet unless it has basic cybersecurity
protections built in, like user IDs and passwords or biometrics. Arecont Vision
cameras have for some time supported 16 ASCII character passwords.
Any connected device can be the victim of a Denial of Service (DoS) cyberattack
when overwhelming Internet traffic is directed to it. That can shut down a
camera, or prevent it from sending video. When user IDs and passwords are obtained
with malicious intent, that device can be accessed. Due to Arecont Vision’s
unique design architecture, however, only that individual camera can be impacted,
and it cannot be used to launch an attack on other network devices.
At the core of every camera that we build at our manufacturing facilities in Los
Angeles is a custom-designed Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) integrated
circuit. The FPGA eliminates the need for a commodity ASIC (Application Specific
Integrated Circuit) chip. We run machine code and a proprietary OS instead of using
common operating systems like Linux that can and have been hacked. We also eliminated
Telnet, which is a command and TCP/IP protocol that can be used to access
devices remotely. That was done because Telnet is a potential security risk that could
be used to launch a DoS or other cyberattack.
Q. How important is future-proofing in video surveillance? What is Arecont Vision
doing to provide extended use of your cameras into the future?
A. Future-proofing is absolutely at the core of the best IP technology solutions.
For example, do changing conditions mean that you need a new video management
system or analytics software package? With an IP system, ONVIF supporting
camera will work with the new software. Arecont Vision goes a step beyond
ONVIF. We support the standard, but also use our MegaLab facility to further
integrate with the newest features of our VMS technology partners before the
standards groups catch up.
The same FPGA chip that protects our cameras against cyberattack also allows
us to update one or multiple Arecont Vision cameras with new features and
capabilities developed by our R&D team or to take advantage of improvements
by our VMS partners. That means that we don’t have to ask the customer to buy
new cameras when they want the latest features going back at least a generation.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Security Today.
Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.