The Year of IP Integration

Incredible growth to mark beginning of the new year

Over the past two decades, the video surveillance industry has celebrated its fair share of breakthroughs, from miniaturization and 4-inch flat-panel monitors to progressive scan technology and H.284 compression. There also is the recent introduction of high-definition cameras, wherein manufacturers worldwide have succeeded in introducing milestone products and software that have surged the industry forward.

In 2008, the industry is witnessing a banner year as improved high-resolution compression techniques spark the comprehensive shift toward the adoption of megapixel cameras in nationwide installations. It’s no wonder ABI Research expects video surveillance revenues to jump to $46 billion in 2013. We have continuously tested our innovative limits and introduced products that our companies never thought imaginable 20 years ago. So, as we move toward the end of yet another tremendous growth year, it’s only natural to look forward and wonder what’s next.

From Niche to Mainstream
It’s no secret that we are experiencing an explosion in IP video. The 2006 U.S. & Worldwide Surveillance Market predicts that U.S. sales of IP cameras will rise from $229 million in 2007 to $1.17 billion by 2010. If these numbers prove true and IP is expected to more than triple in the next two years, then 2009 is undoubtedly poised to be a watershed year.

These predictions also serve as a reminder of what Sony has known for years—IP is well on its way to being collectively recognized as a value-added business. Integrating high-value, high-feature products and solutions at a reasonable price is no longer beyond the horizon.

Companies looking for increased ROI from their surveillance systems are finally beginning to look at IP as a cost-effective, advanced vehicle that benefits—not depletes—their bottom lines. As a direct result, we can expect to see more traditionally known analog markets begin the shift toward IP in the year ahead.

In particular, retail and higher education institutions will largely join government and transportation end users as primary IP adopters. The cost-effective and reliable management applications will enable these large-scale deployments— particularly retailers—to capitalize on their IP systems not only for security purposes but also for new and innovative uses.

Large-scale department stores, for example, will now have the opportunity to sell limited IP access to vendors who wish to better monitor in-store traffic and activity while reducing overall in-field labor costs. Such direct and instantaneous analytics are not possible with present analog systems. We expect the use of IP for this style of operational management also will afford retailers with additional revenue streams.

Easing the Path
Expanding the IP market, however, does pose one of 2009’s biggest challenges— improving the ease of installation.

Since its introduction eight years ago, IP has been traditionally viewed as a niche system, especially when compared to its more mainstream analog counterpart. Changing the perception of IP from niche to conventional will stem from providing systems that are as easy to install as they are to maintain and understand. Integrators should be able to pull a fully configured camera out of a box and readily install it into an outdoor environment with minimal assembly. In other words, advanced systems and products should not be thought of as only for the brave-hearted. They should be universally uncomplicated without sacrificing reliability and advanced functionality.

So how do we, as manufacturers, meet industry predictions for the IP space while simultaneously alleviating installation? The answer is simple: standardization.

At this year’s ASIS International, Sony, along with collaborative partners Axis Communications and Bosch Security Systems, officially launched ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface System). The goal is straightforward: to create an independent, non-profit organization that ensures the openness needed to develop a standard network interface for network video products.

Currently, there is no global standard defining how network video products such as megapixel cameras, video encoders and video management systems should communicate with each other. IP protocols and command sets are different, ultimately resulting in decreased compatibility among brands. As we move into an increasingly IP world, establishing a sense of standardization is key. The ONVIF interface will provide interoperability between network video products, regardless of the manufacturer. It will become even easier for end users, integrators and manufacturers to take advantage of the possibilities offered by network video, including higher definition, increased resolution and better identification, resulting in a more cost-effective, flexible solution as well as expanded market opportunities.

Improving standardization across the board will greatly contribute to meeting these growth predictions. It also will establish a sense of continuity and ease at both the integrator and manufacturer levels.

The Year Ahead
With all of these factors in place, we firmly expect that 2009 will be the year that permanently ushers in the age of IP and propels the industry forward.

So as we approach the year ahead, let’s challenge ourselves to surpass these various growth expectations. After all, if we continue to push our innovative envelopes as we have been for the past 20 years, then IP will undoubtedly be celebrating another banner year in 2009.

This article originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Security Products.

About the Author

Ken LaMarca is the the VP of Sales and Marketing for OnSSI.

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