The Future is Now
With ASIS right around the corner, this
month’s Industry Insight column is presented
in a question-and-answer format,
in which network video surveillance expert
Fredrik Nilsson and editor-in-chief
Ralph C. Jensen discuss surveillance industry
trends, as well as what to expect
at the show.
Q. At ISC West, we spoke on-camera
about the surveillance market
in general and touched upon many different
trends, from newer technologies
to the economy and what it means to
security professionals. How are things
looking seven months later?
A. A lot of the trends and buying
patterns that we predicted earlier
in the year were on target. While the
economy was tough, we saw some positive
momentum for the IP surveillance
and network video market. Recent IMS
Research supports our prediction that
the economic downturn would help accelerate
a technology shift from analog
to network surveillance. The industry
as a whole has done a good job educating
the market on the benefits of IP-image
quality, scalability and lower total
cost of ownership -- and end users are
willing to spend their money on newer
technologies that will benefit them today
and in the long run. IP-based surveillance
installations are still on pace
to own half of the market by 2013.
Q. Is it safe to say the analytic market
is finally primed to take off?
A. I’m not sure if that’s a fair assessment.
There are many good
analytic applications running well today
and have been for quite some time, such
as motion detection, audio detection
and trip wire applications. In the early
2000s, there were some overzealous
predictions for what was possible with
video analytics, and I think the market
as a whole is still recovering from some
ill-advised promises that were made.
That said, the three main factors needed
to run successful advanced analytic
applications -- premium image quality,
processing power and advanced algorithms --
are finally in place.
Especially on the image quality side,
there have been some great strides made by manufacturers in the last two years.
This started with a rise in megapixel
technology and continued with the
incredible interest in HDTV network
video. Most security directors and integrators
have flat-screen, high-definition
TVs hanging on their walls at home,
but were still stuck watching or installing
4:3 analog monitors at their job.
It’s certainly one case of consumer
technology driving business demand.
In fact, the quality of video from an
HDTV surveillance camera is so good
that even TV studios are using them for
producing live TV shows.
Q. Speaking of HDTV, I’ve spoken
with many different vendors and
each seems to have their own definition
of what makes an HD surveillance camera.
What’s your definition?
A. I think this is a case of competing
vendors confusing the industry
with clever marketing tactics. The term
“high-definition” has been used pretty
ambiguously, which has confused both
end users and integrators.
In the security industry, HD is often
used to refer to any picture greater than
SVGA resolution, which is where the
confusion lies. The two missing letters
here, T and V, are extremely important.
Megapixel and HDTV are two different
concepts. Megapixel simply refers
to the number of pixels in an image.
Specifically, a megapixel image is made
up of at least 1 million pixels. Therefore
a 1280x1024 image, or SXGA resolution,
equals 1.3 megapixels.
A true HDTV camera is much
more specific. If a camera claims to be
HDTV, it must comply with the standards
set by the Society of Motion
Picture and Television Engineers. This
standard guarantees a 16:9 aspect ratio
(widescreen format), 720p or 1080i/p
resolution, color fidelity and full frame
rate at 30 fps. The full-frame-rate piece
might be the most important aspect
for security installations, yet it is often
where end users are misinformed.
If you’re not running at full frame
rate, you’re not using the same HDTV
video image that you’re used to at home.
Some users have purchased what they
thought were HDTV cameras but were
really megapixel cameras running at
lower frame rates due to performance,
storage or bandwidth limitations.
Q. That’s often the problem with the
video surveillance industry. There
are so many vendors selling so many different
products. During ASIS, there are
said to be about 700 exhibitors educating
nearly 20,000 attendees. How can
customers sort through all of them?
A. That’s easily one of the toughest
jobs for security professionals
today. If you asked any of the thousands
of sales and marketing reps at
the show if their solution is the best, of
course they will say yes. They wouldn’t
be doing their job if they didn’t.
But there are certain factors integrators
and end users should look
for when choosing a vendor. First off,
make sure that they are in good financial
shape and are investing in the
future through R&D. There’s nothing
worse than finding out your supplier
has gone out of business or can’t
manufacture a specific component in
the middle of your project. Second,
choose a product that runs on an open
platform and in an open ecosystem
so you’re not locked into one security
vendor. Also, don’t make your decision
solely based on MSRP -- always
consider total cost of ownership and
ROI. After you make your purchase,
make sure you’ll receive the necessary
training and technical support before
and after the warranty expires.
Q. Well put. Any final thoughts
about what Axis is looking to see
at ASIS or accomplish after the show?
A. You’ll certainly see more Axis
products that stress image quality,
processing power, reliability and
affordability as we continue our heavy
R&D investments. More specifically,
with the rise of hosted video and video
surveillance-as-a-service, the potential
for network video to expand into different
markets is really exciting for us.
We’re working closely with our partners
to put all the pieces in place, and the
end-user community is responding.
Together, we’ve developed a model
that provides quick, one-click installation
with limited investment on the
end-user side and recurring revenue opportunities
for our integrator partners.
By offering a range of network cameras
at different price points and with no
need to invest in onsite storage, we’re
able to bring the benefits of IP surveillance
to those who would typically consider
outdated analog technology. It’s a
situation where everybody wins.
This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Security Today.