Current and Future Trends Abound

Looking at access control, video surveillance

While technology developments such as near-field communications (NFC) and personal identification verification (PIV) credentials are becoming more widespread, emerging product developments that offer interesting challenges to the traditional concepts of access control, like ecosystems and access control as a service (ACaaS), are presenting more of an opportunity for suppliers of access control equipment.

IHS (formerly known as IMS Research) has defined an ecosystem as an environment in which access control is integrated and used in additional applications other than security. Examples of this include building management, human resources, and intrusion and workforce management. In an ecosystem, access control equipment is used to acknowledge the presence of an individual in a certain section of the building. The access control equipment then notifies a central control panel such as a building automation controller that oversees other functions such as lighting and HVAC.

Access Control, Blake Kozak

By linking access control to a larger building management system, operations can be efficiently deployed in only selected areas for a certain period of time, lowering operating costs. The deployment of access control equipment in such scenarios is still a small percentage of actual applications and almost exclusively in new building construction. While the number of inquiries regarding access control systems and building ecosystems has increased in the last few years, the actual percentage of projects deployed with dual functionality is still less than 5 percent.

Persistent obstacles that are limiting the use of access control equipment as part of an ecosystem include the structure of the project schedule, resistance from established distributors and installers, and the continued presence of proprietary communication standards for access control equipment that inhibit data communication among the various equipment types. The U.S. struggle to emerge from the economic recession has made new construction to remain tenuous and reduced the number of opportunities for building ecosystems.

The main concern regarding NFC in access control in 2012 involves the ongoing challenge among telecommunication providers, smartphone manufacturers and access control suppliers for mutual revenue sharing. Additionally, providing NFC-enabled smartphones to users is a lingering question.

NFC is an open-platform technology, and much of the hardware used for access control is proprietary. The lack of open standards in access control is arguably one of the biggest inhibitors of NFC adoption in physical access control.

In the European market, “access control on a card” and “network on a card” are buzzwords that refer to the storage and updating of access- rights information through the use of a credential and electronic lock. Access control on a card is popular across the EMEA because it offers lower installation costs than an online network—less wiring— with increased information sharing and a higher level of security than commonly found with an offline system. In addition, there is a larger installed base for electromechanical and digital cylinder locks that are likely to use this technology. In the last 12 months, access control on a card has seen increased adoption in European access control projects, with the uptake primarily occurring in larger enterprise projects that require more internal doors to be electronic rather than mechanical.

For the Asia market, the role of biometric technology for access control continues to evolve. The biometric reader market in Asia is larger and more mature than the Americas and EMEA markets due to the large number of local suppliers and their widespread use in access control, as well as applications such as national identification and banking and ATM authentication, for example.

Globally, access control as a service remains a future trend rather than a current movement. The largest potential for this market remains in North America; however, many service providers of managed and hosted access control systems are regional and provide only a small number of doors that are true ACaaS. The majority of offerings today are a private cloud architecture in which the server or panel that contains the access control database is stored on the customer’s premise and a thin client is used by the end user to manage the system himself, or a third-party can use a portal to log on to that end user’s server to manage the database for the customer.

The future of access control will include NFC, ACaaS, Webembedded readers and panels, and more interoperability and convergence. As the access control industry moves forward, there will be a greater emphasis on flexibility and offerings.

Video Surveillance, Niall Jenkins

IHS forecasts that 2013 will be the tipping point when network video surveillance equipment sales in the Americas overtake analog video surveillance equipment sales. However, there are a number of market drivers and barriers that are influencing the pace of this transition.

A key barrier to this transition has been that many security installers lack the networking and IT skills necessary to implement network video surveillance. While the more proactive installers and integrators are acquiring these skills, there remains a percentage of installers and integrators that prefer to install analog video surveillance equipment.

Some IT managers also are reluctant to share their network with the video surveillance system. Two key issues identified are concerns regarding bandwidth demand and the security of the network. Bandwidth may become less of a concern as infrastructure improves.

Furthermore, use of bandwidth also will improve as event-based transmission, datapacket prioritization, transcoding appliances and more efficient compression algorithms become more prevalent, reducing the frequency of data transmission and the amount of data transmitted, respectively.

On the other hand, increasing megapixel camera resolution may drive bandwidth requirements up.

Naturally, the relative price of products remains critical. In China, end users who want a network video surveillance system still find it more cost-effective to use analog cameras combined with a video encoder rather than network security cameras. Analog security cameras remain the lower cost solution for small-scale installations, but for larger installations, the higher cost of network security cameras is often offset by reduced installation, cabling and maintenance costs.

End users who want high-definition video surveillance have previously been limited to one option: megapixel/HD network security cameras. This is no longer the case because various HD-over-coax solutions are now commercially available, enabling end users to receive the benefits of HD video and not have to install network infrastructure.

While the current market penetration of all HD-over-coax solutions is low, the potential exists in the medium- to long-term for these solutions to become a natural successor to analog equipment. This could result in a slowdown in the trend from analog to network equipment in the low- to mid-tiers of the market. In the short term, the opportunity for HD-over-coax cameras lies in regions or verticals that have a large analog-installed base and at sites where concerns regarding latency (such as casinos) and network security are key issues.

Despite the aforementioned factors slowing the transition to network video surveillance, there are a number of opposing factors that are increasing the pace of this transition. The established vendors of network security cameras have rapidly expanded their product ranges over the past two to three years. End users can find network camera equivalents for most analog camera types, and they also have the option of megapixel-resolution cameras.

Network camera reference designs are another way in which the product ecosystem is diversifying. For companies that do not want to invest significantly in research and development, or that want a quick way to access the rapidly growing network camera market, network camera reference designs offer a cost-effective route to market.

The establishment of a common framework of communication standards between IP surveillance devices will undoubtedly benefit and help to encourage growth within the video surveillance industry. The work carried out by both ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) and the PSIA (Physical Security Interoperability Alliance) should help to lower development and integration costs as well as the barrier to entry in the network video surveillance market.

Deployments of network video surveillance equipment are also getting bigger. It is now common to see hundreds of network cameras deployed on high-profile projects. This shows increased customer confidence in the mass market.

Additionally, as IT managers become more influential in the physical security decision process, there will be an increasing number of IT vendors, distributors and integrators entering the video surveillance market who are likely to be supporters of standardsbased surveillance.

Finally, megapixel-resolution security cameras provide one of the biggest advantages of moving to IP surveillance. Megapixel cameras provide substantially better image quality than standard analog cameras, leading to improved object detection. While megapixel cameras remain more expensive than their standard-resolution counterparts, increasing numbers of manufacturers developing megapixel and HD products should drive down prices and, hence, drive growth in the market.

This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Security Today.

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