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What’s Hot, What’s Not in Video Surveillance

April 1, 2009
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“One key advantage of IP-based video is also its Achilles’ heel, the ability to use present network infrastructure rather than coaxial cabling,” said Steve Walin.

Security Magazine recently interviewed Steve Walin, who is chief executive officer at SAMSUNG | GVI Security in Carrollton, Texas.

Security Magazine: What’s happening with IP cameras as compared to analog?
Walin: Several studies have shown that IP cameras sales will eclipse that of analog, but nobody can say for sure when this will happen. While it is true that analog camera sales will decrease over time, analog will never completely disappear. In fact, the trend may actually be slowing down somewhat as previously forecasted. Less than fifteen percent of video surveillance applications in the Americas are buying or using IP/digital video.

Security Magazine: Why?
Walin: There are several reasons.
  • Many analog video systems are installed running on coax and users are simply upgrading components. In other instances, security managers are leery of moving beyond what they already understand and works for them.
  • Many end-users and resellers, including dealers and integrators, are also uncomfortable with IP/digital surveillance. “What I don’t know, I’m not going to propose.”
  • One key advantage of IP-based video is also its Achilles’ heel, the ability to use present network infrastructure rather than coaxial cabling. Running bandwidth-intensive surveillance video over corporate data networks is a point of organizational contention, with its potential impact on network performance. Too often, it is easier to go the security department’s traditional way than to fight.
Therefore, support programs via manufacturers and their integrators become especially important for end-users in IP video solutions and sales. The key to helping integrators and end-users deploy IP video solutions is to take a combination of premium quality hardware and in-depth servicing, on both the front and back ends of the sale. This is especially imperative on big orders, such as the 14,000 cameras we now have working at Latin America’s largest bank or the immense system now going in at one of the world’s largest retailers, covering both Mexico and the United States.

Security Magazine: What are your strategies?
Walin: As a result, we are employing a variety of programs to serve our integrators and their customers, such as using inventory as a competitive tool so that we can deliver product quickly. Likewise, we continue the process of introducing and rolling out a series of IP products, including cameras, to meet the emerging technology shift to an IP focus.

Security Magazine: How do we build the foundation of tomorrow’s IP system with today’s analog system?
Walin: End-users want to make sure that their system choices provide an upgrade path that is forward-compatible with a future of fully digital IP/digital architecture. This can be done without throwing out perfectly good analog equipment. To maximize the customer’s technology choices at the camera, the transmission system and the head end, leading video systems suppliers and integrators are providing products that “connect the dots” between installed analog and digital equipment and between security- and IT-based perspectives.

Joining analog equipment to the digital future is facilitated by the adoption of unshielded twisted pair (UTP) as the transmission medium. Fortunately, there is a way to implement a cost effective UTP system that gives customers the product choices they need. A UTP-based solution supports today’s cost effective analog systems while providing the IP ready cabling infrastructure needed for when a switchover does occur.

For many, this is a simple solution. Almost all new construction projects include the laying of CAT 5 or CAT 5E cabling, the infrastructure wanted for IP/digital systems of any and all types, including video. Once CAT 5 or CAT 5E cable is available, the rest becomes easy. True IP-based digital surveillance employs cameras using signal processing to send video streams over the LAN through a CAT 5 or CAT 5E cable rather than a coax cable network, utilizing greater bandwidth and standard TCP/IP communication. With IP/digital-based video surveillance on CAT 5 or CAT 5E, a user can connect surveillance cameras to any network or wireless adapter, being extremely flexible in their placement of the camera itself.

The “middle of the road” of video surveillance is upgrading video surveillance by using a digital video recorder (DVR). A DVR system is not really fully IP-based, but is a step toward the more advanced IP technology. In actuality, a DVR system uses the same camera and structures for cabling as the older security video analog systems, but the old VCRs and multiplexers are replaced with DVR for storage of the data. The data is converted to digital so that it can be stored on hard disks, but the quality of the images captured remains analog since this is how it originated. In other words, analog signals are fed from the cameras to the DVR where they are converted into digital signals for storage and/or transmission over digital networks.

DVR sales will continue to grow. As an example, there has been a continued increase in the use of video to monitor customer and employee behavior, especially in the retail market. The retail store security market vertical is the largest single market vertical in the Americas security market and the accelerating transition from analog to IP video is rapidly making the DVR segment the largest and most important product category with annual sales growing past $1 Billion. The numbers of cameras are big as well. Per example, a nationwide retail pharmacy chain’s initial order for its 80 locations was 1300 cameras, over 16 cameras per location! In most cases, the entire cost of all the video equipment needed is beyond the scope of the security department’s budget.

That’s why security departments of multi-location retailers are already working with their counterparts in operations and marketing to amortize the cost of their digital video surveillance investment.

Security Magazine: Operating standards? Which operating standards?
Walin: The lack of proper operating standards prevents commoditization and innovation of some products. Therefore, users must select a partner that can support them now and into the future. A poor choice may force a user to replace product that they recently purchased or have an isolated system that can not communicate with their video management software.

Another problem that affects operating standards is a lack of a clear definition of terms. For example, “MPEG-4” everyone knows is an industry standard. However, upon closer examination, there are 20 different profiles of MPEG-4 compression, the latest being H.264, which is also known as MPEG-4 version 10. So, Samsung offers both MPEG-4 and MJPEG compression options in their new line of IP cameras.

More than ever – while the need for more security is recognized but the budgets are getting tighter – the world of video surveillance continues to be one of caveat emptor. Users need to know that their supplier can cover them for both the short- and long-run, from analog through IP.

Security Magazine: What is 2009 going to look like?
Walin: According to IMS 2009 Video Security Market Reports, video surveillance spending has already slowed down in North America, Europe and Japan, especially in the retail and banking markets. Thus, those in these sectors with budget to spend can expect some very good contract options this year. Since video surveillance is recognized as essential for protecting the public, government funding for transportation and government verticals still exists. Overall, the industry will gain only 4 percent in these areas in 2009, rebounding in the following years.

Growth of 20 percent, however, is expected in Latin America, Eastern Europe, including Russia, and the Middle East in 2009 with the combined sales in these areas approaching $2 billion in 2012. China will also provide high growth over the next couple years.

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