At the 2007 IMS Analytics Conference in Amsterdam, it was forecasted that the VCA (Video Content Analytics) market would penetrate 40 percent of the security video market. This forecast obviously was prior to the great worldwide recession, however it still proves that there is such a thing as a “hype curve of growth.”

This estimate was obviously higher than what has been realized over the past four years. If the prices of advanced VCA systems were discounted back in 2007, the market would have potentially purchased even more; however, this would have potentially delayed the basic VCA market from materializing and could have made today’s VCA market more fragmented.

However, today Sony, Axis, the many Object Video OEM’s and others, are providing basic analytics such as camera tampering and trip wires, for little or no cost. These are signs that the VCA market might be finally showing the potential promised back in 2007.


Two VCA Markets

The emergence of basic VCA functions embedded in network cameras such as camera tampering and basic trip wires, has been taking place since as early as 2007.  These low-cost, sometimes “Free” analytics are penetrating the surveillance market because they are provided by top network camera manufacturers; as determined by market share. These analytics algorithms are today often looked at as just another feature provided by the camera. However, in comparison to more expensive advanced analytics, these low-cost analytics are almost always deployed immediately after being purchased and generally deliver the expected results. Another difference between basic and advanced VCA products is that the basic analytic features provided by networked cameras often are not tested prior to purchase, compared to the advanced VCA technology, which is almost always tested prior to purchasing. This is in large part because of the price differences and perceived installation or integration risks. The challenge with today’s basic analytics is that they can’t consistently manage the increased operational risks security systems are asked to deal with at discounted pricing. However, the increased channel penetration of networked surveillance cameras over the past four years has enabled a new analytics market to take shape. 

One key characteristic of this new analytics market is that it is actually two different markets.  The first of which is discounted, and provides basic functionality, which meets a lower level of expectations. The second of which is expensive, and provides advanced functionality for more demanding security surveillance installations. When a market starts to expand and mature, the end user or the systems integrator is provided with better support from manufacturers due to competitive forces. Comprehensive support including training, field services and troubleshooting has been one major factor limiting growth in the advanced VCA market. Mature markets and increased support quality will create even more demand for advanced VCA products.  The surprising trend is that the advanced VCA market, because of its higher prices, will actually grow faster in market size, albeit smaller in channel penetration. This activity will draw additional investment and create several strong advanced analytics companies, which will continue to keep prices high, provide superior features and will show real benefits in complex security environments.


Little Price = Little Value

To capture the opportunities in this new market you must choose which provider to work with, and the price you are willing to pay. The truth is that video analytics at any price is not worth the investment without a good security surveillance plan. Too much emphasis is placed on the price and the theoretical technology benefits during the purchasing process. This emphasis tends to overshadow a serious requirement for integration and operational plan complexities. All analytics systems increase complexity within a security surveillance operation. They add more integration complexity, configuration, calibration, alerting and alarming management challenges. If you purchased a system at a rock bottom price, you should expect the installation and operational life cycle costs to be much higher. Last, the purchase price of a video analytics system must be calculated over a three to five year life cycle. In fact, a low price is often directly associated with low value to the end user. So, while you may not be able to say that you have purchased advanced video analytics at a discounted price, you probably won’t have to relive the analytics industry experiences from 2007, which were best stated as the era of “over-promised and under-delivered.”