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Security on the Rebound: A Look at 2009 and 2010

Security on the Rebound: A Look at 2009 and 2010

Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 12/7/2009 | Article type: Hot Topics

2009 has born witness to countless struggles in a subdued global economy. Collateral damages can be seen in every industry, with some governments forced to put projects on hold while others pressed on with stimulus packages. A&S reviews the year's happenings and presents how industry players have prepared for 2010.


Lowered forecasts from Frost & Sullivan and IMS Research indicated that earlier optimism for the industry was premature, and the industry has indeed suffered. However, increased fear of crime and terrorism has prompted countries, both emerging and mature, to take proactive measures. According to the "Global Homeland Security 2009-2019" report, worldwide government spending on products and services for homeland security reached US$141.6 billion in 2009, with continuous growth going forward, said Roni Klein, VP of Sales for Verint Video Solutions APAC, Verint Systems. "Prevention of terrorist attacks and detection of perpetrators are vital."


To this end, security activity has been booming in infrastructure-related projects, including all modes of transportation, city surveillance, and health care and educational institutions. Funding, however, has been difficult and postponed by some government bodies.


"For the global video surveillance market, Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa have been the most severely affected, followed by North America," said Alastair Hayfield, Research Manager, Video Surveillance and VCA Group, IMS Research. "Asia is still performing strongly, thanks to China, India and other growth regions."


Partnerships, such as Pelco-Cisco, Dell-HID and UTC Fire and Security's recent acquisition of GE Security, have turned heads in this industry, and companies continue to fill gaps in their portfolios with strategic acquisitions. "We're going to see new players from telecommunications, looking at leveraging their network capabilities in the fast-growing security market," said Matia Grossi, Industry Analyst for the EMEA Physical Security Group, Frost & Sullivan, in a prepared statement.


To varying degrees, certain countries and regions abide by standards and regulations, and efforts have been made to consolidate video standards. "Both PSIA and ONVIF have made progress over the last year. With numerous large manufacturers committing to implementing these specifications, we should start seeing them make a real-world impact in 2011," said John Honovich, founder of IPVideoMarket.info.


In biometrics, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) launched its professional certification program for biometric practitioners. The Certified Biometric Professional (CBP) program includes study material and course work. "The CBP will spur more interest in biometrics as a professional field of endeavor, and, as a result, help encourage industry growth," said Walter Hamilton, Chairman of the International Biometric Industry Association and Senior Consultant with Identification Technology Partners.


More companies are also investing more in certification and training for partners and users. "Meeting user needs requires a level of commitment from dealers and integrators," said Gadi Piran, President of OnSSI. "Our certification program strengthens our channel partners' capabilities to design, configure and install our solutions in a complex, networked environment."


Scott Schafer, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing at Arecont Vision, added, "We hold classes around the globe focusing on megapixel technology, to help better design and deploy systems."


Additionally, manufacturers such as Honeywell stress the importance of going beyond the product. "Everything from lead generation programs and custom literature, to specification tools and sales and product training are areas in which we make a difference and help our customers grow," said Frank Roth, VP of Global Marketing for Honeywell Security.


The security industry has been tried and tested by the financial crisis, leaving only the fittest to survive. Those who pulled through 2009's tribulations do not expect 2010 to be easy, but most remain cautiously and reasonably optimistic.



Changing Currents in EMEA
Quality assurance and cost control have seen major players through the year's turbulence. "With the financial crisis still far from over, we're controlling costs very carefully rather than pushing for rapid expansion," said Dr. Oliver Vellacott, CEO of IndigoVision. Some have felt the recession's impact more than others. "We continue to feel the impact of a difficult economy and sluggish business development environment," said Dave Patterson, President and CEO of Optelecom-NKF, in a prepared statement.


Strategic partnerships such as Siemens-Bosch and Johnson Controls-Milestone Systems show EMEA players reaching beyond technological expertise and geographical borders to embrace new markets.


Overall Market
The overall physical security market in Europe is expected to remain flat, or show up to 3 percent of growth throughout 2010, said Matia Grossi, Industry Analyst for the EMEA Physical Security Group, Frost & Sullivan. Video surveillance is expected to show stronger growth, up to 6 percent, due to falling prices for IP devices, increased performance and availability of models, and new players entering the market. Access control is expected to show decent growth, whereas intrusion detection is predicted to be flat in 2010, Grossi said.


Europe
After a "cautious" spring in 2009, the European markets have picked up in the early summer, said Michael Zabler, Marketing Director for ABUS Security-Center. Although there are distinct signs that things are starting to move again, the effects appear less profound on some niche manufacturers, said Doktor Jon, a 30-year veteran of the video surveillance industry.


Western Europe, slowly moving from traditional installations toward IP-based systems, is now looking at megapixel technology to improve image quality and reduce costs, said Scott Schafer, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing at Arecont Vision.


Scandinavia, France and Germany remain relatively stable, said Dr. Juan Farre, CEO of Ernitec.


In Italy, the intrusion alarm market is slow-moving. "From our observations, 2009 will see a 10- to 15-percent decrease, compared to previous years," said Chafik Khaoutem, Export Manager of Tecnoalarm. A factor is that companies concentrate more on producing conventional intrusion alarm systems that have limited use. New to the market are embedded cameras (in control panels), access control and advanced software. "These technologies go hand-in-hand with evolving market needs," Khaoutem said.


Middle East
In the Middle East, large projects are suffering less due to lucrative oil revenues. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan and Turkey have seen increased government installations and city surveillance deployed in parallel to city planning projects.


Over in Turkey, residential security is quickly becoming an area of interest, creating an important market for intrusion and fire alarms, said Ismail Uzelli, Chairman of Gesider and Country Manager of Turkey for ADT/ Sensormatic. Shopping centers and residences have turned more attention to procuring and implementing security measures.


Africa
The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa has propelled the bulk of the continent's security spending. Construction is booming, and infrastructure projects include airports, roads, highways, mass transportation, stadiums, hotels and malls. "Perhaps in 2010, there might be a slight decline, but major infrastructure investments will last at least for the next five years," said Francois Malan, Technical Director of Camsecure.


International standards are being adopted for cabling infrastructure, which will be a major driving force for IP uptake. The O.R. Tambo International Airport, for example, installed 650 network cameras in 2009.


Thriving Verticals
With the 2012 London Olympics just a couple of years away, preparation has already begun. Distribution of worker identity cards and biometric scans, including iris and handheld readers, is part of a move to protect against terrorism, said Blake Kozak, Market Analyst for IMS Research. "Security spending is predicted to surpass $2.2 billion."


Both, retail and transportation sectors are increasingly driving adoption of video analytics. Retailers look to extend the value of their surveillance cameras, and analytics provide reliable management information on customer flows and dwell time, said Kevin Waterhouse, Sales and Marketing Director of VCA Technology. "Benefits of integrating PoS transaction data from cashiers' tills with video footage deliver real ROI by helping spot and reduce employee theft, which still makes up nearly 40 percent of all retail theft, according to the latest shrinkage figures."


Transportation applications, such as monitoring traffic flow or capturing license plates, are also a rapidly growing area for surveillance cameras, analytics and powerful video management software.


The residential market is somewhat subdued, particularly for video surveillance. "It's not yet a big market for us, and it will be a few years until we reach a price point that is appropriate for broad residential uptake," said Ray Mauritsson, CEO of Axis Communications. The SMB market, however, has great potential, where analog solutions can be replaced by IP-based solutions.


Product Needs
While 2009 has seen more relaxation of laws, such as in France, Scandinavia and the U.K., and less skepticism, Europe is still regarded as a conservative user of technology. According to the McKinsey Quarterly's "Time to Raise the CIO's Game," less than 20 percent of European IT executives believed their companies were effective at introducing technologies faster and better than their competitors. That is, Europe needs stronger IT presence and development to tip the scale in IP's favor.


The Middle East and Africa, being relatively "greenfield" areas, are more open and quicker to adopt IP infrastructure.


Video Surveillance
Sales cycles have become longer in 2009, but loosened budgets for video surveillance are anticipated for 2010, said Eric Fullerton, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Milestone Systems. Growth in 2010, however, is not expected to get back to 2007 and 2008 levels immediately.


To ease the transition from analog to IP, hybrid DVRs are among the highlights of popular products for 2009. PTZ dome cameras, H.264 compression, megapixel technology, day/night cameras and panoramic cameras also dotted the innovation landscape of EMEA players.


"Video feeds from our new H.264 PTZ dome camera are indistinguishable from the best analog out there — even during rapid PTZ movements. This is the fastest 'take-off' of any product we've ever launched," Dr. Vellacott said.


Boxed network cameras with small form factor and day/night functions have been well-received, said Hardy Mehl, Director of IP Business for Basler Vision Technologies. "Additionally, we recently released a fixed network dome series which will enable us to address the worldwide demand for domes."


Hemispheric cameras have been a success. Decentralized technology and doubled processing power have made this a very powerful and efficient technology, said Lutz Coelen, CFO of Mobotix.


IMS predicted high growth levels for video analytics over the next three years, with global sales set to reach $1 billion by 2012, Waterhouse said. "Though the possibilities have been initially overestimated, eventually there will be many opportunities to make surveillance more efficient by adding analytics," Mauritsson said. The analytics market, currently a small part of the overall surveillance market, will see rapid adoption from the second half of 2010, Grossi said.


Finally, standardized and preintegrated systems, such as off-the-shelf products, will be seen in the year to come, said Mads Bo Frederiksen, Territory Manager for Asia, Milestone Systems.


Access Control and Intrusion Detection
The Americas access control market was relatively flat in 2009, while the Asia market maintained strong growth. The security market in EMEA fell in between the conditions that were seen in the Americas and Asia regions, Kozak said. Migration to IP and increasing integration with video surveillance are trends that will continue in 2010.


2009's innovations were driven by plug-and-play intelligent locks with networking capabilities and battery-operated wireless locks, said Michael Soderberg, Business Manager of Electronic Access Control for Australia, ASSA ABLOY. "Wireless locks are being driven by the need to put access control on more doors in a building, but at a much lower cost."


With little to no growth in construction and reduced activity in the residential market, intrusion detection had negative growth in 2009 and will see flat growth in 2010, Grossi said. Trends that picked up were wireless alarm systems with active anti-burglary protection and video verification. Both Tecnoalarm and RSI Technologies have developed wireless devices with alarm and surveillance capabilities.


"The industry is moving quickly toward GPRS for alarm monitoring. In Europe, we expect our GPRS product sales to overcome standard PSTN products in early 2010," said Francois Lafferriere, Director of Business Development, RSI Video Technologies. "A lot of our clients still consider wireless unreliable for critical deployments, but both wired and wireless solutions can be combined to offer optimum security with GPRS backup."


Increasingly, value-added products are gaining market share. "Integrating various capabilities, such as biometrics and home automation, into the alarm system will become a trend in 2010," Khaoutem said. Likewise, camera manufacturers like Mobotix are looking to broaden their product portfolios in 2010. "We will not simply focus on cameras, but also venture into developing alarm and security systems," Coelen said.


Challenges and Outlook
A slow-moving market, lack of education and standards, and increasing competition are highlighted challenges in EMEA. "The biggest weakness is the inertia in the marketplace. It's well-documented that IP-based surveillance systems have better ROI and lower TCO than traditional analog devices, yet we still see incumbents trying to prolong the lifespan of analog technology based on lower acquisition cost alone," Fullerton said. Dr. Vellacott agreed, adding that, "Companies emerging from the financial crisis will be stronger than before."


2010 will see more competition from IT companies. "When the security market starts to use advanced technology from the IT world, it's natural to see collaboration between new channels and vendors," Mauritsson said. "Fast-growing markets like network video will always be very competitive — with the market convergence, you have competitors from two different industries."


Large installations, such as industrial sites, severely affected by the financial crisis will likely delay new and replacement investments in 2010, Zabler said. However, SMBs and the private sector are predicted to recover to previous growth rates.


The industry will anticipate the first ONVIF-compliant systems being deployed in 2010, which will boost confidence in associated brands and give users more freedom to choose among manufacturers, Dr. Vellacott said.

Security Stands Guard Against Financial Turmoil

Security Stands Guard Against Financial Turmoil

Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 11/24/2009 | Article type: Security 50

The world is facing the greatest financial and economic crisis to have occurred in more than half a century. As 2009 draws to a close, the Security 50 companies share strategies for surviving the turbulence and their realistic hopes for the future.


Security 50 Ranking Tables


From sales drops to stunted growth, it is clear that the recession has taken a heavy toll on the security industry, making analysts and interest groups reevaluate those recession-proof claims and groundings. In 2008, more than 90 percent of the 50 participating companies experienced growth. This year's ranking, however, shows that almost half of our participants' revenues declined. It is not all bad news. Although the recession has forced companies to tighten budgets and readjust spending, those who have taken the necessary measures have survived — and some triumphed.


Company Strengths
Whereas 2008 was dotted with mergers and acquisitions up and down the ranking, 2009 has seen diminished activity, with the exceptions of Assa Abloy and Nice Systems. This year, most companies agreed that growth factors were attributed to playing both strong defense as well as offense. "On the defensive side, we've made sure we've driven productivity improvements in our operations and have really focused on the cost side of the equation," said John Koch, President of ADT Security, in a prepared statement.


Indeed, companies have paid very close attention to profit and cash flow. "In the past, the most important thing was revenues. Now, the focus is on cash and profit," said Amir Hayek, President and CEO of Electronics Line 3000.
For medium-sized manufacturers, a significant ROI on previously launched products has to be achieved before new ones are endorsed, said Eric Assouline, Export Sales Manager at CDVI Group. On the offense side, growth can be seen as a result of continued R&D investment, expansion of global presence (with special attention to emerging markets), strengthened customer and partner relationships, and increased marketing efforts. "In terms of marketing efforts, we've developed a new Web site and product packaging," said Dr. Avigdor Shachrai, President and CEO of Visonic.


Expanding Presence and Portfolios
With mature markets such as the U.S. and Western Europe severely hit, companies that stayed afloat turned to expanding their operations and local presence in new markets. Emerging markets — especially those of China, India, Latin America and the Middle East - have been penetrated with doubled efforts. "We've added personnel in different regions to support our system integration partners," said Ray Mauritsson, CEO of Axis Communications.


Improved support and communication with existing and new partners and customers also helped companies stand out. "Our traffic server now comes with service and maintenance packages," said Mario van der Kroef, Global Marketing Director of Optelecom-NKF.


More integration and interaction between industry players have also born fruit. "Expanding our partner ecosystem ensures integration with multiple third-party surveillance products and access control systems," said Peter Wilenius, VP of Marketing at March Networks. "Our open-platform video management software (VMS) is now certified for use with a number of third-party host and storage systems."


Mauritsson added that "the need for integration is one of the key drivers for the analog-to-digital shift. System integrators found this a great opportunity to add more value in a project."


Strengthening Brands
For some companies, resilient figures were results of major transitions, such as branding. "What we're seeing is that only a small customer base is familiar with our new brand for IP-based products. We want them to see all our products as part of a total, hybrid solution," van der Kroef said.


Others continue to refine their brand image. "Customers perceive our brand as good quality. This year, we've provided video surveillance components and systems for analog, hybrid and digital technology, with open interfaces for easy migration and integration," said Katharina Geutebrück, MD of Geutebruck.


Loss Factors
"The slowdown was steep and happened quite fast," Mauritsson said. "The high growth rate we had a year ago is not there today." Major players such as ADT, Bosch Security Systems, Assa Abloy, L-1 Identity Solutions and Axis have noticeably lowered their projections. Others have gone straight into decline.


Project business slowed as well. Installations have been significantly stalled due to tightened budgets and delayed payments. Distributors have driven down their inventories to wait for new order forms, further fueling uncertainty, said Lutz Coelen, CFO of Mobotix. Some companies, however, see this crisis as a chance to gain market share. "With the weak economy and less budgets available, attractive features of cameras include using high resolution, free software and built-in storage," Coelen said. "Our overall cost-effective solution has helped us gain market share."


Looking at forecasts, there are concerns that the general optimism for recovery is rather premature. "We don't see it happening as quickly as next year," Mauritsson said. Long-term growth potential, however, is unchanged, especially with new products being launched.


"We expect the recession to continue to negatively influence the first two quarters of 2010," van der Kroef said, echoing similar skepticism.


Opportunities Yet Abound
Where companies lacked local presence, they have looked for partners. Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia were popular regions for business development.


Regions
In North America, longer sales cycles were typical, with customers moving less aggressively on project rollouts, Wilenius said. "To balance that, our revenues outside of North America increased by 58 percent during the first quarter of the 2009 fiscal year (May to July of calendar year 2008)." Like March Networks, the majority of other companies looked toward markets ripe for plucking, and have opened offices, invested in local personnel and tendered for projects in a myriad of vertical markets.


Despite the slowdown, North America is still the biggest market worldwide. Mobotix, Optelecom-NKF, March Networks, Axis, CDVI, Electronics Line and GeoVision have continued to fortify their sales channels there. "We're splitting focus between partners, expanding from our presence in Colorado to locating partners in the East Coast, Midlands and West Coast," Hayek said.


"While we're seeing signs of rising customer activity compared to earlier in 2009, we anticipate that North American organizations will maintain a more cautious approach to projects until further stability and growth are reached," Wilenius said. George Tai, CEO of Geovision, added that the education sector will remain opportune for next year.


In Western Europe. France, Scandinavia and the U.K. are picking up momentum in wireless products and IP adoption, Dr. Shachrai said. "It will take at least another year before we see the European market up and running again," Hayek added.


Latin America, especially Brazil, has been an increasingly solid market this past year. Where the commercial, industrial, transportation and banking sectors are concerned, the region is very promising. "We recently established our own office and personnel, and it's definitely an emerging market where we expect high growth," Mauritsson said. However, for most, Latin America is not yet the biggest piece of the pie.


In Asia, particularly China and India, companies have expanded their operations the most aggressively. "In India, we've signed more contracts with distributors and have done very well. Our strategies in China are different; we focus more on monitoring companies," Dr. Shachrai said, as China reigns as one of the world's largest and most stable markets in these trying times.


Vertical Markets
Consensus was that industrial and government projects have been the hottest verticals. Larger government sponsored projects have been delayed but are recently getting back on track.


Transportation has been a huge development area. IP-based video surveillance systems for traffic control and mobile solutions, including ALPR, network cameras, video analytics, sophisticated VMS and so on, have contributed to several companies' growth. "We anticipate that our company's revenue from traffic applications will increase by more than 25 percent, now that we have launched our traffic servers," van der Kroef said. March Networks, Axis and Nice have also been heavily involved with transportation projects.


With increased crime rates around the world, public surveillance and critical infrastructure have tightened security measures on all fronts. In both emerging and mature markets, IP-based video surveillance is increasingly deployed to better protect citizens and utilities.


In residential and retail segments, a growing middle class will expand needs for safety and security, said Laird Hamberlin, VP of Global Accounts, ADT Security. "We have seen some of our larger retail customers with some good investments continuing, but not necessarily at their historic levels," Koch added, in a prepared statement. A full recovery of Axis' retail business, Mauritsson said, is not yet expected for 2010.


Companies that focus on small-to-medium projects, however, were not as dependent on single verticals. As a result, they had more flexibility. "Our average project size is less than US$10,000, and our solutions are a good fit for many verticals — banking, transportation, retail and mobile solutions," Coelen said.


Products for 2009
Despite tighter budgets, growth has favored companies who continued to invest in R&D, resulting in a healthy number of new products being launched. "We invested more than 10 percent of our sales in R&D, which we believe is essential to provide innovative and reliable solutions," said Uwe Thym, VP of Marketing at Bosch Security Systems.


Video Surveillance
The majority of video surveillance solution providers zoomed in on improving resolution, frame rates and/or outdoor capability.


Mobotix released its newest hemispheric camera, using decentralized technology to restore panoramic images distorted by fisheye lenses. "This product was the most successful launch Mobotix ever had," Coelen said. The camera uses a 360-degree lens and has built-in storage, allowing users to work with fewer cameras but get increased resolution.


March Networks bolstered its portfolio with IP-based HD cameras supporting H.264 compression, and refined its software offerings. "We'll aggressively promote these products in the next six to 12 months," Wilenius said.


Optelecom-NKF, for better compression, also released its H.264-enabled video server, to integrate analytic algorithms and storage. Continuous development will eventually incorporate VMS and recording technology into a single solution, van der Kroef said.


Axis launched some 30 network video products this year, focusing specifically on two categories — H.264 (improved image quality) and enhanced outdoor capabilities. "Our HDTV-quality cameras with H.264 compression standards have been a success," Mauritsson said. Another focus was an outdoor ready, out -of - the-box product which shortens installation time and eliminates the need for an external housing.


As analytics mature, companies like Axis and Geutebrück have added them as built-in features. "We've launched a new network camera designed with outdoor motion detection running on the DSP," Geutebrück said.


Bosch launched a selection of cost-effective, all-in-one network cameras with onboard storage, catering to SMBs to protect and monitor property. "We also launched a dome camera with full PTZ capabilities," Thym said.


Intrusion Detection
Wireless intrusion detection solutions, in particular, sold well in 2008. "Our wireless control panel, with built-in GSM/GPRS, serves entry-level needs and meets international standards," Dr. Shachrai said, emphasizing that this product is Visonic's best-seller of the year.


Access Control
Web-based solutions were popular with Bosch and CDVI. "We developed a Web-based solution that uses a built-in Web server for access management," Thym said. And the CDVI solution includes software for visitor, parking and asset management, Assouline said. Integrating other systems gives manufacturers a better chance to sell their products and asks of end users to only familiarize themselves with one system, rather than several disparate systems.


Collective Challenges
Challenges that most of companies faced this year are careful channel partner selection and inadequate education of industry participants. More than ever before, these long-standing obstacles must be dealt with if companies expect growth to continue.


Channel Partners
Strategic expansion includes training for integrators, distributors and resellers to ensure project wins. "We continue to focus on providing our sales channels with the information and support they need to help customers transition from analog to full IP-based video surveillance environments," Wilenius said. "Additionally, we've launched an improvement program for our architect, engineer and consultant community."


Some companies supported customers who were more affected by the economic crisis, through extending payment terms or giving extra discounts. "We also increased marketing support for our partners by designing campaigns and attending trade shows," Assouline said.


For network camera providers, one key marketing challenge was to reach system integrators and end users with the full benefits of IP-based systems — there are simply too many people to reach. "Sometimes, system integrators have little incentive to change because IP is something new and they have to learn. This means leaving what you're comfortable with," Mauritsson said.


Education
Educating partners has been vital for growth. To this end, Mobotix has made countless webinars, themed training sessions and short films available on popular Internet portals, Coelen said.


A number of other companies, including Axis, Bosch, March Networks, Hikvision, Nice, Optelecom-NKF, Geutebruck, GeoVision, Hitron Systems, Victor Company of Japan (JVC), VIVOTEK and Tamron, have joined efforts in the ONVIF initiative, to help drive the technology shift by creating standard parameters. "We need to make sure that system integrators are up to speed with new techniques and can choose the best of breed when selecting a system," Mauritsson said.


However, lack of regulators to enforce compliance with existing standards could halt progress. "ONVIF and PSIA efforts to enhance standards seem like a good start, but we need to see if they will be enforced," Assouline said.


Rapid innovation, high market fragmentation and new alliances all contribute to a massive range of product offerings. "It is, thus, imperative to help end users distinguish pure marketing gimmicks from true value offerings," Geutebrück said.


Industry Weaknesses
Overall, the two biggest weaknesses of the industry are collective complacency (explosive growth in previous years) and conservativeness. To varying degrees, most economies are still suffering from the recession, which makes for difficult prediction and overall uncertainty. According to IMS Research, video surveillance equipment sales in Europe will have declined by nearly 7 percent by the end of this year, with the U.K. and Spain hit particularly hard. The Americas are expected to pose slight growth, said Udi Segall, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Nice Systems. Large stimulus packages in both the U.S. and Europe will cushion the blow somewhat.


Additionally, fluctuations in currency exchange rates make it difficult to penetrate certain geographical markets. "Fluctuations make our imported products more expensive," Dr. Shachrai said.


Security is a conservative and tricky business full of users reluctant to adopt innovative technologies, prolonging the transition from analog to digital. Looking purely at the video market, analog shares are still very high, and IP-based solutions are of a low penetration, Coelen said. When investments shrink, the result is a relatively large, negative impact on network video expansion. However, the slowdown is not an indication that the technology shift is not happening; rather, it simply shows that growth is reduced, Mauritsson said.


Charging Forward
Clearly, it has been a tough year, to have to balance budgets with continued innovation while maintaining or expanding global presence. On top of that, providing sufficient support to channel partners and increased vigilance in training may mean make or break for any company. Between a company's self preservation and its social responsibility, the Security 50 participants of 2009 have had a trying year, yet those who managed to tie all these loose ends have reaped rewards despite the volatile environment. Although the forecast for 2010 is far from transparent, attention paid to these areas and the Security 50's shared experiences will better prepare industry players for the future.

Future-Proofed Building Solutions Hinge on Open Platforms

Future-Proofed Building Solutions Hinge on Open Platforms

Editor / Provider: Submitted by Milestone Systems and Johnson Controls | Updated: 10/6/2009 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Implementing scalable solutions allow building owners to react faster to ever-changing environments. Open-platform systems that can integrate with different third-party systems are key to cost-effectiveness.


Effective Business Management with Milestone
Located in Gainesville, VA, Madison Crescent is a 43-acre, multipurpose village providing residential, retail and office opportunities within a unique community environment near the dynamic Washington D.C. market.


Although the headquarters is situated in this dynamic region, it is far away from its project site. "Our headquarters is more than 60 miles away from the project site. Traffic in Washington D.C. can be a nightmare," said William McClain, Director of Property Management, CRC Commercial.


A surveillance system that could do more than simply recording activities in an elevator or at a front door is needed. High-resolution PTZ cameras that allow remote access for building monitoring are required to make sure general safety regulations are always followed by the crew.


Solutions
Milestone XProtect Professional was introduced to Madison Crescent. Developers can use 360-degree cameras to monitor the property. Software was set up in both the building and the respective offices of the developers. The preliminary setup included four IPIX DV-2000 cameras: one recessed, and the other three are domes — a Sanyo VDC-DP7584 pan focus dome camera and a Panasonic PTZ roof camera in conjunction with a Verint video encoder and an HP server.


Along with the crime deterrent factor, this system has been used as a business tool to avoid traffic congestion, control after-hour cleaning crews and monitor weather conditions.


The open platform makes the system more sophisticated and allows the users to choose any camera they wish to install. "We are not trapped using one type of camera that can be dated as soon as next year," said McClain.


Camana Bay Future-Proofed with Johnson Controls
Camana Bay, stretching from the Caribbean Sea to the North Sound, contains a planned, multipurpose community that will be developed over several decades. With the continuity of its building systems in mind, the local development team selected Johnson Controls to design and integrate the town's major low-voltage systems.


The plan for Camana Bay was designed to evolve and grow organically to meet the changing local markets and requirements. For Dale Dennis, CEO of DE Technology, ensuring the continuity of the town's major low-voltage systems such as fire and security systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls and other technologies was critical in considering this development.


The developers started the design with the town center and school as the foundation of Camana Bay. Residential areas would then follow once the town's amenities were in place to support them.


The design includes a Johnson Controls P2000 security management system for access control at retail and office spaces. Video surveillance is in place at all building exteriors, parking lots and garages. They are linked to the central operations system via a Johnson Controls DVN 5000 digital video-recording system.


An emergency call system is also in place throughout exterior parking lots and garages. An addressable audio system installed throughout the site further enables operators to playback multiple soundtracks and differentiate them by location.


All HVAC systems and equipment are monitored and controlled by a Johnson Controls Metasys building management system. The Metasys system is also used for the monitoring and control of an emergency center.


Command-and-control center generator, central chiller plant, fuel tanks and a Lutron Grafik system for lighting in common areas can be controlled by Johnson Controls intelligent fire control panels. Fire alarm systems in all common areas can also be integrated and controlled.


These low-voltage systems are converged on a single IP network which is routed back to the command-and-control center that manages the systems 24/7. All the unnecessary and redundant cabling is avoided. As the development expands, additional or expanded systems can ride on the same network.


Furthermore, Johnson Controls trained a local subcontractor that will take ownership of installations in future phases and provide additional training to operations personnel as needed.

Tiandy Opens Largest Security Manufacturing Base in Northern China

Tiandy Opens Largest Security Manufacturing Base in Northern China

Editor / Provider: By Tim Shen | Updated: 10/5/2009 | Article type: China Corner

Tianjin Tiandy Digital Technology Co., Ltd. was established in 1994, boasting 15 years of experience in security. Tiandy offers integrated portfolios to partners in China and around the world. To manufacture a wide range of products, Tiandy will move to a new manufacturing base and become the largest security powerhouse in northern China. A&S China Best Buys talks to Tiandy about company expansion and its product line.


While the world economy recovers from the financial crisis, the Chinese market continues to enjoy strong domestic growth. This puts China in the global spotlight and provides more opportunities to local enterprises. In 2008, Tiandy expanded its China operations by opening 25 branches nationwide, providing end-to-end solutions. Its total solutions are deployed for many applications, including transportation, Safe City projects, justice and remote monitoring.


Tiandy aims to provide prompt responses to the market and direct communication with customers. To cater to different requirements, the organization has invested 22 million USD for the new manufacturing base from 2008. The new 50,000-meter square manufacturing base is aimed to be "digital products R&D and manufacturing center" — the largest security manufacturing base in northern China. Meanwhile, Tiandy, this year, has been awarded "Chinese Well-known Brand" by Chinese authorities, which is the one and the only in security industry.


"The new production lines will increase its manufacturing capability, with three SMTs and 10 independent production lines in a 5-story building of 10,600 meter square. It ensures product delivery time and quality," said Francis Jing, Manager of the International Department at Tiandy. The company plans to invest more in testing equipment to strengthen product stability, such as a constant temperature and humidity chamber, a high definition video signal generator and a logic analyzer.


For human resources, Tiandy adopted modern management to manage its growing scale. With more than 700 employees, it requires a clear organization structure and effective management to facilitate cooperation within the organization. Tiandy is now using enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, material requirement planning and e-HR.


Quality manufacturing and effective management provide a great launch pad for Tiandy's overseas sales. From 2004, the company has put great effort toward overseas expansion. Tiandy's products — fiber optic transceivers, speed domes, matrices and video servers — have been shipped to more than 30 countries, including the U.S., Australia, Brazil, India and Russia.


Wide Range of Speed Domes
Tiandy is a pioneer among professional security product suppliers in China. The company not only offers the most reliable fiber optic transceivers, but wide ranges of speed dome cameras as well.


E Series
This series is Tiandy's major speed dome camera. It features two national patents — OSD III — which allows a better image display even under a strong illumination.


"Another patent which has received high marks from our customers is magnetic fixing," Jing said. "Magnetic fixing requires no screws and other tools while installing, replacing the old socket. It shows good anti-vibration and lasting magnetic fixture."


F Series
The F series represents Tiandy's fiber optic speed dome, suited for highway applications. A core technology of this fiber speed dome shows robust R&D ability. "We use a single IC chip to integrate with the fiber module, while other manufacturers are using two separate IC chips in their fiber speed domes," Jing said.


B Series
The B series provides a full range of functions, such as a cruising speed of 500 degrees per second, remote control by an English onscreen display, eight patrol tours and eight privacy masking zones. It is designed for outdoor applications, with IP 66 waterproof ratings and built-in anti-thunder protection up to 3,000 volts.


C Series
The C Series is a cost-effective speed dome with basic functions. It features 220 preset points, supporting Tiandy, Pelco_P and Pelco_D protocols. All Tiandy domes can integrate with any zoom camera, depending on customer requirements.


New IR High Speed Dome
The TC-D2600-IRW, or Aladdin, is Tiandy's new IR speed dome camera, featuring 120 to 150 meters IR range with innovative design. "This new product is embedded with double cooling fans, which enable excellent ventilation," Jing said. "It has the advantages of high accuracy, stable preset position and anti-flashlight functions, which are perfect for low illumination or completely dark working environments. The camera has been widely used for Safe City projects, unmanned zones, airports and railway stations."


During the product design, Tiandy focused on factors which could affect the IR speed dome's performance, such as image focus working with IR's range and heat dissipation. "Our engineers adjusted they IR range by software to get a clear image, enabling the speed domes to zooming in and out randomly," Jing said.


Jing pointed out that all speed domes before massive product have to pass several rigid tests, including long-term high- and low-temperature, high dense of humidity and aging tests. "Furthermore, our engineers have put great effort on PCB design, heat dissipation and controlling sensitivity, enabling precise and smooth rotation, quick and stable controlling and friendly OSD. All these give our speed domes an edge."


New Products in Demand
In 2009, Tiandy continues to provide more high quality affordable products. They include a wide range of IP solutions — network speed domes, network cameras, matrix systems and DVRs. A 2-megapixel CCD network box camera, will be on the market in October, Jing said, embedded with Tiandy's in-house software.


"Meanwhile, our new half dome with a stylish housing design is ready for our customers," Jing said. "This product was designed for indoor applications, as we see great demand from our customers for security as well as stylish design to match their interior decoration."


Lastly, Tiandy has completed its product lines for fiber optic transceivers, offering point to point, cascade and convergent. "To provide better products and better services has always been Tiandy's goal," Jing said. "Tiandy's portfolio offers an extensive range of products — more than 100 models, along with our experienced sales team to provide the most suitable solutions for our customers."

Safeguarding Harsh Environments With Ruggedized Cameras

Safeguarding Harsh Environments With Ruggedized Cameras

Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 9/25/2009 | Article type: Tech Corner

Surveillance cameras allow people to monitor objects of interest in faraway locations even though they cannot be physically present. However, these cameras are also prone to vandalism and natural disasters. A&S takes stock of the current technology developments, challenges and future trends of rugged cameras manufactured in Asia.


Rugged cameras (vandal-,explosion- or bullet-proof) have been available on the market for quite some time. Today, the technology for these cameras is mature and caters to various user needs.


Prices of rugged cameras are generally higher than those of regular cameras due to their sophisticated technical designs and high endurance in harsh environments. As such, installations of such cameras are not widespread, and technology developments only take place when necessary, said Shawn Hsu, Technical Director at Surpedia Technologies.


Among all rugged cameras, vandal-proof cameras take the largest market share, said Rich Huang, PM at EverFocus Electronics. Markets for other rugged cameras such as explosion- and bullet-proof ones are even smaller because the target segments are more niche.


Rugged dome and box cameras are most in demand. Dome cameras' appearances are less intrusive, so they are often users' top choice, especially in North America, said Huang. Sales for rugged dome cameras are still growing steadily from 2008 to 2009, said Li.


Currently, Europe and North America have the highest demand for rugged cameras because of their extreme outdoor conditions, said Garrett Li, Marketing Specialist at DynaColor. Rugged cameras can be used in verticals such as government, military, industry and critical infrastructure. For vandal-proof cameras, applications mainly include building complexes, casinos and bars where higher probability of vandalism exists, said Carrie Lee, PM at Yoko Technology.


Technology Developments
"The main difference between rugged cameras and regular cameras lies in the cameras' casings and module designs," said Hsu. Weatherproof, die-cast metal casings covered with polycarbonate allow cameras to operate smoothly under harsh environments.


"Technology for vandal-proof cameras is considerably mature; there has been no significant breakthrough lately," said Huang. This was seconded by Hsu: "There has been no dramatic change in user needs nor the size of the overall market."


Still, certain high-end requirements must be met. Casing and dome cover materials, module designs, lenses and sensors, and add-on features such as IR-cut filters and LEDs are all showing improvements.


Casing Requirements
The impact level which camera casings can withstand is key to vandal-proof cameras, said Huang. For example, aluminum casings with IP65 to 69 ratings ensure different levels of water protection.


Dome shells made of polycarbonate can withstand 380 kilograms of impact. "Clear and tinted designs are offered. While a tinted cover could conceal a camera's viewing direction, it may affect image clarity," said Lee.


With IP-based solutions gaining momentum, larger casings and better heat dissipation designs are required, said Huang. Heaters or fans could be built in if required, and lightning-proofing can be done on circuit boards.


Users in general prefer rugged cameras with casings that are simple and not flashy. "They have a fixed idea on how a rugged dome camera looks like," said Lee. Vandal-proof dome cameras can also be mounted on walls and ceilings and have the ability to conceal camera direction.


Mechanical Designs
"Areas where rugged cameras are required are usually high above the ground. Installers prefer cameras that are easier to install," said Li. "A rugged dome camera with its camera, base, casing and dome shell all can be taken apart for easy installations, and maintenance can save about half of the installation time."


Cameras with covers seamlessly attached to the casings allow for manual or automatic camera angle and lens focus adjustments, with outside controllers, Huang said. Three- or four-axis for angle views can provide clearer image and offer flexibility in terms of installing locations, said Lora Tsai, Sales Manager at Eyeview Electronics.


All-in-one cameras are another model that users can choose from. "A supporting core connecting both the dome cover and the casing can prevent the cover from falling during installations," said Huang.


Lenses and Sensors
To ensure image clarity under different environments, camera lenses and sensors are also evolving. "A spherical, auto-iris, varifocal lens renders the best image quality during night time with built-in IR LEDs," said Tsai. "For low-light conditions, cameras with CCDs and IR–cut filters offer high performance," said Li. "CCDs bring about better image quality and higher light sensitivity." Cameras can also support CMOS sensors and motorized lens based on various surveillance needs.


IR LEDs for Day/Night
Day/night functions are a must for rugged cameras. For box cameras, manufacturers can separate the protective glass covering the IR LEDs and cameras to prevent reflections. For dome cameras, some manufacturers use rubber to push the IR light closer to the dome cover within the cameras to reach the same effect, said Huang. The systems could have built-in heater and fan designs, which can allow the system to work under temperatures ranging from -40 to 55 degrees Celsius, said Li.


Rules and Regulations
"There are no clear unified standards governing the manufacturing of rugged cameras," said Li. "However, some industrial standards are serving as guidelines for manufacturers to know how to effectively design the cameras for easy installations."


For example, 4S Mount is a US standard for screw designs on the back of the dome camera that allows fixed dome cameras to be easily installed indoor. The cabling outlets could also follow the industrial standards in size to make installations easier, said Li.


Furthermore, Axis Communications used the IK ranking to identify the sturdiness of a fix dome's cover, said Li. Testing is done within factories to ensure that the cover is strong enough to provide full protection in harsh environments. Among all, IK10 is one of the most widely used standards, which can take the weight of 20 joules, said Lee.


Selection Criteria
Vandal-proof cameras have been on the market for quite some time, so their features are not very different from one another. Quality and overall system performance will be key to product selection, said Lee.


Selecting a vandal-proof security camera is no rocket science. Users need to first determine if the security camera needs to see in changing light conditions or low-light situations, said Li. Auto-iris lenses work better for changing light conditions, and black/white or day/night security cameras are suitable for low-light environments.


Locations of where cameras are installed must also be considered. "Installers should consider how far and wide cameras need to cover because the size of the image sensor and the type of lens used also determine how far the cameras can see," said Li. Usually, to fully secure the outside of a building, one speed dome with five to six fixed domes would be enough, said Li. Installers must make sure if the chosen rugged cameras satisfy installation needs.


Covers and casings must be attached seamlessly, and attention should be paid on the camera's casing material and its waterproof capability, said Lee.


Whether cameras have good overall system performance and adjustable lenses is also important. "Users should make sure that casings are not too thin and covers are of the right material. The cameras should have at least three-axils to allow the cameras to turn to different directions," Lee said. Rust can also be prevented by quality paint.


Challenges
Several challenges are hindering the uptake of rugged cameras.


First, rugged cameras are still largely used in project-based installations. The market for rugged cameras, especially explosion- and bullet-proof cameras, is limited, said Hsu. There are only so many project-based installations that require such cameras.


Rugged technology developments also involve high costs in casing developments. "Security is already a niche market. Without significant demand for such products, many companies are concerned with the huge R&D investments in the latest technology," said Hsu.


Technology
Even with the advent of IP, some companies are still using the same analog casing models for network cameras. "The first challenge which manufacturers face when installing network cameras into existing vandal-proof casings is limited space," said Huang. Since space within camera casings must be big enough for network camera's modules and lines, companies could invest in a new casing dedicated for network cameras. However, it would be a very expensive production, Huang said.


Built-in IR LEDs for low-light surveillance are becoming popular among users. However, IR LEDs might cause reflections and prevent cameras from seeing. Luckily, most companies today already have the know-how in terms of minimizing or resolving the effect, said Lee.


Future Trends
IP technology is rapidly developing, but when it comes to rugged cameras, analog cameras still hold the larger market share. "Many installations prefer analog rugged cameras because of price," said Lee.


Sales of rugged dome cameras with built-in IR LEDs, speed domes and rugged box cameras will increase, and so does the use of H.264 compression.


Vandal-proof dome cameras with WDR will also become trendy, although such technology still requires improvements, said Tsai. Last, demand for long-distance viewing is growing. With advanced sensor technology, vandal-proof cameras' viewing distance can now reach 50 kilometers, said Huang.

Panasonic: Product Development Trends and Strategy in 2009

Panasonic: Product Development Trends and Strategy in 2009

Editor / Provider: Submitted by Panasonic System Solutions Company | Updated: 8/24/2009 | Article type: Hot Topics

Keizo Suzuki, Systems Engineer, Overseas Sales Group, Security and Sound Systems Business Unit, Panasonic System Solutions Company, discussed the company's trendsetting solutions and its 2009 product development strategy at the Global Digital Surveillance Forum (GDSF Asia) in Taipei in April, held concurrently with SecuTech Expo 2009. This is a summary of the talk.


Currently, we are in an economic recession. Some market surveys indicate that the video surveillance market is at a plateau or even in a negative slide. The IP video surveillance market, however, is growing continuously despite the current situation.


Two noticeable advantages of IP surveillance are higher picture quality and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). The picture quality of analog cameras is limited to analog television standards, where scanning lines are 525 in NTSC and 625 in PAL. Network cameras have no such limitations and can supply much more pixels.


The second advance is TCO reduction. TCO refers to the lifecycle cost of an asset, which includes initial, installation, operational and maintenance expenses. In IP surveillance, the initial cost can be higher than that of conventional analog systems; however, the overall, post-purchase cost is lower.


IP Tradeoff and Trends
IP surveillance, on the other hand, has raised some issues regarding the tradeoff among picture quality, data size and frame rate. Because of the transition from VGA to megapixel resolution, data sizes are generally bigger and require more processing power, in turn reducing frame rates. Additionally, with the rise of H.264, bit rates can be lowered but also require more processing power.


The H.264 standard has new encoding tools, previously not used with MPEG-2 and MPEG-4, for higher picture quality at lower bit rates. It also defines several profiles, which refer to sets of capabilities and applications. For example, baseline profile is used for real-time streaming, whereas high profile is for media such as Blu-ray discs.


While the majority of H.264 cameras on the market use baseline profile due to lower processing requirements, adopting high profile is pivotal in striking a good balance between picture quality and compression rate.


High Profile Encoding Tools
In particular, the quantization matrix delivers very good results in picture quality because it optimizes information based on human visual characteristics. Other tools such as CABAC, b-frame and 8x8 pixels DCT are also powerful for compression, but these tools need much higher processing which increases video latency. Therefore, Panasonic applies the quantization matrix in cameras for better picture quality with low latency and applies all of them in a new DVR to realize longer recording.


One question may arise: if high profile requires much higher processing power, why would Panasonic adopt it? The key is "UniPhier," the Panasonic hardware and software platform for digital video products. The company produces both consumer and professional digital video products, including TV sets, video cameras, digital still cameras, cellular phones, car entertainment systems and surveillance cameras, which all require powerful processing for en-/decoding. An integrated platform like UniPhier fasttracks product development.


The i-Pro Lineup
i-Pro is the trademark for Panasonic professional IP surveillance products, different from lower cost, consumer-type webcams. The i-Pro lineup includes several types of cameras, encoders, decoders, NVRs and management software. The latest megapixel models are the WV-NP502, a box type, and WV-NW502, a vandalresistant fixed dome with a varifocal lens.


Our concept for these cameras is H.264 high profile powered by UniPhier, with dedicated features like high picture quality in real time, easy installation and intelligence. These cameras have a full frame rate (30 fps) megapixel transmission at 4 Mbps, as opposed to the competition's 11 fps and 11-Mbps bit rate. At less critical installations, the same quality picture can be transmitted at 2 Mbps with a little frame drop. In the case of VGA, our new megapixel cameras deliver the same quality at half the bit rate of conventional MPEG-4 compression.


Another value-added feature is the multistream design. Our cameras can deliver two H.264 streams and one JPEG stream at independent resolutions and bit rates — You can get one H.264 megapixel stream for the wall monitor, the other H.264 VGA stream for the PC client and the remaining JPEG one for recording.


Wide Dynamic Range
One of our core technologies is the well-known "Super Dynamic." Under this mode, our newly developed CCD can capture a bright area with a short signal/ exposure and a dark area with a long signal/exposure. After capturing, our proprietary DSP combines both pictures and delivers a natural, smoother reproduction of high-contrast images.


The sensitivity of this CCD has also been improved: signal processing, low noise design and adaptive DNR, which are known as our "black-box" technology.


Easy Installation
Another proprietary feature of ours, auto back focus (ABF), makes real-life installations easier than ever, with precise mechanic and electronic designs. Day/night is a common feature for outdoor cameras to get good images in dim light. However, due to certain innate CCD characteristics, the focal point changes between day and night. Our ABF allows cameras to automatically adjust the focus by moving their CCD according to light conditions.


As megapixel cameras are sensitive, it is difficult to get the right focus. An installation typically requires one person for adjusting and another to check. ABF removes the need and reduces installation time and labor cost.


Face Detection
In digital still cameras for consumers, a big trend is to capture faces. We believe that this will also play a big role in security surveillance. By incorporating face detection, our cameras can detect up to eight faces at any given time and transfer their positional information via XML, allowing you to utilize it in your application software.


2009 Development Strategy
The keyword for our product development this year is "all-around." Although video surveillance is migrating toward IP, actual adoption varies from country to country. We, therefore, provide specific products or solutions for both IP-based and analog installations.


High-end markets such as airports, railways and buildings can fully benefit from our solutions' high picture quality and TCO reduction, in addition to scalability and reliability. For mid-range markets, analog products are still preferred. This year, we will renew our standard analog lineup, which includes SD5 cameras, H.264 DVRs and HDMI full-HD LCDs. As for emerging markets, our entry-level products are cost-effective and still of good quality. We have already launched a fixed-focus mini dome camera, WV-CF102, and a simple DVR is coming up shortly.


Panasonic will continue to be a market leader and provide advanced surveillance solutions to meet the growing security needs worldwide.

Sunell Boosts its Reputation at ISC WEST and IFSEC 2009

Sunell Boosts its Reputation at ISC WEST and IFSEC 2009

Editor / Provider: TIM SHEN | Updated: 7/23/2009 | Article type: China Corner

Sunell, a surveillance product provider in Shenzhen, China, has been offering quality products and gradually increasing their market share through years of dedication. A&S China Best Buys spoke with Ann Wu, Vice President of Sunell and Director of the Overseas Department, to unveil the reasons behind buyers' credits.

There is always a reason to behind success. For Sunell, it is its dedication to the industry and product stability. The company was first established in 1997 when it acted as a distributor and agent for companies such as Philips, Scantronic (U.K.), Paxton (U.K.) and ET (Italy). Since 2000, the company has undergone a major transformation, shifting to increase investment in its own R&D in an effort to manufacture cameras under its own wing.

Sunell is dedicated to provide surveillance cameras and mobile DVRs. With in-house R&D capability, Sunell introduced several innovations, such as network cameras, featuring H.264 compression, and mini high-speed domes. Today, Sunell's products are trusted by numerous leading distributors and sold to more than 40 countries.

When it comes to new product design, Sunell believes that it is mandatory to know each customer's demands. Most of Chinese manufacturers design products based on Chinese market's requirements while overseas applications are another issue. "We put much effort in product design," said Ann Wu, Vice President and Director or Overseas Department at Sunell. "First, we conduct a thorough study of a product, to get to know the existing problems on the market. We would rather provide a more accurate and advanced product instead of a 'me-too' product. We then discuss with our customers to decide which product suits them and their local market. This is quite important for overseas markets."

Differentiation  - Values and Customization
After attending worldwide exhibitions, Wu noticed that most Chinese camera exhibitors showcased similar products while other camera providers showcased new products with new designs. "Differentiation is the only way out to survive, apart from price competition," Wu added. "If suppliers cannot provide customers with innovation, then you can hardly acquire long-term partnerships."
Wu pointed out that from this year's ISC West and IFSEC, loads of Chinese exhibitors showcased high-speed domes as they all look the same in housing and specifications, but vary in price. "Our in-house R&D capability backs up our product innovation," Wu added. "Besides, our manufacturing and stringent testing procedures enhance product stability."

With the key points mentioned above, the company has the ability to work with customers to provide specific products, catering to different market demands. "We are eager to work with our customers to provide the right product to penetrate their local market," said Wu. "Customization is another crucial factor that we can provide."

New Mini High-Speed Dome
Sunell's mini high-speed dome - SN-SSP4000/Z10 - has become the most eye-catching dome camera at IFSEC this year. It features 1/4-inch interline transfer CCD with automatic dual ICR filter. It offers 100X zoom-in function (10X optical plus 10X digital), 500 TVL (color) and 570 TVL (B/W).

This product features continuous 360 degree rotation with maximum 360 degree a second and 180 degree flip. It supports Pelco's D/P protocol and its joystick provides clockwise and counterclockwise control. Its cruising may be able to add other settings, such as preset point position, scanning and cruising scanning.)
Wu mentioned that it also features dual power supply to enhance its stability, preventing any power failure situation. "Additionally, this product shows good performance, even exceeding 3X zoom-in," Wu added. “Overall speaking, this product received many buyers' attentions."

In order to give a new image to the market, Sunell invested much in the latest technology and housing design.  Its design not only offers a stylish appearance but also takes heat dissipation into consideration. Speaking of the speed dome's inner components, Sunell imports from reliable reputated suppliers overseas and carry stringent reliability and functional tests of all the key components, as they play a crucial role, ensuring product stability in stepping motor, strips and et cetera.

Quality Guaranteed
Years of cooperation with other international players has give Sunell ample understanding of what a stable product needs. Wu pointed out that the organization has evolved its manufacturing, management system and testing procedures from its big partners. For example, in order to meet customers' testing demands, the company invested greatly in testing, in the form of EMC, UL and other certificates.
"We do the initial testing by ourselves and the third party laboratories before we send our products out to our partners for second product testing," Wu added. "Moreover, while there are a lot of fake certificates on the market, ours show more values and credibility."

Sunell has a 9,000 square-meter factory with automated manufacturing equipment and a modernized enterprise management system, which helps it achieve its maximum monthly camera production of 120,000 units.  Offering the market advanced and stable product is always its goal. Therefore, the organization caters to details and cares about each customer's requirements, mostly neglected by other Chinese suppliers. Sunell hopes to win over more customers and to take good care of them in terms of providing good products and service, showing the world that there are decent Chinese manufacturers in the surveillance camera field. Meanwhile, the organization is going to present a new image to customers in terms of products and booth design in the upcoming event, CPSE Shenzhen.

Calculating Image Resolution

Calculating Image Resolution

Editor / Provider: Submitted by Theia Technologies | Updated: 7/15/2009 | Article type: Tech Corner

Resolution can be defined in many ways. This article looks into how image resolution can be calculated.


There is not yet a unified industry standard for the level of sharpness required in video surveillance applications. The higher the number of pixels, the better the resolution, and the more likely recognition and positive identification can be made.


The detail in an image is determined by resolution, which can be defined in many ways.


Resolution can be expressed with the number of TVLs or pixels of the image sensor. For analog cameras, image resolution is usually measured by the number of TVLs, such as 320, 480, 520 and so on. The higher the number of lines goes, the greater detail or larger field of view can be recorded. With megapixel cameras, resolution is generally expressed with the total number of pixels, divided by one million and rounded off.


Resolution can also be the level of detail with which an image can be reproduced or recorded. Commonly used by lens designers and optical engineers, image sensor resolution is expressed as line pairs per millimeter (lpm). As the total number of pixels on an image sensor increases, the pixel size gets smaller and requires a lens of higher quality to achieve focus.


Last, resolution can be specified in pixels per foot or meter at an object. It is basically the horizontal field of view (HFOV) of the camera divided by the horizontal number of pixels. This gives the number of pixels per foot that can be correlated to image quality. The rest of the article takes on this definition.


Wide-angle Field of View
An advantage of megapixel cameras is the ability to cover a much wider area with the same or better resolution compared to its analog counterparts. As available pixels across the field of view are greater, the field of view can be increased without decreasing image resolution.


Figure 1 compares the field of view of different cameras at a distance of 32 feet from the subject at the same image resolution. As the camera resolution (total number of pixels) increases, so does the field of view (pixels per foot). Clearly, the higher the number of pixels, the wider the field of view it acquires at a constant image resolution.


The shorter the lens' focal length, the wider the field of view. With a view greater than 90 degrees, most wide-angle lenses will have barrel distortion (also known as fisheye distortion) where image look curved and bulged out in the center. Rectilinear lenses keep lines that appear straight in the real world straight on the image sensor. This increases the resolution at the edges; lenses with barrel distortion lead to compressed edges and reduced resolution.


With typical distorted wide-angle lenses, potentially valuable information is lost, and no software can reconstruct the lost information. Any dewarping will create an image that looks like that from a rectilinear lens but at lower resolution. With a rectilinear lens, the image is spread over a greater number of pixels at the edges, increasing the probability of identification.


Objects in a Plane
With a rectilinear lens, objects in a common plane perpendicular to the camera have the same image resolution at the center and edge, even though the objects at the edges are farther away from the camera. This rectilinearity creates an effect called 3D stretching or lean-over, in which objects at the edges seem to be stretched (Figure 2). The wider the field of view, the more noticeable the effect.


In Figure 3, the length of the black car seems flattened, but the widths of the two cars are the same because they are in the same plane perpendicular to the camera. This 3D stretching effect increases the resolution (pixels per foot) of objects at the edge; for lenses with barrel distortion, objects at the edge will be curved and smaller than those in the center.


Objects in an ARC
With a rectilinear lens, the calculation of resolution of objects in an arc with the camera at the center is more complicated. As an object moves from the center of the image toward the edge in an arc without changing the distance to the camera, the object will increase in resolution significantly. Figure 4 shows the resolution increase as objects move around the arc at constant distance from the camera. The person standing 11.5 feet from the camera will increase in width due to 3D stretching as he moves to the edge; lenses with barrel distortion will not show an increase in object width.


Resolution Calculation
Given a lens and camera, it is possible to calculate image resolution. If the field of view is not known, it can be calculated for a rectilinear lens using the equation below. If the lens has barrel distortion, look up the HFOV in the specification sheet.


Once the HFOV is calculated and the camera known, image resolution is simply the ratio of the pixels to HFOV.


The variables in the equations depend on both lens and camera choices. Different camera resolutions have different chip sizes, resulting in different fields of view with the same lens. The table below illustrates the data for the most common megapixel cameras.


There are many definitions of resolution, and the two most commonly used in security are total number of pixels in a camera and the pixels per foot in an image. As the total number of pixels increases, the detail in the image or the field of view or both can be increased.

Megapixel Technology Advances by Leaps and Bounds

Megapixel Technology Advances by Leaps and Bounds

Editor / Provider: The Editorial Team | Updated: 7/14/2009 | Article type: Tech Corner

Demand for higher-resolution images propels the development in technology, and vendors are actively improving lowlight performance. Recent spikes in megapixel camera sales reveal that there is more than meets the eye.


The global market for megapixel cameras was estimated, by IMS Research, to be worth of US$150 million in 2008. "The economy has affected the surveillance industry, and growth is lower than previously forecasted," said Alastair Hayfield, Senior Market Research Analyst, Security and Fire Group, IMS Research. However, the improved resolution from megapixel cameras is one key driver for IP-based solutions, and has helped maintain some of the strong growth seen previously, added Hayfield. "By 2012, approximately 6 percent of surveillance camera shipments will be of megapixel resolution."


"The Americas and EMEA are more aggressive in adoption of megapixel cameras; however, significant growth in the number of projects has been noted in APAC," said Chalon Dilber, Global Business Development Manager, Pelco (a Schneider Electric company). This market breakdown was seconded by Basler, with the Americas and EMEA taking the lion's share at 40 percent each.


Government, education, transportation, commercial and retail are the primary users, and according to Panasonic, railway and education applications enjoy solid growths of about 47 percent and 43 percent from 2010 to 2012. The ability to provide greater details has proven useful in aiding city surveillance and protecting critical infrastructure. "Public venues with heavy traffic flow and high population density show substantial needs," said Yoshikazu Hirano, GM, Head of Security Solutions, Business and Professional Products APAC Company (a division of Sony Electronics APAC).


With limited capital available, businesses are increasingly looking for value-added installations that deliver both ROI and performance, noted Dave Tynan, VP of Global Sales at Avigilon.


Aside from protecting valuable assets, preserving forensic evidence is equally important. Megapixel cameras, traditionally used to detect theft in production and warehouse facilities, have now been applied to identify incidents of sabotage and insurance fraud, in which employees deliberately injure themselves to seek liability compensation, explained James Ionson, CEO of Oncam Global. Megapixel images not only validate the integrity of claims, protect patrons and venue management, but also save investigation time and litigation costs, said Tynan.


"Commercial viability is driving the uptake of megapixel cameras, as one of them can achieve the same coverage of at least three to four standard cameras," said Ralf Hinkel, CEO of Mobotix. "The same trend is now taking place at the low end of the market where budget-conscious buyers are attracted to the value proposition."


Technology
The latest technology development includes onboard intelligence, which involves H.264 compression plus multistreaming capability, motion detection, alarm handling, and storage management. The idea is to allow for a total security solution, where nonstop surveillance, acquisition of multiple targets, automatic tracking, video analytics interrogation and onsite verification are carried out by a single megapixel camera, said Ionson.


Developing end-to-end megapixel and HD surveillance systems, including management software designed for high-resolution surveillance, has gained popularity, added Tynan.


"Despite advancements, the real-world demand for higher resolution seems to stop at 5 megapixels," said Paul Bodell, CMO at IQinVision. "There are bandwidth challenges and low-light issues that will still take some time to address."


To stream megapixel images for live monitoring at 25 to 30 fps can hardly be handled by regular networks. The advent of H.264 emerges as the latest rescue; however, "many people specify it without knowing what it is or when it should be used," added Bodell. In the meantime, acquiring sufficient processing power for H.264 and built-in analytics is where the rubber meets the road, making power planning difficult.


"Many manufacturers are still working on an acceptable compromise between high resolution, real-time frame rate and compression algorithms," said Ely Maspero, Director of Marketing and Communication for EMEA, March Networks. Some, like IQinVision, have refined their firmware to improve processing efficiency, while others, like Basler, have taken advantage of the flexible stream functionality where the areas of interest can be transmitted in high resolution. On the other hand, some manufacturers have developed proprietary compression technologies, catering to save as much processing power as possible and allow full megapixel resolution to be streamed at higher frame rates.


Requiring 90 percent less computing power than MPEG-4, Mobotix's compression format maintains image integrity and low CPU overhead. It transmits what has moved within the scene in high quality at low bandwidth, allowing users to extract high-resolution, still images for positive identification, explained Hinkel. "The codec enables a standard P4 computer to handle up to 40 streams simultaneously, with viewing and recording at 25 fps." Based on distributed intelligence, users are allowed to access raw megapixel images stored in the camera with no bandwidth consumption when recording.


Furthermore, megapixel cameras with built-in analytics could function as the brain of a security system that identifies an event and instructs high-frame-rate PTZ cameras to zoom in for further interrogation, said Ionson. Megapixel recording could also be set to begin after an alarm has been triggered, saving bandwidth and storage space, said Hirano.


At the moment, installers are relying on mixed solutions of standard cameras and megapixel cameras, said Maspero. "D1-resolution cameras with analytics take on live monitoring and alarm management, and megapixel cameras handle post-event reconstruction."


Low-light Performance
There is an ongoing debate that megapixel cameras generally underperform in challenging lighting conditions. To render a more desirable low-light performance, manufacturers start from the fundamentals. On top of the basic automatic iris control and true day/night functionality (with removable IR cut filter), efforts in lens selection, sensor adjustment and DSP development have been made to improve image clarity.


Pelco recommends using megapixel lenses with megapixel cameras, as they play a critical role in transmitting and refracting light. Oncam's lens is tailor-made to allow for the entry of longer-wavelength light, which delivers a fine black/white image during the day and promises quality video at night. Sony has developed an exclusive complementary color filter technology that allows two times more light to be captured in a dim environment.


Most low-light cameras with a fixed focus are optimized for daylight (visible light), so the focus is tailored specifically for shorter light wavelength. When the filter is removed to allow for the entry of near IR light at night, the camera slightly loses focus due to longer wavelength, explained Ionson. Pelco and Panasonic have developed auto-backfocus technology that adjusts the sensor position mechanically to maintain megapixel resolution after the shift of focus.


Arecont Vision goes for the dual-sensor solution, where a 3-megapixel color sensor and a 1.3-megapixel monochrome sensor are used for day and night applications, respectively. Arecont insists on using a 1/2 inch sensor as it gathers twice as much light as a 1/3 inch sensor. To capture more light, Mobotix's solution allocates extra exposure to the areas of interest for increased visibility. With onboard software, users are allowed to define the exposure zones in an image to ensure the right amount of exposure to capture the most important details, said Hinkel.


In terms of image processing, Sony's 1.3-megapixel cameras automatically switch to 640x480 VGA mode in low-light conditions. "By combining 4 pixels into 1, the camera is four times more sensitive at a normal shutter speed and delivers focused images without distortion in low-light environments," said Hirano. Another technology, adaptive black stretch developed by Panasonic, analyzes the illumination map and adjusts gamma correction to dark areas, explained Takahiro Ike, Team Leader, Camera Design Team 2, Camera Group, Panasonic System Solutions Company.


There are, still, other options, Avigilon, for example, integrates IR illuminators to its compact megapixel dome camera where the supplementary illumination provides extra light.


To determine low-light performance, there are two more factors to consider: application and rating standard. In low-light gaming rooms, when the priority is to detect criminal activity with high-resolution images, color is not a necessity, said Ionson.


With lux being a common rating standard, Ionson added, one has to take heed of whether it has been measured under low visible light or high IR light. "If a 5-megapixel sensor can detect invisible light between 700 and 1,100 nm (near IR), it is not applicable to rate luminosity with lux."


Selection Criteria
With more intelligent features to choose from, differentiating between the needs and the wants is the first, difficult step. High resolution does not guarantee better images, said Hirano, as it is crucial to select appropriate pixels to fit specific applications.


Display panels, storage capacity and network infrastructure are other things to consider. One obvious example is that megapixel images require high-resolution monitors for optimized display, explained Hirano.


With higher-resolution cameras come larger storage and bandwidth requirements. As such, TCO should be taken into account. Combining megapixel cameras with standard cameras to suit various surveillance needs — powerful optical zoom and extreme light sensitivity, for example — creates a cost-effective security system, said Nafis Jasmani, Regional Sales Manager for ASEAN, Axis Communications. Users could also compare the overall cost between centralized and decentralized megapixel cameras systems, said Hinkel.


As real-world installations usually bring up unexpected challenges, Bodell recommended asking for references on similar applications. "Users should demand field tests and evaluate technical support."


HD or Megapixel
Another buzzword in the security field right now is HD. When to use HD has become an issue. A different tool from megapixel, HD complies with industry standards to ensure quality color video in 16:9 format at full frame rate, said Jasmani.


Actual applications are a deciding factor. "When it comes to typical video surveillance applications, while frame rate is an important factor; for postevent viewing, quality and integrity of the image are what matters," said Hinkel. The current HD solution provides no higher than 2.1-megapixel resolution.


HD also requires 16:9 displays, and 4:3 cameras will not produce a full-screen image. "While the market is moving toward higher resolution, analog systems with 4:3 footage continue to be mainstream," said Ike. Unlike megapixel cameras demanding dedicated networks for resolution above 1.3 megapixels, regular bandwidth will be sufficient to stream HD video, noted Hirano. In addition, "HD cameras save production cost, as no tailor-made lens is required."


For camera manufacturers, suggested Dilber, "it is crucial to list the horizontal and vertical pixels, aspect ratios, frame rates and scan methods before resorting to HD as an all-around marketing tactic."


Challenges and Outlook
Assumptions have been held that with higher-resolution cameras come greater cost. In financially difficult times, people are forced to examine all aspects of an installation. On the other hands, far fewer cameras will be required to cover a greater area, so the overall cost ends up less, explained Tynan.


The rise of higher-resolution cameras means that traditional analog installers and users have to be educated on the value and functions of megapixel solutions. "One major challenge is to assist users to determine where to use megapixel cameras and for what purposes," said Hirano.


As more megapixel cameras are being integrated into surveillance systems, they bring interoperability challenges. "Every technological leap should be combined with continual updates on management platforms, but aggressive marketing has led to some unrealistic performance expectations and poorly designed systems," said Dilber. "Falling short on interoperability results in underperformance of megapixel cameras and missed opportunities to exploit their full potential."


The technology has currently reached its limit in terms of camera and sensor size, noted Ionson. "The typical resolution on the market is 5 megapixels, which is likely the optimal limit for daylight applications." For more pixels, a larger sensor would be required; however, that would take more time to read the information and a need for better compression.


Growth is driven by IP in combination with improvements in compression techniques that make larger numbers of pixels handy, said Hardy Mehl, Director of Marketing at Basler Vision Technologies. Advancements in storage technology also make megapixel solutions more affordable, said Bodell.


By integrating storage, alarm management and plug-and-play features, intelligent megapixel cameras present significant opportunities in the home and small business markets, emphasized Hinkel.


The market continues to move toward distributed intelligence, with manufacturers maintaining the current megapixel level and adding more onboard features, said Ionson. "At the high end, the feature set of the camera is not likely to improve much, but costs will come down to increase value."

FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras Protect PKN ORLEN

FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras Protect PKN ORLEN

Editor / Provider: Submitted by FLIR Systems | Updated: 6/8/2009 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Polski Koncern Naftowy ORLEN, known as PKN ORLEN, is one of Europe's largest refiners of crude oil. Employing more than 20,000 people, PKN ORLEN operates seven refineries throughout central Europe processing mainly URAL blend crude oil, shipped from Russia via the Friendship pipeline.


PKN ORLEN's main refining and petrochemical complex is in Plock, Poland, which is ranked as the most advanced facilities in Europe and for some reasons, security is taken seriously here. Preventing unauthorized access is a major concern, with not only the access gates, but also the entire perimeter of the plant being secured.


"It is not an easy task to secure the petrochemical plant here in Plock and prevent unauthorized access," explained Jacek Kotulski, PKN ORLEN's Security Specialist and Coordinator. "It comprises nearly 70 production units which operate over an area of more than 800 hectares."


"Just like any perimeter fields where security is tight, we need to have a lot of different security measures and installations in place to make sure that no one enters the facility without authorization. CCTV cameras, video analytics and fences are all installed, and work together around the perimeter to keep intruders out."


"The refinery not only needs to be protected during the day against unseen intrusion, during dark hours when the facility is vulnerable to intrusion, the place is also needing secured," continued Mr. Kotulski.


Knowing that thermal imaging technology would be a valuable option for the situation, Mr. Kotulski contacted Agtes, FLIR Systems distributor in Poland for a demonstration. This made it possible that a number of FLIR thermal imaging cameras have been applied and installed in the refinery plant.


These thermal imagers provide crisp, clear thermal imagery in sheer darkness, light fog or smoke. One of the reasons PKN ORLEN chose the cameras was its excellent range performance. It can detect a man-sized target at a distance of up to 1.6 kilometres away. Unlike other darkness-orientation systems that require low amounts of light to generate an image, the cameras can detect targets in total darkness, and also for all types of weather conditions.


FLIR thermal imaging cameras are now installed along the perimeter and at certain highly restricted areas. They are fixed mounted, always overlooking the same area. A dome camera is installed close to the thermal cameras and the alarm can be triggered with both cameras in place.


Under some gloomy weather conditions, the cameras could also work well with the environment. "At Plock, we get some foggy days and the thermal image cameras still allow us to see and detect quite a bit more than with a normal camera. Even in some cases which are enshrouded with vapour and smoke, the cameras still function as usual," said Mr. Kotulski.


"The other reason for choosing fixed mounted thermal imaging cameras instead of pan/tilt cameras is that they work perfectly with our existing video analytics, considerably reducing false alarm rates. The upside for the thermal imaging cameras is that they always produce a high contrast image, not only during the night but also in poor light conditions where cameras give little contrast. This makes thermal imaging perfect to work together with video analytics."


 "The video analytics used at ORLEN is object video. The produced images are configured over fibre optics to a fibre optic-BNC converter and entered into an object video processor. They are then transmitted to the Ethernet so that users can look at them whenever and wherever they want. Object video utilizes algorithms to detect objects, and immediately generates useful output such as real-time alerts or triggers for other applications."


"The algorithms 'trip wires'. If someone or something crosses a certain line, which users can define in object video, an alarm is triggered. Another algorithm is Areas of Interest (AOI). With this technology, users can define a field where no access is allowed. However, if someone enters the AOI, an alarm will alert.


"The cameras have proven to be ideal for the refinery security. They help us to protect the perimeter not only during the night, but during daytime, in all weather conditions, as well," concluded Mr. Kotulski.

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