Hayden Hsu | Date:
By now, there is no doubt that IP and HD are trending, with SD representing less than 30 percent of global market share. As systems grow larger and more interconnected, individual sensors, products and user interfaces need to “grow” as well, to be more intelligent, easier to install and operate, and less taxing on network and storage resources.
With IP-based security systems, contractors, integrators and installers often struggle with network and storage issues the most. “Signal latency is somewhat acceptable in the data world, but not in the I/O-intensive surveillance world,” said Jeffrey Burgess, President of BCDVideo. “Many people would just drop the megapixel resolution to get the data moving, avoiding bottlenecking but losing what they originally paid for.” The pains have not gone unnoticed; a number of security solution providers have actually risen to the challenge.
From the ground up, the integrator community and end users need to understand that IP-based systems are not simply about connections of sensors, but information and situation management. “You have to take noise out of data, and only send alarm-triggered video, events and logs to the relevant party through a Web-based, vendor-agnostic, policy-driven platform,” said Darren Chalmers-Stevens, EMEA Director for Vidsys. This controlled manner of information collection and distribution helps cut down system cost and boost system availability and value.
Within any security environment or installation, security or IT managers usually look to video surveillance when the system or network goes down. The easiest to blame are typically the multimegapixels and HD video quality that modern network cameras promise to deliver. “Are higher pixel counts always required? Not necessarily,” said Steve Ma, VP of Engineering and Operations, Vivotek. “The trick is in application-specific triggers. With IP, there are cleverer and better ways of getting things done. For example, we can use H.264 SVC profile to make sure bandwidth use is flexible and can be minimized when necessary. With more powerful CPUs and mature algorithms, solution providers like us can help customers accomplish their missions more efficiently with better customizations and services.”
For enterprise and government applications, seamless integration, simplicity and intelligence are what Ma thinks critical considerations in design, planning and implementation. “Just to name a few, 360-degree fisheye coupled with PTZ cameras, software-adjustable lens angles and smart streaming capabilities can all save operators, business owners and system integrators a great deal of headaches in installation, operation and maintenance.”
Some solution providers go to great lengths in bringing the same analog video user experience to the IP world. “Four to five years of hard R&D work in perfecting our IP product lines are finally paying off,” said Jason Hill, Group VP of Merit LILIN. “The first quarter for us showed 800-percent revenue growth in IP, compared to the same period last year. We are bringing a unified, intuitive interface, low-light performance and unparalleled user experience to our new channel partners in IT/infrastructure distribution, audio/visual and telecommunications.”
Software innovation and flexibility are key to continued success, echoed Jurgen Klijn, Senior VP of EMEA, IndigoVision. “At the moment, our easy-to-use interface integrates 26 subsystems off the shelf. We remain open, and we don't charge for extra workstations, alarms, added features or third-party integration. The landscape today is different; product rollouts are much easier. We will continue to update our software offerings twice a year, focusing on large-area resilience and hardware compatibility.”
While access control and intrusion detection systems are less demanding of network and storage resources, making it easy for the installer and end user is a common goal shared by solution providers. “We are simplifying the world, with one single credential that reads and accesses all,” said Johan Molin, Head of Global Technologies and President and CEO, Assa Abloy. In driving sales growth in difficult times, cost savings are a “feel-good” enabler for all parties involved. Assa Abloy also works with a new wireless locking mechanism that is powered by electromagnetic energy generated by the key's friction, saving batteries and resources in both installation and maintenance.
In access control, another key development is wireless technology for keyless buildings, as installation and expansion costs are significantly reduced. “Data is actually stored on the card and transmitted through our own secured, virtual network,” said Keith Carey, UK Marketing Manager at Salto Systems. “This kind of technology is easier for our partners to service and works well in student accommodations, hospitals, hotels and corporate buildings.”
Unified control calls for a unified interface. Tyco has a preconfigured, pre-enabled server box that oversees combined intrusion, access and video functions. “Simplicity is a great value proposition,” said Tony Mann, Sales Director of Intrusion Products for the U.K. and Ireland, Tyco Security Products. “Look at Apple in the consumer market; security is going exactly the same way. We make sure our installers don't need to worry about boxes and configurations.” Battery life of wireless products is also extended to five to eight years with corporate-grade reliability, eliminating unnecessary installer dispatch and user headaches.
Size Doesn't Matter
Simplicity is not just needed in large-scale projects or installations. “Our server solution was designed specifically for the small- to medium-sized market, with 20 to 100 readers and 8 to 32 IP cameras,” said Leon Langlais, Product Management Director for Residential and Small Business, Tyco Security Products. “At aggressive price points, we address all the issues that installers care about: speed of installation, reliability and third-party integration, so that they can continue to grow with us even in difficult times.” For example, the fact that no wireless repeaters are needed (thanks to the Visonic acquisition) and installation time is cut from two weeks to two days makes it rather easy to sell, even to the cost-conscious bunch.
To see all the security components work well together also requires good software interfaces and hardware displays. Examples include Milestone Systems, Honeywell Security and eyevis, which offer scalable solutions fit for mid-sized commercial applications but can “grow” with organizational needs. Milestone's new software version is an adaptable, easy-to-use client application for daily operations; the streamlined interface helps improve usability, making it easy to monitor installations of all sizes, access live video, investigate security incidents and export recordings. Through solutions like this, a uniquely efficient working environment can be provided and optimized for different tasks and operator requirements; Milestone, for instance, provides the option to choose dark or light themes for different working environment needs to further improve work flow.
Honeywell has a similar goal in mind, to provide sophisticated security systems that are scalable, easy to manage and easy to customize, with hybrid technology to minimize disruption to the client's business during the transition from analog to IP. Solutions for the residential and SMB market segments are also available and can work with other enterprise or government solutions.
And at the end of the day, it all comes down to what the operator's eyes can see. HD backlight displays from eyevis are preconfigured to work with a number of video and building management software packages that are easy to navigate, customizable and flexible. “Our complete, attractive package is easy on the eye and caters to exactly what operators need,” said Eric Hénique, Director of Marketing and International Sales for eyevis. “Our solution can be preset, for example, to reflect day/night shift formats. So, demand from international markets like Asia and the Middle East is really growing, and we are expanding our production facilities to meet that demand.”
Another way of making things easy for all involved — and an industry buzzword — is the cloud. Manufacturers, distributors, system integrators, central stations, and even telcos and cable companies the world over are offering a myriad of possibilities, targeted at residential, SMB and remote applications. Take UK distributor Norbain. It works with Axis, Panasonic, Vista and Vivotek to provide installers and service providers with plug-and-play cameras and maintains its own cloud VMS and a data center, bypassing all the headaches associated with IP equipment configuration and maintenance. “The service represents a great opportunity for our installers to offer new services to new or existing markets,” said Andrew Pigram, Technical Director. “The joy of the service is also that because it utilizes mobile technology that end users already own and are comfortable operating, it breaks down the traditional cost and technical barriers to entry.”
With everything processed and stored on a virtual network, other hardware and energy cost savings can be easily demonstrated to the end user. “We have one application with more than 400,000 users and 64,000 doors running on and managed by one single PC,” Carey said.
According to Jonas Andersson, Chairman of the Steering Committee of ONVIF, industry standards are also becoming easier to understand, follow, and pick and choose. Profiles, much like those in Wi-Fi technology, are being developed for backward and forward compatibility in network cameras, recorders and other security products. It is a clear sign of an increasingly mature industry and technology, and exciting times for interesting applications and collaboration opportunities.