Resolving Cloud Surveillance Challenges
a&s International | Date:
Software is fairly consistent, but hardware comes in all shapes and sizes. An open platform is required for VSaaS IP connectivity, but network video has yet to be plug-and-play. "IP video technology is a ‘mixed bag' in this regard: the negatives are the incompatible standards of IP video, but the benefits include the ability to view over the Internet on a wide range of off-the-shelf – and in many cases, already-owned – PCs, smartphones and tablets," said Andrew Pigram, Technical Director at Norbain.
The Norbain offering is not limited to pure IP, as existing analog cameras can be used with encoders. "However, Norbain sees this as a new market opportunity and for customers to take benefit of analytics and greater image resolution images, so we see this mainly as a new camera install opportunity," Pigram said.
Honeywell also supports hybrid video, as well as third-party products. "We use some developments in our system for PSIA, RTSP or ONVIF," said John Smith, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Honeywell. "We support those, but our goal is to be product agnostic. The system is bringing them all together into a common user interface and a different view for the market."
Trends & Issues
Home and small- business networks can be unreliable. While this may be acceptable for homeowners checking on their pets, more critical business applications should consider VSaaS as a backup option for local recording.
"However, there are a number of trends: edge recording in the camera reduces the risk of complete loss of recorded video and Internet connections are improving with higher quality-of service becoming available," Pigram said. "In the short term, we believe that there are many users who require ‘visual information,' as opposed to high-security surveillance, who will benefit from VSaaS."
Data protection measures are imperative for VSaaS, as privacy is an issue near and dear to customers. British data protection law does not protect users against criminal liability for the loss or misuse of data once it leaves the U.K., meaning that should video fall into the wrong hands, the service provider cannot be held responsible. "There is a greater risk of civil liability here than in situations where the user has control of their own data," said Brian Kelly, MD of Bold Communications. "There may also be legal conflicts between different jurisdictions. For example, the US Patriot Act allows law enforcers to help themselves to any data they become interested in."
British regulation standards and UL compliance require monitoring centers to be in control of their clients' data, which will be difficult to enforce for hosted video. "How can you be sure your data is being securely purged?" Kelly asked. "If a VSaaS provider goes bust, what happens to your data?"
To combat these concerns, local storage options and established data centers feature prominently in VSaaS offerings. "Security of information is very important, not only to ensure that information is not lost, but is also not accessible by others," Pigram said.
If customers do not want their data stored on their premises, they could store video locally and access it through the Internet. "It's different compared to a traditional DVR because you have single login on the device," Smith said. "Most customers don't have any issue with cloud storage, but if they want to lock it down in their facility, they have that option."
VSaaS may be set to exceed $1 billion by 2014, but even IMS acknowledges that price is a key inhibitor to acceptance. "The infrastructure cost required to provide a VSaaS solution remains relatively expensive, with monthly camera subscriptions costing between $5 and $30 depending on the level of service and the inclusion of hardware," wrote IMS in a prepared statement. "While this sounds inexpensive compared to the initial capital expenditure for a DVR, over time this will generate a considerable cost for the end user. Furthermore, some video surveillance equipment vendors offer free remote monitoring through DVRs, NVRs and video management software. This service may prompt an end user to upgrade existing hardware or software rather than opt for a VSaaS solution."
The low monthly price may attract some cost-conscious customers, but could hurt VSaaS as well. "As VSaaS becomes more commoditized, there is a risk that the quality and security of the service offered will be affected," Kelly said. "It will only take one well-publicized failure – bearing in mind we are talking about security applications – to damage confidence and trust in VSaaS."
However, VSaaS could ring up real savings for dealers. "One of the challenges we ran across when developing the service was, 'Well, I can do that on my DVR," Smith said. Their response is this: all the things that DVRs can do, they can do – at no cost.
Dealers will also save on time and labor by accessing sites remotely. "A lot of dealers need to realize that the industry is moving more toward providing service," Smith said.
"Instead of having the customers manage the OS issues, virus and compatibility issues, letting things happen in the cloud is going to let the dealer have service opportunities they did not have before."
However, cost may be less of a barrier than comfort for security channel players. "IP is still relatively new in the security world," Smith said. "Dealers fear they have issues with networks and IP expertise, but they're overcoming that by becoming more standardized and plug-and play. You'd be surprised how many dealers can't let go of control to a third party to intervene in their security offerings."
Equipment prices, network issues and service costs continue to challenge VSaaS adoption. As more full-fledged services emerge, a more mobile society may drive uptake for hosted video. While it may take time for the market to reach the billion-dollar mark, VSaaS hits the sweet spot for homeowners and small-business owners that just want video – without the hassle of storage and configuration. VSaaS is not for everyone, but has enough overarching appeal to reach for the sky.