As video surveillance migrates toward digital technology, demand has flourished throughout the world. Despite this, the traditional IT channel has been underprepared to provide migration paths from analog CCTV systems to new digital or mixed environments. Stuart Thorn, CEO of IT peripherals vendor Electrone Europe, explains how technology resellers and system integrators are now in a prime position to capitalize on the IP video surveillance trend.
Many traditional video surveillance installers are still selling large analog systems while IT resellers, in a prime position to take advantage of network ubiquity, are missing a massive opportunity. According to MultiMedia Intelligence, the market for IP and networked video surveillance grew nearly 50 percent in 2007 to approach US$500 million worldwide. Additionally, the IP video surveillance jump was nearly four times that of the broader video surveillance equipment market, yet the reluctance of traditional IT resellers to get involved has limited its market growth to date.
For 40 years up until the mid 1990s, the video surveillance industry developed as a self-contained entity. Traditional installers, who have likely spent 30 years with their workforce up a ladder, began to learn about the benefits of digital technology. But faced with high costs of retraining their workforce, installers today hesitate to take up this expensive technology. Although manufacturers in Asia have reduced product prices extensively, these installers can still effectively compete for smaller projects using entry-level legacy cameras.
To ease the transition to digital video surveillance, a number of players have developed hybrid systems which bridge the gap between legacy systems and the latest IP technology. DVRs designed to work with both analog and digital cameras can remove the need for complete recabling, allowing IT resellers to extend existing analog installations with new digital technology. Specially designed control systems such as keypads and joysticks can integrate seamlessly with new digital devices. These allow installers to begin upgrading traditional networks without the need for expensive operator retraining.
For larger projects, IT resellers can make real gains with IP video surveillance systems. The success of the cellular phone industry has caused the price of high-quality camera imaging sensors to plummet. “Arrest quality” two-to-16 megapixel cameras are now widely available.
Today, several nuisances that once plagued traditional video surveillance systems have been effectively resolved. Previously, the market talked about compression standards, but now everything is multimode and can use several different compression formats as standard. Generic delivery methods enable footage to be viewed remotely over the Internet using commonplace software, and footage can even be sent to mobile devices.
For niche IP experts, there is now a significant opportunity to treat cameras like any other network device and add video surveillance to their product offerings.
Do traditional IT resellers, despite their familiarity with IP network environments, have all the skills and experience to set up effective video surveillance systems? A general concern today examines how current IT resellers lack the appropriate contacts and experience with tender processes. Meanwhile, traditional CCTV installers have the advantage of being able to target their installed base with the new technology.
This competence divide has begun to see a solution in companies partnering sideways. Technology suppliers are standing next to system integrators to guide them through every stage of the installation. These “intellectual chaperones” are a safe pair of hands on an IP network, adding their expertise to that of the installer. Partnerships of this kind are beginning to win installation projects, contributing to the growth of IP video surveillance.
One market segment ripe for the IP video surveillance channel is education. Schools, colleges and universities are likely to be heavily networked environments and have the necessary backbone of network cabling in place already. Schools are also full of expensive items that people may be tempted to steal. Security for children, from either outside threats or from one another, is also of paramount concern. Reliable and nimble IT infrastructure providers can capitalize on this and share business with traditional CCTV resellers. Even for small schools, the market opportunities are enormous.
Many surrounding industries have seen the lapping of IT waters gradually transform the market. Estates management, access control and unified communications are prime examples which link to networked video surveillance. With the shortfall of expertise in traditional CCTV companies, small-to-medium enterprises can profit by becoming IP technology chaperones. Traditional resellers and system integrators in such markets should grasp these opportunities in front of them.