The video analytics market is growing, the technology is propagating quickly and the number of new providers is increasing by the day. According to an IMS report entitled The World Market for Video Content Analysis - 2008 Edition, the value of the video analytics market is projected at over five billion dollars by 2012.
Video analytics' reach has widened from the top of the pyramid military, government, nuclear facilities, airports and seaports, to the mid-range market industrial facilities, education, logistics, etc. At the beginning, systems were expensive, difficult to install and operate, and costly to maintain. In order to expand into the mid range-market, video analytics vendors improved their products for easier installation and cost effectiveness, without compromising performance.
A product's ability to permeate from high-end to mid-range markets is often determined by its architecture. In order to penetrate mid-range markets, a different approach is usually required and certain elements need to be taken into consideration, simplicity being the essential common factor. Systems typically found in high-end markets may not be suited for mid-range markets, mainly due to their higher price and complex integration requirements. These markets call for systems that are flexible, cost effective and simple to install. Remote setup and maintenance capabilities are also important to alleviate the travel costs of technical engineers usually associated with post installation procedures and maintenance.
The key access point to the mid-range market is through system integrators and installers. They are exposed to the latest security technologies and have access to an important database of existing CCTV installations, potential targets for upgrading to video analytics. A key challenge that system integrators face when dealing with video analytics is the customer's desire for a system that is rapidly installed thus minimizing surveillance downtime due to installation and simple to operate thus minimizing the learning curve involved.
Intelligent video vendors are tasked with delivering "sensor-grade" video analytics that are appropriate for the mid range market. A suitable intelligent video device would be a DSP-based video sensor capable of stand-alone operation which simply needs to be hooked up and configured, operating independently of other components. This type of architecture allows system integrators and installers to easily upgrade existing surveillance systems with a simple video-in, video-out and remote, over the network, setup approach.
When upgrading an existing basic camera to DVR architecture, video analytics is easily introduced without making any changes to the current setup or the system's operation by security guards. Adding video analytics to a CCTV system enables the automatic detection of security breaches as defined in the system through its configuration of rules and detection zones, with a graphical overlay of the detection displayed on the Matrix/DVR. Using the sensor's dry contacts to trigger recording and event tagging within the DVR allows extending the DVR's recording capabilities by days or even weeks, since only pre and post alarm footage needs to be saved and eventually backed up.
Not Every High-End System is Suitable for Mid-Range
Although there is a clear differentiation between the needs of high-end and mid-range markets as laid out at the beginning of this article, the performance requirements of the "lower" market are no less demanding. Cost effectiveness and system performance, however, can go hand in hand.
Today's high performance video analytics systems are required to undergo thorough testing. A manufacturer whose products succeed in obtaining military certification and National Labs' approval demonstrates that they stand the test of time and are cost effective for mid-range markets.
In tandem with the increasing interest in video analytics over the past five years, many new companies have emerged in the market. With varying levels of performance and no unified standard, the user would be well-advised to find out how well a system performs and seeks installation references.
The military represents the perfect test bed for security products. With diverse locations and challenges such as rain, snow, wind, darkness, animals, cloud shadows, slow-moving or camouflaged intruders and far distance detection, the army is an ideal organization to test and approve a new technology and provide feedback for improvement.
Many technologies available to the public today originated in military labs and testing grounds. A video analytics system that has passed the harshest tests in the most difficult terrains is obviously suitable for high risk sites. The criteria for success in a military test include a low false alarm rate; high PoD; ability to perform well over long periods of time (sometimes measured in years); rapid deployment; and ease of integration. These factors, along with a bullet-proof design, are all necessary for off the shelf purchasing and installing.
National Labs provides further insight into criteria such as high performance versus cost effectiveness. Its recognition and approval confirms the system's suitability for a range of applications, from military and high risk facilities to commercial and public locations.
Last, but probably most important, are references from actual system installations around the world. The more sites the system has been installed at, the more diversified is the manufacturer's experience in dealing with myriad detection scenarios and false alarms reduction.
Selling Value, Not Equipment
While CCTV cameras, monitors, fence sensors, cabling and access control are the building blocks for any surveillance system, video analytics provides value to an existing or new CCTV system. Thus, the approach to selling video analytics is fundamentally different than that of standard security equipment.
Video analytics is sold to end users and not security advisors because it creates value by saving money from the end usersˇ perspective. If the VA system costs the end user $50,000 but engenders savings in manpower, loss prevention and damages of $100,000 per year, then this actually represents a $50,000 gain during the first year and $100,000 every year thereafter.
Capable of filtering out irrelevant information, detecting security breaches, alleviating video monitoring tasks and providing security operators with the necessary data to make informed decisions, video analytics is a key component in the value chain of central command centers.
No matter which system architecture they offer their clients, system integrators and distributors should point out how VA enables better surveillance; saves money; and frees resources to be allocated to other urgent security needs.
Technology Propagation and Distribution
Along with the proliferation of video analytics systems and their diversified architectures, PC-based embedded software, edge devices, intelligent encoders and IP cameras, distribution channels have also multiplied and become multifaceted. Distribution of some architectures is very complex and not all are suited to existing distributors/resellers' sales models. The reseller may often be required to acquire all the components needed by the integrator or end user, e.g. PC, video grab card, storage devices, displays, etc. They may also be required to integrate these components, which could be beyond their scope of expertise and require heavy investment. Other architectures can be cumbersome with regards to installation, support and maintenance, as they involve dealing with multiple vendors to assemble a particular video analytics solution. For example, a vendor may provide a video encoder or IP camera in which the video analytics is embedded and supplied by a third party vendor.
It is therefore crucial to simplify the distribution of video analytics for existing CCTV distributors, system integrators and VARs. This means choosing the right architecture for your customersˇ needs and having the technical know-how to support them through design, installation and maintenance. This expertise is best acquired through frequent training, white papers, case studies and a knowledge base and learning center created by the vendor to support the distributorˇs marketing, sales and support infrastructure.
How will this impact your business?
For installers, video analytics provides a better price/performance ratio, allowing them to reduce expenses by spending less time on site and minimizing maintenance calls. Video analytics can help you gain a competitive edge by differentiating your business and enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
For end users, video analytics helps to reduce total cost of ownership; enhance security effectiveness through better detection performance and reliability; and automate surveillance by delivering immediate alerts with video verification in time to prevent damage.
For consultants, video analytics can be applied to a wide range of customers. Its superior level of accuracy and reliability means less design constraints, and allows using existing and new solution architectures. Video analytics is also future-proof: it bridges to a converged IP architecture once the customer is ready.