[About the author: John Honovich, PSP, is an independent researcher and consultant focused on the world of networked video surveillance. He is author of www.IPVideoMarket.info and has previously worked in product development and management positions at security technology companies such as 3VR and Sensormatic.]
Specifications are valuable but often are done poorly, creating problems or biasing the bid. Such challenges are magnified with digital and IP video where multiple codecs and multiple resolutions become commonplace.
Just like we can benefit from application standards for interoperability between IP cameras and video management system, we can benefit from performance and quality standards. Today, Vlado Damjanovski, the author of the "CCTV Bible" contacted me about performance standards he has been preparing for Australia.
Download the 15 page Digital Video Performance Standards document. It's a draft but it's extremely high quality, like all of Vlado's work.
These standards would be quite complimentary to the current efforts by PSIA, ONVIF, etc. If you have feedback on these standards or other efforts that might be relevant, please share in the comments. At a later date, I plan to discuss and explain the specifics of Vlado's approach.
Promoting and agreeing on such performance/quality standards would help rectify two of the most common problems I see in specifications:
Cut and Paste Specification: It is common to see specifications that are simply cut and paste from the vendor A&E specifications with the vendor's name removed. This can be bad for customers as it reduces competition and selection for other products that might fill the functional need. Requiring the use of standards terms could provide more generalizable specifications that a broader range of vendors could meet, ensuring quality at the lowest cost.
Frankenstein Specification: I often see specifications that take features from many different products and create a specification for a camera that does not exist. Often, these are specific, proprietary or marketing terms that different manufacturers may use. A standard vocabulary and set of terms could help eliminate this confusion or problem.
Writing good specifications is becoming more challenging as the expansion into megapixel cameras has increased the technical factors to be considered. While many good specifications are released today, with the market growing and new technologies, such standards may be more valuable than ever.