Stockwell: I still hear concerns that users want assurances their video won’t somehow end up on YouTube. It’s up to providers to clearly demonstrate their centers and networks are secure against hacking and penetration. But, then again, customers have the same concerns about video being taken from the DVRs at their sites. For retail customers with multiple stores, cloud video storage actually provides greater security for their video than having DVRs at every site where a disgruntled employee could steal it or, worse, commit a crime and destroy the video.
Snow: The plain truth is that most people today are using the cloud for far more sensitive information, such as online banking and customer management databases. Loss or interception of these transactions would be far more damaging to a customer than their surveillance data. Properly designed, the cloud is a very secure environment for video surveillance.
Do you think the popularity of mobile platforms will help tip the scale in favor of hosted and managed video for those who might be on the fence?
Stockwell: Absolutely! I recently overheard two LP [loss prevention] directors comparing notes about how easy it was to pull up stored video on their iPhones. While neither of these companies are currently using hosted video, these individuals represent the new technology-savvy executives who embrace changing technology to provide the maximum value to their organization.
They won’t be able to do that with outdated storage devices across their enterprise. So I think it’s inevitable that they’ll eventually embrace hosted video technology.
Snow: I agree with Bob. As more business people become accustomed to getting their information over mobile devices, the desire to get video surveillance on those devices is going to increase. Mobile access enables first responders, whether internal or external, to get information while in transit without having to stop and locate an available PC or computer terminal.
Van Till: I agree in theory that certainly everyone wants to see video on their mobile device. How much of this is just marketing appeal and how much is really useful has yet to be seen, however. The benefit is fairly clear for residential applications, where these systems are intended to provide peace of mind. In commercial applications, however, there is still a question of how much resolution and what frame rate is required to provide any real utility.
That’s a fair point. How about video alarm verification services? With demands from law enforcement changing, do you see alarm verification as perhaps another tipping point for hosted video?
Van Till: Hosting certainly makes remote verification easier by providing a uniform platform that operators can use across a wide geography. Depending on the experiences of the user, I could see this being a selling point for integrators.
Snow: Definitely. With the availability of video images, alarms could be verified first before alerting authorities. This could help reduce the number of false alarms that are handled by security or police forces and ultimately save money - both in taxpayer funds and fines levied on the end user - not to mention keeping law enforcement available for when an emergency happens.
Stockwell: I believe it’s a service that end users are going to need in increasing numbers as more municipalities adopt alarm verification requirements. The companies that provide a wide range of innovative hosted and managed video services will be the clear benefactors of this move toward video alarm verification.
So once the end user is willing to hear a hosted video solution pitch, how then can service providers upsell cloud surveillance? Are there cautions you would advise?
Van Till: As in many emerging technology markets, there is usually a rash of flash-in-the-pan, startup players who don’t survive over the long haul. I expect that we’ll see that here, particularly because hosted services is a very long game. You have to build up a lot of recurring revenue to be self-sustaining. That’s because the hosted business model foregoes the quick hit of upfront revenue in exchange for the promise of a long-term, ongoing revenue stream. Ask any alarm company.
As far as the customer goes, there is wide pricing variation in the market due to a similarly wide set of underlying costs. Service providers need to understand their own costs and what the market will bear. Buyers need to scrutinize what they are actually getting. A lot of cheaper services are very low frame rate, very low resolution and very limited storage.
Snow: I see great potential for upselling cloud surveillance capabilities. For instance, there’s one-time business analytics, which would allow customers to purchase a one-time analysis without the expense or complexity of actually installing analytics. Retail management would be another option, which could give customers an opportunity to create their own potential revenue stream by allowing their vendors to view stock levels and traffic flow. A third possibility would be queue management, which would allow customers to view current queue levels and response to customer service situations in real-time.
There’s also opportunity for improving factory management by allowing managers to remotely monitor production. Another option would be to use the hosted surveillance for monitoring inventory and crisis management, which would enable the customer to share video access across time zones and geographies both across the organization and with trusted external partners.
Stockwell: Businesses are currently slashing capital expenditures and putting expense reduction in full lockdown mode. Hosted video and monitored video services offer the greatest opportunity for end users to reduce a wide range of costs - from guard services to false alarm fines - while leveraging the newest hosting technologies at a fraction of the cost they would normally incur if they brought the equipment in-house.
It’s a business model that allows customers to maximize their capital investment and finally use their video surveillance systems in true proactive fashion. It isn’t a future on some distant horizon. It’s something technology-savvy security professionals are starting to put in place today.
Matthew Krebs is Business Development Manager for Axis Communication’s AXIS Video Hosting System (AVHS). He can be contacted at [email protected].
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