The July issue of SSI includes a far-reaching roundtable on the subject of video surveillance innovation featuring experts from eight industry-leading manufacturers. My discussions with each participant was more indepth than the confines of print would allow so here is another in a series of extended offerings. I encourage you to review each of them and compare and contrast how each subject views security video innovation, its ramifications, and innovation in general. Up this installment: Dave Poulin, Director of Vertical Markets for Physical Security and Mobile Video, Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America.
Innovation does not necessarily equate with success. Is it important to be innovative or can it be just as advantageous to apply business smarts to someone else’s concepts?
Poulin: Both are equally important for success. Innovation requires a strong focus on improving existing technologies to address changing market needs. We are always striving to improve our own R&D processes and we rely heavily on direct feedback from our customers to inform our choices and make sure our product roadmap aligns with their business needs.
What other ingredients are required for an innovative technology or product to make a real impact in the marketplace? Where do ingenuity and marketing savvy intersect?
Poulin: At Panasonic, we invest heavily in R&D to ensure our products are meeting the needs of our customers. We’ve built our reputation on the quality of our products and while marketing is important, it can only get you so far. At the end of the day, the quality of the product is what really matters and what makes customers come back time after time.
Where it comes to innovation, who plays a larger and more critical role the engineers or the end-user customers? How is that balance achieved?
Poulin: Engineers and end-user customers both play an equally important role when it comes to innovation. We depend on direct feedback from our customers to build and refine our products. We also study the market carefully and try to anticipate where it is going and what is required to help our customers meet their business needs. By relying on both of these insights, we continue to deliver innovative solutions to our customers.
What are the three latest and greatest innovations you have seen in the video surveillance space and what do you like about them so much?
Poulin: HD imaging is one of the most exciting areas of innovation we are seeing in the video surveillance space. The improved image quality made possible by HD cameras has literally changed the face of the security industry. The ability to deliver remarkably clean, crisp images is helping to boost preventive monitoring and increasing the evidentiary value of surveillance footage in the courtroom. HD surveillance video is now enabling security professionals to capture facial features, tiny lettering and numbering, and other critical details that could not have been captured before. HD imaging is an important part of today’s security systems because it allows us to scale resources from other product areas such as broadcast, digital cameras and plasma displays. LDC [Lens Distortion Compensation] is another great area of video innovation. This feature ensures a natural image through a wide angle lens without distorting the picture. LDC allows these wide angle features to capture the same clear picture customers would expect from any other camera. This smarter picture quality also incorporates wide dynamic face technology which ensures clear face images which is critically important for law enforcement and security purposes. Security technology is also playing a role in improving business optimization. New 360° cameras reduce the number of cameras required and dramatically improve ROI. Where security officers were once tied to a desk, now mobile computers and wireless tablets enable remote access capabilities for mobile control and management. Video analytics are also helping businesses improve customer service, reduce shrinkage, and deliver customized marketing to improve customer loyalty and provide a better overall experience.
More specifically, which innovations hold the greatest upside for the 1) commercial; 2) industrial; and 3) residential markets and why?
Poulin: Video quality and analytics hold the greatest upside for the commercial and industrial markets because these innovations are helping organizations to improve business processes while protecting people and assets. For residential markets, manufacturers are now able to provide affordable solutions that include high-performance features found in commercial-grade products, such as face detection and motion detection, but at a price that puts them within reach of consumers.
Can you identify three particular vertical markets that represent the greatest growth potential for innovative video surveillance solutions and why?
Poulin: In terms of education, surveillance systems for schools and their campus safety officers is always a top priority. Teachers and campus safety officers need the tools and information to know what is going on at all times and create a safer environments for teachers and students. With recent events like the Boston bombing, and our growing concern of terrorism, video surveillance will continue to play an important role in citywide and transportation security applications. Video surveillance played a crucial role in the Boston bombing, and lead to the identification and capture of the suspects in a matter of days. In-car video systems and body worn video are also seeing growth among police forces and other emergency agencies. Finally, there’s health care. Hospitals require video surveillance to ensure the safety and security of patients, visitors and staff. Because of their design, hospitals also have many areas of vulnerability including the emergency department where most incidents of violence occur, and attached buildings. Surveillance technology can also help mitigate risks relating to fraudulent claims such as malpractice, slips and falls and vehicle damage in parking facilities.
What are one or two other video surveillance innovations you see holding potential but are unsure whether it will be realized or not?
Poulin: Cloud storage was a hot topic in the security market over the past two years, but hasn’t achieved the momentum that was anticipated. While there are clear benefits to cloud storage, customers still have questions about the technology which will continue to delay adoption at the levels that were predicted.
What are one or two innovative technologies from other fields you see migrating into the security surveillance space and why?
Poulin: High definition image quality has already migrated into security surveillance. Customers are looking for the best picture, whether it be on their TVs or from their digital cameras, and they now have similar standards for their security cameras. To meet this need, manufacturers are starting to develop more high definition products to provide customers with the quality they expect in all of their devices.
How will the trend toward standards, open platforms and interoperability affect innovating video surveillance solutions?
Poulin: Interoperability is enabling manufacturers to offer customers a wide variety of feature-rich solutions because they can leverage the technologies and features from multiple products to provide a superior solution. This allows customers to take advantage of best-in-class solutions while lowering overall support costs and production fees.