The famed writer-management consultant Peter Drucker once said, "Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation."
What happens when the marketing outpaces the innovation? Sometimes the result is equivalent to what has been experienced in the video surveillance marketplace. A product or solution introduction arrives adorned in hyperbole and overstated promises; installers and users are left to determine what is reality. But oftentimes, too, the technology truly is remarkable; yet marketplace laggards far outnumber early adopters and the product languishes. Sometimes the solution may simply be ahead of its time.
Remote viewing on smart phones, H.264 compression, forensic and data analytics, megapixel and thermal images, edge devices, HDcctv and so much more. (Thermal cameras will be discussed at length in the October issue's "D.U.M.I.E.S." series installment.)
These are among the latest and highly-touted technology advancements introduced to the installing systems integrator vocabulary in recent times. But what purpose do they ultimately serve? How useful, in demand and sellable are they in the real end-user world, and what are the best ways to match capabilities to application and optimize the solution?
SSI interviewed several video surveillance experts to pinpoint just some of the more recent products and technologies that are providing opportunities for integrators and fulfilling end-user needs.
Web-Enabled Devices Proliferate
Consumer adoption of video and other tools for managing and sharing video is occurring at a much faster pace than with corporate end users. What's driving this phenomenon? Look no further than the ubiquitous Web-enabled mobile device. Simply, the proliferation of smart phones and other PDAs are fulfilling consumer demands that their mobile wireless devices provide all the same functionality as their PCs.
Increasingly consumers are now being introduced to remote video monitoring services, allowing them to proactively view inside a residence or business in real-time. IP cameras with built-in motion detection can be used as triggering devices to send E-mail notifications or video clips of the event.
According to Gordon Hope, general manager for Honeywell's AlarmNet communications business, the triggering events driving the popularity of video more recently than in prior years can be attributed to the following factors: lower prices for IP cameras; development of more powerful mobile devices; ease of camera installation via wireless connectivity to existing routers; and easily deployed, robust enhancements to wireless video encryption.
"Consumers, whether they are residential or commercial, now can gain the benefit of being able to receive video events on changed conditions that cameras see and deliver images quickly to just about anywhere they are needed, even to an iPhone or Blackberry," Hope says. "From the installer's perspective, these solutions are affordable and can be quickly installed by an average professional installation crew in a matter of minutes, not hours."
Remote viewing systems can be programmed, for example, to detect motion in a certain area such as a front doorstep and use E-mail to alert a homeowner, who can then view the camera images remotely from a mobile device or PC.
Other advances in remote video monitoring include manipulation of pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) functionality to preset locations, modifying recording options such as turning all cameras on to record continuously, and incorporating integrated GPS and user-tracking technologies, according to Mark Wilson, vice president of marketing for Infinova, a provider of video surveillance and communications systems.
So who are the best prospects for such systems other than residential consumers?
"Integrators will find that this varies by market. However, small business owners, many of whom already own a smart phone, will react appreciatively because their present smart phone now gives them a chance to quickly and easily respond to alarms and view their facilities when there is a problem," Wilson says.
Analytics Gets an Image Makeover
Video analytics has for several years been hailed for its promise to transform data into actionable intelligence. By means of sophisticated algorithms, marketing hype assured that suspects could be reliably identified in real-time, thereby stopping crimes in progress. From raw video, organizations could mine enterprise data to enhance security and make better decisions about operational efficiencies.
To be sure, these and other encouraging attributes were possible, but oftentimes multiple system limitations, false alarms and other prohibitive factors conspired to give the technology a black eye. On the whole, the various claims and promises made in the name of analytics proved to be far ahead of the actual technology. Users soured and grew cynical of their floundering expectations.
Nowadays the potential presented by analytic applications will likely excite prospective customers once again. Importantly, though, the first order of business for systems integrators to carry out before making the sale is to set a reasonable level of expectation.
Presently there are in fact many effective and reliable analytic applications that not only create satisfied and repeat customers, but also provide upsell and IP migration opportunities, according to Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, Axis Communications, a provider of network cameras.
Before presenting analytic solutions to an interested prospect, be sure to avoid locking them into one vendor. Instead, choose analytics providers that have an open model and strong application developer partnerships.
"We work with more than 700 application partners today for one main reason: because they are the analytic experts. They invest in creating advanced, custom software that can run on the backend or even be uploaded onto the camera or encoder itself, if the hardware has an open platform," Nilsson says.