Between Us Pros: HDcctv: Dismissible or Disruptive?

“If HDcctv technology gets into production at a reasonable cost, you can bet the response from dealers holding out against the issues of IP-based cameras and those who have stepped in and been burned will be immense,” writes Ed Fitchett, president of Toronto’s Fitch Surveillance Systems. While leading manufacturers are dismissive of emerging HDcctv solutions, to what degree is that perspective based on the technology’s viability as opposed to the billions of dollars they have collectively spent developing and marketing IP?

One thing’s for sure, with comments like the one above reflecting dealers’ reluctance to pursue IP video’s learning curve, the fact that about 80 percent of existing CCTV installations are still analog and the implementation of a variety of real-world HDcctv applications, the technology’s potential impact must at least be acknowledged.

I spoke with Sonny Roberts of Denison, Texas-based Gemco National Industrial Security Corp. (GNISC), which has begun phasing in SG Digital’s HDcctv systems for the Saks Fifth Avenue clothing chain. Roberts said Saks experienced problems with IP. “I hooked up HDcctv and they fell in love with it,” he told me. “The loss prevention manager could not believe the clarity and simplicity of the install.”

Not too shabby considering this HD alternative only appeared on the radar about a year ago with the launching of the HDcctv Alliance. And while the consortium concedes surveillance systems will continue to rely on IP video for integration beyond the premises, it touts HDcctv’s “superiority to megapixel IP camera-based systems within the premises for most physical security applications.”

Such assertions were among the hot-button topics addressed during “High Definition Surveillance: A Clearer Picture,” a panel I moderated featuring representatives from three top IP camera manufacturers and HDcctv’s chief pundit. They were Scott Schafer of Arecont Vision, Sara Scroggins of Pelco, Steve Surfaro of Axis Communications and Todd Rockoff, executive director, HDcctv Alliance.

Aside from contention about the technology, the experts concurred on the majority of other HD surveillance issues.

“All applications, in all vertical markets, would benefit from HD/megapixel technology,” says Schafer. “Any application where the end customer desires high-resolution video is a candidate for an upgrade,” agrees Rockoff. Scroggins and Surfaro drill deeper: “Think about the range of applications where detail matters: faces, license plates, playing cards, currency denominations and serial numbers,” she says. “Markets with high penetration include medical, transportation, entertainment and resorts, and sports,” he says.

From a sales perspective, “The best way to make the ROI and TCO cases is to understand the customer’s core business,” recommends Scroggins. “Demonstrate use of the HDTV system for purposes other than security, like safety, operations management and education,” suggests Surfaro. “Note the difference in the number of cameras; megapixel will be fewer to cover the same area, perhaps by 50 percent or more,” says Schafer.

From a training standpoint, “Resellers need knowledge of bandwidth and storage requirements, and to plan for the demands placed on the network,” says Scroggins. “Matching the video source to the surveillance function and a good site survey minimizes design challenges,” advises Surfaro. “Use manufacturers’ tools for configuration of cameras, network and server/storage design,” says Schafer. By contrast, Rockoff promotes simplicity: “No new learning is required to take advantage of HDcctv.”

I’m a fan of competition and the increased opportunities it typically brings. So I say thoroughly investigate all HD technologies (see “Video System Add-Ons to Boost Your Bottom Line”) to make the best choice for your business and, more importantly, your customers. For more from these panelists, check out SSI’s “Under Surveillance” blog.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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