Hot Seat: A Technologist’s Take on the Industry

In keeping with this month’s “Technology Issue” theme, SSI invited Doug Marman, chief technology officer of video analytics provider VideoIQ, to share his insights on a range of topics affecting the security industry.

While the term cloud computing is hype, this new change in the industry is not hype. It represents a major new shift that will become widespread in the future. Why? It isn’t about the equipment. It is all about the software and ease of use. Users don’t really care how it works. They just want to see their video and access control information without any special training, software, or equipment to manage.

To what degree does the industry’s long-time proprietary mindset continue to inhibit growth of developing more converged, open solutions?

Few people realize that the opposite is the real problem, which is why we still see proprietary systems in the market.

Open systems actually slow down technology improvements. It is a little known secret. We overlook how serious this problem is because the benefits of open systems are worth it. Users don’t want five different user interfaces and software applications to run their security system. Plus, open systems lend themselves to integrated solutions where the overall intelligence grows. Smarter cameras can be used, data across systems can be used, systems can become more proactive and faster responses can be achieved. And you aren’t dependent on any vendor; there are lots to choose from.

Those are all important advancements. Smarter, more intelligent security solutions are the result. But all of this openness slows down technology improvements. Why? Because all of these open systems are designed for only common features and functions. If a new breakthrough comes along from another company, for example a smarter camera or access control reader, the new features aren’t going to be supported for a long time. That makes it harder to introduce those improvements.

That’s why we will probably see proprietary systems for a while, since they have the ability to introduce new features faster to the marketplace before the open systems can. That’s why proprietary systems existed in the first place, because that was often the only way to introduce significant new breakthroughs. In some applications those advantages are more important than openness.

In most cases, however, especially when looking over the life of a system, the benefits of openness is more important. That’s why we can expect continued growth in standards-based systems.

How can integrators, who are otherwise faced with an enormous amount of marketing hype, make good decisions when selecting a video analytics solution?

Everyone who has done extensive, wide-ranged testing on video analytics systems that I’ve spoken to say the same thing. There are only a very few technologies that really work reliably. This makes one choice more important than any other: Finding one of those very few technologies. This one decision will save you more grief than anything else you can do, because the market is flooded with companies selling what they call video analytics, but they simply aren’t close to being good enough. The differences are like night and day. I’ve never seen such a big discrepancy across technologies in the security industry in the 25 years I’ve been here.

The second most important thing to do is to focus on using video analytics in applications that the technology is well suited for. We all have futuristic ideas of what the technology will be able to do one day, but stick to what it can do well now. There are plenty of good applications to choose from.

For example, good video analytics technologies can help you eliminate guards or make guards far more effective through proactive notification. They can provide good perimeter protection, crowd detection, detection of wrong-way travel of people or vehicles, improper parking warnings, loitering alerts, provide reasonably accurate people counting, etc.

Don’t forget that video analytics can also significantly reduce video storage and bandwidth requirements, can help make searching for video far faster, and enable your systems to visually display what is most important.

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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