Q&A: IP Cameras in the Crosshairs

Gary Perlin, vice president of video products for Speco Technologies, discusses the promises of the network-based video technology.

A lot of information (some say disinformation) swirls around the wider adoption of IP cameras. To make sense of some of these issues, SSI invited Gary Perlin, vice president, video products, for Speco Technologies to discuss the promises offered by the network-based video technology.

How long will it be before IP camera sales eclipse analog cameras?

This is the million-dollar question that nobody knows the answer to. If you ask a manufacturer that only deals in IP cameras, they will tell you it has happened already. An analog manufacturer will say five to seven years. A datacom distributor might tell you two to three years, while a security distributor will not tell you when, but will be certain that they are behind their competitors and playing ‘catch-up.’ I am glad that I was able to clear this up for you.

What is the best ROI case a security dealer can make to the end user when selling IP cameras?

In small to midsize projects the advantage of IP is not financial as much as it is operational. It is about the features that an IP product brings to the user, such as the ability to transmit pictures around the world, view and record on any PC or to easily create complex matrix systems that could not have been justified using analog equipment. In large projects you have the features mentioned above, plus the cost savings of using less expensive, or in some cases existing, Ethernet wiring and POE technologies, reducing your overall installation costs and offsetting the higher camera prices.

What type of security solution do you see becoming widely integrated with an IP video surveillance system?

IP is truly the Holy Grail of integration allowing different technologies to talk to each other and interact across a single common platform. IP video’s integration with access control and central stations for alarm verification is a given. The ability to view your IP cameras over a smart phone is already a popular application. These and additional applications will evolve as our IP infrastructure becomes more robust. IP video will take us from interconnection to integration.

What do you see as a major hurdle to the installation or expansion of IP-based video surveillance systems?

There are actually several factors impeding the widespread adoption of IP-based systems, including fear of networking by the installers, higher camera costs, bandwidth concerns, pushback from IT managers, and fear of networking by the installers. Yes, I know that I mentioned ‘fear’ twice, but if we can take away the fear then we can easily work through the other hurdles. Speco Technologies has recently introduced the InPro series of self-networking IP cameras to increase the comfort level of novice IP camera installers and to dramatically speed up the installation time for experienced installers. This groundbreaking technology might tip the scales toward the IP side.

Do most IP camera sales opportunities lie in new installations or existing solutions?

Yes. The answer is both. The changeover to IP will be a gradual shift as analog and IP cameras coexist in both new and current installations. For example, all Speco Technologies IP cameras contain both network and analog outputs for easy implementation into existing systems, while future-proofing them at the same time. This also gives them the ability to transmit offsite when only a few of a system’s cameras require this feature. The balance of the system remains analog. The already widespread use of networked and hybrid DVRs further reinforce the trend toward ‘hybrid installations.’

Three entities [ONVIF, PSIA and SIA standards committee] are maneuvering to have their individual IP camera standards adopted as a global specification. How do you see this issue being resolved and what are the ramifications?

Well, if we can achieve world peace, embrace religious tolerance and feed the hungry then why shouldn’t these organizations be able to create a single standard? What? Oh, never mind. I feel that any ‘standard’ that addresses the industry as a whole without showing favoritism to a particular manufacturer is a move in the right direction. It will allow installers and their customers greater choice to select the equipment used in an installation because they will not be locked into the parts from a particular manufacturer.

Third-party software writers will bring more sophisticated offerings to the market because the user base has been expanded for them. Installers will become more efficient as they become familiar with a certain way of doing things. Think about the analog world and the benefits enjoyed by the standards of RG-59 cable, BNC connectors, CS mounts for lenses, etc. Now try to remember what we used to call ‘observation systems’ with their special cables, connectors and distance limitations. These are almost extinct and only exist in the DIY market because they did not conform to the industry’s accepted standards. When do I think the above organizations will reach a consensus on a standard? Please see my answer to the first question.

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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 latimes.com. 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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