We will examine the question of the increasing technicality of the closed circuit video industry from three perspectives; The Manufacturer, the Specifier, and the Integrator.  

History of Closed Circuit Video industry 

Before we begin examining this subject, let's take a look briefly at the history of the Closed Circuit Video Industry.

  • 1920s: Tubes were invented (Cathode, Image Dissector, Iconoscope)
  • 1940s: CCTV first introduced to monitor rocket launches
  • 1970s: The “Chip” - Charged Coupling Devices
  • 1980s: Multiplexers and Switchers
  • 1999-2000: DVRs
  • Late 1990s: Internet Protocol (IP) Technology
  • 2003: Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • 2000s: HD, Megapixel, Multi-megapixel

As you can see, the industry is relatively young (less than 100 years), with the majority of innovations occurring in the last fifty years. 
The manufacturer
Looking at the timeline above it is clear that innovation is accelerating year over year which in turn drives more solutions for the security professional. Advances that used to be measured over decades are now happening annually. This rapid pace has proven difficult for the specifier and integrator community to stay abreast of new technology which slows adoption of a solution. A clear example of this was the introduction of Network Cameras which are widely accepted today but took close to a decade to reach that level. Integrators discovered that they needed a new skillset, computer networking, to be successful. In turn, manufacturers began focusing on developing products that were easier to install. In many ways this dynamic is playing out in the video analytics market today with many vendors realising that their initial solutions were to complex and could not meet original expectations.

With regards to video surveillance
the shift to digital has been largely
due to forensic uses cases where
advances in resolution have
analogue solutions

With regards to video surveillance the shift to digital has been largely due to forensic uses cases where advances in resolution have outpaced analogue solutions. Analogue still has its place but its market share decreases each year as the price of networked cameras drops and customers’ expectations increase. Those expectations include moving video from a reactive tool to a proactive one that mitigates risk on the fly so that security professionals can respond to an incident as it unfolds.

Adding intelligence at the edge using something as simple as Video Motion Detection (VMD) or other more advanced analytics such as cross-line detection, tamper alarms, or even audio triggers could enable security professionals the ability of a more timely response. Most network cameras come with embedded a microphone so adding a simple analytic that monitors and alerts on aggressive voices or yelling could be the difference in a recording of a fight vs preventing one. There are many more examples but are these technologies actually being used? Are manufacturers adding features just because they can or are there real needs that drive the development of the solutions? 
Manufacturers should spend more time listening to end-users, integrators and specifiers so that they develop products that fill gaps and deliver solutions that close those gaps. They must be mindful of the capabilities of their channel partners and if necessary provide the education to properly deliver solutions. Manufacturers need to innovate, educate and support solutions that address security industry needs. If they don’t then they won’t be around for long.

With regards to video surveillance the shift to digital has been largely due to forensic uses cases
It is critical for the designer/specifier to remember the mission and purpose for the systems to be deployed

The specifier
First and foremost, it is critical for the designer/specifier to remember the mission and purpose for the systems to be deployed. Critical elements of this process include ensuring that the design matches the operational definition of success, designs should incorporate and include critical usages (day to day, investigations, emergencies), and incorporate provisions for timely and effective response. So how is this to be done efficiently and effectively? Here is a brief list of considerations the specifier needs to have addressed and answered:

  1. A great design in the wrong application yields low return
  2. Field & Angle of view are Critical
  3. Lighting has to be sufficient, appropriate, and positioned
  4. Fast motion requires fast image rate
  5. Operators must have proper context to correctly interpret video
  6. Video can’t do it all – Effective integration may be required
  7. Big video requires big infrastructure 

Feature vs. value 

Basically, it comes down to Features vs. Value:

  1. Does the video system show what is needed and required?
  2. How uniform is the light?
  3. Are there enough pixels on target?
  4. Is the system compatible for the needs?
  5. Angles? Coverage? Direction? How Displayed? Compatible with camera data feeds?

The integrator
Integrators face many challenges in the closed circuit video industry, as we read in the manufacturer's section, the terminology is constantly evolving, with new terms added almost daily. They are faced with having to keep up with the "latest and greatest" technologies the manufacturers produce (and market to the end users). The systems can become a blend of various and sometimes complicated technologies, so it is imperative that integrators stay abreast of these evolutions. Since the integrator is the last contact point with the end user, it is important that they understand as well the customers' expectations, the specifiers expectations, and the manufacturer's intent of product use. In other words: are we providing the most efficient and effective solution?

Systems designed and deployed
today are very complex in nature,
consisting of large numbers of
cameras, as well as unique
transmission, recording, and
storage methods

Many of the systems designed and deployed today are very complex in nature, consisting of large numbers of cameras, as well as unique transmission, recording, and storage methods. It is crucial for the integrator to not only be aware of these items but most importantly know simply "what was told and sold" to the end user. The integrator needs to have knowledge of the end users expectations of the video system being deployed in order to adequately deploy the proper technology. In other words: does the technology meet the client's needs or is it too complicated to achieve the goals? Sometimes (actually more often than not) simpler is better. 
Ongoing training to resolve issues 
How can we remedy the potential issues? One word - EDUCATION! 
But who do we educate? Most manufacturers have regular training programs that are geared to the technician, but what about training for the sales team, the specifiers, and the end users? Education needs to be a collaborative effort including all who touch these highly evolved systems. Each device designed into a system needs to have a clear defined purpose and function. The software should be easy to operate and function cleanly- remember who is operating these systems - typically a guard or administrative person- not someone who is necessarily technically skilled in our industry! 
Ongoing training and communication are the key elements to a successful system deployment and use. When in a training or continuing education class on these systems ask questions, if something is not clear to you, investigate it until you feel that you clearly understand. 
In closing, we believe that technology in the video industry has made some amazing and significant strides in providing clear, storable and retrievable images, however it is up to all of us to try and keep the operations as simple as possible. Remember - if the end user cannot operate the system effectively, we have all failed.  








Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

In case you missed it

What is the impact of lighting on video performance?
What is the impact of lighting on video performance?

Dark video images contain little or no information about the subject being surveilled. Absence of light can make it difficult to see a face, or to distinguish the color of clothing or of an automobile. Adding light to a scene is one solution, but there are also new technologies that empower modern video cameras to see better in any light. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: what impact does lighting have on the performance of video systems?

Alarm.com adapts during pandemic to enable partners to ‘succeed remotely’
Alarm.com adapts during pandemic to enable partners to ‘succeed remotely’

As a cloud-based platform for service providers in the security, smart home and smart business markets, Alarm.com has adapted quickly to changing conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. In the recent dynamic environment, Alarm.com has kept focus on supporting their service provider partners so they can keep local communities protected. “We moved quickly to establish work-from-home protocols to protect our employees and minimise impact on our partners,” says Anne Ferguson, VP of Marketing at Alarm.com. The Customer Operations and Reseller Education (CORE) team has operated without interruption to provide support to partners. Sales teams are utilising webinars and training resources to inform and educate partners about the latest products, tools, and solutions. Alarm.com’s partner tools are essential for remote installations and support of partner accounts. Helping customers remain connected Adapting to challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Alarm.com is further investing in solutions that help customers remain connected and engaged. The company has created a resource hub called “Succeeding Remotely” that provides tools, tips and news links that partners can use to adapt their business operations. From adjusting sales and installation techniques to maintaining cellular upgrades, Alarm.com is helping partners stay connected to customers remotely, keep their teams trained, and address rapidly evolving customer concerns without rolling trucks.The company has created a resource hub called “Succeeding Remotely “Additionally, after seeing all that our partners are doing to support their local communities in need, we were compelled to highlight those efforts with ongoing videos called Good Connections, which we’re sharing with our partner community to spark more ideas and ways to help,” says Ferguson. “Though our partners have experienced varying degrees of disruption to their business, we’re inspired by their adaptability, ingenuity and resilience,” says Ferguson. “Along with establishing proper safeguards for operating in homes and businesses, our partners are leveraging our support resources more heavily, while our entire staff has worked tirelessly to deliver new, timely resources.” Do-It-Together solutions Alarm.com partners are successfully employing Do-It-Together (DIT) solutions, focusing on 3G-to-LTE upgrades, and pivoting to new verticals like commercial and wellness. Many are also streamlining their business operations and taking advantage of virtual training opportunities to enhance their technicians’ skills and knowledge, says Ferguson. Do-It-Together installs involve depending on customers to perform part or all of the installation process. Partners can send customers fully configured kits with mounting instructions, or technicians may guide customers on a remote video call. Alarm.com’s tools, training and products help partners modify remote installation options depending on each customer’s needs. End users can validate the Alarm.com Smart Gateway with their central station that sensors they have mounted were done correctly using the Alarm.com mobile app Alarm.com Smart Gateway For example, the Alarm.com Smart Gateway can be pre-configured with indoor and outdoor cameras for easy customer installation and to reduce the likelihood of future service calls. Also, end users can validate with their central station that sensors they have mounted were done correctly using the Alarm.com mobile app. “DIT is helping our partners continue onboarding customers and avoid backlogs,” says Ferguson. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the resiliency and level of future investment that our residential and commercial partners have shown in the face of adversity,” adds Ferguson. For example, a significant number of business customers have used the slow period to install systems that are typically too disruptive to put in during normal business hours. Similarly, service providers are adopting new technologies or business models, such as cloud-based access control. “They’re often saying to us, ‘I’m going to take this opportunity to make changes to improve our business,’ and have been working closely with us on training and business consulting to support their efforts,“ she says. Shift to the cloud Ferguson sees a growing preference for cloud-managed surveillance and access systems over ones that have historically been run on-premise. The technology itself is attractive, but especially driving change is the enhancement to the daily lives of service providers and customers, which have been strained during this time. “The foundational benefit of our cloud-based solution is the hassle-free, seamless customer experience it delivers,” says Ferguson. “We make this possible by taking ownership of the servers, software maintenance, firmware updates, health monitoring, and more. With cloud technology, these aspects become invisible to the customer and take a lot off their plate, which is more important than ever.” End users can take advantage of Smart Tip video tutorials to help with DIT installations, or they can use the Alarm.com Wellcam to connect with loved ones anywhere.End users can take advantage of Smart Tip video tutorials to help with DIT installations Partners can attend training workshops focused on remote installation tactics, while driving consumer interest in new offerings through Alarm.com’s Customer Connections platform. The goal is to make it simple for partners to stay connected to their customers to maximise lifetime account value. “We are well-positioned to endure the pandemic because of the strength of our partners in their markets along with our investments in technology, hardware and our team,” says Ferguson. “As restrictions slowly lift, there is cautious optimism that the residential, commercial, property management, plumbing/HVAC, builder and other verticals will recover quickly. We believe that as more partners adopt the DIT model and add commercial and wellness RMR, they will find increasing opportunities to deploy security, automation, video, video analytics, access and more throughout their customer base.”

COVID-19 worries boost prospects of touchless biometric systems
COVID-19 worries boost prospects of touchless biometric systems

Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads. No longer in favour are contact-based modalities including use of personal identification numbers (PINs) and keypads, and the shift has been sudden and long-term. Both customers and manufacturers were taken by surprise by this aspect of the virus’s impact and are therefore scrambling for solutions. Immediate impact of the change includes suspension of time and attendance systems that are touch-based. Some two-factor authentication systems are being downgraded to RFID-only, abandoning the keypad and/or biometric components that contributed to higher security, but are now unacceptable because they involve touching. Touchless biometric systems in demand The trend has translated into a sharp decline in purchase of touch modality and a sharp increase in the demand for touchless systems, says Alex Zarrabi, President of Touchless Biometrics Systems (TBS). Biometrics solutions are being affected unequally, depending on whether they involve touch sensing, he says. Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads “Users do not want to touch anything anymore,” says Zarrabi. “From our company’s experience, we see it as a huge catalyst for touchless suppliers. We have projects being accelerated for touchless demand and have closed a number of large contracts very fast. I’m sure it’s true for anyone who is supplying touchless solutions.” Biometric systems are also seeing the addition of thermal sensors to measure body temperature in addition to the other sensors driving the system. Fingerscans and hybrid face systems TBS offers 2D and 3D systems, including both fingerscans and hybrid face/iris systems to provide touchless identification at access control points. Contactless and hygienic, the 2D Eye system is a hybrid system that combines the convenience of facial technology with the higher security of iris recognition. The system recognises the face and then detects the iris from the face image and zeros in to scan the iris. The user experiences the system as any other face recognition system. The facial aspect quickens the process, and the iris scan heightens accuracy. TBS also offers the 2D Eye Thermo system that combines face, iris and temperature measurement using a thermal sensor module. TBS's 2D Eye Thermo system combines face, iris and temperature measurement using a thermal sensor module Another TBS system is a 3D Touchless Fingerscan system that provides accuracy and tolerance, anti-spoofing, and is resilient to water, oil, dust and dirt. The 2D+ Multispectral for fingerprints combines 2D sensing with “multispectral” subsurface identification, which is resilient to contaminants and can read fingerprints that are oily, wet, dry or damaged – or even through a latex glove. In addition, the 3D+ system by TBS provides frictionless, no-contact readings even for people going through the system in a queue. The system fills the market gap for consent-based true on-the-fly systems, says Zarrabi. The system captures properties of the hand and has applications in the COVID environment, he says. The higher accuracy and security ratings are suitable for critical infrastructure applications, and there is no contact; the system is fully hygienic. Integration with access control systems Integration of TBS biometrics with a variety of third-party access control systems is easy. A “middleware” subsystem is connected to the network. Readers are connected to the subsystem and also to the corporate access control system. An interface with the TBS subsystem coordinates with the access control system. For example, a thermal camera used as part of the biometric reader can override the green light of the access control system if a high temperature (suggesting COVID-19 infection, for example) is detected. The enrollment process is convenient and flexible and can occur at an enrollment station or at an administration desk. Remote enrollment can also be accomplished using images from a CCTV camera. All templates are encrypted. Remotely enrolled employees can have access to any location they need within minutes. The 3D+ system by TBS provides frictionless, no-contact readings even for people going through the system in a queue Although there are other touchless technologies available, they cannot effectively replace biometrics, says Zarrabi. For example, a centrally managed system that uses a Bluetooth signal from a smart phone could provide convenience, is “touchless,” and could suffice for some sites. However, the system only confirms the presence and “identity” of a smart phone – not the person who should be carrying it. “There has been a lot of curiosity about touchless, but this change is strong, and there is fear of a possible second wave of COVID-19 or a return in two or three years,” says Zarrabi. “We really are seeing customers seriously shifting to touchless.”