There’s a new big player – and familiar household name – coming into the security marketplace with the announcement of Motorola’s intent to acquire Canadian video manufacturer Avigilon Corporation, provider of video surveillance and analytics. Motorola Solutions points to an “avalanche of video in public and private sectors” as a motivation for the acquisition.

 

Motorola Solutions’ dominance in the public safety market – where the Chicago company supplies police technologies, radios and other products – will provide new opportunities for Avigilon in a realm where it previously has not been dominant. Avigilon has millions of cameras deployed across airports, rail, streets, and public and private buildings.

Meanwhile, Avigilon will “bring [its] advanced video surveillance and analytics platform to [Motorola’s] rapidly evolving public safety workflow,” according to Motorola, and enhance the larger company’s portfolio of “mission-critical communications technologies.” Avigilon’s end-to-end security and video surveillance platform includes cameras, analytics, video management and video storage.

Avigilon has millions of cameras deployed across airports, rail, streets, and public and private buildings

The broader solution

Early clues point to Motorola positioning Avigilon as part of a broader solution, especially in the municipal/safe cities market. The company says the acquisition will enable more safe cities projects and more public-private partnerships between local communities and law enforcement. Motorola sees Avigilon as “a natural extension to global public safety and U.S. federal and military” applications, according to the company.

The all-cash deal pays CAD$27.00 per share of Avigilon, and totals approximately $1 billion including Avigilon’s net debt. Not a bad price considering Avigilon’s stock price has traded as low as $13 a share in the last year. Avigilon has 1,200 employees with locations in Vancouver and Richmond, British Columbia, and Dallas and Plano, Texas. Revenue was $354 million in 2016. The transaction is expected to be completed in Q2 of 2018.

Deploying pre-engineered solutions

As an innovator in the security market, Avigilon has spearheaded an end-to-end solutions approach. Their success has even prompted some component manufacturers to expand their proposition into a broader “solutions” sale. Led largely by Avigilon, the industry pendulum has swung toward the simplicity of deploying pre-engineered end-to-end solutions. Open systems integrated using best-in-breed components from several manufacturers still have their devotees, and are needed in some situations, but Avigilon has made a strong case for the end-to-end alternative. Others have followed.

Avigilon’s stock price has traded as low as $13 a share in the last year
The all-cash deal pays CAD$27.00 per share of Avigilon, and totals approximately $1 billion including Avigilon’s net debt

Avigilon has also lately been a leader in implementing artificial intelligence and deep learning, including Appearance Search technology that can locate a vehicle or person from video across a site. Avigilon’s video surveillance platform seeks to transform video from reactive – looking back at what has taken place – to proactive, issuing alerts in real time. Avigilon also recently introduced Avigilon Blue cloud service platform to enable video system users to manage more sites with fewer resources.

Investing and building

Motorola is not a completely new name to the security market. Old-timers will remember Motorola Indala, a previous presence in the RFID access control market that was sold to HID Corp. in 2001. More recently, Motorola Solutions has invested in Vidsys, a provider of converged security and information management (CSIM) software and has implemented Vidsys CSIM through its Protect Series unified platform that aggregates and analyses information from multiple inputs for military and federal government properties.  Motorola is also known as the inventor of the Six Sigma quality improvement process - and commitment to quality plays well among security integrators and end users.

Motorola would presumably continue Avigilon’s licensing program, but rules-based video analytics patents’ importance may fade

Avigilon owns 750 U.S. and international patents, including some covering basic underlying principles of video analytics, for which several video companies currently pay licence fees. Motorola would presumably continue the licensing program, although the importance of rules-based video analytics patents may fade as new deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to video analytics emerge.

Channel conflict

A possible concern surrounding the acquisition is the issue of channel conflict. When it comes to larger end user customers, Motorola has embraced a direct-to-user approach that could be problematic in the eyes of Avigilon’s 2,000 resellers. Among the benefits Motorola says they bring to the table is the ability to “leverage [their] direct enterprise safes force for large deals.” They also say they “complement Avigilon’s channel with [Motorola’s] channel network.

The security industry has a spotty history of larger companies entering the market to buy existing businesses. Some have been a good fit, while others have not. The entrepreneurial spirit of more than one successful security company has suffered under larger corporate ownership, sometimes withering as new corporate overlords cut costs and stifle R&D.

The more successful recent large acquisitions in our market – notably Canon’s acquisition of Milestone Systems and Axis Communications – have worked well because the acquired companies have retained some degree of independence and preserved the existing corporate culture.

In the case of Motorola and Avigilon, obviously, time will tell.

Download PDF version

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

Where is it inappropriate to install video cameras?
Where is it inappropriate to install video cameras?

Video cameras are everywhere, and hundreds more are installed every day. Our society appears to be reaching a point of perpetual surveillance. It certainly feels as if we are always being watched even though it is not yet the case. But as cameras are becoming more common than ever, we are also entering a new era of privacy concerns and sensitivities, as evidenced by GDPR and other such initiatives. We presented this quandary to this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Surveillance cameras can go anywhere, right? Where is it “not OK?”

Development of integrated thermal imaging technology into evolving market verticals
Development of integrated thermal imaging technology into evolving market verticals

Global and domestic threats have highlighted the need for tighter security across all verticals. One of the technologies that has redefined situational awareness and intrusion detection is thermal imaging. Once a technology exclusively manufactured for the military operations, thermal cameras today are deployed across hundreds of security applications and continue to see strong demand in existing and emerging commercial markets. With thermal technology, security personnel can see in complete darkness as well as in light fog, smoke and rain Technology overview and early adoption What distinguishes thermal cameras from optical sensors is their ability to produce images based on infrared energy, or heat, rather than light. By measuring the heat signatures of all objects and capturing minute differences between them, thermal cameras produce clear, sharp video despite unfavorable environmental conditions. With thermal technology, security personnel can see in complete darkness as well as in light fog, smoke and rain. Originally a military developed, commercially qualified technology, the first thermal cameras for military and aircraft use appeared in the 1950s. By the 1960s, the technology had been declassified and the first thermal camera for commercial use was introduced. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s - when FLIR Systems introduced a camera with an uncooled thermal detector - when the technology began to see substantial adoption beyond government defense deployments. Installations at critical infrastructure sites In the 2000s, industrial companies were some of the first adopters of thermal, using the technology for predictive maintenance to monitor overheating and machine malfunctions. In the years following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, there was an increase in thermal camera installations across critical infrastructure sites. Stricter security requirements drove the deployment of thermal cameras for perimeter protection, especially in the nuclear power sector. Thermal cameras produce clear video in daylight, low light or no light scenarios and their sharp images result in higher performing analytics In 2010, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Committee released its 73.55 policy, which states nuclear facilities must “provide continuous surveillance, observation and monitoring” as a means to enhance threat detection and deterrence efforts onsite. Because thermal cameras produce clear video in daylight, low light or no light scenarios and because their sharp images result in higher performing analytics, thermal cameras quickly became the preferred option for nuclear facilities. Likewise, following the 2013 sniper attack on PG&E Corporation’s Metcalf transmission substation, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission introduced the Critical Infrastructure Protection Standard 014 (CIP-014). The policy requires utilities to identify threats to mission critical assets and implement a security system to mitigate those risks. This statute also led to more thermal installations in the utility sector as thermal cameras’ long-range capabilities are ideal for detection of approaching targets beyond the fence line. The demand from both industrial and critical infrastructure entities, as well as other factors, helped drive volume production and price reduction for thermal, making the technology more accessible to the commercial security marketplace. Commercial applications In recent years, the increasing affordability of thermal cameras along with the introduction of new thermal offerings has opened the door to new commercial applications for the technology. In the past, thermal cameras were designed for applications with enormous perimeters, where the camera needed to detect a human from 700 meters away. Locations like car dealerships, marinas and construction supply facilities can be protected by precise target detection, thermal analytic cameras providing an early warning to security personnel Today, there are thermal cameras specifically designed for short- to mid-range applications. Developed for small to medium enterprises, these thermal cameras ensure property size and security funds are no longer barriers to adoption. Lumber yards, recreation fields and sports arenas are some of the commercial applications now able to implement thermal cameras for 24-hour monitoring and intrusion detection. Affordable thermal cameras with onboard analytics have become attractive options for commercial businesses Innovation and advancements Innovation and advancements in the core technology have also spurred growth in thermal camera deployment, providing faster image processing, higher resolution, greater video analytic capabilities and better camera performance. In particular, affordable thermal cameras with onboard analytics have become attractive options for commercial businesses that need outdoor, wide area protection. Car dealerships, marinas and construction supply locations all store valuable merchandise and materials outside. Without protection, these assets are vulnerable to vandalism and theft. However, by providing precise target detection, thermal analytic cameras provide an early warning to security personnel so that they can intervene before a crime is committed. By helping to deter just one incident, the thermal solution delivers a clear ROI. New market opportunities Not only are there more thermal cameras in use today than ever before, but there are also more thermal sensors being integrated with other multi-sensor systems, driving the adoption of thermal in new markets. For large perimeter surveillance applications, thermal is repeatedly being integrated with radar and drones to expand situational awareness beyond the point of fixed cameras. Users get immediate, accurate alerts of approaching targets and evidentiary class video for target assessment In the commercial market, thermal imagers are combined with optical sensors, analytics and LED illuminators into one solution that integrates with central monitoring station platforms. By bringing these technologies together, users get immediate, accurate alerts of approaching targets and evidentiary class video for target assessment. The result is a lower number of false positives, reducing the total cost of ownership for the solution. These multi-sensor solutions also feature two-way audio capabilities, which enable remote security officers to act as “virtual guards” and speak to intruders in real-time to dissuade them from illegal activity. The introduction of solutions that integrate all these state-of-the-art technologies under one unit reduces the amount of capital and infrastructure needed for deployment. Consequently, more small businesses and alarm monitoring companies can implement advanced perimeter security technologies like thermal sensors, some for the very first time. Thermal cameras have gone from military defense devices to widespread commercial security cameras Multi-sensor thermal solutions Multi-sensor solutions featuring thermal are quickly gaining traction and opening the door to new business opportunities for the security channel. One of the primary reasons for the strong market interest in these systems is they enable integrators to increase their recurring monthly revenue (RMR). With intense price competition and eroding margins on CCTV equipment, integrators have to rely on RMR to grow their businesses. Offering remote video monitoring services and virtual guarding technologies is one of the best ways to do so.  Additionally, there is a clear demand for it. Central stations are continually looking for new technologies to offer their customers and businesses are interested in economical alternatives to physical guards. In conclusion, thermal cameras have gone from military defense devices to widespread commercial security cameras that are a substantial segment of the outdoor security protection market. From nuclear power plants to construction locations, thermal technology is being implemented to secure sites around the globe.

Highlighting the importance of security integrations and alliances
Highlighting the importance of security integrations and alliances

Most technology companies have one goal in mind: to provide customers with high-quality, affordable products that can efficiently help streamline operations. Whether it's surveillance cameras, video management software, access control technology or any other type of security device, today's leading organisations invest in expertise in these product segments and strive to produce the highest quality solutions. To effectively fulfill this task, technology providers are always searching for emerging components to make their products and services even stronger. Oftentimes, a key aspect necessary to build a comprehensively robust solution involves finding like-minded partners that share a common goal and are willing to work together to create an integration that increases insight and intelligence.The interoperability between systems, devices and different types of applications should be intuitive and fast Key factors for security integrations A basic factor in a partnership is openness. For an integration to perform seamlessly for the end user, the platform through which the technologies converge must follow standard protocols, easily operate with other platforms, allow freedom and customisation, and provide adaptability. The interoperability between systems, devices and different types of applications should be intuitive and fast, enabling more time to be spent on analysing critical data and responding to security events. The puzzle of a complete security solution contains many pieces, and it's often necessary to fuse together aspects from various providers to create a best-in-breed technology offering. When organisations collaborate, the end result is a simplified solution with an increased level of value. As threats become more severe and complex, customers demand solutions that combine different security and business elements into a single interface that can address a wide variety of risks. A unified security system requires a strong collaboration between technology providers and integrated solutions Interconnected security devices Users used to only look at specific security devices - such as cameras or door alarms - as each having a strong, autonomous purpose, but now, every device plays an important interconnected role. And the progression of the Internet of Things (IoT) has made this transition even easier, as maintaining a consistent and uniform communication and interconnectivity between devices has now become the norm. The IoT has also made it so that partnerships must not only exist between manufacturers, but also within the customer's organisational structure. Although exceptionally beneficial, the IoT brings with it an increased amount of cyber vulnerabilities. As security systems are networked to increase flexibility, the door is opened to a number of potential threats that could compromise the entire enterprise. This risk highlights the need for an internal partnership and knowledge sharing between a company's physical security professionals and its IT team. IT experts should be pulled into security decisions and positioned as collaborative partners to assist with software updates, data safety protocols and solving complex network challenges, ultimately leading to a more cyber secure solution.Partnerships are beneficial to both the companies involved and their customers Knowledge sharing and learning Aside from cybersecurity, the latest prominent security attacks and events have focused primarily on soft targets, such as schools, concerts or shopping malls. This has caused many technology providers to venture into different vertical markets, and strong partnerships streamline this crossover. Innovators can extend their geographic reach and purpose through integrations with other like-minded manufacturers or integrators to add new levels of functionalities. Of course, a partnership cannot operate properly and to the best of its ability without a core component: learning. In today's evolving business and risk environment, knowledge is critical. A shared knowledge base can open up new opportunities and lead to the strengthening of security across many levels. A truly powerful, unified security system requires a strong collaboration between technology providers and integrated solutions. Partnerships are beneficial to both the companies involved and their customers, and the results created through these alliances can reach far beyond a user's expectations, offering enhanced flexibility and extensive safety options.