Articles by Mark Collett
The IP surveillance market is taking anunusually long time to reach maturity, partiallydue to lack of industry standards Video surveillance has been a growth industry ever since the release of the first IP security camera in the mid-1990s. Generally, high-growth industries are immature, meaning they have not yet reached a state of equilibrium. This is particularly true in the IP video surveillance market where many new companies enter the market taking advantage of cost reduction engineering (CRE) to drive product prices down. Clearly this changes market leaders, but this has not simplified the customer’s solution. Market immaturity is good for vendors but not for customers, as they must deal with inherent complexities. While every growth market will eventually mature, the IP surveillance market is taking an unusually long time. Part of the reason is a lack of standards, which feeds the cycle of market immaturity. Standards benefit customers because they increase system interoperability while decreasing costs and risks. A lack of standards benefits vendors because it increases complexity and often locks the vendors in. The more complex the environment, the more hardware, software and services they can sell. Limitations for users When networking technologies were developed in the 1980s, Ethernet won out over token ring, chiefly because the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created standard protocols for Ethernet against which any vendor could develop products and services. Similar to IEEE, the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) has driven the global standard for network video interfacing. However, the IP surveillance industry is now caught in the next level of granularity and needs additional standards to be defined. This would be similar to how IEEE drove the adoption of Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) in order to make network management systems more functional. Prior to SNMP, network management systems could not easily find and control devices on a network. Manufacturers of routers, servers, workstations and printers used their own protocols which made it difficult to integrate products into a single network management system. The lack of standards in the IPsurveillance market generatesfurther confusion because everyvendor sets its own criteria forfeatures Today, video management systems (VMS) are similar to the network management systems of the 1980s. Every time a camera is developed, the VMS has to be enhanced to support all of the new features. Considering the number of camera vendors in the market, it’s a challenging and time-consuming task. Therefore, VMS providers often have close relationships with just a few vendors and do not support cameras from certain manufacturers. It’s also why users cannot easily mix and match camera models from a variety of vendors – ultimately, they are limited to those that their VMS supports. The lack of standards generates further confusion because every vendor sets its own criteria for features. Implementing industry standards - who wins? Like what customers did in the 1980’s, I have often wondered why end users have not pushed IP surveillance manufacturers to create standards for common features and functionalities. SNMP is one simple and obvious example, as it is directly portable for managing IP video surveillance systems. When customers require standards, vendors typically comply, even though doing so will drive the market toward maturity. Considering the state of the IP surveillance industry, standardisation would likely drive vendor consolidation and force companies to evolve in order to succeed. Many industries have successfully implemented standards – including energy, telecommunications, consumer electronics and aerospace. These are all vibrant industries; standards have not driven any of them to extinction, as some in the security industry believe they would. IEEE says it best when describing standards as “the fundamental building blocks for product development.” Standards guarantee consistency, which drives product development, reduces costs, and speeds time-to-market. Standards also make it easier to compare products, ensure interoperability, and verify the integrity of new products. Standards are good for customers, and when customers benefit, an entire industry benefits. Standards benefit customers because they increase system interoperability while decreasing costs and risks. A lack of standards benefits vendors because it increases complexity and often locks the vendors in. The more complex the environment, the more hardware, software and services they can sell.
Many of the most well-trafficked articles posted at SourceSecurity.com in 2015 were those that addressed timely and important issues in the security marketplace. In the world of digital publishing, it’s easy to know what content resonates with the market: Our readers tell us with their actions; i.e., where they click. Let’s look back at the Top 10 articles we posted in 2015 that generated the most page views. They are listed in order here with the author’s name and a brief excerpt. 1. Video analytics applications in retail - beyond security [Larry Anderson] Analytics can help catch suspects by alerting in real-time. After the fact, analytics used for search purposes are far more effective to identify a theft. Secondly, analytics can be used in retail to track customers, understand their age and gender, manage queue lines, know how long people dwell at an end cap, provide heat maps, etc. 2. Cybersecurity - hackers target SCADA embedded systems [Vicki Contavespi] “SCADA monitors devices on the grid many times per second and was never intended or designed to have virus protection or security protocols,” says Dave Hunt, an independent homeland security consultant and a founding member of the National InfraGard Electromagnetic Pulse special interest group. In fact, continuous monitoring makes it virtually impossible for a SCADA system to validate a security protocol. 3. Home automation standards and protocols [Randy Southerland] As the home automation industry has expanded with an ever-growing number of devices and services, companies are placing bets on which wireless protocols will dominate. The past few years, the leaders have been Z-Wave and ZigBee. Companies are also using a variety of other standards including Crestron’s Infinet, Insteon, and proprietary technologies such as Lutron’s ClearConnect. Readers were interested in Prism Skylabs' retail applications, utilising IP cameras as sensors to gather data on customer behaviour 4. The numbers tell the video story at ISC West: 4K and H.265 [Larry Anderson] The latest in video surveillance equipment at ISC West [in 2015] is reflected by the numbers you hear repeatedly on the show floor, numbers like 4K and H.265. Big players like Panasonic have joined the 4K bandwagon in a big way. Sony introduced a 4K camera with a larger sensor size (1-inch) to increase light sensitivity, displaying the better view alongside a “Brand X” competitor in the Sony booth. 5. Video analytics: Prism Skylabs envision IP cameras as sensors to expand their role in retail [Larry Anderson] Prism Skylabs is helping to drive a re-evaluation of the role of video cameras in the market. Founded in 2011, the San Francisco cloud service company thinks of IP cameras as sensors that are capable of providing a range of data that can be managed and processed in the cloud to provide more useful information to end-user customers. Prism’s current implementations of the “software as a service” approach focuses on retail merchandising and marketing applications, but Prism Co-Founder and Senior Vice President Bob Cutting sees many other opportunities too. 6. Video analytics for forensics: Analytics-based forensic evidence collection [Larry Anderson] Another aspect of video analytics is how the technology can be used for forensics. Basically, intelligent searches of video archives provide investigators faster access to any needed video clip based on the content of the video. It’s a monumental improvement over the old days of searching for hours while rewinding and fast-forwarding videotape. 7. IP video surveillance market – revealing the ‘industry standards’ myth [Mark Collett] Considering the state of the IP surveillance industry, standardisation would likely drive vendor consolidation and force companies to evolve in order to succeed. Many industries have successfully implemented standards – including energy, telecommunications, consumer electronics and aerospace. These are all vibrant industries; standards have not driven any of them to extinction, as some in the security industry believe they would. Another topic of interest was the public and private protection of public figures, spurred by the Pope's visit to America earlier this year 8. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) – the death of an acronym? [Larry Anderson] Lately, we have even begun hearing manufacturers starting to avoid the PSIM term and its historic baggage and preconceptions. When a buzzword takes on a negative stench, it loses its impact. If a PSIM is perceived as negative, the initials lose their usefulness even as a marketing term (which some say PSIM was all along). 9. Avigilon acquires fundamental patents covering video analytics [Larry Anderson] What are the ramifications when a major supplier in the video analytics space owns many of the patents that are fundamental to its competitors’ businesses? It’s one thing to pay licensing fees to a fading player like ObjectVideo (perhaps to avoid costly litigation?), but isn’t paying those fees to a direct competitor another matter? 10. How public and private security operations protect celebrities, big-name executives and dignitaries [Michael Fickes] According to the Secret Service, dozens of federal, state and local agencies combined forces to protect the Pope in his visits to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. The Department of Homeland Security designated the Papal visit to New York City a National Special Security Event. For such an event, the Secret Service acts as the lead federal agency for the design, implementation and oversight of the operational security plan. See the full coverage of 2015/2016 Review and Forecast articles here