CCTV, access control, intruder detection, audio & video analysis/processing
Round table contributions
The security industry is full of individuals who call themselves consultants. It’s a term that is thrown around rather loosely, and in some situations the term can be roughly translated as “between jobs.” But “real” consultants provide real value to their clients in a variety of subject matter specialties. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What role should consultants play in the security technology buying decision?
The world of politics, like the world of security, is an environment of constant change. But do changes in one have an impact on the other? Governments around the world are involved in buying a wide variety of physical security systems, so how those governments operate certainly affects how they spend money on security. But in a broader sense, governments (and the associated political forces at work) also impact how their citizens and those in the private sector view threats and, as a logical extension, the security systems they need to address those threats. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How does the political climate affect spending on security systems?
Big data is a buzzword, and data – presumably of all sizes – is a driving force in the physical security market. As systems become more sophisticated and expand their capabilities, the result is more data; in some cases, a lot more data. But a key question is: What do we do with the data? How do we use it to provide value? How do we interpret it, and transform it into useful information and/or intelligence? We presented the topic of data to our Expert Panel Roundtable and came away with a range of thoughts on its changing – and expanding – role in the physical security market (and beyond). We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How is a greater emphasis on data changing the physical security market?
A busy trade show abounds with new products and expanded features, colorful signage and blinking video screens, all competing for attention from busy attendees. It’s a microcosm of how the security marketplace – or any market, for that matter – sells its products. But what happens if the reality turns out different to the sales pitch? What happens when product or system performance doesn’t quite live up to the claims? Some would call that hype, and it can lead to disillusioned and frustrated customers. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the negative impact of hype in the security marketplace?
IP network dependability matters in physical security and safety applications, given that a company’s assets and people are at risk. There have been strides in the areas of network dependability, fault-tolerance, reliability, and survivability. However, networks (or affordable ones, at any rate) still cannot ensure near-100 percent uptime, which is why system designers acknowledge and plan for the possibility of a network outage. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How can/should an IP networked system adapt when network connectivity is lost?
Sometimes customers expect more out of a security system. A brand new security system just doesn’t perform as the customer expected it would. In fact, one might argue that the many variables in today’s complex systems make it more likely than ever that some element of a system might not measure up to a customer’s expectations. What happens then? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What happens if a customer’s expectations of system performance are greater than what a physical security system can deliver?
Does seeing video cameras at a location make you feel safer or less safe? Do you feel better to know that video surveillance is capturing everything that happens, thus discouraging crime? Or do you think: What kind of neighbourhood (or store) is this that needs a CCTV camera watching everything? Do you feel more secure when the security guard at the hotel elevator asks to see your room key? Do airport screenings ease your mind about getting on an airplane with 100 strangers? The “perception of safety” is a tricky thing, and presence (or absence) of security systems can play a role. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the impact of promoting a "perception of safety" when choosing and/or installing physical security systems? How might perception influence the choice of systems (e.g., more overt)?
Ensuring privacy is often a concern for video surveillance systems, especially in situations where a system intended for “public” surveillance could somehow, perhaps inadvertently, view private areas or situations. The classic example is an apartment building whose windows are within the range of a video surveillance camera. How can you provide video surveillance without invading the privacy of the apartment dwellers? Integrators and end users often turn to technology for a solution. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Round Table: How can smart camera features (such as privacy masking and programmable pan-tilt-zoom) address concerns about privacy?
How mobile telephones have transformed into “smartphones” is one of the great technology stories of our time. What once was a single-function device now can do almost anything – display video, pay for groceries, monitor our health. The smartphones we carry in our pockets today have more computing power than the “super computers” of yesteryear, and that power has found many uses in a seemingly endless array of “apps.” Some of them are directly related to our physical security systems. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What security applications are best suited to smartphone apps?
As more security equipment categories become commoditised, a previously rich source of income for integrators and installers – markup – is becoming harder to come by. Less expensive products with little to no perceptible value differentiation leave integrators with few options, not to mention the growth of pricing transparency that comes courtesy of the Internet. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Given the increase in commoditised hardware (i.e., lower profit margins), how should security integrators replace that profit/revenue?
One of the things all security systems have in common is that they depend on human operators, to one extent or another. But how often is the human factor overlooked in product design? Sometimes, more focus is aimed at increasing the functionality of a system, even at the expense of usability. That’s how we get systems that have more capabilities, although accessing that functionality may be hopelessly complex. Creating effective graphical user interfaces (GUIs) is an ongoing challenge for the security market, and the consumer market, with its iPads and smart phones, has raised the expectations bar. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What elements are required to make an effective video system user interface?
One of the benefits of newer IP systems is the ability to store video inside the camera or in a nearby digital video recorder (DVR) at the edge of the network. Edge-based storage is unlikely to take the place of centralised storage, but it is complementary and provides some interesting new options related to system design. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the value of edge-based storage and in what specific applications?
For several years now, the video surveillance market has been involved in the “megapixel race,” with manufacturers touting ever-higher pixel counts on their shiny new models. The implication, though not necessarily stated overtly, is that a higher pixel count is equivalent to a better picture. Too simple, says this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable participants, or more to the point: Not true. But where does that leave customers? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Do manufacturers, integrators and/or customers put too much emphasis on pixel count (versus other factors) as a measure of a camera's performance? How can video quality be measured?
Video cameras are smarter than ever. Video analytics functionality is available inside most cameras now on the market. Smarter cameras enable a system with distributed intelligence and also help to manage bandwidth and storage – on-camera intelligence can determine what video is important enough to tie up network resources and to eventually be retained or viewed. But on-camera video analytics have their limitations, and additional video intelligence at the server can add a new range of functionality to a system. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Given the rise in edge-based video analytics, what is the continuing role for server-based analytics systems?
Healthcare organisations are an important vertical market for many security manufacturers and integrators. Like other vertical markets, healthcare has its own unique set of requirements and challenges for physical security systems. We asked this week’s Expert Panel: What are the distinctive security problems faced by healthcare organisations? What technologies are being embraced to increase security?
Articles by Simon Lambert
In the vast centre of the hall almost none of the randomly shaped stands display their index number I enjoy IFSEC each year, spending three days walking the halls. I do feel frustrated by the acres of "me too" products prompting a "meh" response. So often I’m left feeling the "big news" is that hype and lies are growing and continue to drown out the truth. If companies' marketing budgets were simply given over to their product development departments, we would find things remarkable enough to enjoy word of mouth. I often rely on meeting friends in the aisles to glean their opinions on what "big news" they think I’ll enjoy. Still, IFSEC is a good place to meet many international players in one big room. It's all about navigation, navigation, navigation. As an attendee I wasted so much valuable time searching for each exhibitor. In the vast centre of the hall almost none of the randomly shaped stands display their index number, e.g. F750. The show’s smartphone app doesn’t have a built-in “you are now standing here” function, so we still won’t know which direction to take! It’s a big hall. Many of us have a lot of ground to cover in just three days, figuratively and literally, so the painful legwork and frustration of traipsing these unnecessary miles greatly reduces the pleasure of attending IFSEC. We must insist on clear booth numbering everywhere. Oh, and stop antisocial noise! Huge novelty robots crawl the aisles and neighbouring booths emit prolonged conversation-killing music. People smack security glazing with sledgehammers. Please make them stop. Sort those two aspects out and next year’s IFSEC should be a corker.
SourceSecurity.com’s Expert Panel had a lot to say in 2015 on a variety of topics in our Roundtable discussions. Not surprisingly, the discussion topics that have generated the most interest (in terms of how much visitor traffic they generated) are the same hot topics we hear about every day in the industry. Our very most-clicked-on Roundtable discussion in 2015 was about the impact of video on privacy rights. Other hot topics that made the Top-10 list of Roundtable discussions included the Cloud (twice!), the impact of IT on physical security, and the outlook for 4K cameras. Additional well-read discussions centred on expanding the benefits of security to other departments and how to improve training. Readers also gravitated to Expert Panel Roundtable discussions of more technical topics such as the value of full-frame-rate video and the effectiveness of panoramic view cameras (compared to pan-tilt-zoom functionality). Rounding out the Top 10 is a discussion of the desirability (and legal implications) of using dummy cameras. Here is a listing of the Top 10 Expert Panel Roundtable discussions posted in 2015 at SourceSecurity.com, along with a “sound bite” from each discussion, and links back to the full articles. Thanks to everyone who contributed to Expert Panel Roundtable in 2015 (including the quotable panellists named below). 1. What are the limitations on where video cameras can be placed because of privacy? "Use of cameras in retail applications can easily be justified in general surveillance of sales floors and shopping aisles, but cameras should only be used in changing areas to address a particularly serious problem that cannot be addressed by less intrusive means.” [Mark Pritchard] 2. Are cloud-based security systems “safe?” "If the authentication principles are insufficient and weak passwords are allowed, it doesn’t matter how strong the encryption is. Because cloud-based systems are exposed to the Internet, they demand strong authentication and increased operational procedures." [Per Björkdahl] 3. How does IT affect the physical security buying decision? "Of course, we all want good value, but we must invest as necessary. If you strip everything back, the integrator's job is to deliver data. If IT and security departments can keep this objective in mind, then 'value' redefines itself." [Larry Lummis] 4. Which non-security uses of video are catching on? "While video can help with quality control across the supply chain, it will be especially useful in ensuring compliance with the international adulteration rule [for food manufacturers], the rule with the last court-ordered deadline on May 31, 2016." [Don Hsieh] 5. What is the value of "full-frame-rate" video? "I once took a client’s footage of a genuine street fight to check how many images per second were needed to prove who punched who – 25fps was fine but 12fps made the video evidence doubtful. Don’t forget, however many fps you choose, your shutter speed must be fast enough to prevent motion blur spoiling the details." [Simon Lambert] 6. When is it desirable to use 'dummy' cameras as a deterrent? "If cameras are present, there is a reasonable expectation of a secure environment in both public and private areas. If the public sees cameras and assumes they are real, they could argue that they were reliant on the protection provided by the cameras." [Dave Poulin] 7. Are megapixel or panoramic-view cameras an effective substitute for PTZs? "Panoramic cameras are usually static, so zooming into a scene’s details is done in software and limited by pixels in the sensor, lens quality and software such as de-warping, so clarity at the boundaries might disappoint. PTZ cameras zoom optically, magnifying long-range details significantly better." [Simon Lambert] 8. Is HD still the standard of resolution in the market? For how much longer? "The 720p and 1080p HDTV remains dominant today and is expected to be for the foreseeable future. The next standards-based resolution will be 4K, which represents 8.3 megapixel, but first the industry will need to improve on bandwidth with better compression and better light sensitivity." [Fredrik Nilsson] 9. What are the current limitations of cloud-based systems? "The only remaining limitations of cloud-based systems are bandwidth and connectivity to the cloud. There is more than enough bandwidth for applications like Access Control and Visitor Management, but it will take a couple more years before all high-resolution video is cloud-based.” [Paul Bodell] 10. How can security training be improved among integrators and end users? "Training should be sticky and persistent. Follow-up training such as on-line review and updated course material should be available to keep the knowledge fresh. Technology is constantly changing, as soon as training is complete the knowledge begins to go stale." [Charlie Erickson] See the full coverage of 2015/2016 Review and Forecast articles here
As my trip to London for IFSEC International ends, I can look back on three days jam-packed with new approaches, new technologies, and the best the global security market has to offer. I met people from all over the world who share an interest in physical security technology -- and how it can be used to make the world a safer place. I heard several exhibitors mention that business was slow in Europe in the early part of 2015. However, the show highlighted that R&D investment has continued throughout the slowdown, and companies are now poised with a new wave of products just when an economic resurgence will increase demand. Almost every exhibitor in the hall saw greater success on the horizon. Was it optimism or an industry on the verge of really taking off? "Investment is pushing us forward and contributing to the growth" "Investment is pushing us forward and contributing to the growth," says Alan J. Reigler, Tyco Security Products'sales director, UK and Ireland. Tyco is one of the IFSEC exhibitors whose booth was crowded for much of the show. He says Tyco relies on the "voice of the customer" to guide its R&D teams to create the products end users need the most. Responsiveness to customer needs was another oft-heard pledge by IFSEC exhibitors. A company that is adding products at a fast clip is Canon, which has now expanded its line to 24 cameras. A year ago they had 13, and they launched nine in March alone. "We are coming as the last big brand to the market, so each product has to provide a higher level of quality, differentiating features, or something new," says Julian Rutland, Canon's European NVS marketing director. "Our prices are the same as Sony, Panasonic, and the others, so what's the reason for buying from Canon? Hard-nosed integrators want us to show them something different." Sometimes the differences are subtle -- but they matter. Canon's low-light capabilities are a strong suit. Positioning and focus of their fixed dome cameras can be adjusted remotely to simplify installation and/or to change a camera's position if an application need evolves. Theirs are the widest angle views in the market if you consider their minimised distortion, says Rutland. Just one of many examples of companies using IFSEC to highlight their responsiveness to the market. Sourcesecurity.com was out in full force throughout IFSEC, with 10 or so people walking the aisles, meeting with exhibitors, interviewing sources and shooting video. Some of this content has already been posted on the site -- and there's a lot more to come. Sourcesecurity.com was out in full force throughout IFSEC, with 10 or so people walkingthe aisles, meeting with exhibitors, interviewing sources and shooting video We have already reported on a trend toward providing solutions (rather than technologies or products). A recurring theme I heard was about the importance of a local approach to individual markets, even in an increasingly global environment. Ron Alalouff, Contributing Editor, found several examples of technologies offering applications beyond security. Ron also heard a lot of talk about the importance of integration. Finally, our consultant friend Simon Lambert has sized up the show from the viewpoint of a long-time industry watcher. Check out our IFSEC in photos feature, and keep watching for our extensive video at the show. Thanks to all who participated and provided content we can share with our visitors. What we heard at IFSEC will also help guide our editorial coverage for months to come.