Mitigating the risk of terrorism and other potential dangers on critical infrastructure is becoming increasingly important. In fact, it's a life or death situation for many companies at risk of losing the farm.
For starters, the heightened concerns to global security is driving the network video surveillance market. Given the increased threat, and all potential unknown scenarios, resellers need to think of security as a total surveillance package and not as a point solution, according to Firewall Systems marketing director, Nick Verykios.
"Security and monitoring of your current infrastructure is vital in this day and age," he said. "The protection of people, property and assets is a top concern. Data is an asset that needs monitoring, updating, managing and reprinting. Traditionally, it was seen as a nuisance, but now companies could go under and lose billions."
Let's get physical
In protecting the critical infrastructure, companies need help implementing and designing network video solutions, and mixing and matching the IP surveillance system with the data security plan, Verykios said.
"It's about monitoring at the physical level as well as managing the hardware and software aspects of security," he said. "It's no good having intrusion prevention if the physical infrastructure blows up."
So what's out there to help businesses and governments keep tabs on their assets?
According to market analysts at Frost and Sullivan, the traditional closed circuit television (CCTV) systems have witnessed an increase in demand due to technological improvements and advanced features in terms of integration with other access control technologies like biometrics and digital video software.
Additionally, smart cameras that provide intelligent analysis of captured video images are also driving the market as the process of surveillance becomes more proactive and efficient.
While traditional CCTV solutions still account for the majority of the market, analysts have pointed to IP technology as the next step forward for surveillance systems. Moving from analogue to digital is heating up the security surveillance and monitoring market.
"Existing users are upgrading their systems to take advantage of the benefits of IP surveillance," IMS Research senior analyst, Simon Harris, said. "The trend from analogue CCTV to fully digital, network video surveillance is in its infancy and will ensure that the video surveillance market grows at a healthy pace for many years to come."
So what's all the fuss about? IP-based streaming video surveillance lets organisations monitor, prevent and/or respond to emergency situations more effectively and affordably via the Internet.
IP surveillance uses a company's existing network and Internet technology to transmit images from analogue cameras and/or IP cameras over public networks. According to Frost and Sullivan, the global network video market is pegged to reach $1.2 billion by 2010.
Given the trend towards IP and the expertise it requires, resellers are well suited to install the technology with their networking, security and IT backgrounds, according to Alloys International sales executive, Angelo Salvatore.
"In essence, each camera is a computer that has a camera attached," Salvatore said. "You employ the same rules as if you were designing a PC/server-based LAN. While they look, smell and taste like a camera, they are essentially a computer on a network."
Having spent five years preparing for the IP shift, Salvatore said Alloys was banking on 2006 as the take-off year. He estimated the IT market currently had about 80 per cent of the required skill sets to peddle IP security surveillance products.
"It will go berserk next year," he said. "The CCTV guys haven't changed in 30 years but the security market has identified that IP is the way, so there are lots of opportunities for the convergence players."
With the convergence shift well underway, IMS Research's Harris said a host of vendors and resellers were gearing up for market changes.
"Opportunities abound for resellers because the market is in its early stage of development and there are no entrenched suppliers," he said. "Systems integrators that can combine IT networking skills with video surveillance system design will do particularly well."
Many of the established CCTV players were slow to react to the IP surveillance trend, Harris added, which had enabled IP surveillance specialists to establish an early lead in the market.
The name game
From a product perspective, the market for network cameras is currently dominated by Swedish manufacturer, Axis. But Harris said some of the more established manufacturers of analogue cameras - such as Panasonic and Sony - were catching up.
Swedish-based Milestone Systems is the market leader for IP surveillance software, he added. Other IP surveillance specialists include Visiowave, DVTel, Telindus and Indigo Vision.
"The big names from the analogue CCTV world are now paying more attention to the IP surveillance trend and I expect to see a high number of new products released into the market during the next year or two," he said.
Commercial director for Dedicated Micros, Chris Boyce, said CCTV technology had moved on dramatically in recent times, with the flexibility of the latest, scalable, networked video over IP solutions coming under the spotlight in the ongoing battle against vandalism, criminal activity and global terrorism.
"On the back of these developments - leaving behind unwieldy analogue recording and expensive runs of coaxial cabling - the sector continues to post significant growth," he said.
"Video over IP for surveillance really comes into its own on sites where video servers can be readily integrated into the existing computer infrastructure, using this to distribute video images on demand across a LAN or WAN to as many viewing terminals as are required."
There are some real benefits to IP connectivity, Boyce said, including scalability, distance and integration.
"When it comes to Video over IP there is a great deal of hype in the market, much of it created by those who only have IP products to sell, and IP infrastructure providers who want to stimulate traffic growth so that they can sell more routers and other networking products and services," he said. "It is really important to focus on what IP can deliver that cannot be achieved cost-effectively via traditional CCTV systems."
Scalability in terms of the number of cameras and viewing stations is the key benefit, he said. "If I have 16 cameras being watched by a single security guard on one screen, a standard digital video recorder (DVR) is hard to beat," he said. "But if I want to have two security guards with access to the same pictures, I need an extra main monitor, which is not available on most DVRs. If I have three guard stations, the problem gets progressively worse."
Therefore, using IP connectivity to add more viewing surfaces is a real problem solver. Additionally, if the largest distance between a camera and the viewer is more than a kilometre, then IP comes into its own.
"You can use fibre if you have plenty of money and access to the intermediate ground, but once you go beyond several kms in most applications, IP really is the only viable choice," Boyce said.
Axis regional director, Marten Persson, admitted CCTV still captured the lion's share of the market but said the IP space had now grown to account for about 7 per cent. It is estimated to pass 40 per cent by 2007, he said.
The Asia-Pacific region makes up 17 per cent of the global Axis business as opposed to 37 per cent in the US and 46 per cent in Europe. The company has an installed base of more than 400,000 units.
"The market exploded in 2005 and we are seeing more analogue systems being converted over to network and IP surveillance," Persson said.
While the company was preparing customers for the big IP push, they could still mix and match legacy systems with newer technology to protect existing investments, he said.
German-based Mobotix, on the other hand, is sounding the death knell for CCTV. Its country manager, Graham Wheeler, said the hunt was on for partners to help tackle the exploding IP video market. The company develops and manufactures professional network cameras for security systems, production monitoring and Internet applications.
Initially, it is looking for systems integrators from the IT sector, communications integrators and dealers with a focus on security or process automation.
The company wants to educate the channel on how to sell and install IP video solutions in the security, process monitoring, Web hosting and transport sectors, according to Wheeler. He predicted huge opportunity in the education and mining arenas. Wheeler said the IP video space offered advantages over traditional analogue video technology as well as conventional webcams. These include better quality images with megapixel resolution; remote accessibility; scalability and flexibility; and easier integration with other security systems such as access control.
"All products are camera recording systems whether internal, external or dome cameras," Wheeler said. "Application specific software packages will be released to aid resellers in adding value to vertical solutions."
While a main challenge in the IP surveillance space continues to be privacy concerns, partners can rest assured that many of the market barriers have been erased including issues with price, as well as complexity of installing and operating.
But don't get ahead of the game because there's still a fair amount of complexity, according to Netgear senior engineer, Jeff Fulton. The company is providing the network backbone for the technology.
Fulton said many resellers came from a traditional analogue background and needed help deciphering the networking side. "They need to know how TCPIP works and have some knowledge of Power over Ethernet (PoE), firewalls and VPNs," he said.
"Most people in the IT space these days understand a small networking environment (the hub, router and connection to the Internet), but we need to take things a step further and consider networks with higher availability and reliability."
Partners need to be brought up to speed on issues of redundancy, fail over, bandwidth, WAN considerations and video monitoring tools.
When deploying IP surveillance solutions, resellers should be aware of technical issues such as system design and site considerations, calculation of optics, bandwidth and storage, Axis' Persson said.
"It's more a discussion about solution selling," he said. "The discussion is not only about the camera but the software, the installation, the monitoring and the storage aspects. Customers need the total package."
Other top considerations included issues such as compression selection, resolution, motion detection, storage and archiving images, legal requirements and compliance issues.
In addition to the regular network questions, Alloys' Salvatore said dealers must consider the application side of things when tackling an installation. "Application software plays the most important role in an IP surveillance system, as it provides the solution for IP cameras," Salvatore said. "It provides features like motion detection, remote access, storage and a viewing screen of live video or recordings from cameras." Camera choice was another big decision and resellers should seek help from a distributor, Salvatore said.
All is not equal
Dedicated Micros' Boyce said resellers need to understand that all systems are not created equal.
"You cannot simply assume that connecting components to a fluffy IP cloud on a specification diagram means that everything can talk to everything else; systems have to be planned very carefully," he said. "Two of the critical issues that need to be considered are where the recording actually takes place and how the demand on the IT network can be minimised."
Resellers can help educate IT managers about bandwidth management, he said.
"There may be concerns from IT managers, for example, that dropping in video servers will clog up the system with heavyweight images. This would be a worry if the primary concern of the business in question was the effective transmission of financial transactions."
Mobotix's Wheeler said resellers would now be able to offer VoIP functionality on the cameras - a development that's taken shape in the past six months. The cameras could now transmit messages or be called via the integrated SIP client both locally in the LAN or worldwide via an SIP service provider.
IMS Research's Harris said the move to replace digital video recorders with network video recorders, and the uptake of video content analysis software, would be two of the biggest upcoming industry trends.
"This [video content analysis software] analyses live or recorded video streams to detect suspicious activities, events or behaviour patterns," he explained.
Boyce also pointed to his company's embedded NetVu technology, which would be shipped with all future digital network video server products.
"Ultimately, the case for video over IP in the Australian market when systems are planned properly is extremely powerful," he said. "The falling cost of ownership opens up opportunities for networked video servers to be used effectively and economically as a security device and management tool."