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Going where no cameras have gone before

By Michael Tennefoss of Aruba Networks, special to Network World
September 16, 2010 12:01 PM ET
This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Network World - The video surveillance industry is undergoing a sea change as older analog systems give way to IP-based systems.

The change involves more than just physical layer communications. New high resolution IP cameras offer greater resolution and new application opportunities in both the security and process monitoring industries. Coupled with powerful digital video analytic software in the back-office, high resolution IP cameras can pick out license plates and faces from seemingly impossible distances.

Security at the Little League World Series

And to ease the job of monitoring the video, analytics software can automatically raise a flag should unwanted persons be detected, automation processes go astray, or virtual boundary lines be crossed by unauthorized visitors.

The power and functionality of these new video systems has whetted the appetites of end users. Seeing is believing and users are putting huge sums into enhancing visibility throughout their enterprises, institutions and cities.

While video surveillance as an industry has been hit by the recession, and analog camera sales have fallen steadily since 2008, new IP-based mega-pixel camera sales have grown steadily and are expected to exceed $3.5 billion by 2015. In terms of the regional market growth, the U.S. surveillance market is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 12% through 2015, the Asia Pacific region at an even faster 16%.

So much for the good news

But there are challenges. The first is the contention for infrastructure expertise. Many security system integrators expert in physical security are not IP experts, and the infrastructure required to deploy and monitor new video surveillance systems is foreign to them. In turn, many IP experts lack familiarity with the design and deployment of video surveillance or the physical security systems with which they're used – exterior lighting, gate and access controls, and perimeter intrusion detection systems.

This same issue surfaced in the building automation industry in the late 1990s when IP-based heating/ventilation/air conditioning/refrigeration (HVACR), fire/life-safety and security automation gear first hit the market. Who specified and deployed the cable plant? Who was responsible for isolating system faults when it wasn't clear if they originated in the IP infrastructure or the automation system? And who managed the system?

As more automation systems migrated to IP backbones for data transmission, greater responsibility for building automation fell to IT management. Today IT managers are typically involved in the planning, if not the actual implementation, of building automation systems. Still, however, issues like firewall access for control panels that "phone home" surface regularly. And it's not unusual for an automation company to be told to install its own IP network because the tenant or owner won't hear of connecting such gear to its private network.

Signs point to a similar outcome in the video surveillance market. The growth in popularity of high-definition video surveillance ensures that IP-based transmission networks will be the medium of choice, and it's highly likely that back-end servers for recording and analytics will fall under their purview. Whether IT departments subsume deployment responsibility remains to be seen.

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