Video Surveillance Reality Check: Part 5

[Editor's Note: asked five industry notables to blow away the hype, roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and not pull any punches when it comes to where they see the video surveillance industry today. The result was honest, open takes on our business. Their columns will be appearing consecutively on Part 1 featured Bosch's Dr. Bob Banerjee. Part 2 featured the ideas of Ari Erenthal of products distributor B&H Photo Video in New York. Part 3 featured Guy Apple from NVT. Part 4 featured Firetide's Ksenia Coffman. John Honovich completes our eye-opening look at the state of video surveillance in this article, the conclusion to our series. We hope we have stirred up some feelings. The comments area is open, so share your perspectives, too!]

Both the recession and the rise of IP video have significantly shifted the reality of the video surveillance industry, exposing some trends and beliefs as simply hype.

Video Surveillance is not recession proof

The last year has clearly demonstrated that neither the video surveillance is not recession proof. Security managers indicate that budgets have been cut significantly. Many manufacturers are showing revenue declines of sometimes greater than 10vpercent. Indeed, these results seem to prove that the last recession's strength was driven more by the war on terrorism than any natural resilience our industry has to economic downturns.

Project delays, extended maintenance of existing systems and lower cost product options have all increased significantly as responses to the recession.

Video analytics is more hype than substance

Momentum and public opinion for video analytics has sunk substantially. While a few years ago, the war on terrorism, new product excitement and a strong economy combined to make video analytics the hot technology in video surveillance, enthusiasm has now waned. This is repeatedly seen in the trade press as well as in public opinion surveys.

Compared to megapixel cameras delivering far higher quality video than ever before, video analytics is increasingly seen as a risky, costly technology. While video analytics will likely mature over the next few years and meet its early hype, for the immediate future, the highest potential is elsewhere.

Megapixel is for real

Not only is the use of megapixel cameras growing extremely fast, almost every manufacturer has added megapixel cameras to their product lineup. The combination of fast growth and wide product offerings makes megapixel available and attractive to most end users.

While multi-megapixel cameras may still suffer from large bandwidth requirements and low light performance concerns, 1 or 1.3 MP cameras (similar to the 720p resolution on HDTVs) offer attractive performance across the board. Expect 720p resolution to replace standard definition cameras over the next few years.

Hybrid DVRs are emerging as a cost-effective bridge

Jumping straight from analog CCTV to a full IP solution can be cost-prohibitive. With massive investments in analog cameras and DVRs that may last for many years to come, a low cost means is critical to motivate and justify the transition to IP video.

By enabling customers to connect both analog cameras and IP cameras to the same appliance, hybrid DVRs reduce the cost and complexity of moving to IP video. Indeed, a number of manufacturers are now offering software upgrades so that existing DVRs in the field can support IP cameras.

Almost all manufactures now offer hybrid DVRs that offer support for at least a number of the leading IP camera providers. As such, not only will hybrid DVRs become the new standard for DVRs, with these units in place, the move to IP cameras will be much easier.

Standards are for real, but be patient

Over the last year, the IP camera organizations (PSIA and ONVIF) have demonstrated broad interest by manufacturers and rapid progress in developing the specifications. Almost a dozen manufacturers recently announced support for one of the two standards. All of this points to the inevitability of IP camera standards being adopted.

Patience is still in order as it will likely take until 2011 for a critical mass of cameras and recorders to support standards. It may not be a major factor for real world deployments next year but it is likely to be soon.


While the economy and the disappointment of video analytics has weighed down video surveillance, megapixel, hybrid DVRs and standards are all driving the technology to greater heights that should lead to improved security over the next few years.

About the author: John Honovich is the founder of, a website dedicated to video surveillance. John researches and writes extensively for, providing ongoing and timely analysis of new technologies and emerging products. Prior to founding, John was a successful manager and engineer working closely with security managers to develop video surveillance solutions. As director of product management for 3VR Security, John helped design and deploy industry leading video analytic and facial recognition software for the banking and retail market. As general manager of Sensormatic Hawaii, John lead large scale military and critical infrastructure deployments of video analytics, IP video and wireless video surveillance. Before entering the physical security industry, John was a senior engineer designing IP Video over DSL networks for telecommunication carriers.

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