During the second day of the VCA conference (a conference held earlier this week in Miami, Fla., hosted by IMS Conferences -- see ourDay 1 report
), the audience was treated to a presentation from a variety of integration firms on where video analytics fits into their business. The presentations included a very honest, open assessment of video analytics from Bill Bozeman, who is president and CEO of the PSA Security Network – a network of independent integration firms. Following Bill’s assessment, he was joined for a panel debate by other firms integrating video analytics, including Gadi Lenz, CTO for 4D Security Solutions; Steve Russo, director of security and privacy technology for IBM Global Technology Services; Dr. Youngchoon Park, head of advanced security systems research for Johnson Controls Inc.; and John Delay, director of strategy for new media and government of Harris Corporation.
The presentation from Bill Bozeman was essentially focused around the question of whether intelligent video content analytics was the next big thing? In summary, his answer was “We’re just not sure,” but amid his presentation and the following panel discussion was an overall review of what integrators needed to make VCA a bigger part of their business. Right now, said Bozeman, most integrators aren't doing video analytics, and aren't ready to add it to their services portfolio with some significant changes to their business and their staff's training levels.
Make it easier
One of the top themes from the presentation and the panel was the analytics really needs to be easier for the integration companies. Bozeman reminded the audience that average integrator doesn’t hold a Ph.D. in physics or computer science, and while the technologies are being tested in labs and set up in labs, often with a lot of direct input from the vendors/developers of such video analytics systems, when it comes down to making such systems be deployable, that has to be done by integration staffs whose educational levels are far different from the Ph.D-level brains working in the labs.
One of the suggestions from the panel was that VCA developers should consider adding “wizards” to help walk the installers through the process of setting up analytics on a video system. The wizards concept was compared to the early days when computer users were trying to install Ethernet cards themselves, and it often took days for them to get the installation right; today, of course, simple “wizards” allow users to plug in network cards to their machines and have them running correctly in minutes.
Educate everyone, and then educate them again
Another top theme was education. All of our panel members stressed that there needs to be a lot more education done, and that the VCA vendors need to get active on such topics. As our panel explained, there are two main education issues.
The first education issue is about educating end-users and others in the process about reasonable expectations. It becomes very difficult for an end-user to satisfy a customer if that customers expectations have been set too high by bad marketing and over-the-top sales pitches. Panelists felt that the vendors had done a dis-service to their customers from overstating the abilities of VCA systems, and that a concerted educational effort was needed to correct that misguidance.
The second education issue was about educating the integration companies. As one of our panelists said, “You can’t learn this technology in an hour. You can’t learn it in a day. I don’t think you can even sufficiently learn it in a week’s time.” There need to be extensive educational efforts done by the vendor community to get integration staffs ready for such projects. And the education has to be full-fledged; it has to make integrators fully competent, not just smart enough to make them dangerous.