Video technology decisions

Not only at the ASIS Annual Seminars and Exhibits conference in September, but also at a few security events and meetings afterwards, I have been asked this question many times:

Q: How differently do I need to be thinking about how I use technology, due to security technology convergence?

The technology that is most strongly impacted by the digital trends of convergence is security video. Cameras and video systems are more powerful than ever, and advanced capabilities are increasingly becoming more affordable. Network video product data sheets abound, and there are many online references relating to the technical details of video system deployment.

Yet data sheets alone do not provide all of the information needed to make new video technology decisions. Sales presentations and materials do not put technology challenges and problems front and center — not that they should — but sound decisions require having information about the difficulties that are typically faced for the technology being considered.

Given today’s budgetary realities, it is more important than ever to prioritize security technology deployment for risk mitigation, cost, feasibility of deployment and technological viability (i.e. future-proofing). Due to the fast pace of technology development, technology trends are also a part of the decision picture.

Security Manager’s Guide to Video Surveillance

I was very happy to find that the issues security managers typically face regarding video technology are addressed in the recently released third edition of the electronic book, Security Manager’s Guide to Video Surveillance, by John Honovich. Published on his Web site,, the 102-page document is free to download and redistribute. (For the remainder of this column I’ll refer to the book simply as the Guide. Additionally, Honovich recently contributed an article to’s “Video Surveillance Reality Check” series, available at

The Guide contains information that puts you — the security practitioner — in the driver’s seat, with regard to video technology deployment. The Guide is more critical than it is promotional, and does a good job of conveying a sense of the potential pitfalls and real challenges. It is more about the operational and business issues and less about the technical details. There are plenty of resources for technical information, and the Guide lists many key technical resources.

Fundamental Questions

Chapter 1 introduces seven fundamental questions: What type of cameras should I use; How should I connect cameras to video management systems; What type of video management system should I use; What type of storage should I use; What type of video analytics should I use; How should I view my surveillance video; and, How should I integrate video with my other systems?

Scope of Guidance

A good way to get an idea of the scope of the Guide is the list of chapter titles:

I. Introduction to Video Surveillance
1. How to Design Video Surveillance Solutions
2. Introduction to NVRs / IP Video Software
3. Introduction to Video CODECs
4. Bandwidth Basics for Video Surveillance
5. Examining Video Analytics
6. Wireless Video Surveillance Tutorial
7. API and System Integration Tutorial
8. How to Integrate Video With Other Systems
9. Directory of On-Line Video Surveillance Tutorials

II. Examining Key Trends and Technologies

10. Will Security Integrators Survive?
11. Should I Use IP Cameras?
12. Value of Hybrid DVRs/NVRs
13. Examining ‘Open’ Systems
14. The Danger of Buying Packages
15. Is Public CCTV Effective?

III. Evaluating New Products

16. How to Read Marketing Material'
17. How to Evaluate New Technology
18. How to Calculate Video Surveillance ROI

In addition to the material inside the Guide itself, about one-third of its pages contain two or three references to additional online reports and articles for in-depth information on specific issues, technologies, products and manufacturers.

Beyond the Technical Issues

In the next two columns, I’ll present some proven ways to incorporate risk factors into technology planning, including how to design risk-based flexibility and scalability into your security system designs. In the meantime, take a look at the topics of interest in the Guide, and you’ll be ready to start considering how to relate the technology capabilities it describes to risk-prioritized planning.

New question:

Is there any aspect of convergence that you find is still tough to address?

If you have experience that relates to this question, or have other convergence experience you want to share, e-mail your answer to me at or call 949-831-6788. I look forward to hearing from you!

Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. Mr. Bernard, a member of the Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council, is founder and publisher of The Security Minute 60-second newsletter ( For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS go to or call 949-831-6788.