Dispelling the Top 10 Myths of IP Surveillance: Myth No. 3

Whether it comes in the form of network cameras or video servers, IP-based surveillance is rapidly replacing and upgrading traditional analog systems. Industry analyst J.P. Freeman Co. predicts that by 2008, more than 50 percent of installed cameras will be network cameras.

When a new technology enters the marketplace, there is usually some confusion about its viability and its uses, which persists until people become educated on the technology. During this learning phase, it is common for misperceptions and myths about the technology to arise. Today there are a number of common myths surrounding IP surveillance. We've addressed two of them over the past few months on SecurityInfoWatch.com: the myth that IP surveillance is still five years away, and the myth that IP surveillance is too expensive. Now we'll examine myth #3: IP surveillance is unproven.

IP Surveillance Is Happening Everywhere
To dispel the myth that IP surveillance is unproven, you simply need to look at all the adopters of the technology. Various facilities such as schools, airports, courthouses and Departments of Transportation are switching to IP surveillance. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 80,000 network cameras have been installed in the U.S. alone. Here are just a few examples.

Casinos: Turning Stone Casino, located outside of Utica in upstate New York, is owned by the Oneida Nation and is one of the fastest-growing communities in the country. With more than 40 network cameras in The Tower Hotel at Turning Stone, all of the hallways, elevators and stairwells are under constant surveillance. New IP surveillance technology provides motion detection capabilities that notify hotel security officers of unusual movements. In addition, many of the network cameras are equipped with PTZ capabilities, which can be controlled remotely from any computer.

Education: Canton High School, located in Jackson, MS, installed an IP surveillance system to monitor school grounds. All areas of the school, including hallways, entrances and classrooms, can be monitored at one time from on campus or from a remote monitoring location. The system prevents crime on campus because students know their behavior is being monitored. If a problem does occur, the system allows security officials to e-mail pictures directly to the police.

Health Care: Health First, a not-for-profit healthcare organization in Melbourne, FL, uses an IP surveillance system to monitor more than 100 wiring closets in its hospitals and healthcare facilities. The system helps ensure that all personnel and contractors follow documented policies and procedures for maintenance and repairs in the data distribution facilities and allows offsite technicians to assist in troubleshooting.

Transportation: The Minnesota Department of Transportation uses an IP surveillance system to give traffic updates to drivers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Real-time images of freeways and traffic conditions from 238 cameras are fed to the MnDOT's Web site, allowing commuters to avoid delays and dangerous conditions.

Retail: Springfield Food Court Inc. uses an IP surveillance system to simultaneously monitor all its food courts, which are located throughout several states. The system enables SFC's management to view deliveries, inventories, cash transactions, customer interactions and employee misconduct.

Clearly, IP surveillance has been proven effective in a range of environments. But it's true that IP cameras do not currently dominate the surveillance market. This leads to a related question: If IP is better, why aren't security providers selling more? The security market's structure and buying practices have a lot to do with the misperception behind this question.

Entrenched Technologies
It's clear that the shift to IP technology is inevitable. As J.P. Freeman Co. states in its latest report, "It is the direction in which security is moving, and moving quickly, with or without us." However, because IP surveillance is a relatively new technology, it requires a new mindset and knowledge base among integrators, consultants, and industry influencers in order to overcome established procedures.

Many of us remember when typewriters provided all the technology we needed and word processors seemed unnecessary. Similarly, over the last couple of years, security systems integrators have become comfortable selling and installing DVRs. Transferring from the totally analog systems with quads and VCRs, which were the bread and butter of the industry until the year 2000, was a big step. The move to fully digital systems with IP surveillance will be an even bigger step, so there is no wonder that some systems integrators are reluctant to adopt yet another new technology shift. Entrenched technologies and interests simply require time to overcome. However, there are structural market changes that are working to speed up this trend.

New Technology, New Players
The video surveillance market landscape is changing, and changing rapidly. New players are entering the scene on all levels.

New vendors: Axis Communications, an IT company, is market leader in network cameras; Cisco Systems is promoting IP surveillance in order to sell more switches; and EMC is selling more storage.

New distributors: Ingram Micro and Anixter, coming from the IT and structure cabling markets respectively, are also focusing on IP surveillance.

New systems integrators: IT systems integrators such as IBM Global Services see IP surveillance as having great new business potential. They see the new technology as a no-brainer, and they already have a relationship with the end user, having provided mission-critical systems.

New end users: The IT manager, CIO and CSO are now involved in the decision for procuring new video surveillance systems.

These new players will drastically influence the security industry and change the way business is conducted. Many of them believe IP surveillance is a better solution.

Why Is IP Better?
It is hard to discuss security in today's industry without mentioning the benefits of Internet protocol. In contrast to analog CCTV cameras that transmit signals only over coaxial cabling, network-enabled security cameras transmit video images over twisted-pair Ethernet cables, the same standard used in the world of IT networking. One of the main advantages of using IP as a transmission medium is that the cabling typically already exists. Alternatively, in a new system, it is normally much cheaper to install Ethernet cabling than analog cabling. Several cameras can share the same Ethernet cable, whereas in an analog scenario each camera needs a dedicated cable. Using computer networks also makes it possible for users to use standard PC servers for video management and storage. Standard equipment available off the shelf is relatively inexpensive to purchase, and it is easy to service and maintain.

Adapt to Survive
Security systems integrators must adapt and adjust to the new technology in order to survive. IP surveillance technology is proven, with products and solutions available that are far superior to analog systems anchored by DVRs, and often provide both lower costs and higher ROI. It is obvious that this shift will happen, but the technology will take some security systems integrators out of their comfort zone. However, they will need to adapt to stay competitive. Otherwise, there is an IT integrator ready to promote and install an IP surveillance system in their place.

As the general manager for Axis Communicat-ions, Fredrik Nilsson oversees the company's operations in North America. Mr. Nilsson can be reached at fredrik.nilsson@axis.com. To read his articles on other myths of IP surveillance, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/cctv.

This article was published in the March 2005 issue of ST&D magazine.

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