How video surveillance fits into the home

Our roundtable panel looks at issues of privacy, cost, verification and RMR

In 2007, there was more talk than ever about the potential of video surveillance applications for residential security. Companies were showing new solutions for residential camera systems, some of which integrated into residential alarm systems. Some systems were designed around the ability to instantly verify intrusion alarms; others were set up for homeowners to generally "look in" on their properties.

It's hard to tell if a consistent vision for the future of video in the residential market has been created, but we went out to three vendors - a camera vendor, a top alarm systems provider, and a company specialized in alarm verification - to get their input on what the market would hold and what some of the top hurdles would be. One thing is for sure -- there's no silver bullet that's going to create instant market penetration for residential video surveillance; it's going to take time for video cameras to become as essential to home security as an alarm keypad - if it ever becomes that common.

Three vendors participated in the roundtable, and we're pleased to note that they offer diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Here's who you'll hear from: Jonathan Klinger is director of marketing for residential systems at Honeywell Security and Custom Electronics; Dennis Dop heads marketing at integrated camera/intrusion sensor firm Videofied; Fredrik Nilsson is general manager for network camera manufacturer Axis Communications.

These vendor's responses represent what we at SIW think is some of the best thinking about how to approach video surveillance for home security. Enjoy their diverse opinions as you contemplate how your security business can tap this potential market.

Are we at the "early adopters" stage of this potential technology revolution yet?

Dennis Dop/Videofied: I would say that this is not so much of a technology issue with "early adopters" buying into it, but it is more a question of residential customers seeking greater security and faster police response.

Jonathan Klinger/Honeywell: We're seeing dealers using residential video as an up-sell opportunity for their traditional burglar install or to augment a "smart-house" type of installation. Many of their customers are using video to look into their homes, to track their children's comings and goings, to monitor their vacation or second homes, and to provide a greater sense of awareness of their concerns and security for their property and assets. In addition, we see an increased number of home owners installing a traditional commercial multi-channel DVR solution in the home to record events, particularly if there is concern of vandalism, theft or other property crimes. We're also seeing more requests for a video solution that would allow adult children to look in on their elderly parents, although this market is still emerging as prices fall and installation complexities lessen.

Fredrik Nilsson/Axis Communications: We are in the early adopter stage and we have been in that stage for quite some time. Axis had our first bigger project for home video monitoring back in 1998, with a Belgian telecommunications company focusing on home surveillance over the Internet. Since then we have seen a lot of activity in this field, both in terms of vendors with systems and products, as well as a number of roll-outs, some more successful than others. In Mexico, TelMex has been successfully running a service for more than two years with thousands of cameras installed, but the market has definitely not moved into mass market yet.

Privacy seems to be the main objection, especially with managed and monitored systems, where theoretically a monitoring professional could look in on your home without anyone knowing. How do you get beyond the privacy issues? Do you think the majority of the public is ready to overcome those privacy objections?

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