The security week that was: 06/19/09

More CCTV options means you are more valuable

Today, there are more options than ever for video surveillance. Step back some years and all you had were standard analog systems recording to VCRs, which then were replaced by DVRs that even added remote access though network cards. And that's where the industry was for quite some time (and really, it's where most of our industry still is). Then you had the introduction of early IP cameras, a.k.a. network cameras, and besides the standard resolution lines in those, we then saw the introduction of megapixel and "HD" network video cameras. Storage changed. VCRs became DVRs, or maybe you needed NVRs, or RAID storage or even a storage area network! Along the way, the wow factor of motion detection became ho-hum news, and the analytics guys developed algorithms that could spot things like abandoned bags, cars parked in the wrong place and more. I, for one, was wondering what new technology developments would happen next.

Just this week we saw two things that mark where our industry is and where it is going in video surveillance. First, GVI announced they were selling new Samsung cameras that had even higher TV line resolutions and which could have built in video analytics (stuff that was typically only in IP cameras or in back-room servers and DVRs/NVRs previously). Then a few days later, we saw the announcement of the HDcctv Alliance, which wants to promote digital HD video that could be transmitted over your standard coaxial networks and using standard DVRs with upgraded image storage abilities. There would no need to rip out the coax and run Cat-6 Ethernet.

Frankly, it becomes a bit overwhelming. Even our friend John Honovich of tells me that there are just so many choices today that it becomes tougher for end users to make clear decisions. Will a standard camera system with a DVR work, or should you plan for IP and run Cat-6 in your Greenfield project? Should you upgrade your analog-plus-DVR system to HD?

One of the questions I'm fond of asking technologists from vendors when they launch new products is "How do you keep this feature/this product from becoming a commodity?" It's a question I think is of value for our dealer/integrator site users, who typically don't want to just become a commodity seller, much like what cell phone stores or lumber yards are today. Integrators need a unique edge; they need to be able to sell someone for the future. It seemed that at some point that DVR types of systems were headed toward a commodity market thanks to cheap overseas imports and standard designs. Some nice extra features (analytics embedded, hybrid/IP support cards, point-of-sale integration, etc.) kept some vendors from seeing their products become commodities, and now with all of the different variations on video surveillance that I mention above, I think we're avoiding commoditization. And the plethora of options in surveillance today reinforce the value of our readers' jobs. The specifying consultant becomes more important. The technical expertise of dealers and integrators in supporting and integrating varied systems grows. The value of the security director who can sort through the marketing hype to the real applications of such systems becomes ever more important.

In other news:
Bank security policies, Unlicensed alarm firms, RISCO in the US of A

The best camera system is of little value if your subjects' faces are obscured, which is why some banks are going to a no hats/sunglasses policy. Read SIW Assistant Editor Joel Griffin's report on bank security policies here. ... New York lawyer Ken Kirschenbaum raised the issue of liabilities for unlicensed alarm companies on his list-serve and in this column for SIW. Are your licenses up to date? ... RISCO, an Israeli firm with a lot of perimeter security and intrusion detection offerings, announced the expansion of U.S. operations. They've brought aboard such industry pros as Len Friedman, Tom Galvin and Robert Barry to run the ship. ... The push for IP video standards continues to grow; ONVIF earned the membership one of IP video's biggest players - DVTel.

The value of discussion
Use the strength of a community to stay current

I want to encourage all of our readers to go to the forums and register an account. This is quickly becoming a get-it-done discussion area where someone specifying a $100,000 video system can get the background on options and where openings for top security director positions get listed. The great thing is that there are discussion areas for all walks of our industry: corporate security, loss prevention, technical/electronic security systems integrators, security officers. Create some community and register an account today.

See you next week at ESX
Tradeshow kicks off in Baltimore on Monday, plus an invite for you

We're heading to the NBFAA/CSAA tradeshow "ESX" next week in Baltimore, Md. This, the second year of the show, looks like a winner. If you're in the area, definitely swing by and support this show, which is really geared toward installing, servicing, integration and monitoring companies. The show starts on Monday and runs through Friday morning, although the "guts" of the show for most attendees would probably be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Take a peek at the show schedule here.

Also, if you are in the LP/retail business or if you work with retailers, register for our webinar on "New Thinking for Retail Security & Loss Prevention." This 1-hour roundtable discussion promises to be quite enlightening. We'll be covering everything from managing an LP department to retail liability issues to camera trends around cashier stations. Register today!