Pelco and Cisco partner for interoperability

Pelco has a new partner in Cisco. Pelco, a Clovis, Calif.-based firm specializing in video surveillance technology, has joined Cisco's Technology Developer Program in the Industrial Wireless Solution area. The announcement comes as both firms have announced that Pelco's Spectra IV IP and IP110 series cameras have undergone interoperability testing and are approved to work with the Cisco 1520 Mesh Access Point.

According to Pelco's Rob Morello, senior product marketing manager for digital systems, the interoperability testing and partnership with Cisco comes from a lengthy interest from both companies to ensure the products worked together.

"We've been kicking this thing around for about 2 years now," said Morello. "A couple years ago, my bit rate [on the Pelco cameras] was very, very high and at the same time, Cisco's availability and the overall market acceptance of wireless infrastructure was very low. About a year and a half ago, we realized that our video stuff wouldn't work on their network. In speaking with Cisco, one of the things we agreed to is that technology 1) would allow our bit rate to go down and 2) the Cisco bandwidth availability would go up. At some point, we knew those trends would cross. With some of Cisco's new products, including the 1524 [part of the Cisco Aironet 1520 series that was tested for interoperability], the bandwidth is there in point, point-to-multipoint and mesh. And a the same time, our bit rate has decreased."

Morello said the bit rate decrease – bit rate measures the amount of data being sent from a device over the network – was closely linked to the Digital Sentry technology, which became part of Pelco with the acquisition and integration of Integral Technologies. Both Pelco and Integral Technologies were acquired by Schneider Electric, a firm which also includes such firms as TAC, Andover Controls and Invensys Building.

Besides the technology changes, Morello says the partner with Cisco and other firms comes as Pelco has undergone a significant mindset shift in terms of partnering opportunities.

"Pelco, since the acquisition by Schneider, has really changed its philosophy in terms of being an open company," Morello explained. "In years past, we lived within our shell and our architecture. We were fairly proprietary. The mission from top is now "we are an open company", and open in the fact that we're going to develop open products and publish APIs and open up our architecture – and provide solution sets that are best for the customers. Our marching orders were to develop relationships with those partners that make the most sense."

Joe Olmstead, Pelco's director of global marketing communications, said the partnership with Cisco was the sign of things to come.

"We are doing more, as time goes on, such as we've done with cameras which we've married with some of the software companies like ObjectVideo and Milestone Systems, so this all part of us doing more partnering," said Olmstead. "And we have more interesting positive news coming in 2009."

In the meantime, Morello said the Cisco partnership opens the doors for wireless projects such as campus-wide systems, airport projects and downtown/municipal surveillance systems. All such systems, because of the difficulty to wire them, often turn to wireless connections for at least a portion of the data transportation network.

"The real hot area that we see today are areas where it is difficult to get a physical wire to," Morello said. "If you're in a downtown city surveillance application, and someone wants a camera, they're going to have to turn to wireless. This arrangement allows us to be able to test interoperability and deliver use cases in the wireless environment. We're seeing a tremendous amount of growth in outdoor wireless projects because you can get video 24 hours a day, and you don't have to put people out there in that environment. As we march forward, it's becoming universally more accepted that video surveillance and cameras are a good thing. It helps the general population feel like 'They are there to protect me, not just to give me speeding tickets.'"

"We're doing some major projects where we are heavily involved in projects that involve thousands of cameras being networked," Olmstead said. "Are these all going to be bullish in 2009? I don't think so. But crime is not going to stop, and that may mean more business in the years after."

Pelco has information about the Cisco partnership on the IP video portion of its website: Click on "partners" to learn more.