Business Info asks three leaders in surveillance solutions about trends in the IP security camera market and what SMEs should look for when choosing a solution for their premises
Business Info: What developments are having the biggest impact on the IP camera market?
Paul Routledge, Country Manager, D-Link, highlights the impact of the cloud, particularly in relation to the remote control of cameras and the storage of video.
“The introduction of cloud recording and cloud connectivity has changed the way we use cameras by allowing us to remotely control the devices to suit our needs and the environment and to integrate services with other IPbased technology, such as smart home applications.
“No longer is there is a need to store the camera feed locally for consumer solutions, which saves storage capacity and equipment. Always-on connectivity provides a higher level of service for information – updating users the moment an event occurs when they are away from home or providing privacy when they are inside at the touch of a button.”
Peter Currie, Key Account Manager at Axis Communications, points out that today’s more intelligent devices have applications beyond physical security.
“What’s currently having a great impact on the IP camera market is a camera’s ability to provide more than just physical security. No longer just a device to protect a business and its employees, video data is helping firms derive intelligence from their surveillance technology, so that they can make informed business decisions, not just security decisions.
“This shift has been enabled by new software that can be deployed on an IP camera at-the-edge. For example, in retail, video-based people counting software is enabling store operators to calculate conversion rates and evaluate the results of marketing campaigns, as well as prevent theft and keep customers and staff safe.”
Karen Sangha, Field Marketing Manager for Panasonic Security Solutions, singles out the introduction of relatively cheap systems, pointing out that they can be attractive until you consider the total cost of ownership.
“The attraction of cheap security systems from relatively new suppliers, which are improving in terms of quality, is obvious.
“Most of the traditional suppliers have chosen not to get involved in a race to the bottom. Instead, we are asking end users to take a more holistic approach when considering any potential security system, including a thorough appraisal of the ongoing maintenance costs and the financial benefits of the ancillary features modern surveillance systems are equipped with.
“One example is an installation at TCA, which manages the surveillance for North Lanarkshire Council. Because Panasonic cameras have ClearSight Coating, an invisible protective layer that allows water to sheet over the surface of the dome rather than form droplets on the camera cover, TCA has significantly reduced the frequency of cleaning and maintenance, equating to a £50,000 annual saving.
“This is just one consideration; data and network costs, condensation suppression and quality of images in low light are all factors that businesses should take into account with any CCTV purchase.”
Business Info: What do you see as the main benefits of IP cameras for small and medium-sized businesses?
Karen Sangha says that CCTV cameras are not just about security but also provide a great way for businesses to gain insight into their customers.
“Many SMEs view CCTV as a grudge purchase, but modern surveillance systems actually provide a great opportunity for them to gain valuable insight into their customers. Heat mapping, age and gender detection and facial recognition provide rich data that can provide a competitive advantage to those who utilise it.
“One example is FacePRO facial recognition technology, which has been recognised by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the most accurate facial recognition technology on the market. In retail, such a system can generate a known persons list, which could be used to ﬂag shoplifters or troublesome individuals when they arrive at the business. This allows companies to deploy security effectively, in turn reducing potential stock losses through theft.”
Paul Routledge argues that when it comes to security, small and medium sized businesses have very different requirements to consumers.
“Small and medium enterprise requirements are very different to consumer ones. In most cases, there is a far higher need for local storage due to data protection requirements, such as GDPR, which bring tighter control on how data can be stored and accessed. Being able to control how that data is accessed on-site can be a big advantage while still providing a robust solution for security.
“Networked video recorders (NVR) play a key role in the business sector. For example, a factory that produces food will likely wish for extended recording lengths to access footage so that if a batch has an issue they can track it to the warehouse, the factory and even to the creation of the product, allowing health and safety standards to be met. A warehouse manager can also monitor the safety of vehicles and drivers, improving performance in both areas.
“Many small to medium enterprises have a data infrastructure that runs their local network and, in many cases, might already have the infrastructure in place to support power over Ethernet devices, such as wireless access points. IP surveillance can be easily implemented and integrated into the same network and work in unison. Anyone considering a network refresh of their core or wireless systems has the perfect opportunity to implement security solutions with the same technology.”
Peter Currie says that with limited in-house resources smaller businesses should look at solutions offering multiple benefits.
“SMEs require physical security and protection just like any other business. In fact, SMEs can be more vulnerable than larger entities that often have higher budgets to spend on protecting the business. That is why solution-based systems not only help the SME but are also imperative for a secure working environment.
“SMEs must operate as efficiently, if not more efficiently, than larger companies due to the smaller number of employees they have. It may be that only one person is in charge of several aspects of a company, so they will need to be able to deploy solutions that can positively affect many areas of a business. A solution that delivers physical security, as well as business intelligence, will be beneficial to efficiency within a smaller business.”
Business Info: What key factors should SMEs consider before buying?
Karen Sangha advises businesses not to overlook cyber security and to consider the total cost of ownership of a system.
“It is essential that any business, regardless of its size, recognises the threat of cyber-crime to their organisation. At Panasonic, we provide secure communication across our i-Pro extreme range, which significantly reduces the risk of a security breach. We do this by requiring a unique, complex password upon installation. All our firmware is encrypted to reduce the possibility of it being downloaded from the manufacturer’s website and deconstructed. Panasonic uses an embedded Linux operating system with all unused features on the device removed so they can’t be easily exploited. We also partner with a leading protection company to provide a series of secure platforms without the need for installers or end-users to create self-signed certificates or purchase and install certificates from third parties.
“Again, we encourage SMEs to look at the overall cost of the security system, not just the initial cost, including bandwidth and power consumption.” Paul Routledge advises businesses to define their requirements and to consider network design.
“The first step is to decide what you want to achieve with IP surveillance and what you want to see. Defining the key areas you want to view is crucial, and then deciding the level of fidelity you need in those areas. Does the SME need to monitor those in the area at all times? Is facial recognition required in all or some areas? How much footage do they wish to record and access at any one time? These are just some of the basic questions to ask. Once these are answered an SME should decide on how footage is stored and accessed in compliance with today’s laws and business ethics.
“In terms of technology, careful consideration of the network used to support IP surveillance is required. Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches are essential when installing larger quantities of cameras, as is analysis of how the switches are tied into the existing network or how they are going to be kept separate.
“Choosing the right vendor to work with can help in these areas. D-Link has over 30 years of experience in working with technology in different areas, from the core of a network to the edge, in fields such as Switching, Wireless, IP Surveillance and Industrial Switching. This allows us to implement a total solution.”
Peter Currie, too, stresses the importance of being absolutely certain about what you require from a system.
“Before procuring any solution, an SME must first fully understand its own needs. A solution-based IP camera system is incredibly ﬂexible, meaning it can be adapted to meet almost any requirement a business has. The best way to ensure a business gets what it wants from a solution is to truly understand what the solution needs to deliver.”
Business Info: Have you launched any new cameras recently? If so, what are their benefits?
Karen Sangha highlights the new i-Pro Extreme range of cameras and the world’s first quad 4K multi sensor camera, launched earlier this year.
“Panasonic has recently launched the i-Pro extreme range, with the latest addition being a 9 mega pixel camera for indoor (WV-X4171) and outdoor use (WV-X4571L). These cameras have the ability to reduce data volume whilst maintaining high video quality, supported by beyond H.265 compression with Smart Coding Technology. They are available in 5MP and 9MP resolutions and can produce clear and low-distortion video images.
“Both resolutions have powerful intelligent functions, including heat mapping, people counting and Moving Object Removal (MOR). Heat mapping enables the analysis of high-traffic and long-stay zones, offering a visualisation of the footfall within the cameras’ wide field of view – ideal for business intelligence and making efficiency improvements, particularly in retail and banking.
“Earlier this year, Panasonic unveiled the world’s first quad 4K multi sensor camera. It has four re-positionable lenses, each with 4K image sensors, offering sharp and clear images of fast moving vehicles. The four re-positionable lenses minimise blind spots and allow the cameras to adjust to various shaped intersections and monitoring areas in city centres. This is a game changer for the transition to 4K in security.”
Paul Routledge singles out D-Link’s new wire-free HD Camera Kit.
“Most recently, D-Link has launched a wire-free indoor/outdoor HD Camera Kit as part of its third generation of cameras. It’s got everything you can imagine and more. Consisting of two wire-free cameras and a hub, it’s got great quality HD video, night vision, rechargeable batteries (with a life of up to 11 months), three different ways to store images, two-way audio, smart home compatibility, free cloud recording for the first year (£43.99 after) and more.”
Peter Currie recommends the new AXIS Companion Mini range for small businesses.
“Everybody at Axis is dedicated to innovating new devices. As such, we launch new cameras with upgraded features and applications on a weekly basis. Our focus on R&D is always a top priority. The AXIS Companion series, a complete solution for SMEs, has just launched its ‘Mini’ range, including cost-effective cameras, recorders, software and accessories that leverage Axis’s user-friendly software and system components to meet all the requirements of small businesses.”