Next generation video surveillance

September 2010 Surveillance

The first recorded instance of an installation of a surveillance camera was in Germany for the launch of the V2 rocket at Test Stand VII. Walter Bruch, an engineer, was responsible for the design and installation back in 1942.

The first city in the world to install and effectively start the history of recording video for surveillance purposes was Olean in New York in 1968. This installation was along its main business streets in an effort to fight crime. Recording surveillance became a faster growing trend in the 1970s when video recorders using video tapes were used widely for recording video footage for security and traffic flow purposes.

Evolving technologies presented analogue video being recorded onto hard disk drives with the release of digital video recorders (DVR). These are going to market as either recording cards that are installed into a computer or units where the operating systems are embedded. With the release of IP or network cameras we saw a progression and DVRs became hybrid (meaning they can record analogue or IP video signals). Network video recorders (NVR/NVS/NSM) that record IP video streams have become increasingly popular due to advantages such as saving in total cost of ownership and return on investment that these new technologies present.

In all above cases these recording devices are local to the site where the recording is performed or are linked through some form of bespoke/custom network still under the management of the client and in most cases dependent on several third parties in order to ensure that they work and keep on working.

To facilitate ease of deployment, easier access to video surveillance data and an easier sale to users, the hottest trend in video surveillance spoken about today is hosted or managed video.

Hosted/managed video

Hosted/managed video (also called MVaaS, managed video as a service) in simple terms is taking the recording equipment (DVR/NVR) and placing it, as installed software, on an offsite location hosted and managed by a service provider. As an example one could refer back to around 10 to 15 years ago. If you wanted e-mail, you would have to install a client on your machine. Things such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail did not exist then and if you wanted an encyclopaedia, you would have to order a CD from Microsoft. In short, none of the information was ever hosted, it was onsite and accessible only through dedicated networks arranged or configured for these purposes or from the local device/machine itself. MVaaS is simply proposing that one takes the camera application away from your PC or local site recorder and onto the Internet.

Some of the advantages of applications using this software as a service model (SaaS) can be listed as follows:

* Lower cost solutions – You are paying less because you do not have to factor for implementing, provision for, deployment and hosting onsite solutions yourself.

* Flexible pricing model – Should you decide to grow your solution you buy what you need, when you need it instead of capital layout upfront for potential future growth scenarios.

* Better support – Experts focusing on 24x7 service provider support levels.

* Smaller IT footprint – Especially for smaller companies and domestic use, SaaS means no additional overhead and infrastructure spend in-house, rather a simple monthly fee and service delivery based on that.

* Updated features – As and when the software platform at the end of the service provider upgrades or updates with new features, you experience the benefit automatically.

The most attractive elements of this solution is the fact that it offers an overall decrease in operating costs, easier management of IT and of course provides much higher levels of support.

So how far along is this technology and how real and relevant is it to the South African market? Without a doubt, some challenges exist. The price of bandwidth in general, the fact that one has to sacrifice video quality and frame rate to accommodate not only expensive bandwidth, but limited bandwidth availability etc. Yes, these are all big challenges, but thankfully challenges that are moving ahead and solving themselves as we move into the world of new generation networks and competitive tension is created between service providers. For the first time we are seeing products with no Internet limit (or cap) at realistic prices, albeit that the bandwidth available is still low.

My personal feeling is that this technology, for the time being, will be rolled out as part of overall redundancy for installations in the projects market and that a big focus on the SME and domestic market is about to change the face of how we sell into these market segments forever.

Hosted/managed video is said to be a business that will achieve the same growth that IP video surveillance has achieved over the past five to 10 years. It goes without saying that this is an opportunity for all to invest in the technology supply chain.

Welcome to the future!

For more information contact Sentronics, +27 (0)11 312 4147, [email protected],

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