Pelco looks ahead

February 2011 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Pelco talks about the industry and future trends.

Early in November Pelco, part of Schneider Electric and an industry powerhouse in its own right, held a technology launch in Centurion for industry stakeholders. Items discussed covered everything from Pelco’s history and beginnings, through to the state of the CCTV industry today, all the way to trends for the future.

The general CCTV industry

Where it started and where it is all going was recapped, specifically a trip-down-memory-lane reminding us that we all started with VCRs and tapes. While the technology is well established, it does of course have its disadvantages. The industry thus moved on to DVR in the early 2000s, with the current trend being a move towards IP surveillance networks.

The analogue market and its longevity

Whilst some companies seem to have started to shun the older, albeit established, technologies such as analogue, this is not the case when it comes to Pelco – a market overview illustrates that the Asia-Pacific region is still showing strong growth in the analogue sector, compared to an overall global single-digit growth, and are currently comparatively slow at adopting IP. In fact, approximately 50% to 60% of Pelco’s sales in the CCTV category are made up from the analogue section alone. Other regions have on the other hand illustrated massive growth in moving over to IP – truly not a one-size-fits-all situation.

Currently touted advantages of IP technology over older technology include higher resolution with megapixel cameras, standardisation towards h.264 compression (with its more efficient bitrate compared to MPEG/2/4), as well as a very handy increase in system design flexibility. There is markedly improved reliability and performance from both a software and hardware perspective, integration of third party platforms, and finally, intelligent video with software analytics.

Software analytics was a subject often discussed at the Pelco conference, with the ability of these systems to isolate various aspects onscreen over an extended period. Examples such as displaying only red vehicles over the course of a day in a company parking lot, or saving storage space by only updating the footage of a foyer fountain every 10 min illustrated the massive opportunities created by an integrated analytics setup.

Items discussed/described in the trends section covered WDR (wide dynamic range cameras), thermal IP, Spectra IV IP and Spectra HD. While on the subject of Spectra it was demonstrated just how simple it actually is to upgrade to Spectra HD, as well as slides showing the vast differences to the viewer.

Pelco’s Endura solution naturally also got a mention – with a reiteration that Endura is DIACAP compliant – the US Department of Defence Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process.

The future…

Of course, some of the most interesting information, as is always the case in the technology sector, is what we can expect in the near future. In this vein, a very interesting presentation was given by Dr Farzin Aghdasi, Pelco’s senior research manager, a man who spends his days figuring out what is next and then making it happen. According to him, “the future belongs to IP”.

Those interested in video standards were assured that h.264 SVC, while not yet showing any industry commitment, is definitely being looked at – with potential appearance from 2012.

Of the multitude of items currently being worked on, here is a brief sample:

* Imaging – Sarix 2.0, low-light WDR, long range, etc.

* Thermal applications – perimeter/area protection, road monitoring in low light, camouflage detection, non-security applications such as early fire detection when a pre-fire oven starts to draw more current, etc.

* Multicamera setups, for example Orion Technology Investigations’ multicamera, including a regular as well as a thermal camera installation, etc.

* Small and cheap cameras (‘I want a $2 camera!’ – Aghdasi) and the realisation that we are currently surrounded by them … namely in the form of the ubiquitous cellphone.

One of Dr Aghdasi’s main talking points involved 360° situational awareness and making it work practically. In this case, he showed a movable dome virtually covered in cameras, but with fixed cameras on the base to allow for analytics.

On the subject of analytics, he described the main points of video content analysis as follows:

* Extraction of meaningful and relevant information from digital video.

* The goal of video analytics is scene understanding.

* The various relevant models and classifications.

The goal is truly smart systems (eg, sensors with embedded smarts, etc), but it was reiterated that analytics are never perfect.

ONVIF and PSIA

As described in the extract below from an article by Zainab Al-Qais ( http://www.articlesbase.com/technology-articles/psia-vs-onvif-2853979.html) the two major competing standards have come to be due to the fact that “while IP allows for a degree of open interconnection, a standard interface between cameras and video management software is needed to achieve true plug-and-play among devices, and eliminate the need for software development kits customised for each brand.

The acronym ONVIF stands for the Open Network Video Interface Forum and it is an open industry which is committed to accelerate the adoption of network video in the security market through a global open interface standard. It was founded on 25 November, 2008 by Axis Communications, Bosch Security Systems and Sony.

The acronym PSIA stands for The Physical Security Interoperability Alliance and it is a global consortium of over 65 physical security manufacturers and systems integrators that focused on promoting interoperability of IP-enabled security devices across all segments of the security industry. Participating companies include the following: Arecont Vision, Assa Abloy, Cisco Systems, GE Security, Genetec, Honeywell, IBM, IQinVision, Johnson Controls, Kastle, March Networks, Milestone Systems, NICE Systems, ObjectVideo, OnSSI, Pelco, SCCG, Stanley Security, Texas Instruments, Tyco International, Verint and Vidsys.

Further information about Pelco’s technology partnerships is available at http://partnerfirst.pelco.com

Security strategies

A brief discussion was given on company security strategies, along with the startling fact that a massive amount of companies that suffer a fire tend to fail after a mere two years. In keeping with the interests in this sector the latest product, StruxureWare, was described to the stakeholders present.

SturxureWare’s four cornerstones are:

* Pushbutton engineering – quick to engineer, easy to use.

* IT proficient – credible by IT standards.

* Multiple views – customised views on any display.

* Scalable – flexible and modular by design.

This system should be available in South Africa within two years.

Network

Networks were not a major part of the day, however a few pertinent items and trends became evident, namely that high-res does NOT necessarily equate to high quality – something to be borne in mind when installing the latest and greatest in cameras. In addition, all network switches are not created equal – a number of doomed-from-the-start network schematics were shown and summarily dismissed. What all this boiled down to was the crux of the presentation, the following two points in answer to the question: ‘What makes a good network?’

* Good hardware and infrastructure.

* Good design.

What was emphasised was that on the matter of networks and connectivity, one wants to ensure that what one buys today is IPv6-compliant. According to the presenter, IPv6 is the future of IP addresses. A brief scouring of the Internet seems to turn up a majority in agreement. The idea is that IPv6 will offer a lot of scalability, definitely a requirement in today’s burgeoning market.

Cloud computing

In closing, a brief presentation on the current market state and estimated future path of cloud computing was given. Cloud computing is quite a buzzword at the moment, with virtually anyone involved in technology, especially information technology, bandying the term around.

What the discussion boiled down to was the pros and cons of hosted vs. managed computing, and whether the phenomenon is in fact over-hyped. The overall conclusion appears to be that cloud computing will make inroads and has great potential but will, like most new things, take time to become established.




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