Dear Sirs, We Need Camera's With Software Of Following Requirement

Just emailed to me. Seems a genuine request but....

"Dear Sir, We need camera's with software of following requirement: - facial recognition - video analytics software to be able to spot any person in a crowd. - identify all people in a crowd based on facial recognition and stored facial and video data Please send us offer suitable video equipment and software. With Regards"

Now you know how a security company feels. Wave your wand, and we really don't want to pay more than 400.00 dollars.

What's scary is that some naive / crazy company out there is going to commit to doing this.

For 400? Sure no, but if they have 10 years and 10 millions...

If seriously then they need to change this "identify all people in a crowd based on facial recognition" to more reasonable requirements if they want to make it.

Not a bad request for a Friday! ;)

I wonder what kind of responses stuff like this gets?

How in the world is this an efficient way to research offerings?

IPVM should do an experiment and just spam insane requests like this to random industry people and manufacturers to see what answers turn up.

"IPVM should do an experiment and just spam insane requests like this to random industry people and manufacturers to see what answers turn up."

That's terrible...

Funny though and might be enlightening.

Doooooo it! You know you waaaaaaannna!

My team gets emails like this all the time. The trick is to ask a short series of qualifying questions. If the customer responds, ask some more qualifying questions. Keep going back and forth, asking for more details every time, and after three or four exchanges, you should have enough information to write a quote or at least tell the customer you can't help. Just don't overwhelm the customer with information in a single email.

Takes about an hour's worth of work, total. If one out of four or five pans out, it's worth it. It helps to have qualifying questions prewritten and to have your people trained in the best sequence to ask qualifying questions mean, as well as training in interpreting answers.

Ari, interesting feedback. Are you saying you have a 20% close rate on emails like this?

Sorry, no. I meant that, 20% to 25% of the time, we can gather enough useful information to write a quote, even when the initial communication is as vague as this. And by that, I mean a fully designed system with all required accessories.

My people are trained to sell high end surveillance equipment to end users, and we begin each sale with the assumption that they probably don't have much technical knowledge but they probably know their application pretty well, so we start from there and work our way backwards.

Definitely. Suggested RFP reply date of April 1. Ask for facial recognition for dogs, or something. Maybe biometrics based on dog barks to secure a doggie door.

Those kinds of emails, typically from an integrator chasing a spec that is WAY over their head, always get the same response from me: DELETE.

Even if your product meets their requirements, the chances of the job going smoothly are pretty small.

IMO, they're either just trolling for competitive bids, or they're really serious and think that you would want to do business with them. Either way it's a bum deal.

I wonder whether this is a real requirement with a real budget from a person with real signing authority.

Really unlikely, because IMHO there are many, many people who would have no moral problem with selling them a few cameras with rudimentary, but great sounding analytics.

Call it selling them an education. Oh, you explain to them that there are some limitations, "It won't get EVERY face...", to limit your liability but in the end you just sell them some rebranded Hik cameras at 4x the going rate, with the "custom" analytics package. If they are not in this country, all the better.

So I think it's not really somebody that really can buy because they would have already found somebody who would really sell.

But let's find out, I have a couple of invites 'burning a hole' in my account. Let's invite them in and see what this requirement is all about.

It's from a system engineer of a mid-size technology company (as the writing shows, not from the US). So it seems to be a legit person, not just Tedor playing games...

Maybe somebody trying to do competitive market research on the cheap?

But if they are really that ignorant, then I'm sure they will have no problem finding someone to sell them.

And I agree it's probably not Tedor; it doesn't sound like someone who is "100% Right of the Time".

I wrote a letter like this once. It started with "Dear Santa" and that was a long time ago.

You tracked all the kids in your neighborhood? :)

Did it have any attachments? We've been seeing more of "those."

No, that was everything, except for his name / email that I omitted.

Why do you think they are sending them to you, Horace?

What are the attachments, detailed specs?

We'll never know, as they remain unopened. Maybe they would like to provide a free demonstration of the effectiveness of digital file encryption, coupled to a special one-time offer of a digital key, for the low, low price of a bitcoin or two?

Perhaps IPVM could come up with a "top ten questions to ask before buying a facial recognition system" piece. Or perhaps one already exists. A few come to mind off the top of my head:

  • Country of deployment? (export issues, legal issues regarding video use, etc.)
  • Purpose of system? (check against blacklist, check against whitelist, track movements of unknown persons, etc.)
  • If image data is stored, how many images?
  • Camera locations? (indoor, outdoor, corridor, etc.)

I'm sure there are countless others, but at least a basic list would get people thinking.