ADI Proves It Knows Nothing About Surveillance

By John Honovich, Published Dec 27, 2013, 12:00am EST

ADI has a terrible reputation. Box pushers, Order takers, etc.

Indeed, a riot almost broke out when a member asked if they should let ADI design and quote jobs for them.

Now, ADI has a blog which is a showcase in surveillance ignorance.

Their newest series is why "Every Video Surveillance System Should be on the Internet" which would be interesting if this was 2003...

Moreover, the advice is horrible.

Getting Analog Video On the Internet

Here's a scenario ADI presents:

"A small retail account has an analog four-camera system. The four cameras are viewed on a quad monitor. On the back of the monitor there is typically a parallel BNC connector. Using a coax cable, the parallel output can be connected to a video encoder such as the ACTi ACD, ADI part number AR-ACD2100. ... Once the video signal is connected to the video encoder, Cat5e UTP can be used to connect the encoder to the customer’s LAN. With proper programming the images on the analog monitor will be accessible from PCs on the LAN as well as over the Internet."

What? Who in 2013 has an analog system without a network enabled DVR? Even if you did, you can get a 4 channel one anywhere (Radio Shack, Costco, etc.) ironically for less than what it costs to buy ADI's recommended ACTi single channel encoder without H.264. Equally bizarre, since they recommend only a single channel encoder, you can only watch one camera live at a time as it rotates through, instead of a 4 channel DVR that would let you watch any camera at any time as well as recorded video.

Police Accessing Video

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Another scenario is related to the Boston bombing, with ADI contending:

"Every surveillance camera/system should be connected to the Internet for remote live and recorded viewing. What if the bombs had gone off on a Sunday or in the middle of the night, when the retail stores would typically be closed? No employees would be present to give the authorities access to the recorded video. A business manager or owner would have to be located, contacted, and come to the store to assist the police"

What does ADI expect to happen here? Have the business give their system username and password to the police and have the police find the video themselves? 

  • Even if the video is accessible over the Internet, the system should not be publicly accessible by simply typing in the IP address of the unit. Most sensible businesses would (or should) restrict it to VPN access. In that case, a company representative would still need to meet with the police, even if it is to bring them their laptop.
  • The police are unlikely to know how to retrieve video from any businesses' DVR as there are 100s of types and the police can not be expected to know the intricacies of each one. As such, the business or its integrator will almost always need to assist police in person.
  • Since the business in this scenario is next to the crime scene, that is where the police are going to be anyway. What are you going to do? Ask the police to come to your house to use the client on your laptop?
  • Finally, there is the common need to use / install a thick client to do more powerful searching and the amount of time /delay to export video via a WAN Internet connection instead of directly from the machine / site it is housed in.

Role of Video in Boston

ADI praises surveillance in Boston:

"I think every ADI customer understands the critical role that surveillance video played in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. Because of the high quality cameras focused on the street, usable images of the alleged perpetrators were quickly located and broadcast to the general public. The suspects were quickly identified and the authorities were able to chase them down."

This, of course, is ironic, as the very best, highest quality images came from mobile phones, not surveillance cameras. Not only where mobile phone videos more detailed, they were from better angles as people on the street captured suspects straight on, not high up as surveillance cameras are normally positioned.

As an industry, we can pretend that traditional surveillance video was the 'hero' of the Boston bombing, but the reality was that this was the first major event where mobile phones played an equal if not greater role in identifying criminals. [Update: comment on Vancouver Winter Olympics below.]


None of this surprises us, except for the fact that supposedly the person writing this, even at lowly ADI, should know something about video surveillance.

That said, ADI is not the only distributor woefully uninformed. Check out Anixter's greatest misses.

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