Top 4 End User Problems

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Dec 04, 2012

A global panel of video surveillance end users cited these four problems as the most common and painful ones they face:

  • Too Hard to Use
  • Network Problems
  • Camera Performance
  • Poor Support

Inside this note, we break down these problems and share dozens of comments from end users explaining these issues.

The Big Four Problems

We asked "What are the biggest problems you have using / operating your surveillance system?" While a variety of feedback was offered, four central themes emerged:

  • Too Hard to Use: Simply keeping operators up to speed on how to use the system is the largest struggle.
  • Network Problems: Not all network environments are created with video surveillance in mind. Many end users noted the difficultly in managing the 'behind the scenes' equipment.
  • Camera Performance: Now that megapixel is here, it is hard for end users to appreciate SD cameras the same. These responses reflected unhappiness with older analog and poor image quality cameras.
  • Poor Integrator/Manufacturer Support: Many end users feel 'left out in the cold', either by integrators who will not respond to service requests, or by manufacturers who have obsoleted equipment being used.
While we have addressed this issue in surveys before, this marks the first time we have gone directly to end users to get their unfiltered feedback. An interesting contrast compares these complaints with our 'Top End User Complaints' report, as seen from the integrators perspective. A comparison of the answers show a closely match, but unsurprisingly deviate on one critical issue. Which issue was it? In the section below, we dig in and analyse those answers.

Detailed Responses

In the following section, we dive into the detailed responses to see how end users explain these headaches. While our responder pool is skewed to large system (more than 500 camera) users, a cross analysis shows that users expressed the same common issues regardless of systems sizes or vertical markets.

Too Hard to Use

Not at all surprising, these end users express frustration in the complexity in having employees operate the system. As we noted previously, training end users on the use of equipment - especially those migrating from analog based systems - is a critical and often underserved aspect of new system installations.

  • "I'd say the biggest issue we have is getting all of operators trained and up to speed and comfortable using the systems."
  • "Lack of training."
  • "Teaching others how to save and export video files or pictures."
  • "Difficulty using DVR"
  • "Teaching end users how to set up Milestone and others to remotely view video. "
  • "The balance of offering a full featured UI that is also simple."
  • "Employees need to work the system easier/better."
  • "End user training and guard turnover. Lack of sophistication in the guard force that uses the system is troublesome at times as well."

Network Problems

These responses indicates end user frequently battle infrastructure or network equipment limitations. Our past experience shows that many end users specify stand-alone networks to avoid these problems. However, especially with older, pre H.264 equipment and shared networks, fighting for bandwidth and reliable networking is a big problem.

  • "The only issue I have is cameras go offline periodically. This is mainly due to existing infrastructure (fiber runs/connections)"
  • "Bandwidth on our ring infrastructure. However we are going from 1000 Meg ring to a 10,000 Meg ring this summer to accommodate network growth."
  • "It's a minor thing, but the lag in calling up cameras, especially multiple cameras at once, can be annoying."
  • "As I add more and more HD cameras im going to have network bandwidth problems."
  • "Bandwidth usage"
  • "Our network was expanded for video, but needs a proper redesign."
  • "Stability for air (wifi) link."
  • "Lost communications"

Camera Performance

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With the purpose of video surveillance being to have visibility in critical areas, several end users mentioned that image quality of their systems fall short. Technology advancement in the aspect of surveillance has been rapid, and an image considered 'superior' fives years ago may seem little more than mediocre today. Beyond just image quality, several answers discussed limitations of non-networked analog cameras and the cumbersome configuration of networked cameras.

  • "Low resolution video from the old analog cams"
  • "Poor night visibility"
  • "So many of our images are grainy"
  • "Resolution is not good enough on many scenes"
  • "Analog equipment isnt HD"
  • "Better resolutions during investigations are a problem"
  • "Existing cameras aren't networkable"
  • "Firmware management"
  • "Fine tuning each camera for a specific locale."

Poor Integrator/Manufacturer Support

Not surprisingly, this answer was not commonly cited by integrators in the companion report. Many end users get 'hung out to dry' by their vendors. Aside from being a leading cause of "Why Integrators Get Fired", many end users do not have the internal resources to maintain systems themselves or to upgrade older equipment. Whether it is because service technicians are scarce, or because replacement parts are getting harder to find, these users find their biggest headache is simply keeping surveillance up and operational.

  • "The biggest problem we have is little company support for the use of cameras and equipment we would like to use."
  • "Manufacturer has discontinued our system equipment and inventory is drying up."
  • "Coordinating between security contractors and IT dept."
  • "Integration issues with video analytics and pos system."
  • "Getting equipment serviced takes considerable effort for us."
  • "Supplier support is plain poor."
  • "Vendor just wants to sell me new equipment rather than fix what's broken."
  • "Our parts sources are nearly out of parts and my tech spends the vast majority of his time keeping us "ALIVE"."

Conclusion

The fundamental responsibility of serving any market is to first listen to what the customer is saying. While none of these issues can be immediately resolved, the integrators and manufacturers working with these customers can do much to alleviate these pain points through communication and proper planning. While many users would like to 'snap their fingers' and have an easy-to-use, well designed and supported, full HD video surveillance system, they simply are not in a position to have one.

However, integrators and manufacturers can offset the weaknesses of current systems frequently training, planning, and communicating about the current system with end users. Instead of surveillance being a source of 'headache', workable solutions and strategic migration plans can then be reached.

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