The Biggest Problem for the Video Surveillance Industry

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 23, 2008

Video surveillance faces many specific problems. All of these problems derive from a single crisis facing technology industries today.

Look at some of the key problems:

  • Widespread failures using video analytics
  • Angst and debate about whether to use IP cameras
  • Common confusion about how the next great codec, H.264, will work
  • Public skepticism on the value of video surveillance
  • Incredible difficultly to determine the best video surveillance products

The common cause of all of these problems is a lack of transparency. We obscure, we promote, we mislead, we hide – and this results in the festering problems we have to deal with in our industry. From talking to dozen of industry leaders, these problems are clearly known. Structurally, though, we are unable to address these problems head on, open and honestly. If only we were transparent about these issues, we could resolve them quicker and save customers and integrators from significant problems.

I want to explore 3 points:

  • The lack of transparency is a problem for all technology industries
  • Transparency will win in video surveillance just like it is doing in other industries
  • We can take steps to foster transparency

Lack of Transparency

This problem is a defining feature of an industrial, pre-Internet era. In the past, reaching people used to be incredibly expensive (TV, print, etc). The people who controlled those means could control the flow of information. Obscuration and distortion were rewarded. This practice repeated itself in each industry because it was a common characteristic to all.

The Internet has disrupted the old means of communications. The economics of the Internet radically change the cost structure of communicating. The cost of producing content and sharing content is orders of magnitude lower than they were 20 years ago. This decentralizes power and lets people with less capital to have huge influence and participation. I encourage you to read Umair Haque, the best thinker on this transition, as he describes how power is moving from the center (big companies) to the edge (empowered individuals).

Transparency Will Win

The economics make it inevitable that transparency will win. We can already see it in enterprise/web software. The war against Microsoft has raged for 20 years. In the last 5 years, it has become abundantly clear that Microsoft is dead. Economically, Microsoft cannot compete. Their monopoly is slowly but certainly being drained.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

You see the same pattern in reviews and news on software. Traditional magazines in software are essentially dead. They have been replaced by expert developers who blog. Freed from the traditional power structure of advertising controlled media, they can and do speak the truth. Negative reviews and frank criticism of products is the norm.

These actions increase social and customer value. It rewards those who are building good products. It saves customers from buying deceptive or bogus products. The whole industry can more quickly flush out and find the right solutions. And, equally importantly, it is far cheaper to produce as the whole payola system of traditional media is exploded.

The transition will take longer to occur in video surveillance because it is far smaller and less sophisticated than enterprise/web software. I do not know how long it will take but my experience over the last 4 months indicates that the same power will impact video surveillance. In 4 months, with no advertising, this site is already reaching 10,000 visitors per month. It only costs me $39.95 per month for a virtual server (and the ability to code which is fairly common for my generation). This would have been impossible 20 years ago and even 10 years ago, very expensive.

Fostering Transparency in Video Surveillance

Honestly, I do not believe most big companies will accept transparency. They will continue to hype, promote, pay people for awards and white papers. They will struggle with speaking openly and honestly about what they are bad at and what are the limitations of their products.

This is a huge opportunity for emerging companies though. Most customers know not to trust vendors. Customers are longing for an opportunity to get open and honest information. Now is the time to leverage that trend and its underlying economics.

Here is what I recommend:

  • Start marketing transparently. Be clear about what you do well and what you do not do well. Try this with your brochures, white paper, sales presentations.
  • Do a blog. Be honest about industry trends and what your are doing with your products. Teach others. You will build a powerful reputation for yourself that will attract high quality partners and customers.
  • Post on my site: If you don't have a blog and want to try it out, simply post on my site. Try it now.
  • Tell me what you are doing. I want to reward honest and open companies with coverage on my site. This can drive hundreds of new, extremely qualified leads to you.

This is a virtuous cycle. The more we help each other with transparent communication, the quicker and more powerful the approach becomes.

I see early signs of vendors moving in this direction: Airship (hat tip to Abigal for suggesting the term transparency), Envysion, Exacq, Milestone, to name a few.

The best way to address our problems and to improve the industry is to encourage transparency. Let's recognize and take advantage of this powerful and worthwhile trend.

Related Reports on Power

CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
The Interceptor Aims To Fix Vulnerability In Millions of Alarm Systems on Jan 08, 2018
Security executive Jeffery Zwirn claims a 'catastrophic' flaw exists in 'millions of alarm systems', and dealers could be liable if not fixed. The...
Resolution Tutorial on Dec 28, 2017
Understanding video surveillance resolution can be surprisingly difficult and complex. While the word 'resolution' seems self-explanatory, its use...
Amazon Acquires Blink on Dec 22, 2017
Amazon has made their first significant acquisition in the connected home space, buying wire-free camera manufacturer Blink. We examine Amazon's...
NVRs - Embedded vs Separate PoE Switch (Statistics) on Dec 21, 2017
Many NVRs now offer PoE switches embedded, allowing IP cameras to be connected directly to the recorder. On the plus side, these units can...
Xiongmai New Critical Vulnerability - Same Manufacturer Whose Products Drove Mirai Botnet Attacks on Dec 12, 2017
The Chinese manufacturer whose products were primarily responsible for the 2016 Mirai botnet attack has a new critical vulnerability, confirmed by...
D-Link ONVIF Switch Tested on Dec 04, 2017
D-Link's surveillance switches claim to "enhance ease of use and streamline management" for network administrators, with simplified UIs and...
ZKAccess Control Tested on Dec 04, 2017
China manufacturer ZKTeco / ZKAcces has been expanding in the West, offering a low-cost access control platform. But how good is it? And how does...
Hazardous & Explosion Proof Access Control Tutorial on Nov 27, 2017
Controlling access to hazardous environments require equipment meeting specific ratings that certify they will not start fires. Understanding those...
PoE UPS Tested (Energy Reconnect) on Nov 15, 2017
In security, backup power is important, but most often requires UPS systems or extra cabling to devices for low voltage power. Now, some have...

Most Recent Industry Reports

This High Schooler Is Excited About His Future Security Career on Jan 15, 2018
A common lament is that smart, young people have little interest in surveillance systems. In fact, discussions like Should Talented Young People...
"First Of Its Kind" Stove Knob Alarm Sensor (2GIG) on Jan 15, 2018
At CES 2018, 2Gig/Nortek announced the Stove & Grill Guard, a "first of its kind" sensor in the security industry, allowing users to be...
Amazon Deep Learning Partnership With AgentVi on Jan 15, 2018
Amazon is aiming to grow its Kinesis Video Streams offering that "enables you to quickly build computer vision and ML applications" in the cloud....
Winter 2018 Camera Course Registration on Jan 14, 2018
Learn video surveillance and get certified. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the 18th, plus get access to 2 class times - 'day' and...
Hikvision Removed From US Army Base, Congressional Hearing Called on Jan 12, 2018
Hikvision has been removed from a US Army Base and a US congressional committee is planning a hearing on cybersecurity risks and specifically,...
CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
Hanwha ExtraLux Camera Tested on Jan 11, 2018
Hanwha has released the latest in their Wisenet X line, the "extraLUX" series, claiming to "capture crystal clear, true-color images in low-light...
Security Integrator Project Management Certifications on Jan 10, 2018
Certifications are a common option for technology professionals looking to improve skills and gain validation. But how about for project...
Canon Launches World's Most Expensive IP Camera (ME20F-SHN) on Jan 09, 2018
Canon has launched the ME20F-SHN , likely the world's most expensive single imager, non-thermal, IP camera at ~$20,000. And Canon subsidiary...
Hikvision Declares 'Never Click On Links In Emails' on Jan 09, 2018
Hikvision is stepping up its cybersecurity efforts with a clear recommendation - to never click on links in emails: It is a surprising change...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact