Worst Manufacturer Technical Support 2018

By: IPVM Team, Published on May 16, 2018

5 manufacturers stood out as providing the worst technical support to 190+ integrators in new IPVM results. These integrators answered:

In the past year, what manufacturer has provided you the worst technical support? Why?

Across these manufacturers, 2 most common themes emerged:

  • Long hold times and delays in getting answers
  • Inability to understand the company's own products

In this note, we examine the problems for these 5 manufacturers - 4 American companies and 1 Chinese - including detailed integrator commentary on the problems faced.

* ************* ***** *** as ********* *** ***** technical ******* ** ***+ integrators ** *** **** results. ***** *********** ********:

** *** **** ****, what ************ *** ******** you *** ***** ********* support? ***?

****** ***** *************, * most ****** ****** *******:

  • **** **** ***** *** delays ** ******* *******
  • ********* ** ********** *** company's *** ********

** **** ****, ** examine *** ******** *** these * ************* - 4 ******** ********* *** 1 ******* - ********* detailed ********** ********** ** the ******** *****.

[***************]

Executive *******

***** **** * ***** for ***** ********* *******:

  • *** ***** *****: *****, Honeywell *** ***** ** this *****
  • *********** ******** *** *** as *** ** *** group *****: ********* *** S2

*****

*********** **** *** **** complained ***** (*) **** hold ***** *** (*) issues ******* *** ***** answer:

  • "***** - **** **** time"
  • "***** - ***** ********* and ***** ******* ******."
  • "***** - **** **** in ***** ***** ********. I've **** * ****** of ***** ******** *** they ****** *** **** to ***. * ****** have ** ***** **** again ** *** * response. **** **** ** respond, ***** ******* ****'* very *******."
  • "***********. ****** **** ****** on **** *****, ***** over ** *******. ******* calls ******** ******** **** backs ** ******* *** problem."
  • "*********** - **** **** times *** **** ******* keep ****** ***** *** worse **** **** ********, leading ** **** ******* calls ** ** **** my *******."
  • "*****, **** ******* *****, so *****, *** **** every ** ***** * reply, ** ***** * days *** **** **** it ******.. **..*** *** on ******** ***?...** ** I ******* ****, ***** I *** ** **** for **** **** * hour"
  • "*****. ********* ******** ******** service. ** *** **** down **** ***** *** buy *** *** ***** since *** **** *** out. **** **** ** be *** ***** ********** and *** ***** *** customer."
  • "*********** - ** ** end **** ****, ***** NVR ** ****. ** waited ** **** ** the *****, *** ***** answer ***, ***** ***** software ** * ******* behind..."good ****" ** ****** like * **** ********, I ***** ** ***** have ****** **** ******** pre-merger."
  • "***** ***** ** **** technical ******* **** **'* obtained, *** **** ***** are **********."
  • "************, ** *** * really ***** **** **** Exacq **** ****. ** didn't **** ** **** them **** *****, *** when ** ***, ** got **** **** **** times *** * ****** of *** *******."
  • "*****. * **** ** wait ** **** *** over ** *** *** tier * **** ******* only ** *** **** in * **** ***** for ******* **+ ******* for **** *."
  • "***** - *** **** TIMES! ***** *****, ** you *** ** **** 2, *** ***** *** knowledgeable *******. **** * is ******* ****** **** “If **** **** ****’ scripts. ** *** ***********, they ** *** ****** to **** **** ** the *** ** ****** product *********. ***********, ** can ****** **** * if ** *** *** dealer ****. ******* ** don’t **** * *** from ***** **** ******* which ** ****. **** times *** ***** **** than ** *** *** can ******* ** ** hour ***** ** *** what ** *** **** other *************."

*******,***** **** ******* ** the ******** *** / NVR **** ********.

*********

**** *****, *********** ********** about *********'* **** **** times *** ******* ******** but **** **** ** for *********'* ********* ** solve ********:

  • "*********. ** **** *** over ** *******. **** the **** ******* **** have * ******** ******** and ****. **** **** to **** *** *** the *****. **** ******* things ** ** ** was *******. *******, *** reason *** *** ******* is ******* **'* *** working. *** ** **% of *** *****, *** have ** **** ****. Which ***** ******** *** over ***** **** *** wait ****."
  • "*** ** ** *********. Long **** *****, ***** to *** ** ***** who ***** **** * script *** ***** ** transfer ** * ****** lever ***** ***** ********** their *******. * **** on ******** **** **** to *** * “****** agent” *** ******** ******, but ****’* ***** ** lucky ** ********* ******* your ***** ******* *** finding *** **** *** wanted ******* ******* ** up !"
  • "********* ********, ** *** an ***** **** ** existing ***** ******** ***** and **** ******** ***** and ****** ** **** us **** ****’* **** what *** ******* **. Maybe ******* *** ******* board."
  • "********* ********* ** **** poor ********* *******. **** asking *** ******* *** response *** ******, "** will **** ******* **** you ****" **** ** return *****. **** ******* wait ***** *** ***** long *** **** ***** you ****** ********** *** rep *** *******."
  • "*********. ******* ********* **** 2 **** + ****** only ** *** ******* who ****** ****** ****** or *** *** *****."
  • "**** **** ******* ** "try" ****** *** ***'* really **** ** *** suggested ******** **** **** or ***. **** ** frustrating **** * ******* technician ********** ** **** as ****** *** *** operation *** *** ********. Honeywell **...****, * ***** I *** **** ***** there."
  • "*********...**** ***** *** ******* based *******"
  • "********* **** **** **** to ** ********* ** the **** ****, *** are *** ********* ** helping ** *** ******** issues."
  • "********* ** *** * have ******* ***** *** entire ******."

********* *** ***** ******** on *** **** ******** products *****.

*****

********** *** ***** ***** Access ******* ************ ****, ***** ********** **** should ** ** ********:

  • "*****, ***** *********, ***'* know *******, **** **** unacceptable!"
  • "*****. **** **** **** to **** ***** *** product."
  • "** *** * ***** issue *** ** ****** us **** ** ******* at ** ************* ******."
  • "*****- **** ***-***** *******, product *** *** ******* as ********* *** ** had ** ** ******* several ****** **** * few ********* **** **** camera *********** ****** **** days ** *******. ** another **** ** *** master ********* *********** *** Working ** * ***** issue *** **** ******* dropped **** **** ***** level *******."
  • "***** - **** ** get * **** ** support ****."
  • "*****. **** **** *****."
  • "*****, ****** ***** *** much ****"
  • "*'** **** *****'* **** back ******* * ****** of *****, ***** **** simply ***** **** *** back *** *** *** an ***** *** ****** later ****** **** **** ticket ****** *** **** closed. ***********."
  • "*** ***** ********* ******* came **** *****. **** calling ** *** **** time *** **** *** if *** ********* ** all **** *** ** ask ******* ****."
  • "*****- **** ************ & have ** ***** ** several ****** ** *** the ***** ******"
  • "*****. *** *** **** the ******** ******* *** the **** ******** ****** there **** ******* *** sales."

*********

********* *** ** ******* negative *****, **** ** the ****** ** ***** support ********* **** ********, but *** ****** **** Exacq, ***** *** *********, who **** ************** ********.

********** *** ********* ******** the ****** ******* ** long **** ***** *** difficulty ******* *******:

  • "*********. **** **** ***** and ******* ********* ***** on *** ***** ***. They ****'* **** **** hiddns *** ************"
  • "********* *** **** *** worst. **** **** ** be ******* *** **** provide **** *******"
  • "********* **** ** *** but * ******* *** a **** ** ********* of ***** ******* ***** when ** ***** ** complex ******."
  • "********* ** *** ***** because ** *** ****** of **** *** **** to ** ** **** before **** ******."
  • "********* ***** * *** of **** ** ******* to ********* ******"
  • "*********, *** **** ********* sales ******** *** **-******** which ***** ** * terrible ********** **** ****** to ******* ******** ** resolve ******. ** **** also *** ************ ***** compatibility ***********."
  • "*********, ***** **** **** to **** ****** ******** on ********* ******."
  • "*********, ********* **** ** use, *** ******* ******."
  • "********* - *** ** a **** ** ******** the **** * **** are ** * *****."
  • "*********. ** *** ******* with ******* *** **********. there *** ******* **** the ********. **** **** many ******* **** *** to *** ** ******* it."
  • "*********. ***** ******* *** a ******** ** ***** a ********* *** ********."
  • "*********. ***** * ** happy ** *** **** i **** **** * few *** ******* *** there **** * **** to **** ***** **** support **** *** **** to ********** *** (** my **********) ***** ** blame *** ***** ** other *********. *** ******** is **** **** *** i **** *** * few *** ****."
  • "*********. **** **** *** longest **** *****"
  • "*********. **** *** ****** difficult ** **** **** and **** **** **** at *****."

**

***** ** *** **** negative ********* **** ****** on **** ****, ** stood *** ******* ***** negative *** ********** ***** problems ******* ******* ** their **** ******* ** well ** *** ** S2's *** **** *********, as ***** ******** ****:

  • "**-************"
  • "**. * **** *** once ****** *** ****** through ** * ************** immediately. **** **** * receive * **** **** it ** ***** *****, if *** **** ***."
  • "**. **** **** ** average * **** ******** time, ********* ******. **** is * ***** ******* when ***** ** * down ****** ** ***** is * **** ******* onsite. ********* **** ***'* even **** **** ** call **** *** **** day. **** ** *** helpful ** **********."
  • "** ***** ******* ***********. You **** ***** * message. * ***** **** response **** ** *******, sometimes **** ** **."
  • "** ******** *** **** the **** ********* ** deal **** *** *** service ****. ** *** service ********** ***** ******* they **** ** ** and **** ** ***** a ******* *** ********* support ** **** **** back. ********* *** **** back ** **** ** hour *** *** ********** is ****** ** ***** the **** ***** ** can *** **** **** sitting ****** ***** ******* and ******* *** * call ****. **** ***** any ******* **** **** requires ********* ******* **** S2 **** ********* *** costly."
  • **** *** **** *********: "S2 ******** (****** *******). While * **** **** the **** **** *** have ** ***** * message *** **** *** support ** **** *** back **** **** ** call *** **** *** willing ** **** ** as **** ** ** take ** *** *** issue."

Avoid **** **** *****

**** ******** ******* *** integrator ******** ***** ****** show *** ********** ** eliminating **** **** *****. While ************* ******* ***** the ************ *****, ** is **** **** ****** by *** ****** *** the ********** *** *** increased ********** **** *********** will **** *** ***** manufacturers **** *** ****** answer *** *****.

Comments (39)

For clarification, are these calls made to the manufacturer only?  Or are calls to the distributors of the manufacturer's products considered as well?

We did not ask specifically about that distinction but for almost all brands, tech support is handled overwhelmingly by the manufacturer rather than the distributor (e.g., Uniview, which you distribute is an outlier).

Also, a handful of negative responses cited specifically OEMs (e.g., Hikvision OEM) or partners, these were excluded from the tabulations.

Thanks for the clarification

I've been dealing with Honeywell in Australia recently and I can definitely relate to the feedback you guys received, It's shocking.

My local tech support guy takes calls on his mobile, he's in a different state to me, different time zone, speaks English as a second language and he tells me to just email their US team if he doesn't know the answer...

I regularly ask my client why they request them, they use rebranded Dahua cameras and their support is shocking. Our clients only use the basic functions in their VMS too, it could easily be replaced with something like Milestone.

Exacq has introduced a pile of bugs since version 8.4 (they are on 9.2 now) so we have been dealing with their hold times a lot more lately. Tier 1 is completely useless. Now we just downgrade any problematic Exacq NVR to v8.4 and we don't need tech support anymore! 

Interesting indeed great work as always 

So do decision makers at these manufacturers take notice or do they continue to be complacent?

I'm sure every manufacturer is experienced with hearing tech support complaints, but this puts it in perspective to their competitors.

So do decision makers at these manufacturers take notice or do they continue to be complacent?

The last time we ran a worst support survey, in 2014, Arecont won. Does that answer your question? :)

All companies take notice, by that I mean are aware of it at the management level, since our reporting is read and shared by many. However, some, like Arecont and Lenel, who banned any employee from speaking to anyone at IPVM, do not respond prudently.

To the manufacturers cited in this report, if you make changes in your support, please let us know at info@ipvm.com

In 10 years I've never dealt with any of the chinese manufacturers who have actually given a crap about customer service to OEM/distributors.  Several trips to china with "sure, we'll do everything you want" that turned into "that's not what we said, you misunderstood us" when we returned to the US.  I've found that once they've cashed your check, best of luck or "just buy the next model, it solves everything".

 

John: is there a best list coming? 

Yes, next week the best list will be released.

DMP should be # 1 Best

I second that DMP tech support is the BEST!!

 I was just on hold with Exacq yesterday for an hour! Once I got off hold nobody could answer my question. After 8 hours I received a call back and the problem was resolved. All this because nobody in the office knew anything about the Mac OS client!

SecurityTronix support is the best!  Never any hold time and they take calls after hours. They always take the time to answer my questions and don't shoo me off the phone. Their Engineers speak clearly and in my language.

All manufactuers should be implementing certified professional tier routing. Have them pose the question when a tech calls in and immediately bypass tier 1 and 2, those that doit,  seams to do nothing you still end up in tier 1 or on just as long of a hold time. They need to realize that if you have a tier 1 tech talking to a tech who has far more experience they can actually make the problem worse! Scheduled call backs are awesome! 

This is amazing, it wasn't that many years ago (4-5) that Exacq was the best in tech support IMO. While we didn't use them much and moved to Milestone entirely the times that I called in they were excellent.

I recall a comment regarding the purchasing of Exacq by Tyco a few years back to the tune of "This will be another company that Tyco will ruin"..Seems to be the case. 

Technical support in this industry is generally treated with contempt from too many manufacturers and this must change if they want to maintain a position at the top of the food chain.

There was a time in this industry when I worked at Radionics in Tech support and I was part of a technical collective that continuously pushed to be better than we were before.

I was the Product Support Specialist for the Remote Programming Software which the very presence of a computer in a security company at this time (1987-1990) beyond billing was unheard of.

We established this on purpose to be sure we always had a subject matter expert available. If a Tech got a call that they could not address they would simply transfer the call to me if I was available and if not I would call the customer back right after the call I was on (generally less than 15 minutes later).

We also had a requirement at the time that anyone that wanted to be in Tech Support had to have at least one year in the field (specifically with Radionics products) to be eligible to apply.

More often than not today they train people how to answer a phone a follow a flow chart even if it leads them to an answer that is wrong. Once you tell them that is not the solution they have got nothing as they do not know the product as well as they should.

We would have a one hour meeting each week to track patterns in trouble calls coming in and keep everyone up to speed so they could be the subject matter experts that they were expected to be. We would take those patterns and sometimes be able to track the problem back to a production issue and provide that feedback to production to improve the product we delivered to the dealer to install.

It is just another example in today's times whereby strong technical knowledge has no value to the companies that provide the products we buy to deliver to our customers.

With regards to Honeywell mentioned in this article when the hell are they going to update the Compass Downloader so it at least looks like a software program written in this century? It is the absolute worst design and layout!

Actually with no real innovative changes in their intrusion line they actually have no excuse for anyone at all not being able to support the products.

Just to qualify I started in this industry when alarm systems were the bread and butter of the industry and Access Control and CCTV were rare to be seen as they were usually done by companies that specialized in that vertical. Although I do remember some of my first ones like the Schlage 708 panels with Coaxial Readers and prox cards that were a thick inflexible card (did not like being put in wallets and sat on).

Today alarm systems are an after thought for some companies and they do not want to be troubled with them (still good money), but we have some new players out there with the DIY type alarms and they are getting some traction in the market and I think legislation will eventually deal with them the same way they dealt with us in that either they will enforce professional installations OR they will force registration thus giving them a hook for the same false alarm fees we brought upon ourselves.

 

I was also at RADX and that was when only trained techs had access to the product and they tracked serial numbers to the company that purchased it. 

After that there were periods where support suffered for all the same reasons.  When new products were introduced or ADT bought a RADX dealer, call times went up and people were hired.  When call times dropped, so did a few techs.

There was also a period when techs “gamed” the system by calling each other to improve time averages and take breaks.

It was the best. 

I was on the phone with Bosch tech support for almost four hours this week over an intrusion problem. Maybe they can hire you back. 

Called Exacq last week. 45 min wait. Dang shame because I like their software. That won't last if this continues.

Update: JCI / Exacq has provided feedback on improvements they are making. We are talking with them to clarify details and will post it as soon as those are confirmed.

Also, S2 has responded. We have asked them follow-up questions about their response and will also update on that as soon as we can.

Did you receive any response from S2??  If so it would be nice to post so we all can read there response.

Yes, S2 responded in depth.  We'll post it after a final review with S2, but look for it coming up.

I've copy & pasted S2's comments below.

EM exacq re driver request for certain cameras, there response was they are EOL so we will not be working on these even if it is a 300+ camera project.  We responded as other manufactures has added these recently and there was no response back. If the original Exacq exec team was in place that they would assist but as always when a private company is taken over they seem not to care.

#9, which models did you want integrated? Are you still using Exacq or did you switch because of that?

Cisco

We just ran into another project with 100+ cameras.  With over 100K camera installed base of Cisco and there head end seems to crater it looks as if Exacq (JCI) would see the benefits to write driver for these camera.  But they just do not want to compete with the bigger players, SAD.

You don't think possible it's Cisco not wanting their cameras to play nice with bigger players? All in all, though, I think Cisco has very little interest in physical security market. I'm convinced they use it as a segue to get their network and maybe storage products in there.

No if that was the case than Milestone, Onssi, Salient, ectwould not have drivers and they all do. 

I do really think that the manufacture troubleshooting always takes more time because they don't deal with the same product in numbers and on real time site/Client side;

We sell the client from same product around 50 cameras for example as a reseller while the manufacture has only the main aspects from that product(as they are dealing with huge# of different products) , so when you have a issue i always know that all manufacture takes at lease 5 days till they come back becoz they go to the same process of trouble shooting as we did on all the other 50 cameras till they figure out the problem, sometimes its too late that we have to do a replacement on the camera...

Exacq has been saying that for a long time that they are working on it.  They just hired more Tier 1 guys that read directly out of a knowledge base like that is a help.  I average a 30-60 minute hold time for Tier 2 and when I complain to them they'll tell me it's normal for this time of day.  Once we finish up this round of projects we are working on now I think it's onto a new VMS.    

I believe a certain wise man would recommend I stay Undisclosed for this one...

So, the real mystery is "How is Dahua NOT on this list?"

Dahua's branded sales are relatively low in the West so that probably contributes to fewer votes either way. Also, related to that, hold times are likely less as a result... 

Had to call Hikvision support once for a problem with an IR filter not engaging during night time on an analog HD camera. Tech remoted into my laptop and I demonstrated the issue by playing some night footage where it was all in pink. He then proceeded to try forcing the camera into night mode via the OSD which does NOT work. I had informed him of that at the beginning of the call; the menu for the IR filter is an indicator, not a switchable option.

Tech just ignored me and kept trying to change the unchangeable option, for an hour. "Oh, let me place you on hold for a bit" as the flowcharts and scripts failed him. I then got transferred to another tech who also tried it and then shortly acknowledged "Oh, you can't force night mode on this model."

"I told you people that at the beginning of the call!"

"Oh I apologize for that."

All that for what, to see if I'm telling the truth? They just gave me a reference number and told me to take it back to the distributor. They didn't have a clue what would happen to the unit after that, replacement or repair, or how long it would take. Thankfully the issue self resolved so we didn't have to send it in.

We didn't have experience with Exacq until after they were swallowed by JCI/Tyco.

Our experience was also hour long hold times, but once we got to a tier 2 engineer they were able to help.  Being on hold an hour is unacceptable, though.  Anytime you have a company swallowed up (especially by a giant), unfortunately, customer service always suffers.

Here is S2's response.  We've not abridged or truncated their detailed responses, but we have omitted some parts of their response that were not directly related to poor tech support or pertained to other subjects.

1.  (IPVM): "What percentage of calls are immediately answered by an engineer without having the call returned later? And does S2 give an estimated response time when the caller first calls?"

(S2): All (100%) of calls are picked up and triaged by the customer service team.  25% of the calls are passed directly to tech support engineers at the initial point of the call.  Customer service has live metrics on estimated call back time, and typically provides the estimated response time.  Customer service proactively provides estimated response times only when the case queue is exceptionally high...
 
The mean for call back is 23 minutes, while our median is 17 minutes.  80% of our cases receive a call back within the hour.
 
2. (S2) At S2, a customer support team answers all calls as they come in, and evaluates the situation of the caller.  Calls are either resolved or forwarded to the technical support department for resolution.  Technical support assigns the case to the appropriate engineer, who returns the call.  The customer service team enters all case details; no one is required to leave a message.
  • S2 Security maintains statistical surveillance of its inbound call queues and case resolution, and here is some data for the past 90 days: 
  • We could identify only two inbound calls where a live person was unavailable and a message was left. 
  • The average time between receipt of the inbound call and callback by technical support is approximately 23 minutes. 
  • We can find no evidence in support of any claim of “days” or “average three hours”. 
  • After each call is taken, each caller receives an email containing the mobile phone contacts for technical support managers to cover the circumstance where the caller has an urgency we didn’t perceive. 
  • 25% of inbound calls over the period came from uncertified technicians, to whom we also respond.

3. On the decision to have S2 'Call Back' on support requests:

(S2) When we designed the support policy, we had two choices: make people wait on hold or call them back.  Our analysis was that making people wait on hold rendered them unproductive during the wait time and introduced the issue of people who give up waiting and have to start over again.

We also support a broad range of products, so sending a call to a person who can’t actually assist isn’t good either.  There is no doubt that a portion of the inbound call base may be dealing with a frustrating issue; our policy is designed to get them expert help as quickly as possible while being respectful of their time.  That’s why, for example, we stay with the call until the situation is resolved.  Our team members have either themselves been field techs or have had other domain-specific product jobs, so they have an empathy for the callers who may be in a bind.
 
Realize, too, that the support interaction between a less-trained tech who calls about a product bought from a distributor, is fundamentally different from the calls we take.  S2 products tend to be on the more sophisticated end of the spectrum and are purchased by certified integrators who are encouraged to obtain recurrent training.
 
 
If any member has followup questions for us to ask S2, please let me know and I will.

I'm surprised not to see Bosch on this list. Maybe no one uses the product anymore. They outsourced tech support to South America and the staff has no experience with the product. They are literally reading out of the book. We have been a dealer since 1982. We have many trained, "certified" technicians. Level 1 tech support refuses to escalate us to level 2. I suspect they are paid not to do that.

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