Network-based Video Surveillance in Asia

by : Jose Allan Tan

By Jose Allan Tan

Threats of security continue to pervade the global market since September 11. Bombings and threats promising mayhem and destruction had led to a surge in investments around security and surveillance systems. This is fueling the change in how we capture, store, and monitor video.

According to Shivanu Shukla, an industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan "There has been strong interest in being able to remotely monitor surveillance cameras, run video analytics, and integrate surveillance with other physical security systems."

Shukla notes that network-based video surveillance systems are becoming popular. Frost estimates the video surveillance market to grow from $992.1 million in 2006 to $3956.7 million in 2013.

Analog vs. digital

Analog video surveillance systems consists of analog cameras connected via cables to multiplexers and in-turn connected to monitors and key boards. But what happens when the area that needs to be monitored is a significant distance away and there is a need to record 7x24?

Network surveillance solutions allow existing analog cameras to be connected to a video server, which is connected to the network, and monitored by any computer that is on the network, or the existing control room.

"Storage of the video can be done by network video recorders (NVRs), which can be anywhere on the network, as opposed to digital video recorders (DVRs), which need to be placed close to the cameras or the switcher/multiplexer. In a complete network surveillance solution, network cameras are used to connect directly to the IP network, without the need for an external encoder," says Shukla.

Video surveillance deployments in Asia are mostly analog based due in part to the market's price sensitivity. But this is changing as the security threats continue to remain high on radar of both commercial and the public.

Kiran Kumar, a Frost Research Associate, notes that government and transportation sectors are spearheading video surveillance deployments, with large projects for airports, city surveillance, and other critical infrastructure surveillance.

"Fast developing physical infrastructure such as airports, seaports, highways, and rail networks is a key driving force for the strong adoption for video surveillance systems," says Kumar.

There are three main factors limiting the continuing growth of analog video surveillance systems:

Cost: Set-ups and installation costs of traditional coaxial or fiber-based cabling for analog video systems over large areas is very high. Large-scale projects for city surveillance and monitoring of harbors and ports take a significant role in effecting change to network surveillance.

Scalability: Despite DVRs having improved the recording quality of analog cameras, there is still the physical restriction of its installation near the analog matrix.

Flexibility: Integration of analog video surveillance systems with other systems can be cumbersome. Analog surveillance systems are limited to centralized video analytics, which requires additional hardware, cabling and is difficult to scale.

Benefits of network surveillance

Digital technology is helping extend the capability of surveillance beyond what can be achieved with traditional systems.

Technology now allows us to monitor an area from any location in the world in real-time without any significant investment.

Storage of video can be done on NVRs that can be anywhere on the network. How much video we can store digitally is limited only by the amount of hard disk space. And because the video traverses through the network, backups can be done remotely.

Scalability of network surveillance systems is easy and inexpensive. Network cameras can be connected to the network without rewiring.

With network surveillance systems, intelligence can be distributed either directly at the camera or encoder, or centralized on the NVR or a separate server.

Network surveillance systems are cheaper to build and maintain with reusability of existing IP network infrastructure, highly scalable with little incremental costs, low maintenance costs, and ability to reuse existing legacy surveillance cameras and other display and monitoring equipment as key factors for adoption of digital surveillance techniques.

Limitations of going digital

Not everything is bright and rosy. Due to its dependence on the network, security teams will need the support of the IT department.

"The key challenge to adoption is to get the security and IT teams to adopt network surveillance. Existing network infrastructure makes the proposition of network surveillance stronger. However, organizations where such infrastructure is less developed would be slow to move to network surveillance," says Shukla.

He concedes that network surveillance adoption is changing the dynamics between the security personnel and the IT teams within enterprises, hindering its adoption rate. The introduction of network surveillance implies the participation of the IT division in security matters.

"Security personnel are typically more conservative and not open to major changes in their environments. Network surveillance adoption would depend on the successful interactions and communication between the two teams within an enterprise," notes Shukla.

Although Frost & Sullivan expects the trend towards network surveillance to be strong, adoption of analog system will continue to grow as well, albeit slower than network surveillance deployments.

"While remote access, scalability, and distributed intelligence are the key drivers for network video surveillance, price, perceived reliability, and conservative nature of security teams to change and adopt new technologies will hinder adoption," says Kumar.

Traditionally, cameras have been the point of entry for vendors into the market; subsequently their offerings include DVRs, NVRs, encoders, and software, together with switchers and multiplexers.

Increasingly, due to the emergence of network surveillance solutions, there is an effort from vendors to approach the surveillance solution from the NVR or DVR front, by offering better management software, virtual matrix systems and video content analytics as a solution package.

As traction for network video surveillance picks up in Asia Pacific, providing complete end-to-end surveillance solutions is expected to become a key to succeed in the market.