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Tough questions need informed answers

The buzz at ASIS International is usually centred around what’s hot on the trade show floor.  Occasionally, you can find an education session with an inspiring speaker. Those were hard to come by this year. However, located far away from the trade show in building C — a somewhat painful hike from the bowels of the Georgia World Congress Centre — I found a quirky and refreshing session at the end of day two.



October 31, 2008
By Jennifer Brown


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It was billed as “The Future of Video Surveillance” and featured interesting bedfellows including sponsorship from computer maker Apple and panelists Chris Gettings of videoNEXT, a provider of Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) (which also happens to be an Apple developer creating applications such as the ability to monitor and control live video surveillance cameras and receive alarms on mobile devices like the Apple iPhone). The panel also included Fredrik Nilsson from Axis Communications; John Honovich, a former integrator and industry commentator; Peter Michael, a surveillance and security engineer from SAIC; and industry analyst Steve Hunt of Hunt Business Intelligence.

This is the kind of session where the hype of the trade show meets questions focused on the reality of the day. The panel talked about how many end users still haven’t adopted IP video surveillance — that 80 to 90 per cent still have analogue cameras even though they are 500 times more powerful than the ones first launched in the late 1990s.

The panel also talked about the great unknown that is video analytics. Many users have been hesitant to deploy video analytics to date, mostly because it is unclear to them how much of the tool they would actually use, not to mention the lack of clarity on information coming from the vendors.

Elaborate feature sets are great, but how do they help a customer address a problem they are looking to solve, not just create mountains of data about things they don’t need to know?

The challenge, says Hunt, will be making sense of all the data companies will be collecting with all the new analytic tools on the market, and figuring out how to extract value from the data.

 The challenge to end-users buying product designed to assist in the collection and analysis of all this surveillance data is to understand how they can make sense of it all and find the return on investment for the business.

“Most integrators see boxes and take orders — they are not focused on the creation of value,” Hunt said.
That’s something end-users know all too well. While waiting for my flight home from Atlanta, a senior-level corporate security director expressed frustration at the lack of knowledge vendors have, especially those manning booths at trade shows these days. He finds it tough to trust a manufacturer who says a product has a lot of bells and whistles but can’t explain how it can solve his particular problem. In fact, in most cases they don’t even understand his business. He’s been burned before and has a keen ear for marketing-speak. He has to — his job is on the line.

When an end-user makes a purchase and the tool doesn’t do what it was promised to do everyone in the industry fails and the trust factor decreases even further. The buzz on the show floor will always be there, but manufacturers would be wise to listen to what the industry commentators and end-users are saying off the show floor.


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