IP CCTV moves into the frame

There has been a significant shift in CCTV deployment away from analogue to next generation IP systems. Here, we look at how this move away from analogue has opened up a new market for VoIP providers, and highlight why IP CCTV is a profitable dealer product.

Charterhouse Voice and Data moved into the provision of IP CCTV to meet growing end user demand. Campbell Williams, Marketing Director, commented: "Adding security to our portfolio made sense as it was the next logical progression for convergence and our customers wanted the people who were already delivering their infrastructure to handle this element too, so we brought in the people and skills we needed to deliver. Now we have a complete portfolio of voice, data, cabling, security, software and services to address all mainstream technology needs, all based around IP."

"The drivers for CCTV are solutions driven"

Williams has found that the best vertical markets for IP CCTV and IP-based security in general are retail, manufacturing, logistics and education. Overall, any medium to large enterprise with a distributed environment (such as a campus, multiple sites, multiple floors within a building or multi-tasking locations such as warehouses) are prime targets for an IP CCTV solution. "End-users want to benefit from IP and convergence. For security, convergence means the blurring of the lines between the historically disparate aspects of access control, CCTV and intruder alarm systems," said Williams. "For example, an access control system can control the other two elements, all over an intelligent wired and wireless IP backbone, with media that can be accessed anywhere. Convergence as a whole means that security, like voice and other video applications, is handled over a single data network and structured cabling deployment."

According to Williams security is compelling for comms resellers for a number of reasons. For office moves or Greenfield sites, it can often allow the reseller to get in the door immediately as infrastructure and security are usually the first decisions that are made. "Once the channel is in ‘on the ground floor' they can often upsell voice and data solutions on top of the cabling and security infrastructure. This can sometimes lockout the competition altogether or, if not, at least provide differentiation," said Williams.

When deploying an IP CCTV solution, the simplest analogy would be to say that an IP CCTV engineer is a hybrid of a LAN technician and a cabling installer. "On the LAN side they need to install video recording equipment at the server end and the network needs to be engineered so that it can handle streaming video," said Williams. "At camera side, equipment can be installed in far-flung and hard to reach places like the tops of fences and poles, often being the only equipment in that location, and often needing secure housing, which presents unique engineering challenges."

Williams noted that the core selling skills for IP CCTV are the same as other technology applications. The ability to develop and sell solutions in a consultative manner is still paramount. "For the comms salesperson, IP-based security is a part of the convergence value-add and can provide significant differentiation, if you can talk the language of the person sat opposite you," said Williams.

End users will understand the language of a solution that talks of transforming three systems into one, because the use of IP technology and digital video recording can eliminate the need for banks of monitors and VCR and cassette-based recording. "Moreover, it can eliminate the need to have 24/7 security at every location as remote monitoring can take place," said Williams. "A technology known as video analytics can automatically highlight anomalous behaviour without the need for security personnel to be looking at the right feed at the right time. This also eliminates human error and fatigue-related mistakes."

The UK market for CCTV is estimated to be worth around £400 million and the vast majority of those systems installed are based on analogue technology. However, the migration is moving towards IP and it is estimated that this will increase year on year. Security Sales Manager at Mayflex, Martin Morris, highlighted that during the past year he saw the IP security market increase four fold on the previous year's sales, driven by improved quality of delivery using IP.

"The standard that the systems are based on for the transmission and recording of images is 50 years old. IP-based digital cameras achieve far greater resolutions and more detail," said Morris. "By digitizing a high resolution image and transporting it over an IP network the individual image or image stream can be made available for viewing remotely thousands of miles away from the site via an Internet broadband connection or VPN."

Morris believes that many traditional analogue installers struggle with understanding IP technology and therefore they find it difficult to move into this area. "This gives experienced networking specialists a chance to gain a foothold. There are also many hybrid products on the market that mix the two technologies together and these provide an ideal solution where an end user already has an extensive analogue CCTV system in place, but wants to start taking advantage of IP technology," said Morris.

Historically, the use of CCTV has been used to help prevent crime. However with the introduction of IP technology the market applications are now vast, observes Morris. "The main use is still to provide surveillance. With an IP system the quality of the images is far greater and in many cases can reduce the number of cameras that are needed," he said. "We are seeing that the drivers for CCTV systems are moving away from being applications led to more solutions driven."

CCTV has changed a lot over the last decade, according to Mike Lewis, Mobotix UK & Eire Country Manager. He says it's not just a migration to IP, but more about network convergence which has helped move the industry closer to the world of IT. "A typical large CCTV installation will have IP switches, Cat5/6 structured cabling, Power over Ethernet, network attached storage and application servers. Many CCTV manufactures are now supporting SIP and SNMP to allow end users to use the same network management tools used for the IT infrastructure," said Lewis.

Much like the growth of VoIP, CCTV is increasingly becoming part of the IP and IT infrastructure and less of a standalone technology. Resellers who have a strong portfolio of IP products and services are better placed to make the transition to modern CCTV, believes Lewis. He says that resellers need to first work out where they want to compete and that the core skill is a basic understanding of installing and configuring IP networks. "CCTV cameras are becoming more intelligent, almost PCs with lenses. The majority of our new resellers come from IT or cabling backgrounds and see CCTV as a way of providing value add to the core skills that have helped them to establish successful businesses, Lewis added."

Phil Gripton, Director of Partners at Cable&Wireless, takes a different view of IP CCTV. "The SME and consumer market often see CCTV as expensive. Traditional CCTV solutions include hefty upfront costs and ongoing equipment monitoring requirements," said Gripton. "But Web IP CCTV offers an alternative to businesses and homeowners, providing a surveillance solution connecting CCTV cameras over the Internet. This solution combines the functionality and benefit normally associated with large capital outlay at an affordable monthly fee. Cost is moved from a capex to opex model which, in today's climate, is much more appealing. Web IP CCTV is suited to shops, offices, entertainment venues, construction sites, and home surveillance."

With 1.5 million potential customers, the opportunity is clear, says Gripton. "Many SME customers have no CCTV at present, but have a requirement for it. Many channel partners already have a strong customer base in the SME area which is already purchasing connectivity. Applications such as Web IP CCTV open up a brand new dialogue with existing and prospective customers in most industries, with the opportunity to highlight the benefits of this solution. Channel partners can build complete propositions for their customer base which include broadband, applications such as IP CCTV and voice."

Cable&Wireless offers Web IP CCTV as part of its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application suite available to channel partners. The service is delivered and supported from a central location, allowing the monitoring of live images from the cameras and easy retrieval of recorded footage. Images can be viewed from any Internet or mobile connections. Multiple sites and multiple cameras can be viewed simultaneously on simple to use interface. Email or SMS alerts can be set up for motion detection and camera failure.

Adept Telecom is a Cable&wireless channel partner already selling Web IP CCTV to its customers. Adept is offering a package of bundled broadband along with Web IP CCTV and additional products into existing customers and partners, and prospective customers in the security industry. Ian Fishwick, Managing Director at Adept, said: "With the support of Cable&Wireless we can offer applications such as Web IP CCTV, part of Cable&Wireless' SaaS applications suite, allowing us to tap into a completely new market and attract new customers."