Is IP Video Surveillance Still In Its “Infancy”?

About 10 years I wrote my first piece IP video surveillance code. The camera was an Axis 200+, it was outrageously expensive, extremely slow, rather low resolution and no-one in their right mind would ever acquire such a device. Not to mention that there was not software to store the video (more accurately, a slow stream of single images), so I guess that was why I was frantically hammering the keys on my Celeron 300 MHz based PC.

Over the years I have worked in a number of fields were standards defined (TWAIN, OPC, DICOM to name a few). Yet, in none of them interconnectivity was trivial. What was sold as “plug and play” and “open” almost always required a lot of glue, spit and experimentation to get part A to work with part B. Usually vendor A had one interpretation of the spec, and vendor B had another. Several profitable companies doing nothing but converting from A to B emerged to capitalize on the difference in interpretation (plus there are often strategic reasons to prevent interoperability).

Today we have bits and pieces for function, but the interconnectivity between systems is just not there yet. We see attempts from companies to attain a sort of de-facto “standard”, usually there are claims of “Open Architecture” (I am still not sure what that means exactly), but my impression is that a client will be locked in – rather tightly – with whatever vendor they chose. Once they pick an NVR from vendor A, chances are that everything else bought after that initial installation will have to come from the same vendor (or someone with a tightly knit relation).

A clothing store in the NY area has the motto “an educated customer is our best customer” (Syms). I happen to like that motto. If the customer knows what they want, they can make a better choice. If they need a wrench, and I am selling hammers, then I will have no problem telling them where the “wrench store” is. It allows me to focus on building a better hammer. If – on the other hand – we try to trick the client into using a hammer instead of a wrench, then the client will not be happy, I will spend resources making a half-assed do-it-all tool.

It is my impression that many NVRs are “do it all tools”. There seem to be a fear of specialization right now, we all want to be “excellent at everything” which is obviously not possible. They become these mutant applications that are access control, forensics and CAD drawing all fused into one monolithic application.

I think part of maturing is to allow interoperability across all the elements – let a good forensic tool from vendor A access the NVR’s database from vendor B.

Perhaps we’ll see some of that in the future.

Author: prescienta

Prescientas ruler

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