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February 5, 2024

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“The security industry is navigating a complex landscape” – Video Surveillance Report review with IDIS’ Jamie Barnfield

Jamie Barnfield from IDIS speaks to IFSEC Insider on the 2023 Video Surveillance Report – our annual look at the video surveillance market, where we assess key trends, challenges and what’s ahead for camera devices, embedded analytics software and video management systems.

Jamie discusses his highlights from the report, including an analysis on key drivers, future trends and sustainability potential.

What for you was the most stand out finding from the 2023 Video Surveillance report?

I was particularly interested in the report’s findings concerning the economic prospects for the sector over the next year. This is an issue of obvious importance for the whole buying chain (and in my sales role it will surprise no-one that I’m very focused on it too!).

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Jamie Barnfield, Senior Sales Director at IDIS

So, I was really encouraged that sentiment in the industry remains buoyant. Despite the continuing headwinds in the global economy the report finds only a slight rise in the number of respondents who said their plans for video upgrades had been cancelled due to financial challenges (13%, up from 10%).

The majority of respondents said their upgrade plans had gone ahead even where there had been delays, and there was even an increase in those saying they had not been affected at all (up from 20% to 29%).

The report suggests some reasons for this resilience: with the need to combat new and emerging threats, increased value being placed on physical security systems; video solutions are often now falling within IT and other departmental budgets; and investments in areas outside of security have been increasing over the last two years.

“While demand remains strong, profit margins for many organisations are still under pressure”

The report also highlights a prediction by the International Security Management Association that chief security officers were expecting their budgets to increase – again, that’s encouraging news.

So, what should we take away from this? We shouldn’t forget that while demand remains strong, profit margins for many organisations are still under pressure due to rising operating costs – this includes end-users in the public sector (health and education, for example) and in commercial organisations (retail, hospitality etc).

Rather than just limiting ourselves to departments where budgets are unaffected, manufacturers, consultants, and systems integrators can broaden their reach by offering solutions that deliver better value and more flexible upgrade options – in our experience, this helps to win new customers and bring projects over the line.

And if economic conditions worsen, it will become critical that surveillance upgrades or the adoption of AI deliver rapid return on investment (ROI) and rather than increase operational expenditure ensure a low total cost of ownership (TCO).

For example, with a significant amount of analogue technology still in use across EMEA, and users rightly reluctant to replace equipment before necessary, the ability to digitise various brands of analogue camera using encoders can provide the perfect answer. Customers can continue to use their older cameras as part of a mix-and-match analogue-IP solution – but they also get all the upgrade benefits of switching to full network surveillance with powerful VMS.

Another great example of this flexible, ‘cutting your cloth’ approach is the offer of targeted upgrades to powerful AI analytics using add-on box devices, or edge-AI cameras. It comes down to offering customers a choice of AI options to achieve meaningful capability enhancements without complexity, significant upgrade costs or ongoing license fees, that still meet their specific needs.

What do you think are the key drivers behind the growing adoption of edge-based video surveillance cameras?

Again, I think it comes down to a combination of flexibility and value. Today, users increasingly understand the benefits of AI-powered analytics, where they can be confident of getting better value and higher accuracy.

FacialRecognition-AI-Camera-Scharfsinn-AlamyStock-23The industry as a whole has been educating the market for some time and customers are now looking for affordable, low-risk ways to introduce AI into their systems. Edge AI cameras offer the perfect way to do this without adopting new software or adding to bandwidth and storage requirements, while deep learning on the edge supports faster responses to incidents to ensure the best possible outcomes.

They allow automated detection capabilities (line crossing, loitering and intrusion detection, etc.) to be focused on particular target areas, such as entrances, perimeters, or sensitive locations. We’re also seeing customers wanting to replace cameras that generate false alarms, usually due to environmental factors, to improve operational efficiency.

Every size of organisation can benefit from this approach, with highly accurate automated alerts to events of interest ensuring that potential security breaches aren’t missed due to human error, while workloads are reduced for busy monitoring and security teams, or managers on the move using mobile apps.

As a result, I wasn’t surprised to read that almost half of respondents (48%) said they were steadily upgrading or installing edge-based systems. IDIS has seen a continuing growth in demand for a range of edge camera models and we launched nine new models at the start of this year.

There is clear evidence that AI-based analytics is now actively supporting security, as well as other business functions, but there are also concerns around its potential use. How does the security industry balance concerns over data privacy and regulation, for instance, with the benefits it brings?

The security industry is navigating a complex landscape where it must balance the benefits of AI-powered analytics with growing concerns over data privacy and the introduction of regulations.

It’s important to recognise that while regulations can be challenging, they can also drive innovation. As countries and regions like the EU implement stricter data privacy laws, the industry has already adapted by developing new ways to leverage technology while respecting privacy concerns. This often means incorporating privacy by design into products and software, ensuring that data protection is an integral part of the development process.

“It’s important to recognise that while regulations can be challenging, they can also drive innovation.”

As a manufacturer we’re aware of the need to build trust with our customers regarding data handling. This involves clear communication about how data is used and what benefits it brings to them.

Transparency and straightforward explanations can help users feel more comfortable that they are complying with legal frameworks and not capturing or storing biometric or personal data.

For instance, functions like line-crossing, intrusion, loitering detection, etc. don’t identify individuals, but rather trigger alerts to ensure potential security or safety breaches are quickly investigated. Face detection is only utilised to verify whether the threat is real and not caused by a harmless animal or windy conditions, both common causes of false alarms.

The same is true in retail and hospitality where people counting, heat mapping, queue management, and occupancy monitoring can reveal trends in customer footfall and movements around stores. And in most applications IDIS does this largely through the use of top of the head cameras, while only using face detection to ensure accuracy by verifying that cameras are counting humans rather than shopping carts or buggies.

“Almost 10% of respondents believed that the use of AI should be significantly restricted”

AI regulation more widely is a more complex question. The survey found that almost half of respondents believe regulation is urgently needed for the use of AI-based video surveillance, and I think that reflects the wider concerns about the speed of AI development that we’ve all been hearing about in recent months. Almost 10% of respondents believed that the use of AI should be significantly restricted as we don’t know enough about the consequences of its use.

With that in mind the industry is anticipating stricter data collection regulations globally, following the EU’s lead. And new regulations will almost certainly have a significant impact on how the industry employs AI technologies, aiming to respect privacy while not hindering technological advances that enhance security and safety.

To strike a balance, collaboration will be essential among policymakers, industry bodies, vendors, and users. For now, though, manufacturers need to continue to design video solutions that respect user data while protecting people, property, and assets. Moving forward, it’s crucial we continue to educate users so they understand how data is collected, accessed, and used so that they can make informed decisions. Collectively, these efforts will engender trust and transparency, which are essential for both data privacy and robust cybersecurity.


Further reading: AI and machine learning for enhanced video surveillance security – A balancing act?


Though slower than expected, the industry is increasingly adopting the cloud for video surveillance purposes. What is the number one reason behind this, do you think?

As the report highlights, cloud uptake from the security sector has always remained a little behind the curve compared with on-prem surveillance systems, but that is gradually changing. Compared to the last two reports there is growing familiarity with the differences between varying cloud offerings. Findings show that systems integrators and end-users now understand the differences between cloud storage, VMS in the cloud, and end-to-end VSaaS models. Yet there is still caution and I would point to three main factors, rather than just one.

The main barrier is often cybersecurity, with critical infrastructure, sensitive applications, and businesses protecting high value goods less likely to adopt cloud technologies. And there’s good reason for this caution, as IT professionals have concerns about cyber threats specifically targeting cloud services.

The increase in cloud applications has also added to the workload of IT teams, many of which are not staffed to handle the cybersecurity requirements necessary for safeguarding cloud-based surveillance.

“Cost, especially for VSaaS models, is also a deterrent for many organisations”

Bandwidth for cloud surveillance is also significant, especially when high-definition video needs to be uploaded continuously, and service providers offer higher download speeds compared to upload speeds. This imbalance leads to challenges ensuring a stable and reliable connection for remote monitoring, which is crucial for video storage and access.

Cost, especially for VSaaS models, is also a deterrent for many organisations who are reluctant to be dependent on a third-party provider for critical surveillance operations when latency or downtime can have serious implications, including fines for organisations in some sectors.

Initial investments might be lower but ongoing expenses associated with lengthy contract periods, data storage, bandwidth usage, and additional license fees for AI functionality can soon accumulate, making it a less attractive option for cost-sensitive businesses.

I think these concerns are justified. There are all sorts of reasons why users want to avoid being tied in to cloud contracts, including keeping closer control of budgets and security. Where cloud is concerned, I would argue that a better fit for security applications is the hybrid model with simultaneous edge, local NVR, and cloud configuration and storage. These solutions avoid some of the drawbacks we see with VSaaS and alongside today’s mobile apps, give mobile operatives and mangers ready access to enterprise-class VMS functionality wherever they are.

66% of professionals are now considering sustainability credentials in their choice of video surveillance provider. What are the factors they should be considering that contribute towards more sustainable choices in camera procurement?

The number one factor in improving sustainability is to get longer and better use from your existing hardware, and there are some important ways we can help with that. Apart from using cameras and devices that are hard-wearing and have extended warranties against failure, users should opt for solutions that have guaranteed forward-and-backward compatibility, and that don’t suffer from support cut-offs or ‘discontinued product’ dead ends.

Commitment to the continuing lifespan of every video solution needs to extend right through the supply chain – ideally the customer should have a long-term support and maintenance relationship with their systems integrator, and the SI should have the same ongoing back-up from their vendor.

When these ongoing relationships are present, we see less ‘rip and replace’ and more sustainable system upgrades. Over the long term, this more sustainable model invariably saves money too – and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is something that IDIS is very focused on.

We been looking at sustainability more generally too, and helping our partners to build business cases that highlight the waste reduction benefits of faster and more efficient installation, with fewer wasted engineer journeys.


Further reading: Fuelling innovation: Solar-powered surveillance


And of course, today’s smarter AI-enabled video systems can help end-users to add efficiencies into their operations too. Automating and speeding up surveillance tasks doesn’t just reduce human error and improve security; it helps to streamline operations and make more efficient use of resources.

There are all sorts of innovative examples where this is now being done, specific to each application and site. Working together SI’s and vendors can help customers identify some significant sustainability gains – and it’s always nice when we identify a sustainability application that’s a ‘first’.

Free Download: The Video Surveillance Report 2023

Discover the latest developments in the rapidly-evolving video surveillance sector by downloading the 2023 Video Surveillance Report. Over 500 responses to our survey, which come from integrators to consultants and heads of security, inform our analysis of the latest trends including AI, the state of the video surveillance market, uptake of the cloud, and the wider economic and geopolitical events impacting the sector!

Download for FREE to discover top industry insight around the latest innovations in video surveillance systems.

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