Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

Author Bio ▼

James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
April 20, 2023


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Video Surveillance

AI? Cyber security? 4K? What’s really most in demand in the video surveillance market…?

Following the release of the IFSEC Global Video Surveillance Report 2022 in November, Jamie Barnfield, Senior Sales Director at IDIS, shares his thoughts on some of the key findings. We sat down with Jamie to discuss exactly what installers and integrators are looking for from video surveillance purchasers, the growing adoption of AI-based solutions, and more…


James Moore (JM): What for you was the most stand out finding from the 2022 Video Surveillance report?

Jamie Barnfield (JB): The biggest surprise in the report was that the top choice for installers deciding their preferred manufacturer was a wide range of cameras. When I meet with systems integrators and end users a common complaint is that manufacturers have thousands of products and part codes, and that these often seem to change on a weekly basis!


Jamie Barnfield, Sales Director, IDIS Europe

Smart integrators want to standardise on the camera lines they offer, as this lowers their total cost of service. Many have already reduced the number of brands they offer as the shift to IP made it next to impossible for their sales teams and engineers to be up to date with the hardware and software of multiple manufacturers.

Today, both integrators and end users are going a step further and are standardising on a specific range of cameras, models, and associated mounts and brackets, recorders, and software.

By doing so, integrators can quote and design projects quickly, with transparent pricing for customers, and they can build the expert knowledge that lets them rapidly install and maintain systems. This leads to attractive, recurring revenue maintenance contracts and upgrade opportunities.

The survey found that dome, bullet and PTZ cameras were those most widely installed over the previous year. This demonstrates that just a handful of models are usually sufficient to meet the requirements of most applications in terms of indoor/outdoor coverage, price point, and functionality.

This is further confirmation for those who want a simpler camera line up. It saves them from having to trawl through web pages or product catalogues, trying to compare lists of cameras that might be discontinued without warning, or that are subject to design tweaks and product code changes.

JM: And what about the requirements of installers and integrators when choosing camera brands? Any key takeaways for you?

JB: As someone who started my career as an engineer, I would have expected technical support to be higher up the list. There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to get the right support when you need it, particularly when you’re working on live customer sites, out-of-hours on tight project delivery timeframes.

Again, this is a common gripe across the industry. Many manufacturers simply don’t support integrators on smaller projects and tend to focus their resources on enterprise-sized customers. Yet it’s the small-to-mid-sized run rate business that makes up the lion’s share of the surveillance market.

With the current concern around untrustworthy state-owned manufacturers, I’m surprised to see that trust and manufacturing origin is not a bigger issue. Although so far, the UK and EU don’t have an equivalent of the United States NDA Act or FCC Order, many organisations across Europe have stopped using Chinese tech and are now specifically opting for NDAA-compliant equipment.

These decisions are being made by customers including small to large retailers, schools, hotels, hospitals and, obviously, any corporate enterprise involved in US government business. It’s more important than ever that customers with sites in Europe, that also work in the US or have plans to expand into the American market, are compliant. If they are not, a surveillance system installed to protect a business could wind up damaging it commercially or forcing it into a rapid rip and replace.

I certainly understand why partner programs appear so low down the list of priorities, given that they are becoming a bone of contention with many integrators. They feel they’re being held to ransom because of the different levels within some programs. If they don’t hit a certain target, they get a smaller discount, which forces them to look around for other manufacturers to work with.

It will be interesting to run this year’s survey and ask questions around total cost of ownership and OPEX costs. As many of the integrators we’re working with are building business cases if not extensively around TCO, they are focussing on VMS costs. Their customers are taking a much closer look at recurring license fees, SLA agreements, and often hidden device connection costs.

JM: 42% of respondents said that they’d either specified or adopted an AI-based camera solution in the past 12 months – are you surprised by this?

JB: When it comes to AI video – and the tech continues to evolve and develop – the biggest barriers to adopting it and making full use of its potential, are probably confidence and understanding among SI’s and customers.

Yes, everyone is talking about the newest and greatest things in AI technology, but we now need to focus on education to cut through some of the hype so that the whole buying chain fully understands the capabilities and benefits of AI that the industry can offer.

Integrators also need to make sure they understand the challenges that matter to end-users, so we work with them to make those implementations successful and solve specific and top priority challenges.


“Yes, everyone is talking about the newest and greatest things in AI technology, but we now need to focus on education to cut through some of the hype so that the whole buying chain fully understands the capabilities and benefits of AI that the industry can offer.”

AI can do so much more than just filter out false alarms. We’re now at the stage where we’ve trained solutions on vast data sets over years to drive-up accuracy. So, while false alarms are often a main concern, especially for customers with too many cameras to monitor, AI can help with so many more safety and operational challenges – it’s just a matter of understanding what powerful tools we now have available, and how best to apply them.

There are also many more ways to specify and implement AI, giving more application flexibility, with tech options including edge cameras, box devices, and VMS. Again, it’s about understanding and application.

The report is a helpful resource, because not only does it provide an extensive overview of the various reasons why consultants, integrators, and end users choose surveillance systems, it covers what they are using them for.

And the AI section is especially interesting, particularly when we see that a lot of surveillance offerings are being driven by IT departments. That is also a signal that integrators need cross-departmental buy-in and that increasingly IT professionals will also be working on projects that span sales, marketing, and operations, where AI video could add additional value.

JM: Features most in demand from buyers of video surveillance equipment cited 4K and HD cameras – is this something you’re also seeing? And what are the genuine benefits for users?

JB: Robust quality and high-performance often come higher up the list of priorities for cameras than long lists of features, many of which don’t get used in typical applications.

For example, our 12MP fisheye camera continues to be one of our most popular models worldwide for a range of applications, as it can replace three or four fixed lens cameras and deliver exceptional wide-area coverage. This reduces both upfront and ongoing costs, because with fewer moving parts fisheyes rarely fail, making them easy to maintain. This robustness is reflected in extended warranties.

What impresses customers most is supper smooth dewarping right at the periphery of every scene compared to the jerky dewarping and control they’ve been used to. True WDR and IR for handing varied light conditions are now essential, along with the ability to dewarp directly from NVRs, client software, and on our mobile apps.

IDIS-EdgeAI-Bullett-Dome-CamerasToday, security and loss prevention managers want to be able to manage everything on the move, and mobile apps let them receive alerts, oversee day-to-day activities, respond to events, and investigate incidents. With staff shortages now widespread, there’s a need to do more with less and to make the most of human resources. This is driving demand for mobile apps that put enterprise-level VMS features at users’ fingertips no matter where they are.

We’re also seeing a big jump in demand for our 5MP range of cameras. Customers that would have typically chosen 2MP cameras a couple of years ago are now opting for 5MP ranges mostly for improved live view and recorded footage, but also to future proof infrastructure for greater anticipated use of AI in the future.

Once customers realise the benefits of moving away from the cheapest products in favour of better-quality devices that offer lower total cost of ownership (TCO), they are more likely to opt for 5MP HD cameras.

For instance, AI box devices can easily leverage existing cameras, even from perspective views, and 5MP models will certainly give users more accurate results for functions such as people counting and heat maps in retail, queue management in hospitality, and virtual line cross in staff-only or restricted areas in school settings.

Demand for 4K cameras with smart auto tracking cameras for large perimeters and public space monitoring is growing steadily. Once customers see the performance of our light enhancing range, they are still opting for 2MP and 5MP models for building perimeters, because these give impressive full colour image quality in almost complete darkness.

JM: With research from the Security Research Initiative indicating that many security end-users don’t feel they have enough influence over the security budgets, can fact video surveillance’s ability to play a larger role outside of security support them in overcoming this?

JB: Absolutely. Despite the need for more education, video analytics powered by AI is sure to prove to be an influencer. Thanks to ever more reliable tools for detection and verification, many of the system monitoring and review functions that previously required manual input can be automated.

With a growing range of add-on analytics tools making AI video easier to adopt, end-users themselves are finding new applications and benefits. I think this trend will pick up, and it will add further value to surveillance systems and underscore business cases for upgrades and new installations.

Already, novel applications are enabling security end-users in alliance-building across their organisations, as different departments are drawn to the benefits of AI video.

For example, customer service teams in a wide range of sectors are seeing the benefits of automated systems. For instance:

  • in retail businesses, marketing departments want better understanding of customer movements around merchandising and special promotions;
  • in industrial settings, AI can rapidly detect bottlenecks or flag-up alerts when interruptions to normal operations are detected;
  • in logistics centres, functions such as fall detection or line-cross can improve safety monitoring.

As AI becomes ever smarter, the range of applications will expand, with new uses driven by customers.

So, I think security leaders are well positioned to bring together cross-departmental projects to support the wider strategic aims of their organisations. And they can be supported in doing this by the many networking and information sharing opportunities available in the industry. Trailblazers are demonstrating how new strategies can add value all the time to unlock projects.

JM: What role do manufacturers play in the cyber security ‘supply chain’? 25% of respondents are still concerned about back doors being created by manufacturers, so how can vendors improve trust and support their customers?

JB: Cybercrime reached record levels across the globe during the pandemic, and this had serious ramifications for businesses. Although video surveillance systems account for only a small portion of cyber risks, endpoints, transmission, and storage are a growing target for hackers. Most security professionals understand the need for secure access, transmission, and recorded data.

There’s also more awareness that, during implementation, engineers need to harden devices. And systems cannot just be set up and then left alone. But, despite the broad awareness of the multiple risks inherent to these devices, many still lack robust cyber security infrastructure. This creates network vulnerabilities and increases the attack surface, leaving them susceptible to malware.

Today an increasing number of attacks are delivered via IoT devices, including DDoS, ransomware, and social engineering threats that trick users into making security mistakes.

Most cyber security attacks exploit a vulnerability, such as a coding mistake or bad design. The use of remote back doors as a supposedly hidden technical support tool, for example, should be a thing of the past for surveillance vendors. Hardening guides need to be regularly updated, and manufacturers need to be both proactive and reactive when it comes to firmware updates, to ward off continually evolving threats.

For their part, end-user organisations need to be ever more vigilant and ensure their physical security departments work closely with their IT counterparts to further defend themselves against cyber-attacks.


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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