Customization Makes One-Stop-Shop for Security a Reality

At Pelco, we serve a variety of partners and end-users in a wide range of industries, from airports and train stations to casinos and sports arenas. What’s striking about working in so many industry verticals is that no customer is alike; each one has a unique set of security needs and related stakeholder groups that ultimately shape their approach to surveillance. While there are undoubtedly plenty of similar customer requirements that we hear over and over again, there are a host of individualized modifications that can (and should) result in a truly unique solution.

That explains why we have made customization for our customers a top priority. Our commitment to being the best video surveillance and security solution provider in the world comes not just from our dedication to producing the most advanced IP video security products and systems, but in our ability to work with each individual customer to design solutions tailored to address their specific needs.

Simply providing surveillance solutions that aim to address the most common needs of a certain vertical, such as gaming or airport security, is not enough. Video surveillance providers who do no more than that invariably force their customers to fill gaps by contracting with additional vendors for other products and services, often at a much greater expense of time, money and risk.

Our goal is to address all of the security needs in one solution, from one provider, offering greater efficiencies in terms of security management, customer support, and budget. We provide specific modifications in terms of software, hardware, and firmware to meet the needs of key stakeholders.

Common Customizations

As a global provider of security and surveillance solutions, we receive many different customization requests from our network of partner integrators and end customers. One of the most common customizations we configure is the integration of a facility’s access control system into our Video Management System, VideoXpert. In layman’s terms, that means every time somebody enters a facility using a key card, there is not only a record of their entry in the access control system, but that record is accompanied by video footage of the event taking place. In other words, the open architecture of products like VideoXpert can integrate a wide variety of 3rd party security products, resulting in a highly scalable and extensible solution that can meet the ever evolving needs of an end user

Similarly, another frequent customization request is the integration an incident report program into VideoXpert. For many security professionals responsible for protecting the physical assets of an enterprise or government entity, the ability to provide a detailed report complete with video evidence is essential to satisfying the needs of related requests from law enforcement, insurance companies and oversight boards. With VideoXpert integration to 3rd party incident report programs, the process is quick, painless and accurate. The result is a boost in work efficiency, timeliness of reports, accuracy of damage reporting for insurance, and even a reduction of repeat incidents through improved coordination with law enforcement.

Many of our customers want video cameras that direct their focus to moving objects if nothing is occurring in the spot where they’re pointed. In those cases, we are able to install Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) IP cameras. When video cameras detect and focus on people or things that are moving, say at crowded baggage claim areas in busy airports or on offshore oil rigs with crews working 24/7 under extreme conditions, they are much more likely to be recording the significant events, including crimes, inappropriate behavior, and even work-related accidents.

Other customers have very precise demands when it comes to the aesthetics of their surveillance equipment. We happily comply with all such requests, painting and wrapping cameras to blend into the environment rather than have them stick out like a sore thumb.

One System to Run Them All

The fact is centralizing security programs in one interface like VideoXpert makes work more efficient, cost-effective and safer. The more that key security functions operate on separate systems, the greater the risk of missed incidents and security breaches. Indeed, a single surveillance interface makes it easier to isolate sensitive resources that could be tampered with. Bottom-line: Setting up a single workstation accessed by trained surveillance personnel is far better than disparate systems spread around an organization with varying degrees of security access.

The Upshot

There are hardly any customizations that are out-of-bounds when it comes to Pelco surveillance solutions. Not only are we eager to offer our partners and their end users the full range of our own hardware and software features, but we want our solutions to empower them to leverage any other useful security tool from any other provider.

If you’re wondering whether we can help you integrate a certain feature or customize your solution in a certain way, please don’t hesitate to ask. We are eager to investigate all requests.

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building a Video Surveillance System

Building a world-class video surveillance system requires careful planning and foresight to meet the needs of the end user. Yet, delivering on those needs poses significant challenges as there are multiple considerations to be addressed.

Every detail from the number of pixels, level of automation and staffing all must be discussed before planning the system itself. In addition, all parties must be careful to avoid common pitfalls that can lead to the failure of a project.

Here are three problems that often occur while planning a surveillance system.

Site references – Be careful in placing too much value in requesting references for end-users that are in the same industry as the site being considered. While references are certainly important, understand that reference sites of a similar size and with similar needs are more important than sites in the same industry. Just because a manufacturer or integrator has had a few successes in the same industry does not mean that they’ll do a great job.

Conversely, just because they don’t have references in your industry doesn’t mean they won’t be a great partner and provide a superior solution. Look for an integrator and manufacturer that take the time to understand the application and its assets and limitations, who communicate a thorough understanding, and have a history of working together to provide a solution that meets the end-user’s needs.

Manufacturers who are willing to meet frequently with the integrator and the end-user from the system design phase to RFQ through post-installation, and who have sufficient resources to back up that willingness, are the ones that should be the most strongly considered.

Example video from other sites – Along with reference requests comes putting too much weight on “application video” or video provided by manufacturers from similar sites. Understand that most end-users don’t want to provide video from their sites for use outside their four walls.

So it’s not that manufacturers don’t want that library of videos, it’s that it’s generally inaccessible to them. Additionally, there are many variables that determine what makes video “look good,” so just because it looks good in the cherry-picked examples provided by a given manufacturer, that in no way guarantees that the next project will have the same results. Asking for demonstrations at the site being considered is the best way to experience firsthand what type of video quality can be expected.

Unneeded tech and useless specs – Does the system actually need IPv6 or is it in the spec because an over-anxious architect wanted to cover the bases? Does every camera need to have cutting-edge low-light performance or are some of them mounted in areas that have 24/7 illumination?

Does the spec call for 60 days of storage retention, but the customer only needs 30? Does the site really need high-resolution cameras at every spot or are some of them mounted in areas where lower resolution cameras will do the job? Specifying what’s needed is very important, but avoiding ‘over specifying’ is just as important.

Every customer wants a perfect system, and they should get it. The challenge is to understand what is needed, what the challenges are, and what problems the customer is trying to solve. Achieving this, and responding with a system that meets those needs, is what separates success from disappointment.

By avoiding the pitfalls that often occur when planning a surveillance system, you can ensure a smooth implementation while giving customers the perfect solution they deserve.

4 Common Myths About Surveillance – Debunked

The video surveillance economy is expected to grow to $25 billion by 2018 as security managers at cities, airports and numerous other industries deal with a more challenging environment than ever before.

The popularity of video surveillance is also growing fast, driven not only by increasing security needs, but also due to a wide range of new advanced capabilities like license plate recognition, the ability to note temperature changes and a variety of new video analytics. Yet, despite the profusion of video surveillance cameras globally, they are still one of the most misunderstood products being sold in the physical security industry.

Simply put, there are still a lot of myths regarding what surveillance does and doesn’t do. We’ve compiled a list of those myths, along with the truths behind them:

  1. The more pixels you have, the better

It’s true that more pixels provide more detail in the captured video, but this only tells part of the story. High-megapixel count cameras are ideal for when it’s critically important to capture a higher level of detail, or when the camera view is extremely large (for example a parking lot), as the high pixel count supports good coverage over a larger area.

But there are many other factors that affect performance, including lighting, depth of field, camera positioning and more. In situations where lighting or camera location is less than optimal, you’ll need to look at other enhancements to adequately capture footage. And even if a megapixel camera is right for the situation, it must also be supported by a more robust network for transmission, and a larger storage system, which raises the operational costs.

The correct answer is that a camera with high pixel counts can be an exceptional solution, but only if it is part of a good system plan that takes the objectives and overall project factors into account.

  1. Cameras won’t stop incidents in progress

Up until recently surveillance was primarily a reactive measure. After an incident occurred, security managers would check the video to find out what they could about what happened, and to ID the criminal if possible. Now, advanced analytics make proactive security a reality by analyzing video data and correlating it with information in other security and business systems to provide predictive analysis. In some situations alerts can be sent automatically to security personnel, helping to prevent an incident or stop a crime in progress.

  1. Surveillance isn’t a necessity

Saying surveillance isn’t necessary because no crimes have been committed is like saying you don’t need health insurance because you haven’t gotten sick. The point is, you need surveillance before you have an incident, and installing surveillance cameras will help prevent some security issues from happening at all. But there are other benefits as well. For example, some retailers are happy to find that surveillance video that was intended for security can be very useful in slip-and-fall cases or other situations where video evidence helps solve problems.

  1. Surveillance technology is creepy

There are still people out there who associate video surveillance cameras with being watched by “Big Brother”. However, there is also a growing understanding that surveillance helps to keep us all safe. And there are many other benefits to surveillance that sometimes go unnoticed or unappreciated. Sick of bumper-to-bumper traffic? Video analytics can identify traffic flow on a highway to help city planners figure out if new highways need to be added. Do you hate waiting for trains and busses? Loitering analytics can help identify where there are long lines so managers can react in real time.

As surveillance deployments continue to grow, so will the appreciation for their many benefits. But end-users, and the public at large, can only realize its potential once the facts are completely understood.

These are just some of the myths we encounter on a day-to-day basis. What are yours? Tell us by tweeting @Pelcovideo.

3 Questions to Ask When Planning a Video Surveillance System

Implementing a reliable video surveillance solution that will meet business needs is a considerable challenge for any organization.

Fortunately, expertise is available from both leading manufacturers and experienced integrators to make this process easier and to increase the likelihood that the resulting system will meet expectations.

As is the case with most large, complex projects, establishing clear objectives and gathering the answers to key questions at the start of the job will make the difference between a successful and effective solution, and an expensive, disappointing one.

To help integrators ensure success with their project, we released a new whitepaper: Planning a World Class Video Surveillance System.

Our latest whitepaper will help clarify several basic questions that must be considered before any planning begins. The answers will establish the scope of the system needed and its level of video detail, the level of automation and staffing, and the operating environmental conditions.

These questions are so important, and so basic, that some people may be tempted to assume the answers are known to all, and agreed by all – but this is almost never the case. Our whitepaper delves into these questions – and many more – which will enable you to build agreement within your organization. This will pay generous dividends later in the project.

Here are a few basic questions we recommend before doing any planning.

1. What are the operational goals of the surveillance system?

Designing any system involves many decisions and tradeoffs, and the first goal must be to understand what the system is intended to do. This is not as obvious as might be anticipated by many lay people, and the answers may be interrelated in unexpected ways.

2. How will the system be staffed?

It is important to understand at the start of the project whether the surveillance system will be monitored at all times, at some times, or not at all. The answers here will raise numerous important issues relating to camera control and analytics.

3. What are the environmental conditions?

Conditions such as extreme heat, cold, humidity, corrosion, and high dust levels will play a part in determining what equipment can be considered for the installation. Other environmental factors also can play an important role, such as ambient light levels, the availability and reliability of existing power and network infrastructure, and more.

Based on the answers to these questions and discussion points, system designers can determine the range of possible equipment choices and start to flesh out a basic plan with some tentative early decisions.

To learn more about planning a world-class video surveillance system, download our free whitepaper below: