Future of security market under surveillance

Faithful readers of this publication will notice a tweak in this month’s issue.

Nov 1st, 2005

Faithful readers of this publication will notice a tweak in this month’s issue. In the spot that typically houses Donna Ballast’s column, we have a contribution from market researcher Frank Murawski. Donna’s column will return next month, when she will discuss the current status and future of coaxial cabling in the structured cabling marketplace.

Somewhat ironically, while Donna is busy working on an article about some of the prospects for coaxial, Murawski tells us that its future for at least one application is precarious.

In short, he says that video-surveillance systems used for security purposes will be a significant driver of the market for optical and unshielded twisted-pair cabling products over the next five years. Traditional analog closed-circuit television systems, linked by coaxial cabling, will start to give way to Internet Protocol-based digital surveillance systems, which most often are linked via unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) or optical-fiber cabling.

That stance falls in line with several other researchers who say unequivocally that IP-based video systems are poised for, and will in fact achieve, dramatic growth in the years ahead.

What I find particularly interesting is that this consensus comes from researchers who approach the topic from different angles. By that I mean, Frank Murawski has researched and analyzed structured cabling systems for years. I see the same conclusion from J.P. Freeman Co., which looks primarily at the security (but not really the cabling) market. And in a recent analysis of software markets, research firm Frost & Sullivan cited the decline in network-camera costs and corresponding increase in market uptake as a driver of video-surveillance software.

So, from just about every angle I can think of, those who scrutinize these market niches agree that network cameras, IP video, digital surveillance-whatever you call it, the technology is booming and will continue to do so.

I know, I know, I know. We can’t always take these market forecasts as gospel. In 2000, most of them were telling us that fiber demand would vastly outpace supply, cabling products would be consumed as quickly as they could be manufactured, and so on. And we all know what happened the next year and in the years that followed. Believe me, I remember just like you do.

So, why am I falling for what they’re saying all over again? Well, I like to think I’m not “falling” for it so much as I can see the plain logic behind these projections. I consider myself the lowest common denominator on many issues. If I can understand what it’s about and where it’s coming from, then pretty much everybody can. And in this case, I can see it. It makes sense to me. The need and desire for premises security in the form of surveillance, coupled with the opportunity to implement such a system without building an infrastructure from scratch, position IP surveillance as a utility that is within reach of a vast number of enterprise users.

As I write this column, we at Cabling Installation & Maintenance are in the midst of conducting some industry research of our own. Some other time and place, I’ll self-aggrandize about the research, bragging about how committed we are to better serving the industry and its needs, and all that shameless self-promotion. But for now, I’ll just state that early returns from our research indicate that just about half of those who are responsible for their companies’ network and cabling systems, are also responsible for the infrastructure of their companies’ security systems in whatever form they take (e.g., surveillance, access control, alarms).

Whether that early number, which is right around 50%, holds true, I can pretty confidently say that at least some portion of this publication’s audience has some responsibility for security systems. For those of you who fit that description, I bet using technology with which you’re familiar to manage your company’s security system holds a significant level of appeal.

But that’s me speaking for you, and I try to avoid doing that. So, consider this column an open question:

Do you think the time has come for IP-based video surveillance? I’m sincerely interested in your opinions and experiences.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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