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Prying Eyes: Axis, Mobotix, VistaScape and More

Apr 01, 20043 mins
Physical SecuritySurveillanceVideo

Video surveillance remains a key weapon in the security team's arsenal

Scott Greiper says eight out of every 10 security purchases in 2004 will be access control products. Video surveillance remains a key weapon in the security team’s arsenal (see “What Do the Mob, eBay and Winona Ryder Have in Common?” Page 40), and Greiper, a research analyst who tracks security technologies for investment bank C.E. Unterberg, Towbin, says lower component costs, the rise of digital video and increasing integration with computer networks have dramatically reduced the cost of deploying surveillance systems. As a result, camera installations have proliferated rapidly.

That’s good news for businesses that have a lot of assets to watch over. The flip side of the coin, Greiper says, is that companies with lots of cameras have a hard time managing them, archiving the necessary data and making sense of the tide of information that comes from multiple video streams. He says a fair amount of venture capital is currently aimed at products and technologies that will add necessary intelligence and automation for video surveillance management.

Recent video product announcements illustrate many of Greiper’s observations quite nicely.

Axis Video Servers

Axis Communications makes servers that incorporate signals from existing analog cameras. That means a company with a big investment in analog CCTV equipment can seamlessly integrate those cameras with newer digital equipment. The Axis servers digitize analog signals and provide password-protected access through a standard Web browser.


BroadWare Technology’s software for video management is based on technology developed for videoconferencing, so BroadWare video is designed for low-latency, real-time streaming performance (instead of caching or buffering techniques) using proxy servers. The system gives authorized users access to the video stream from any camera at any location on the network, and the low latency makes direct remote camera control more valuable (for example, in instances that require a quick pan or zoom of a particular camera). BroadWare also provides tools for managing bandwidth consumption.


Mobotix aims to make IP surveillance cameras truly plug-and-play with the company data networkallegedly as easy as installing a networked printer. The company’s cameras plug directly into Ethernets, without requiring additional software or even a power source (power is drawn through the network cable). Again, standard Web browsers provide the viewing and management interface. Some Mobotix models incorporate various additional hardware features, such as a passive infrared sensor.


VistaScape helps address the data overload issue that Greiper mentioned. The company’s software takes input from multiple video sources and overlays the results onto a graphical representation of the entire area being monitored. So, for example, instead of peering at a bank of monitors, personnel overseeing a harbor can look at a simulated overhead view that uses icons to indicate anywhere motion is detected in the harbor area. The company describes this as “situational awareness of your entire secured area, on one screen.” If something needs to be checked out in detail (to which end policy-based alerts are built in), drilling down to a particular camera is a point-and-click affair.