Guest Column | February 13, 2014

Building An IP Surveillance System SMB Retailers Can Afford

Hedgie Bartol

By Hedgie Bartol, Retail Business Development Manager, Axis Communications

Small video surveillance systems have traditionally been dominated by analog, but when you compare IP video vs. analog, IP video simply offers more. The best surveillance integrators position these benefits as part of the sales cycle to prove that there’s much more value and potential with IP video.

  • One size does not fit all. As the variety of cameras increases, the cost of IP cameras has been going down, making IP video a reality for retailers of all sizes. In the past year alone, we’ve seen a number of IP cameras released that are ideal for retail environments, including 360 degree, covert, and bullet styles. With so many form factors to choose from, you can find a camera that fits the application and meets the retailer’s security needs. 
  • Less really is more. It’s easy to get intimidated by the additional components of a video surveillance system, but many video management software (VMS) solutions are low cost or even free. If you select a VMS that can run at the edge — i.e. running and storing video inside the IP camera or video encoder itself — there’s no need to purchase expensive and maintenance-heavy DVRs or NVRs, an additional cost savings to the retailer. This also allows them to take small steps toward IP without a big financial commitment. As they learn the system, they can identify which functionalities they really need for the future.
  • Living on the edge. More and more solutions like analytics are also running at the edge due to the increased processing power from the latest in-camera chipsets specifically designed for video surveillance. As IP cameras become even smarter devices, retailers can reap the benefits by learning more about their stores — from traffic patterns, to how many people are shopping, to merchandising metrics, to stocking levels, and more. In addition to traditional loss prevention, analytics are helping stores make smarter decisions about merchandising and operations.
  • Count on the cloud. Hosted solutions provide customers the ability for on-demand surveillance without the capital investment. With the cloud, store owners can check in from literally anywhere and rest easy knowing that it’s being stored securely, all while offloading maintenance of the system to their service provider. Hosted video solutions can also connect with central station alarm monitoring, which adds a layer of video verification to avoid dispatching the authorities to a false alarm.
  • Getting there from here. Fortunately the move to IP video isn’t all or nothing. Retailers can leverage existing analog cameras and cabling investments with video encoders and media converters for Ethernet over coax technology. Work with your retail customers to find a migration path that works for them both in time and budget. A well-planned migration strategy will add intelligence to the system and provide them with the ability to adopt or implement all of the above.