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Some IT professionals are on a steep learning curve as they take on responsibility for video surveillance, according to a market research firm.

“There’s a real problem right now,” said Stan Schatt, vice-president and research director of ABI Research Inc., which this week published a report titled Video Surveillance Systems. “There is a gap between the physical security folks, who are known as the ‘guns and badges’ and the traditional IT department. In many cases they have been historically separate entities.”

In the past, Schatt said, many video surveillance cameras were connected to analogue proprietary cabling systems, but that is starting to change.

“Now that we’re moving towards a more hybrid (IP and analogue) systems, we’re seeing that IT departments have had to bone up on security considerations, maybe even hire additional folks to handle that,” Schatt said.

Oyster Bay, N.Y.-based ABI Research forecasts the video surveillance market will have revenues of US$46 billion in 2013, up from US$13.5 billion in 2006. This includes sales of cameras, servers, storage systems, professional services and hardware infrastructure.

Schatt noted some IT departments can get bigger budgets because video is used for applications other than surveillance.

“One thing enterprises are doing that they haven’t done in the past is they’re starting to do video surveillance internally as well as externally,” Schatt said. “Instead of worrying about break-ins, in some cases they’re using video surveillance to monitor processes — how people do certain things.

He added corporate marketing departments are starting to use analytics software that studies the behaviour of customers.

“The data becomes very important to marketing and sales as well as security, because what you’re doing is you’re observing the behaviour of customers in outlets.”

TRIUMF Canada a particle and nuclear physics lab located in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia, has different groups that use video for different reasons, according to the lab’s network security manager, Andrew Daviel.

In an e-mail to ComputerWorld Canada, Daviel said the only involvement the IT department has in video surveillance is in providing network cabling and infrastructure, and ensuring the cameras meet the network usage policy.

In the city of Gatineau, Quebec the IT department provides the network. In an e-mail to ComputerWorld Canada, the city’s director of IT services, Andre Scantland, said his department also configures virtual local-area networks and provides the servers supporting video surveillance.

Storage is an important consideration for companies that need to archive their video content, Schatt said.

“There are legal requirement in different states and countries on how long video information needs to be stored and in what format it needs to be stored, so that could impact the type of network storage,” he said. “You have not only short-term storage but you have long term archival storage that’s required.”

Another issue is bandwidth, because video content takes up such a large amount of memory. Some companies get around this, Schatt said, by programming the cameras to record only after they detect motion.

“The other approach is to simply send everything over the network to a storage device in which case the information is filtered. One places more of a strain on the network.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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