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UK security and video recording marketDecember 2011

The UK security and video recording market is growing fast, with convergence between the communications technologies. Jeremy Towler and Lone Hansen report.

The UK security market is mature in comparison with many other international markets. The latest BSRIA report on the world market for electronic security systems shows that the UK market for cctv, access control and intruder alarms was worth over £2 billion in 2010.

Despite the presence of many leading suppliers, the market is still highly fragmented, with many small, local companies. This means that for all its maturity, the UK security market has scope for both greater convergence of security systems and for more amalgamation of the companies that provide them.

CCTV and video surveillance

The UK is the most surveyed country in Europe with an estimated 4.25 million cctv cameras. Despite this, the low quality images delivered by the majority of the installed base of cameras means that only one crime is solved for every 1000 cameras. This is driving demand for technological improvement of all aspects of the systems.

Share of CCTV products converged by value, 2010. Source: BSRIA

The industry is moving towards digital and networked systems, developing cameras of greater resolution and developing common communication protocols between different manufacturers' products.

The use of cctv ranges from simple scene monitoring to complex facial-recognition technology. It also covers remote video monitoring, video smoke detection, mobile systems, and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR). The last of these is certainly a growing market: in July 2011, the Hertfordshire town of Royston became the first UK town to install permanent automatic numberplate recognition cameras to record the registration numbers of all vehicles entering the town, with the data being held for two years on police servers.

There is a growing trend for video analytic software which can be programmed to intelligently analyse and respond to a changing scene. Not only is the software being developed to create intelligent security systems, it is also being used to improve retail operations, such as queue monitoring, people counting, and measuring traffic patterns to drive sales and customer satisfaction. New, high definition (HDcctv) technology is also expected to accelerate in the next few years.

BSRIA expects the use of 360° panoramic cameras as well as thermal infrared cameras, based on heat sensitive sensors that can operate in complete darkness, to grow very strongly over the next few years.

There is a trend away from basic digital video recorders towards network video recorders, and hybrid recorders able to accept signals from digital cameras as well as the older, traditional analogue cameras.
The latest IP network-based systems continue to gain share, as they offer enhanced flexibility and versatility, as well as products that enable remote viewing and control of video data from one or more interfaces in different locations.

Sales by security systems in the UK 2010 by type. Source: BSRIA.

Access control

The use of smart cards is increasing in offices, education and health sectors. The list of applications is long: cashless vending, personal computer access, library systems and transport payment systems, biometric integration, printing and photocopying privileges, and time and attendance analysis.

There is growing interest in integrating security with building management systems to reduce energy costs. In education, key cards are being deployed to allow access to specific areas for selected periods, with the doors locking at pre-specified times.

Biometric readers ought to have a promising future. Despite having been available for several years, they have only enjoyed a small penetration in the market due to price and doubtful reliability. Although many technologies are available, fingerprint scanners are by far the most popular choice.

Intruder alarms

The market for intruder alarm products continues to decline as more clients turn to cctv-based solutions. These deliver much of the same functionality as well as the visual evidence of crime incidents. Technological trends include the incorporation of multiple communications technologies and the use of dual sensors that combine more than one detecting technology.

The market for intruder alarms remains large, and supports a very substantial remote monitoring business which is not likely to disappear any time soon.

Wireless products

The penetration of wireless connected security products remains low. They are still considered by many to be insufficiently reliable due to latency in data transfer. In addition, they do not always fulfil data protection requirements.

Wireless systems are limited to the residential sector, and small offices where installation work needs to be avoided.

The future for integration

Integration is the adding of value by linking different building service applications, typically with bi-directional data exchange. Convergence is the bringing together of autonomous systems onto a common communication platform within the business enterprise, to create a single unified solution.

There is an increasing number of applications for integrating security applications. For example, with access control, cctv can take a snapshot of people entering an area when their card is presented, while the intercom system can be activated to instruct cameras to record a vehicle at an entrance. The ANPR system can then automatically open a barrier to the authorised vehicle.

CCTV can be integrated with intruder alarm systems. Cameras can be set to a higher resolution when intruder alarms trigger, and send live footage or video clips to a mobile device.

HVAC and lighting systems can be activated only when a person assigned to that area enters the building, and turned off when areas are unoccupied for longer periods. Cameras with video analytics can count people and ramp up the HVAC based on occupancy. For lighting, occupancy can be verified before lights are turned on or off.

Fire alarms can be verified by sending a picture of a smoke detector in alarm and video showing whether there is an actual fire. Staff can then be alerted to the precise location of the fire on a graphical floor plan. Fire escape doors can be automatically controlled and occupants can be alerted to the location of the safe exits via voice alarms.

Power can also be isolated from vulnerable equipment, such as server rooms, to reduce the impact of damage from sprinklers. An access control system can be used to generate a roll-call based on who is in the building.

The perceived security threat from crime, terrorist activity and internal fraud persists. There is also a need to manage and verify processes for regulation and insurance purposes.
The UK government is implementing greater border security. There is increasing demand for the protection of critical national infrastructure sites such as utility installations, government facilities, pipelines and transport hubs.

Continued urbanisation, the expansion of public transport networks and highly publicised security breaches are all driving security spending. This - and the technological innovation and integration of systems - can only drive up demand for skilled labour, and more sophisticated security systems.
Compared with the building automation industry, the security industry has been slow to implement standards, but this is now gaining momentum through global initiatives.

Two industry groups were formed in 2008: the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA). The PSIA was founded by 20 member companies including Honeywell, GE Security and Cisco, whereas the ONVIF was founded by Axis Communications, Bosch and Sony.

There is a high degree of alliance and acquisition activity which is expected to continue for quite a few years to come as the security market consolidates.

Jeremy Towler is BSRIA's principal consultant for intelligent building controls. See more about BSRIA's security market reports and private consultancy services.