Business & Marketing
Q&A With Fredrik Nilsson, General Manager, Axis Communications
By Jennifer Brown
Axis Communications made two product announcements at the ISC West show in Las Vegas — the Q7404 — a high performance video encoder with H. 264 compression and the P33 series of fixed dome network cameras promising HDTV quality images.
By Jennifer Brown
After the Axis press conference, SP&T News sat down with Nilsson to
talk about the influence of consumer technology on the security market
and how Security As A Service will help propel IP technology to the
SP&T News: You’ve launched new products that have been influenced by
consumer technology such as HDTV. How do you think this will encourage
people in the security industry to adopt the new technologies you’ve
Nilsson: If you look at everyday life these days we’re using megapixel
and H.264 with the iPhone and BluRay players and wireless
technology with high bandwidth. I read an article that said 90 per cent of
network traffic generated by consumers is related to audio and video
and that’s going to drive development. At the end of the day video
surveillance is a $10 billion market worldwide and consumer electronics
is a $700 billion market, so obviously it drives more R&D money that
will drive the development of technologies we can use for our purposes.
SP&T News: You demonstrated some video taken by HD cameras from a police
force in Denmark. It seems like something police forces and users from
all sectors would like to have. Who do you think will be adopting this
technology sooner rather than later and how are you pushing it out to
Nilsson: Again, relating back to the consumer market, it will be
interesting for anyone in security management or anyone operating a monitoring
centre for CCTV systems if they go to the monitor and they look at low
resolution analogue cameras and then go home and look at their flat
screen TV systems and ask ‘Why can’t I have that at work?’. I think you will
see it first in city centre surveillance, police forces, and eventually
casinos which have been late to adopt IP, but will benefit from seeing
the cards, seeing the faces and so on.
SP&T News: We hear from end-users that the main reason
preventing them from entering the IP network world is cost and the
infrastructure required to maintain it and whether they have the people,
knowledge, and resources to operate it. The City of Toronto recently did an
upgrade but have a hybrid system. What kind of education are you doing
to encourage users to go the next step to IP.
Nilsson: We have an effort called Axis Communications Academy where we
are certifying all of our system integrators, but we aren’t really looking to
push anyone who shouldn’t be pushed to IP yet. There are some
installations, for example in a schools — for large scalable systems IP
makes a lot of sense — it provides a better system and saves a lot of
money. But for city centre surveillance, if you’re looking at
transporting over wireless — maybe you don’t have the bandwidth to do
it today but there is tremendous development and there is one company
showing a 180 megabit per radio performance mesh network which is four
times what you used to have so there are tremendous things happening
that can turn those things around. For very small systems it’s not cost
efficient to do IP today if you’re doing it in the local model where
you have local recording but there are systems being launched to deal
with that and hosted video or Security As A Service is a big thing as
well — you’re going to see solutions with Brivo and ADT who we have
partnered with us to make it very cost efficient to install IP-based video
surveillance affordable for a very small company and that’s going to
turn that market around as well.
SP&T News: Will that also enable them to take advantage of the better camera technologies?
Nilsson: If you look at the whole Software As A Service (SaaS) concept
it makes smaller companies benefit from great software, such as a great
CRM system from salesforce.com. Even you’re a small company you can
have some one else host it for you and benefit from the technology
without being a big company. Security As A Service is doing the same
thing — those smaller customers that were stuck with analogue technology
can benefit from progressive scan, HDTV, megapixel and local storage
that only network cameras can give them.
SP&T News: There are stimulus packages that will be
coming out of the federal governments in the U.S. and Canada. It will
take time for the money to come through, but where do you see it influencing big
pockets of development for security in the next year.
Nilsson: When it comes to IP the strong markets
have been education, government and health care and transportation and
those are all tied to the government, except maybe health care in the U.S. Most will
benefit from construction projects where new surveillance will be
installed and in city centres they may want to be more efficient
surveillance so instead of police forces doing more overtime you could
monitor more efficiently using HDTV.
SP&T News: How well has Axis been able to penetrate the Canadian
market? Where do you see the growth areas for Axis in Canada?
Nilsson: We put one person in place in an office in Canada in 2004 and
up until then we had been working through a couple of good distributors
that we partnered with but we weren’t seeing the growth there as we
were in the U.S. so decided we wanted to hire and have our own
personnel up there. Today we have four people up there and we plan to
continue to expand and have increased the revenue 10-fold in the last
four years, so it shows the potential. As for growth, it’s pretty much
the same verticals as we see in the U.S. — there are a lot of jails,
police forces, transportation such as ports and airports, schools and
large commercial companies with multiple sites.
SP&T News: As some of the larger camera companies catch up to where
Axis is with IP technology do you foresee competition will get tougher?
Nilsson: We are celebrating 25 years in business and we were competing
in the IBM space for the first couple of years and with Intel and HP
and now in this market and any market has competitors. What is positive
is with other companies coming out with solutions it’s going to drive
the market and educate people that need to be convinced that this is a
better solution for them so it’s going to drive adoption in the market
further but there’s going to be better competition. There are 277
companies across the globe that are manufacturing network cameras — we
used to be the first one in 1996. The last report I saw we had gained
market share and we keep very close tabs on things like that. It’s
tough competition but we enjoy it.