Who’s in charge? Study shows 91 percent of IT departments do video surveillance

IT increasingly involved in ‘purchase and operations of [video surveillance] equipment,’ according to study commissioned by Axis Communications
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CHELMSFORD, Mass.—Who’s in charge of video surveillance purchase and operations at corporations? Increasingly, that’s the domain of the IT department, according to a study commissioned by network video provider Axis Communications.

The results, released March 19, show the IT department “manages or supports” video surveillance deployments in 91 percent of the surveyed organizations currently using video surveillance technology.

The survey, completed by Enterprise Strategy Group in December, surveyed IT professionals at 302 organizations. Of that initial group, 150 organizations whose IT professionals had “day-to-day knowledge or familiarity with their organizations’ video surveillance technology environments and strategies” answered further questions. Of that group 47 percent said the IT department “is the group most responsible for setting surveillance strategy and making final infrastructure purchasing decisions,” according to Axis.

Only 9 percent of those IT professionals said that the physical security/loss prevention department had the most influence; 23 percent said senior management; 9 percent said compliance; 5 percent said facilities; and 5 percent said the legal department had the most influence.

While these statistics make sense given the move from analog to network cameras, Axis Communications’ director of technical services James Marcella told Security Systems News, “we know IT gets involved in most of these installations and sales, but the extent of IT’s ownership of this [video surveillance] is surprising.”

He said that security directors could possibly fall into multiple categories, and therefore, the physical security professional’s influence may not be clearly reflected in those statistics.

What do these findings mean for security integrators? They point to a business opportunity for integrators and also a wake-up call for any integrator who might be “working on or selling these types of solutions, that you should not just talk to the physical security [group], you also need to get involved with the IT side of the house.”

Having IT supporting video surveillance can save money and avoid liabilities, Marcella said. And, while Axis does not advocate—across the board—that video surveillance should reside on the same network as other corporate systems, it can be the optimal solution, he said.

“We look at it on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “But the answer is that we’ve evolved from preaching that physical security needs to have a separate network over the past six years.”

“If you can leverage the existing network, you should save money,” Marcella said. And, if the end user has the IT department managing the video surveillance, that department takes care of IT-centric issues such as ensuring the latest anti-virus software is updated. These are “things that are IT 101 for IT professionals, but may not be readily known on the physical security side,” Marcella pointed out.

It allows the IT professional to focus on mitigating IT risk and the security director to focus on mitigating physical security risk, Marcella said. “They leverage each other. IT becomes a custodian to help with [overall] risk mitigation.”

The survey showed that 80 percent of the IT professionals use video for business intelligence functions such as identifying operational efficiencies, production or process control, inventory control, identifying traffic patterns and employee training.

This is good news for integrators who are trying to help security directors justify the investment in video technology. The cost can be shared across the organization. It’s also another reason why one network can be the best choice.

“When you roll out business intelligence applications it lends more to converged networks,” Marcella said.