2016 Physical Security Market Influencer: Scott Schafer, EVP, Arecont Vision


The Security.World community voted during the summer of 2016 and selected the Physical Security and Video Surveillance industry’s Top 12 Influencers. This Profile is one in the series of 12 of those individuals that are making a difference in our industry. Congratulations to Scott Schafer, Executive Vice-President, Arecont Vision. We reached out to Scott to get his views and insight on what is happening in the physical security and video surveillance market. Here are his thoughts:

The vast Security.World community of physical security professionals has just selected you as one of their Top 12 industry Influencers for 2016. What is your reaction to that?

Schafer: This announcement is a real honor. The physical security industry is one of the most interesting on the planet. To be selected last year was terrific. I feel very grateful to be selected again.

How long have you been active in the physical security/video surveillance industry and what brought you into this industry?

I have been active in the physical security industry since 2004. What brought me to the industry was the technology change from analog products moving to network and IT/computer centric platforms. Since I spent the majority of my career in the computer industry, I could see how convergence would make important and valuable changes for systems integrators and end user customers. You might say I was “pre-converged!”

How did you get started (what was your first job) in this industry?

My first job was the Senior Vice President of global marketing and North American sales for Pelco. Pelco was a private company at that time. It was great to be a part of a company that had such an important position not only in its scale but Pelco was a trusted partner to its customers. Pelco’s fanatical customer service was legendary and meant a great deal to the industry, its customers and to its employees.

What are some of the changes in the industry that you saw coming and are most proud about being accurate?

The advance to network and IT/computer centric technology platforms was an important step. Then the next major push to get to VGA quality video and then to multi-megapixel camera platforms. After all, VGA cameras deliver about the same resolution as analog cameras so image quality improvement was not part of the progression to the first IP camera systems. Many leading people and firms in the industry thought that CMOS sensor technology could not provide adequate low light performance and were therefore resistant to change to that technology. And moving the data across the network and storing it on servers was thought to be too expensive. Now the security cameras with CMOS multi-megapixel sensors and H.264 compression are leading the way to new solutions that were really not possible in the past.

How have you seen the industry change over the past few years?

The security industry is resilient. It is wonderful to see how much progress has been made by manufacturers delivering new and important technology. Equally as important has been how systems integrators and dealers have adopted to the new technology that makes a real difference for their end users. It was no small task for these providers of solutions to step up to learn the new network based systems, hire network knowledgeable people, and then deploy and service these new solutions. It has truly been a transformation of the security industry.

What do you see has been the single most impactful technology in the industry?

Multi-megapixel cameras. Remember the days of CCTV video or robberies on television where you could not make out the face of the robber? Unfortunately 95% of security cameras are still old analog and VGA cameras that produce about 300,000 pixels. Multi-megapixel cameras changed the game by delivering image quality for the identification/recognition of faces and license plates, and provide coverage of large spaces that would have been cost prohibitive in the past. Single and multi-sensor megapixel cameras have rendered standard definition cameras and PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) cameras almost obsolete. And it was no small task for the new VMS/NVR firms to accommodate the new camera technology into their systems to make everything work together.

As an industry influencer, can you share with us a business success story or case study that you are most proud about?

I think there are several that are important for different reasons.

  • 1. A gentleman with adult children dropped them off at the large venue event they were all attending. When the man didn’t show up as expected, the family found him in the medical tent with injuries to his face and body. When asked, he said he didn’t know what happened. The security team showed him the video to which he replied, “I tripped over my own two feet!” The security manager was delighted and said to his team, “that video just paid for the entire system!” The video security system with 180 degree multi-megapixel cameras in the parking lot and walkways captured an excellent record of what happened. It would have been very unlikely that a PTZ or single sensor camera would have been pointed in the right place at the right time. This is truly a game changing technology.
  • 2. A firm with many offices conducted a thorough evaluation of security cameras. Their internal testing of many vendors left five finalists. Cameras from the final five vendors were installed in one of the branch locations for validation in a real life environment. An incident occurred in ‘broad daylight’ during the pilot and only one camera’s wide dynamic (WDR) performance was good enough to identify the suspect in the incident. The point is that specifications are easily written. Real life results need to be tested for an the results analyzed to get the best solution for your opportunity.
  • 3. An organization did an extensive 18 month test to determine their new video security needs for an upcoming major event. Arecont Vision was engaged from the beginning on the new design and migration plan. At the close of the cycle, the number two competitor offered the entire system for free! The customer instead chose the Arecont Vision solution for the following reasons: open system, image quality, frame rate, low light performance, POE vs. power for each camera, and lower bandwidth and storage. The system has been a great success for the end user and they have won several major awards.

Please share with us your visions of this industry and what it will look like for manufacturers, integrators, installers, central stations, and end-users in the near future.

The security industry will continue to drive even more important solutions for every kind of business. Security systems used to be a grudge purchase, meaning the end user customer didn’t get much new value when they replaced their old, worn out system so they weren’t thrilled when they had to make an investment of the same tired technology. And they delayed in replacing that old technology system because the next step up yielded so little value. The game has changed. Chief Security Officers (CSO) and security directors know now they can get more value for their companies and organizations. They can do things now that were not possible before. They can replace their old system with a more robust solution, requiring fewer cameras, gaining much more usable data for the same price that their old system cost them. They can get a better solution, at a lower cost, that provides a better way for their security employees to do their jobs. Now that is a compelling value proposition.

Tell us about a current industry FAD or trend that you do _not_ see being around in the future (i.e.: NFC, gesture technology for access control, body worn cameras, patient biometric authentication, certain video analytics, etc).

The current FAD that will go away is the FAD that distributors and Systems Integrators/Dealers now take business with extremely low hardware margins and live with lower profits than they should be getting for their companies. They should make more so they can invest in their people and their processes. Gone should be the days where the reseller community doesn’t get fair value for their work. Manufacturers will wake up and make sure that their channel partners are protected on projects and do all they can to help their partner to make an adequate margin and profit. At Arecont Vision, we have made this an important part of our reseller program. Our project registration program delivers important value to our customers so they can be more competitive and make more money. That delivers a much stronger customer relationship and both of our companies can invest in building strong solutions together.

What vertical market do you think is going to witness the biggest impact of industry advancements and why? (Airports, Seaports, Campus (K12/Univ), Hospitals, Law Enforcement, Banking, Oil/Gas, Retail, etc).

Retail. The reason retailers will witness the biggest impact is because retail security organizations have traditionally been doing just the basics and have not invested in IP/multi-megapixel video solutions. Retailers spend security monies on basic needs versus using IT/network based systems as a competitive advantage. Retail security groups generally haven’t received the advantages that are delivered by IT/IP systems in other industries because they didn’t invest in the IP platform technologies like IP networks, servers and workstations. Their leap into IP systems will take them beyond the IP-VGA systems that early adopters received and they will get not only excellent HD images, they will receive significantly better network and systems management with their new platform. And they will deploy important game changing applications like analytics. The result will be CSOs and Security Directors in retail will obtain the image quality they need to excel in their role for their company. They will have usable video of faces/license plates for their investigations. Instead of situational awareness, retailers will receive situational awareness plus a number of valuable new tools and solutions.

What is your position on where the privacy line is located today, where you see that line in the future, and do you personally agree with those positions?

I look back at when I first joined the security industry. There are significant changes in view on privacy over the last dozen years. Back then, I was interviewed by a very liberal USA newspaper about the implications on privacy of citizens. The writer was looking for a sound bite that s/he could tee off on to launch into a negative portrayal of security systems and providers. I carefully watched my words but the article still questioned where this would all lead, the compromises that would be made, and some negative impacts. Fast forward to today. So many important investigations have progressed much faster with much better image quality. Think about the Boston Marathon bombing and how quickly video security images were utilized by law enforcement and the public to identify and find the culprits. Stories like that one happen all over the planet and citizens now know the value these HD systems provide. I was recently at a major university where the student government leaders were concerned that the university was reducing video security protection on the campus and wanted the university police to step up and deliver more. That was really something to see. The students themselves wanted more protection than they thought would be provided. The university police were updating their system and would be delivering more than 10x the coverage and the students were thrilled.

How can the industry support or accelerate these synergistic partnership opportunities?

Partnerships in the security industry are a must. No longer can a company be on its own island. Arecont Vision technology partnerships are important so that as providers of the most advanced video security camera technology, we can be a part of a game-changing solution for our SI/dealers and their customers. We not only do joint integration testing but we do significant joint technology development to move the industry faster to new solutions. This is hard work. We meet formally with our key technology partners every quarter to compare ideas and direction so we can make the most out of each others’ developments and get to market much faster. Additionally, we deliver joint technical and solution training to the industry, globally.
Organizations like the Security Industry Association (SIA) also foster cooperation and coordination through their many education and standards programs. There is real value in participating in committees to help the industry move faster.

Is there anything in the “lab” that you’re currently working on or involved with that you would like to share with our readership?

At Arecont Vision we continue to drive our historical advantage by improving performance, driving to smaller form factors and reducing cost. Over the past several years we have been working on ways to improve the way overall video security systems are designed, installed, used and serviced. This has resulted in some unique product designs that we have already released. In the near future you will see some even more incredible approaches to the way video security cameras will be installed and used. We are really excited about this next step in our company’s maturity and growth. And I believe our customers will benefit a great deal from the hard work we have done and will continue to do for them.

Congratulations and many thanks to Scott Schafer of Arecont Vision for his participation in this year’s Industry Influencers.

Source: arecontvision.com