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Cisco Invests In Converged IT And Video Surveillance Security

In a move to promote a convergence between IT security and surveillance cameras that act as the eyes of security professionals who defend physical perimeters and corridors, Cisco Systems Tuesday said it was planning a $51 million acquisition of SyPixx Networks Inc., a privately held maker of video surveillance software and hardware that lets existing analog video systems operate as part of an open IP network.

Cisco is looking to add intelligence to video security systems so that they do more than simply record and play back an analog history of events. "SyPixx can be used to integrate surveillance into an IP-based network," says Marthin De Beer, VP of Cisco’s emerging market technologies group, which will oversee the company's security convergence work. While it's difficult for companies to access and analyze much of the analog video surveillance footage available to them today, "When you make it digital, it becomes a snap to pull up relevant content," he notes.

Use of IP networking to control video surveillance also means footage can be shared anywhere the network reaches; security professionals don't need to run to a central surveillance booth to screen images. SyPixx offers encoder technology that allows existing coaxial-connected video cameras to digitize their feed to an IP network.

Cisco expects to close the acquisition in its third fiscal quarter ending April 28th. SyPixx was founded in 2004 and has 27 employees in Arizona, California, and Connecticut. Upon close of the transaction, SyPixx’s video surveillance products will be part of a new business unit in Cisco’s emerging markets technology group, reporting to De Beer. "As the world has changed over the past five years, people have become aware of the need to move the surveillance technology that's in place to a more scalable system," says De Beer of the reasoning behind Cisco's first foray into the market for converged physical and IT security.

Such convergence sets the table for a variety of security technologies that people know more from television shows such as 24 than from reality. One is the ability to capture a video image of a person moving through a yard or facility and use facial-recognition software to match that image against a database of known criminals or suspects. This technology is still a work in progress. The reality is that poor lighting and difficulty capturing a clean image of a suspect's face makes it difficult to get a positive match with an image stored in a database. Companies such as A4Vision Inc., a maker of 3D facial recognition cameras and software that are largely being tested outside the United States, continue to work through such problems. In February, Motorola said it would include A4Vision's technology as part of Motorola's biometric identity management and security portfolio of products, used for enrollment and issuance of secure national ID cards and passport documents.

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