I’ve just finished my interview with Robin Hughes, Co-Founder at Secure Logiq and have come off the video call quite inspired.
Robin and the team at Secure Logiq have had the most fantastic year, despite COVID; in fact, the restrictions due to COVID and the pandemic have done much to drive interest and, therefore, continued growth, for this specialist UK manufacturer.
Secure Logiq will celebrate their 10th birthday in September 2021 and are in the midst of step changes in personnel to support the continuing increase in demand for their services. Norbain signed them up as a vendor back in Autumn 2020, recognising the advantage of bringing into our portfolio a vendor who offers servers specifically designed for HD Surveillance.
So, what are the reasons behind this success story, apart from Secure Logiq being run by enthusiast experts who strive to be the best at what they do.
For months, the papers have been awash with stories from different industries suffering due to the reduced supply of semi-conductors or silicon chips. These days, these tiny processing elements run everything from your car to your phone, your tablet, your TV and your CCTV system.
Lockdown across the world accelerated the growth of our wish to be connected at home. 30 percent of people in the United Kingdom now own five or more connected devices, according to the most recent Connected Consumer Survey from Google and TNS Infratest (Jan 2021).
But at the same time, as soon as lockdown hit, other massive industries such as car manufacturing cancelled or postponed their chip orders. As you can imagine, this meant mining stopped extracting both spherites and silicon which lead to a gap in supply of these raw materials.
Robin explained that there is a second reason too – the exponential rise in the value of Bitcoin!
GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) are a key component in CCTV, used to decode images and display them onto screens. With the increase of video analytics, these are also key to decoding information and presenting it in a meaningful way for the end user. But GPUs are also intrinsic in Bitcoin mining.
Previously, it was hard to justify the cost of a GPU and the associated power consumption for Bitcoin mining applications, but as the price of Bitcoin has increased from $8K in Jan 2020 to $40k in Jan 2021 to $60k today (April 2021), demand for GPUs to do the number crunching has increased exponentially. Costs have risen from £300 per GPU new to £1,200 for a 2nd hand one! The manufacturers of GPUs – nVidia and others – simply cannot keep up with demand.
Fortunately, Secure Logiq’s Chief Technical Officer keeps an extremely close eye on anything that’s likely to impact the company and he anticipated the shortages well in advance, allowing them to buy in enough critical stock to continue to manufacture for 3+ months.
To date in their 10 years, Secure Logiq have never failed to deliver a customer order within 7-10 working days and this strength of track record has won them a number of major clients during 2020.
This has already paid dividends for Norbain, who were able to deliver a hardware request in 3 days that had been quoted elsewhere as 6-8 weeks.
2. UK Manufacturing is flourishing in certain sectors
Contrary to the challenges faced by other sectors of the UK economy since we left the European single market and customs union, Secure Logiq breathed a sigh of relief when they escaped any incoming component or exported manufactured product from incurring a tariff, so avoiding price increases.
The company’s biggest challenge in this regard are the delays to imports and exports at ports, along with the increased rates that couriers are charging. But Robin expects these inconveniences to be short lived and for the supply chain to even itself out in the medium term.
He’s also observed a growing trend of UK CCTV Installers looking to switch to British manufactured solutions, including from the larger independent enterprise CCTV integrators. Secure Logiq are well placed to benefit from this with their proactive supply chain management.
Robin believes that UK manufacturing will continue to flourish as restrictions are eased and customers feel more confident to spend.
3. The acceleration of Video Analytics
Video Analytics (VA) have been around in the marketplace for some years. In fact, Robin was attempting to sell solutions containing analytics in the early days when AI wasn’t intuitive enough to differentiate a video surveillance solution. Historically analytics solutions were often over-sold, leading to mistrust by the marketplace around what it the technology could solve.
Fast forward to 2020, the algorithms have become smart enough, the software accurate enough and the processors are crunching fast enough to deliver real time benefits when video analytics are added to a solution in a busy area, such as a town centre. For example, you can now request to see everyone wearing a blue cap with green top and black trousers within x radius within x timeframe and the system will provide you with accurate movements of a possible suspect or victim.
Such systems need a lot of power and are processor intensive and this is exactly where Secure Logiq’s hardware capabilities shine. Their expertise allows them to identify the appropriate ratio of CPU (Central Processing Unit) to GPUs in each box to provide the client with the processing power they need.
The company has quoted on video analytics projects for some time, but what Robin is seeing now is a big uptick in the conversion to sales.
Another reason for the growth of video analytics that Robin has observed has been the ability of security manufacturers to reposition their existing product offerings to solve the issues of the day – and video analytics solves many lockdown or post-pandemic conundrums, such as facemask detection, social distancing alerts and initial temperature screening solutions. For example, offering these solutions have already allowed two cruise line companies to start taking bookings and the opportunity just across the Entertainment, Leisure and Sports sectors is obvious.
There are also more competitors now in the video analytics marketplace. Investment is high, with the technology perceived as sexy, exciting and offering great demo ability. This is a positive for the end user; with more players, solutions are improved at the same time as driving down the cost of the software.
As the algorithms improve because more data is captured, so the circle perpetuates, improving the accuracy of the video analytical solutions all the time. And providing more user cases, improvements in marketing and better selling.
And the more powerful the analytics and software becomes, the greater the demand for powerful hardware.
Robin advised that 70% of Secure Logiq’s solutions are customised to the software and video analytics requirements specified by the end user. The company take the approach of manufacturing” from the ground up” and pride themselves first and foremost on being video surveillance experts. They have more than 120 years’ combined experience in HD video just on the management team “who happen to understand and manufacture computers”. This provides them with the ability to build superior systems with better applications.
Another differentiator the company offers is a full (and free) design service, which often throws up aspects that had been overlooked in a company’s overall security solution. Robin says none of his competitors have thought to take this industry leading approach.
This approach means that 90% of the calls they receive to customer support are for assistance in solving all kinds of software or networking issues and not about technical faults with Secure Logiq’s hardware.
Again, the need to solve these kinds of challenges for end users will only increase as video analytics become a standard offering within VMS software.
4. Ever more powerful cameras
The 4th reason Robin believes Secure Logiq are seeing such demand for their services are the advances in camera functionality.
As more high-res cameras are put in place, so bigger storage and processing requirements are needed. Even as compression algorithms improve, this will be offset by the increase in decoding requirements to display video images and, therefore, more powerful client hardware, another speciality of Secure Logiq
What’s interesting for Secure Logiq is they are currently the only ones in the UK manufacturing their own servers and building every project from ‘the ground up’ as Robin describes it, unique to customer specification. While there are others offering similar solutions, they are using Dell or HP equipment and neither Dell nor HP are investing much in supporting the needs of the evolving video surveillance market, because it equates to such a tiny part of their turnover.
A change in approach
Robin explained that hardware in IT in general used to be over-specified and expensive. You would often see hardware quoted as triple the cost of the software aspect of a solution. This has often been because the software manufacturer specifies that they require the very latest components which of course come at a premium.
Robin and Secure Logiq’s approach to this has been to say, “Give us your software and we’ll test what you need”. What they did was developed a tool which allowed them to replicate the size of any IP CCTV system without having to actually build it. They can then test out what magnitude of hardware is really required with a very high degree of accuracy. And they’ve proved that you can do more with less boxes – less servers needed means less rack space and less power, ultimately saving customers a lot of electricity and money!
This approach won them a recent Facial Recognition project in Israel, specifying 2 servers at £8,000 each, against a competitor’s quote of £72,000.
What developed next was a truly ingenious use of such a tool. The team quickly realised that if they put a front end on their hardware testing tool, they could offer it to clients as an in-house health monitoring and alerting utility. And so Logiqal Healthcheck Pro was born, offered for free with all Secure Logiq hardware.
During 2020, Secure Logiq have seen a marked increase in end users and integrators using the Logiqal Healthcheck Pro utility because it offers a great way to identify what is likely to be wrong before going on site. That way the engineer can take the right piece of kit or tools to limit the amount of time he spends on site, also resolving the issue for the customer far more quickly.
It’s encouraging to speak to a vendor who is growing strongly despite the general headwinds much of the UK economy has experienced over the last year. Whilst none of us know what is around the corner, we can be heartened by Robin and Secure Logiq’s positive outlook on the opportunities ahead for the Security Sector.
Certainly, our industry has done much to show resilience and an ability to adapt quickly to changing customer requirements. Secure Logiq’s drive to provide a quality final outcome where benefits outweigh the customer’s expectations will maintain high standards for those that partner with this vendor.
Find out more about Secure Logiq’s solutions via Norbain SD: