Jan. 01, 2008

Megatrends in Video Surveillance – Part 2

  • John Blem, CTO and Co-Founder of Milestone Systems A/SJohn Blem, CTO and Co-Founder of Milestone Systems A/S
  • John Blem, CTO and Co-Founder of Milestone Systems A/S
  • Eric Fullerton, Corporate Chief Sales and Marketing of Milestone Systems A/S

Megatrends in Video Surveillance - Part 2. A key technological advantage in the migration to IP video surveillance technology is that it can be an open platform. An open platform frees you from “proprietary jail”. This decouples software from hardware so you are no longer tied to the product line of a specific manufacturer and the limitations of proprietary technology. With an open platform, disparate systems can be integrated into efficient and effective solutions.

Megatrend 3: Open Platform

You can buy card readers from one manufacturer, control hardware from another, surveillance cameras from a mix of vendors, and software from a third or fourth, and then combine them together to create a best-of-breed solution tailored to your operation. It’s complete freedom of choice. No longer do you have to orchestrate a massive equipment switchover to utilize new technology or try to integrate systems.

With an open platform, all the devices use a common standard of communication so new can communicate with old. This gives a much longer lifespan to your security system and “future proofs” your investment. As the IT and security industries continue to converge, the open platform advantage of IP technology will act as a multiplier of real world benefits.

It will be the crucial enabler for:

  • Advancing video asset management and storage, 
  • reducing the cost of expansion and maintenance, 
  • ensuring the interoperability with new systems and devices designed to add greater efficiency and effectiveness to your security operations.

Megatrend 4: Increasing Integration with other Security Devices and Systems

Imagine a video surveillance system capable of identifying an intruder and locking all adjacent doors to seal in the intruder in police arrive. Or imagine a video surveillance system that recognises unauthorised personnel in a corridor and sends an email alert to security, plus “instructs” each camera in the network to follow their movements and relay them to security. A big advantage of IP video surveillance systems is that since they are connected to the network, they can use the network and interact with other network devices.

A major trend in the near future will be finding innovative ways to leverage this connectivity to improve security, reduce risk, and increase the overall value of the surveillance system.

Since most IP network cameras have digital inputs and outputs (I/O), it is also easy to integrate them with other security devices, such as alarms, sensors, lighting, gates and doors.

For example, alarm devices or sensors could trigger cameras to start recording and transmitting images to a specific destination, or request that email alerts complete with video clips be sent to a mobile phone. Camera outputs could be used to enable cameras to turn on lights, set off alarms, close or open doors, or other actions.

Integration with Point-Of-Sale (POS) devices could pinpoint an action, such as the swipe of a credit card or the cancellation of a transaction to alert the immediate IP network camera to save the six seconds of video both before and after the action. This collects only the data a security or loss prevention team is interested in, and can even categorise it by the checker on duty or other criteria.

Megatrend 5: Greater Return on Investment

IP technology is doing more than revolutionising security surveillance. It is providing opportunities for video surveillance capabilities to be leveraged by other parts of your organisation. Imagine what marketing, human resources or training could do with access to high quality video from all areas of your operations.

With the ability to search hours of video from thousands of cameras in mere minutes for specific events, it would be easy to also use surveillance video for everything from market research to training videos. With video analytics and fast search capabilities, IP video surveillance makes possible all kinds of new uses and applications:

  • Marketing research companies can study real consumer reactions to POS display and other shopping behaviour.
  • Building designers can study traffic flow to improve interior design.
  • Retailers, libraries, and other organisations can monitor in real-time the number of customers and the length of lines to provide alerts when more staffing is needed.
  • Cameras can provide alerts when shelves need restocking, spills have occurred, or aisles are obstructed. 
  • HR departments can monitor employee/customer interactions to improve service, detect gaps in training and management, spot and praise good behaviour, and identify employees avoiding customer contact or shirking other responsibilities. 
  • Training departments can collect clips for training videos on everything from how to spot common shoplifting behaviours to ways to more effectively help customers. (Video analytics and advanced search capabilities make it easy to collect and find usable clips.)
  • Facial recognition systems can provide higher levels of security for buildings, including recognising repeat offenders targeting chain stores.
  • Airports and train stations can have cameras “watch” for unattended baggage or other suspicious behaviour. 

What’s exciting is that this is only the beginning. Having centrally controlled, intelligent IP network cameras that can be monitored by a variety of analytical applications not only enhances security, but also enables organisations to make more accurate and predictive decisions in sales, marketing, HR, supply chain systems, and other areas.

In fact, as data mining techniques improve and move into the mainstream, it will become easier for organisations to search video for patterns, relationships and trends that will help them improve their customer service, interactions, and responses to a wide variety of events.

Megatrend 6: Rapid Gains in Price/Performance

There is nothing like competition in the marketplace – particularly when it involves an open platform such as IP networking. Intense competition is driving down the price of IP hardware, such as IP network cameras, servers and storage, while performance continues to improve. Every year, it is possible to get more megapixels, more gigabytes, and more processing power for your dollar. This is a trend that will continue.

Moving to IP networking opens up an enormous marketplace of choices in COTS (commercial-offthe- shelf) servers, storage, switches, cameras, video servers, and other devices that can be connected via open platform software. Through competition in the marketplace, you are assured of getting the best selection, products and pricing for your needs.

Based on current growth rates of IP video, Milestone Systems predict that “between 2010 and 2015, the volume of video traffic will overtake voice and other data running over the Internet”. This shift will drive further improvements in bandwidth capacity and compression technologies with the goal of increasing video quality and streaming speed.

Wireless video surveillance technologies will also continue their rapid growth and competitive pricing. Mesh networking and the recent introduction of the 802.11n protocol (which increases performance in both the range and transfer rate of wireless signals) is putting cameras where they haven’t been before and making available real-time transmissions, as well as recording.

A good example is the Chicago Transit Authority’s recent transition to a wireless system using a mesh framework. Their transit police can access video in real-time if an incident on a bus is occurring anywhere in the system. Phoenix police are also deploying wireless cameras in “camera hides” – ordinary street objects that disguise cameras – to keep watch in crime hot spots. Officers can view real-time video on handheld devices via the Internet. Using this technology, the department has been able to scale from 30 surveillance officers down to two.

John Blem 
Eric Fullerton

The series started in GIT Security + Management 11/12 in 2007 and will be continued in GIT Security + Management issue 2/2008.


Milestone Systems A/S,
Brøndby, Denmark
Tel.: +45 88 300 300
Fax: +45 88 300 301

Stefan Teuber
Milestone Systems De,
Haag, Germany
Tel.: +49 8072 44 2173


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