Video surveillance is everywhere — serving as our 24/7, always alert eyes. It has evolved at a rapid pace over the past several years, in large part due to advancements in technology, but also as we’ve discovered new ways to leverage it. Here’s what’s happening in video surveillance from two distinct angles: technology and operations.
From analog to IP. Everyone in the industry has been talking about the migration from analog to IP for the past several years, but the tipping point could truly be right around the corner. While the majority of legacy cameras are analog, most newly deployed cameras are expected to be IP. Fortunately, they can function together to create a full IP solution through encoders and/or hybrid smart video recorders. This gives organizations the ability to migrate to a full-IP solution at their own pace, as they maximize analog assets while enjoying IP benefits. Expect to see more and more of these hybrid installations as they allow organizations to gradually upgrade to IP video.
Spotlight on cameras. Cameras are definitely in the spotlight this year. If the past few years were about getting a higher pixel count, then this year camera vendors are focusing more on feature-rich devices such as onboard storage and video analytics. While onboard camera storage isn’t a sufficient storage solution for enterprise environments (where high video quality is required and typically a longer retention time), it does provide these types of projects several valuable benefits, such as an additional layer of redundancy in the event of temporary network disconnections or other unforeseen outages. It also provides flexibility and savings for organizations that don’t need to retain high-quality video for extended periods of time.
We’re also seeing more and more vendors embedding video analytics directly on their cameras. This definitely speaks to the strong re-emergence of video analytics in the market. In addition, more megapixel cameras are being deployed to provide clearer images of the scenes they capture, which in turn also provides operational benefits.
Integration. It seems as if integration is always a topic of interest. Now, you may ask why I’ve listed integration as an operational trend and not a technological one. The reason is because in this case, integration is intended to increase the user’s overall situational understanding, which in turn allows for faster and more efficient response. The more we can integrate separate systems and solutions, the more holistic a picture we can provide control room operators. Increasingly, we see video management systems (VMS) integrated with other security systems such as access control, fire alarms, and others to provide a smarter and clearer view of the environment. With Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) solutions supporting this trend, we see a growing demand for integrations.
A broader picture. We mentioned megapixel cameras in the technology section above, but they belong here too based on how they are being deployed and the value they can bring. In line with the cost-effective migration patterns, these cameras are not necessarily replacing standard ones, but are typically being deployed alongside them in locations where higher levels of detail are required or a broader field of view is necessary.
Renewed interest in video analytics. With a revival in its perceived ability to provide good performance and clear value, the latest generation of video analytics applications is receiving renewed interest from the market. Increased accuracy along with an alignment of expectations and a better understanding of how to use the technology are all helping to drive its upswing in use.
For example, organizations are using video analytics as a force multiplier in a variety of scenarios. In the case of perimeter protection, in its simplest form video analytics can be used instead of fence sensors. Or in some cases, organizations are creating multi-tiered protection as video can detect a potential intrusion earlier than if a motion sensor is activated. Organizations are finding that they can monitor more by using video analytics.
Video analytics applications are also helping take video beyond security, with more and more use of this technology for improved customer satisfaction. For instance, these applications can help identify crowding and long queue formations, allowing organizations to respond in real time. Heat maps are also being created with video analytics, which show marketing departments where potential commercial hot spots are located. This information can be used to justify increased lease rates or to simply reconfigure commercial areas to take advantage of these prime locations.
While the various trends discussed above cover a broad spectrum of video surveillance uses, they do represent the overall trend of “maximizing video,” both from a performance aspect and the extraction of value. And for users, that’s a good thing.