There are so many significant technologies that are trending in the professional security industry it requires a dedicated effort just to keep up with the latest developments. High on our list of trends to watch include image acquisition, analytics, transmission infrastructure and cloud computing. The challenge lies in forecasting which of these will be around down the road.
When you break through the clutter, there are a few clear-cut technology trends in which we can place confidence for the next few years. One is integrated networked systems. The premise is simple: unify video and access control systems onto a single monitoring and control platform. Such integrated systems are just starting to gain traction as a result of recent software innovations. More advanced system models also integrate personal identity, incident management and analytics software to create systems with true levels of intelligence.
Migrating to Megapixel & IP Solutions
But for all the advancements on the software side of the systems model equation, the one constant required to enable higher levels of integration is image acquisition — yes, cameras. Without good video data, many of these advanced integrated functions can’t be processed. The better the image quality and volume of data captured, the better the analytics. Fortunately there have been big leaps in surveillance imaging technology over the past few years that are driving new systems models.
Perhaps the most significant developments have been in megapixel cameras. These have proven to deliver high-definition resolution in varying lighting conditions with high cost-efficiency and their widespread acceptance has been accelerated with advanced H.264 compression, which minimizes bandwidth even at high resolutions and fast frame rates while reducing storage requirements. With their availability in many form factors, and with numerous feature bundles, it’s just a matter of time before megapixel cameras totally replace conventional cameras. Some manufacturers continue to support customers with new IP and analog cameras that get the job done. But looking down the road, megapixel cameras are the safe bet.
IP infrastructure is another area of continual fluctuation. Not too long ago, the migration from analog to IP networked operations was a fairly well-defined proposition. Your system infrastructure was either analog or IP, or some combination of both, albeit still separate. In the past year or so, this too has taken a dramatic change for the better. Many high-end cameras and recorders are available in hybrid configurations capable of operating on both IP and analog infrastructure. These hybrid devices provide a very effective and efficient analog-to-IP migration solution.
With the introduction of adaptive transmission technologies such as IP over coax and UTP adapters, system upgrades with IP devices are possible using virtually any cabling infrastructure. This has changed the industry’s approach to system design by removing the expensive infrastructure migration barrier of ripping out coax or UTP and replacing it with Ethernet cabling, while introducing PoE into the picture. As a result, the issue of infrastructure cabling is all but moot when upgrading systems, with Ethernet taking the lead for new system installs. My bet is with IP and Ethernet solutions, although the future of wireless transmission systems is also something to watch.
Cloudy or Sunny Future for Cloud?
As for cloud computing, there are many pros and cons. First, who is protecting the cloud? Implementing mission-critical security and surveillance control and management software in the cloud has risks. We hear news of the most secure government and private sector data centers suffering from external breaches. However, offering a software as a service (SaaS) business model does provide a very cost-efficient means of deploying advanced system capabilities with minimal capital investment, which is a considerable benefit.
There is also a growing school of thought that poses the argument against the basic concept of centralized command and control in lieu of systems with distributed architecture with networked monitoring, intelligence and even recording at the edge. My bet is on the added security provided by such distributed network systems and intelligence on the edge in the form of smart cameras.
There are many possibilities to consider when enhancing an existing system, or installing a new one. Intelligent camera and system software solutions appear to be on track — it’s just everything in between we need to keep under surveillance.
Tom Cook is Samsung Techwin America’s vice president of sales for North America. He has been Samsung’s VP of sales for North
America for 2½ years and previously ran sales in North America for Vicon and Panasonic Video.