Adopting Tomorrow

Adopting Tomorrow

Part of the IP revolution is moving from the horse and buggy

Was it this hard to convince people to move to an automobile from the horse and buggy?”

It’s not hard to imagine any number of players in the security industry asking a similar question over the past decade or so, as they contemplated the challenges inherent in realizing the full benefit of IP networked technologies in the surveillance industry. For many years, the potential of IP video surveillance played second fiddle to a far more fundamental question from end-users: “Why should I adopt IP video surveillance in the first place?”

Today, with that question firmly put to rest, the early IP video revolution has become an early renaissance, with the near-unlimited potential of the technology enabling truly great things for the surveillance industry and the customers we serve.

Certainly, there’s no denying the past. Where many manufacturers and industry insiders saw the real potential in then-burgeoning IP technologies, initially slow adoption rates and lingering questions reflected a general wariness amidst the so-called “IP video revolution” of higher upfront costs and seemingly more complicated technical underpinnings.

Put simply, end users were comfortable with the hardware, technologies, and cost-structure they already knew, and oft-unfocused messages about the cost and benefits of IP proved wanting. An industry with no cogent answer for the “why change what works?” argument saw real limits to the reach and potential of the IP video revolution, consequently limiting related potential for every link in video surveillance lifecycle, including manufacturers, consultants, systems integrators, installers and end-users alike.

The era of across-the-board wariness and limitations is over, and the full potential of IP video technologies is being realized like never before in all corners of the industry. The power and functionality enabled by IP networked surveillance solutions is in full force, as never before, driving down total costs, and enabling the evolution of traditional surveillance and security at a rapid pace. Even traditional security spaces, such as mobile surveillance and guarding, are seeing commensurate evolutionary leaps, thanks to IP technologies, and end-users are seeing results. How far we’ve come from those early days of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Surveillance requirements grow more complex each day, in terms of size, scale, and the demands placed on increasingly high quality video (including video analysis and the rise in business intelligence applications for high quality surveillance). Further, changes in real world security and safety consideration—including increased needs for effective monitoring of geographically disparate sites, large and chaotic environments, and ever more rapid incident response (particularly by law enforcement or in homeland security situations) all reflect the maturation and increased complication of demands placed upon video surveillance solutions. Thankfully, a new and robust era for IP video technologies mean an industry readily suited to meet these demands, including planned and unplanned future expansions and requirements, as additional cameras, sites (even those in other countries) can be brought online seamlessly, available to local/on-site, mobile, and centralized monitors with full data integrity.

IP video provides a freedom and flexibility to end-users, along with the full access to the use and potential of surveillance data, that was unheard of with analog installations, and makes each installation—including upgrades and expansions—more valuable than ever to end-users, something that holds real value for systems integrators as well, as John Rezzonico, CEO of Virginiabased Edge360 notes, the customer relationship is strengthened when companies like his can “solve a customer’s security challenge in the best, most effective, and most efficient way possible, particularly by maximizing what they already have.”

Much of that value lies in the uniquely feature rich world the IP video renaissance has crafted for us. Even as early understanding and adoption of IP technologies found its footing, forward-thinking manufacturers were innovating aggressively to make full use of IP’s potential and deliver breakthrough after breakthrough to the marketplace.

Today, IP video technology, leveraging contemporaneous advances in hardware, compression, and storage, enables functionality— security and business analytics, redundancy features, fail over services, remote and mobile monitoring, direct from camera event notification, and many others—that could not have existed, some not even imagined, in traditional analog solutions, or that take traditional features and benefits, and push them beyond previous limits. Resulting second and third order benefits, such as increased business intelligence for consumers, help further make the business case for IP video, and drive continued demand for further innovation from the industry.

“Video analytics are critical for us in any remote monitoring application and it is more efficient to have content analysis on edge,” San Kim of the Arizona-based Surveillance Acquisition Response Center (SARC) said. “Analog cameras do not have the resources or capability to have analytics on the camera itself, which complicates the system and introduces another potential point of failure by using PC based VCA servers to process analytics on analog cameras. And that’s just one of many IP video-enabled advancements that make the work of monitoring complex environments easier and more efficient, something both we and our customers benefit from.”

Benefits such as these speak to one of the most fundamental, notable aspects of IP video surveillance technology is how receptive and adaptable it is to the emergence of new technologies and industry innovation. As SARC’s Kim observes, “the IP camera platform is designed to evolve,” and this, in and of itself, is a key differentiator for those selecting IP video technologies over traditional analog solutions. IP video solutions are dynamic by their very nature, able to change, grow, and adapt technologically to match commensurate advances in technological capacity and capability and the practical needs of end-users.

Specifically, it’s notable that innovation in the IP networked solutions space is not limited to upgrades in hardware, as was the general path of analog improvements, but to the very capacity and capability of IP video technology itself. Innovations in hardware and software constantly evolve not only the quality of surveillance (which is important) but the very ways it such surveillance can be used—enabling increasingly fast and powerful analysis that drives not only traditional safety and security, but also rapidly emerging areas of analysis and business intelligence.

The resources already available with IP platforms already far surpass those possible with analog, a fact that can only grow unencumbered on a platform inherently designed to provide faster adaptation paths for new and emerging technology without significant new investments. It’s why you’re seeing the emergence of backward compatibility guarantees from manufacturers like IDIS, which would not have been possible even 10 years ago.

Finally, it is worth noting the ability IP technologies provide to monitor the surveillance environment more comprehensively, no matter the conditions and requirements.

Whether in the harsh and chaotic mobile environments faced by Edge360’s rapidly redeployable mobile solution for crowd monitoring and incident response, or the complicated, multi-site real-time monitoring requirements faced by a virtual guarding provider such as SARC, IP video technologies allow for the effortless remote surveillance and monitoring of sites and/or incidents, but for the reliable management and monitoring of IP hardware itself, including real-time conditions, connectivity, and more.

This ability to “monitor the monitoring” in a comprehensive, real-time manner means greater situational awareness for those charged with maintenance and use of an IP video solution, and increased potential avoidance of uncertainty, surprises, and unnecessary downtime amidst critical surveillance operations.

The inherent potential of IP video technologies has long been recognized by the surveillance industry. But challenges in communicating the benefits of a seemingly more technically complicated technologies (with potentially higher upfront costs) to a cautious market, already comfortable with existing, if more limited, solutions, meant a measured start for IP networked surveillance solutions. As we enter 2017, it is apparent that IP video technologies have come into their own. IP is now central to the remaking of the market’s core ideas of what video surveillance can and will do to meet end user safety, security, and business intelligence needs.

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Security Today.

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