Envisioning What Might Be Ahead in 2020

Envisioning What Might Be Ahead in 2020

Delivering even better clarity in the camera of the future

You have probably heard the old adage, “Hindsight is always 20/20.” Looking forward though, our vision is not nearly as clear. That is because the security industry is a highly-dynamic ecosystem. Technology continues to evolve at an ever-faster pace. New markets emerge. Old markets mature. New players enter the arena. Old players fall by the wayside.

Taking a cue from current trends, however, it is possible to imagine where our trajectory might take us in the coming year.

Next-generation Surveillance Cameras Will Deliver Even Better Clarity

Video surveillance cameras have a long history of striving to deliver better-than-human-vision. Analog CCTV cameras with CCD and CMOS sensors supplanted earlier tube cameras. Network cameras supplanted analog ones. Now we have cameras that operate in extremely low light, have wide-dynamic range to see clearly in shadow and bright sunlight – beyond what the unaided human eye can perceive.

We have seen camera resolution standards increase from CIF (0.1 megapixel) to 4CIF to 720p and 1080p to 4K (8 megapixels) and beyond.

Given these achievements, you might conclude that video quality and usability have finally reached their limits. But you would be mistaken. In the coming year I expect camera manufacturers to continue pushing the envelope – increasing processing power and improving low light capability to deliver even higher forensic quality video.

Does this mean you will need to replace all your legacy cameras? Of course not. The average life expectancy for many cameras remains very high, especially compared to other IT equipment. But when it comes time to replace end-of-life equipment, or add surveillance cameras to support additional applications (think gathering business intelligence across multiple departments), innovations coming out in 2020 will likely accelerate customer use of IP-based technology.

Industry Consolidation Will Continue to Accelerate

As the security industry continues to experience big shifts in technology, it is having a major impact on market players. We saw this when the industry shifted from analog to IP. Many new players jumped into the arena, further fragmenting an already fragmented market. As a result, today’s Top 10 list of players looks very different from the one 10 years ago. We have seen a continuing movement towards consolidation: larger players swallowing up smaller ones, major players changing ownership and other players deciding to divest themselves of their surveillance business in order to pursue other opportunities. Today the top 10 players in video surveillance control about 50 percent of the market share, which is low compared to many other technology markets. I expect consolidation to accelerate in the coming year; increasing the market share of the top tier players.

Internet of Things Will Drive Platform-based Solutions

Internet pioneer Robert Metcalfe tells us the value of a network increases exponentially with the number of devices connected to it. Nowhere is that more evident than on the Internet.

Cisco estimates by 2020 the Internet as a platform will have 50 billion devices connected to it. In a separate analysis, Morgan Stanley estimates that number may reach as high as 75 billion next year. How will this play out in the surveillance arena?

We are already seeing deployments where there are more IoT security devices like surveillance cameras and other sensors residing on large corporate networks than any other type of devices. This has necessitated a closer alliance between security vendors and their customers’ IT departments to manage the multitude of devices and balance bandwidth allocation for streaming video with other traffic in the pipeline.

The plethora of IoT devices on the market has also sparked a shift in security system development from proprietary, silo-ed solutions to ones based on an open platform. In the coming year we will be seeing even closer collaboration between security IoT manufacturers, software developers, analytics companies and other players. These are win-win partnerships not only serving to enrich the capabilities of a manufacturer’s products but also provide developers with a broader customer base.

This platform-based approach is also spurring product development of new IoT devices previously only found in the analog world. In the coming year, you will be seeing a burgeoning market for network-based speakers, network-based intercoms, intelligent audio systems and network-based access control devices as part of a company’s security portfolio. The shift to platform-based solutions is also opening up more opportunities for companies to offer hosted video and software services.

Cyber Security Will Continue to be Both a Threat and an Opportunity

As IoT becomes more widespread, each new connection represents a potential entry point for a cyberattack.

This begs the question: what is the IoT manufacturer’s responsibility when it comes to protecting the customer? Certainly patching vulnerabilities after an attack is certainly an important step. But users and the entire supply chain need to work in concert to avert future attacks from occurring.

Cybersecurity will continue to be a challenge because the goalposts are always moving. The minute you think you have secured a device, hackers will find dozens of new ways to break in. Because the IoT umbrella is so broad and constantly innovating, it is naïve to think that any single security standard will solve the problem.

In the coming year, we will be seeing greater collaboration between companies to ensure new devices, patches and upgrades to one system do not introduce vulnerabilities in another. Manufacturers will provide tools to automate upgrades and patches, and develop new procedures to ensure that customers implement those changes throughout their ecosystem in a timely manner. We might see some companies rebuilding their code from the ground up, recognizing that making security an inherent part of the coding process can drastically reduce the number of cyber issues.

2020 will also be a year where we will see the embedding of cybersecurity features at the chipset level gain traction in the industry.

With every market sector facing a rise in cyberattacks in the year ahead, we will see user organizations and the entire products- and-services supply chain step up cyber education and work harder to instill a culture of cyber security in their communities.

Intelligent Features Will Gain More Traction in Surveillance Solutions

While deep learning and artificial intelligence are still in their early stages, the trajectory of evermore precise and reliable video and audio analytics will continue apace.

We will see a marked increase in software development companies entering the security arena; offering customized analytics to meet the specific needs of individual users.

This will lead to greater adoption of analytics and a rise in reliance on the business intelligence those applications provide. However, just like the over-optimistic enthusiasm for analytics a decade ago, it is still important to separate hype from what is really deliverable.

Global Politics Will Have a Major Impact on Our Industry

The security industry used to operate in a veritable bubble, rarely affected by affairs outside our own industry.

Today, you would be hard-pressed to open a newspaper or ejournal without finding stories or op-ed pieces discussing current events that could fundamentally change our industry. It could be global sanctions banning certain players from specific markets, tariffs imposed on crucial components and raw materials, controversial technology like facial recognition raising issues about privacy, or GDPR regulations governing how we must protect an individual’s data.

Global politics can have far-reaching implications for our industry, which in itself is global in nature. We are intrinsically connected to each other in so many ways. For instance, OEM arrangements might include a product you think is being supplied by a local vendor. But, in fact, it is really a rebranded product from another country that might be on a sanctioned list. Or the product might be using firmware or chipsets from technology providers impacted by trade bans or tariffs.

The Need for 20/20 Foresight

Predicting the future is always an interesting exercise. Looking back on the trends I projected last year at this time, I was right on target for some and a bit premature on others. Looking ahead, the one thing I can guarantee is that our technology and political worlds will continue changing faster than ever. To be successful in the year ahead, you will need to keep a watchful eye on both the arc of technology innovations on the horizon and the breadth of geo-political events that may affect our industry.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Security Today.

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