A Glimpse Into The Future Of IP Video
- By Fredrik Nilsson
- Dec 01, 2016
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the world’s first IP network
camera, a technology that eventually revolutionized the video surveillance
landscape. When IP video was still an emerging technology
skeptics wondered whether it would gain any traction, let alone take
over the whole video surveillance market. A decade ago video analytics
was discussed as the biggest promise for the industry, with estimates that it
would become a billion dollar market on its own within a few years. Cloud services
were rarely talked about in the context of physical security. IT security and physical
security were mentioned in the context of “convergence,” but no one really
considered the cyber threat that IP video equipment on a corporate network could
potentially present to a large organization.
Fast forward to 2016. Today’s IP cameras are light years ahead of their analog
predecessors. They are not only vastly better in terms of resolution, low light capability,
forensic information and built-in intelligence, but also in the way they are
mounted and installed. Tools and technology like PoE, outdoor readiness and remote
focus adjustments have greatly simplified installation. These advancements,
as well as IP video’s enormous scalability and open-standards design, are the reasons
why IP-based systems have become the only consideration for enterprise-level
installations. Today, you can find systems with more than 10,000 network cameras
integrated into a single surveillance system, and even some with more than 100,000
cameras. This level of scalability and seamless integration with other systems such
as access control could only be possible using IP technology. Now, thermal technology
has entered the arena giving another dimension to IP surveillance.
One projection that has yet to reach fruition is video intelligence, also known
as analytics. The current market is much smaller than initially predicted. The sluggish
growth to date stems from the general immaturity of the technology, the lack
of video analytics vendors of relevant size, unclear patent situations, and the poor
accuracy and value experienced by many end users. There are, however, a few solid
applications like people counting and license plate recognition that are becoming
The two newest IT technologies to impact physical security industry today are
cyber security and cloud computing. With a growing number of high profile data
breaches and cyberattacks between nations over the last few years, cyber security is
becoming a high priority for every corporation and government institution. Physical
security systems running on the IT networks by necessity have had to adhere to
stringent cyber security protocols. As for cloud computing, also known as hosted
video, issues with bandwidth and storage scalability still need to be worked out to
achieve its great advantages. Furthermore, multiple business models for hosting
and service providers are still being tested.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE FUTURE
It does not take a crystal ball to figure out that innovation will continue to reshape
the surveillance landscape as we know it. In the last decade we watched the security
industry migrate from analog to all digital IP-based as IT departments became
more accepting of video surveillance traffic on the network. The next 10 years of
change are likely to be even more dramatic, with the number of network camera
installations expected to escalate rapidly.
Technological improvements. Storage and bandwidth costs will drop so low that
system designers will be free to build solutions that deliver full frame rate, live
video to every user, along with months or even years of archived recording. Video
quality will continue to improve, with HDTV becoming the de facto resolution
standard. First centering on 1080p, it will eventually migrate to 4K resolution.
With mobility and cloud offerings, access to video from anywhere on any smart
device will become commonplace.
Small and mid-size systems transitioning to IP. While most enterprise systems
being installed today are IP-based, there are still millions of analog cameras being
sold globally – primarily to small and mid-size businesses. Industry analysis
indicates that eventually all system sizes will become digital and IP-based. But
there are different drivers that come into play in the small and mid-size markets. In
those markets the more important factor is upfront cost as most of those buyers
are only looking at the acquisition cost and not evaluating the cost of operation
and maintenance. Many new digital and IP-based systems are addressing those
concerns which will be changing the value conversation. As technology and business
practices mature, video as a service will prove a cost-effective entry point to
IP for many small-to-medium size businesses.
Consolidation of market. The physical security equipment manufacturing market
is very fragmented. In video alone, the top 15 manufactures make up less than
50 percent of the market, atypical for most other markets. With the increasing migration
to IP-based systems and the rapid evolution of technology, manufacturers
will be pressured to invest greater resources in R&D to keep pace. This will likely
force the market to consolidate either through acquisitions or vendors opting to
leave the video surveillance market.
Consolidation is both good and bad for the end customer. Fewer vendors might
make it easier to select the right partner, but it could also might mean that some
companies you partnered with a few years ago will no longer exist or no longer
offer support for their older products and services.
Continued market growth. The surveillance market has enjoyed healthy growth
for many years due to the many threats we continue to face both in our personal
lives and our business activities. In response, companies and governments alike
are spending time, money and effort to provide security measures to mitigate
those threats. According to research conducted by ASIS (American Society for
Industrial Security), the USA spends nearly $300 billion a year on security, or two
percent of our GDP. The vast majority of those funds are earmarked for human
resources such as is security guards, police and other public protection services.
Only a very small fraction is spent on electronic security equipment such as video
surveillance cameras. That is likely to change as the market becomes more “automated”
WE’VE COME A LONG WAY IN 20 YEARS
When surveillance cameras first came on the market, their job was to simply provide
an extra pair of eyes. But now we’ve harnessed their processing power as well,
giving them both brains and a memory. In a contest between man and machine, it
quickly becomes evident that intelligent network video can amplify security well
beyond what human intervention can achieve alone. From visual acuity to attention
span, from memory capacity to situational analysis, surveillance technology
continues to help raise the bar for the security industry as a whole.
Public opinion has radically changed over the last two decades regarding the
prevalence of surveillance technology in our lives. In light of recent events there
is a growing need for people to feel secure – whether at work or out shopping, on
public transport or in a critical infrastructure facility. This has led to a burgeoning
business at both ends of the spectrum: from mega-large surveillance systems to
small-scale surveillance installations.
Cities now deploy thousands of IP cameras within their borders and retailers
install hundreds of cameras in their stores. That trend will continue to accelerate.
A growing number of surveillance cameras will be hosted and managed in the
cloud. Finally, video intelligence will eventually deliver on its promise and drive IP
video acceptance even further and faster than before. In the years ahead, you can
expect to see other physical security markets such as access control,
intercom and audio to become fully scalable and integrated
IP-based systems adding further value to physical security and
information management systems.
This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Security Today.