This month we’re departing from our roundtable Q&A format and have reached out to industry movers and shakers to chronicle the last three decades of major security technology product development. Check out the timeline as well.

CCTV–Someone to Watch Over
A look at some of the outstanding advancements in CCTV over the past several decades begins with the premise of capturing events and sending those images to a place for viewing. “In the 1970s the big invention was how to connect a video camera to a monitor,” explained Dvir Doron, vice president of Marketing, ioimage, Denton, Texas.

“This technology started with closed-circuit wiring between a camera and monitor enabling guards to watch over what was going on in the field.”

Early systems were cumbersome and relied on wiring from the monitor to the field camera resulting in high operational costs and manual labor. “Technology-aided surveillance began in the 1970s with closed-circuit television systems that were analog based,” said Eric Fullerton, chief sales and marketing officer, Milestone Systems, Beaverton, Ore. “These systems were built from cameras, multiplexers, time-lapse video camera recorders (VCRs) and monitors. They required a lot of coaxial cabling to send and store the video onto video tapes.” Operators were also required to change the tapes on a regular basis, adding to the labor intensity of the system’s early set up.

As technology improved, the 1980s and 1990s brought advancements in recording devices eliminating one of its biggest problems, all that tape. “Thankfully digital video recorders (DVR) started to come in and began solving one of the problems associated with the technology which was how to handle video recordings,” said Doron.

New DVRs provided greater storage capacity on a computer hard drive and archiving of images was greatly enhanced by taking up less space. “Due to the problems experienced with the VCR, people began installing digital video recorders as that technology became available,” added Fullerton.

By the mid 1990s as the VCR was well on its way to being replaced by the DVR, the industry was now able to incorporate automation into CCTV systems, according to Doron. “Up until now guards had to be in place watching the CCTV and every few hours the tapes would have to be refreshed. The introduction of digital technology replaced multiple devices with a single device. There were no more tapes and now there was something new: indexing and viewing on a PC.”

With many advancements being recognized in the recording aspect of technology, camera technology improved and so too did the method of sending images to the monitor. “The standards began to change in 2000 as cameras moved from analog to digital,” said Doron. “The whole infrastructure changed as the IP revolution took hold.”

This opened up the marketplace, according to Fullerton. Users could rely on systems to accomplish faster retrieval of video which meant more incidents could be alerted, averted, investigated, resolved and prosecuted. “This open platform IP video approach represents the evolution of the industry,” said Fullerton. “It decouples the hardware from the software, allowing free choice of both surveillance and IT equipment. With surveillance controlled through the computer, the installation could be used in brand new ways.”

The future holds endless possibilities for installers and end-users looking for ways to improve on its original task of monitoring with limitless potential. “As already experienced in the business world with other technologies, there is no doubt that the influence of IT networks, the Web and IP-protocols are continuing to dramatically change the surveillance technology,” said Fullerton.

Intrusion–From Bell-Box to IP
Veteran security dealers recall the days of a piercing shrill or alert from a loud noisemaker as a burglar broke into a home or business. Security dealers have literally watched intrusion technology grow up over the past few decades according to key security professionals from Honeywell.

“Some of us remember when a security system consisted of a simple relay in a bell box with a barrel key switch next to the front door,” said Jonathan Klinger, Dave Combes and Michael Linebarger, security professionals in Honeywell’s security and communications division, Melville, N.Y. “There were no zoned control panels and there was only one loop series circuit connected to every surface mount door contact, foil, wood dowel grids for sky lights, trip wires, pet mats and many other devices that have been erased by time.”

According to these security veterans, the industry would eventually realize technology development and add other types of communicators such as coded-shared circuits, multiplex, proprietary radio and digital dialer communicators. “Even though several types of communicators existed, many systems did not communicate to a monitoring location due to the high cost of dedicated phone lines,” said the group. “Soon the tape dialer, and later the digital dialer allowed the business or home owner to send signals over their existing phone lines.”

Moving forward to today, the security industry manufacturers have improved vastly on the performance and functionality of intrusion systems.

“The development of security panels with the ability to add an Ethernet network interface card to their control panels allows the panel to communicate its signals through the LAN and Internet to a monitoring facility,” explained the group. “Today, almost every security manufacturer produces network-compatible intrusion, video and access products. As the world moves to IP-based communications, POTS lines are beginning to disappear, obliging installers to rely on wireless networking technologies.”

As end-user familiarity with PC and cellular phone-based entertainment and social networking services such as iTunes, YouTube and Facebook grows, security systems will expand beyond the provision of alarm signaling.

Access Control–More than Unlocking Doors
Maturing through the decades from early card readers, access control now provides many more answers to users than a simple opening and closing of restricted areas. Growing from a combination of locks and pin codes, today’s systems provide gate-keeping capabilities and a window into who’s going where and why.

“When the 1970s dawned with three early card and reader technologies in play, magnetic stripe, barium ferrite and Hollerith (a pattern of punched holes), access control systems depended on a single intelligent controller to manage all the doors and miscellaneous inputs on the entire system,” said Bill Richardson, technical training manager, HID Global, Irvine, Calif. “Card and reader failure was common.”

It was during this decade that Schlage Electronics introduced proximity to the market and as the decade came to a close Wiegand technology by Sensor Engineering was responsible for bringing more reliable options to the card and reader market.

With superior card technologies taking the forefront, the 1980s saw major advancements in the controller universe, according to Richardson. Smaller capacity intelligent controllers began to appear handling two to eight readers on each controller. The industry began witnessing host software on mini-computers and later PCs networked the controllers into a cohesive system. More change would come later as wireless systems were just on the horizon.

Access control systems allowed users to make more educated decisions by understanding the relationship which now existed between technology and the perception of threats. The new millennium gave users the ability to analyze data through a variety of systems integrated with access control enabling enforcement through automation.

Fire–Monitoring, Alerts and Dispatching
The industry has witnessed the concept of monitoring alarm devices from a dispatch station evolving from a simple mechanical device to sophisticated software systems, according to Lisa Korklan, director of Marketing, Keltron Corporation, Waltham, Mass.

The 1980s will be known as the age of microprocessor and digital data receiving and monitoring,” Korklan said. “The need for more accurate dispatch information led to the creation of modules that monitored one or two alarm zones. A municipality would have a bank of these modules that were monitored by receivers that displayed and printed addressable information,” Korklan explained.

Many advancements developed on fire protection for documents in the form of safes. “Over the last several decades we have seen the increase in accuracy in both metal forming and the formulation and curing of insulating materials,” said Van Carlisle, CEO, FireKing Security Group, New Albany, Ind. “With the expansion of computer media each desktop in addition to paper records needs safeguarding. As a result, higher rated units to survive severe exposures are now available.”