The Major Milestones of IP Video

Where we've been; Where we're headed


  • 1998 – The first video encoder (also known as a video server) launches, with the goal of digitizing analog cameras in large systems. Additionally, the very first 10-camera IP video install is completed at a check cashing facility in New York City.

  • 2000 – The 2000 Summer Olympics is the catalyst for the first 100-camera IP video system at the Sydney Airport, built with 100 single-channel encoders.

  • 2002 – The government eRate program combined with a rise in Ethernet infrastructure and fear of school violence leads the Education market to become one of the earliest adopters and proponents of IP video. Atlanta Public Schools was an original pioneer, citing the lower cost of network video as a driver.

  • 2003 – IP video systems continue to grow, with the first 1000-camera systems. Cisco Systems has one of the largest installations to date with an all-Axis encoder, 2500 camera system.

  • 2007 – While IP video has proven to scale effectively in larger and larger systems, a TCO analysis conducted by Lund University in Sweden concludes that the breaking point for total cost benefit of network video over analog cameras is down to 32 cameras thanks to increased IP infrastructure, improved storage efficiency and common-off-the-shelf devices.

  • 2008 – 10,000-camera systems become operational, such as the one installed throughout the Stockholm Public Transport system.

  • 2010 – An updated TCO study shows that network video now offers a lower cost vs. analog when more than 25 cameras and, in some systems, even down to 14 cameras. At the same time, a major scalabiliy milestone is reached with the very first 100,000 network video camera system installed with a major retailer.

  • 2011 – While the concept of cloud computing is almost as old as the computer itself, and the ability for a hosted video system had been around since the mid-2000s, national systems integrators and enterprise-class cloud storage vendors partner to roll out video surveillance-as-a-service programs. Hosted video now offers an intriguing surveillance model for small systems, especially for business owners of many different locations.

  • 2012 – The concept of edge storage takes a leap forward with the introduction of all-edge recording solutions. While SD-card storage had been available for several years for redundant and critical storage, the price performance of an all-edge system with integrated software that eliminates the need for a separate recorder makes IP video viable for small systems.


While the IP video industry continues to focus on and deliver large system projects, the technology has started to scale down into smaller systems over the past two years. The recent milestones from the third timeline means that the technology milestones from the first two timelines – HDTV, intelligent performance, color-at-night video, apps, etc. – can now be enjoyed by small system owners.

In fact, of all the camera systems in the world, it’s estimated that a high majority are less than 16 cameras. Of that less-than-16-camera market, nearly 95 percent still use analog. It might be hard to fathom, but with the projected growth in front of us, IP video is still in its infancy with plenty more milestones to come.