Big changes ahead in video surveillance

Over the next 10 years, the video surveillance industry is poised to undergo a radical transformation. Not only with the North American market grow from $5 billion to $10 billion, but advances in metadata technology will enable end-users to search video 100-times faster than is currently capable and also pre-analyze footage, the majority of which isn’t used today.

These are several predictions from Axis Communications General Manager Fredrik Nilsson, who delivered one of the keynote addresses at this week’s annual Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS) in Las Vegas. According to Nilsson, the video camera market has grown at about 10 percent annually over the last 15 years. And while many people attribute this growth to events such as 9/11 or the recent mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Nilsson said that the way cameras are used has fundamentally changed from deterrence to forensics.

In fact, Nilsson believes that advances in analytics inside cameras will enable the technology to become more proactive than reactive in nature. Nilsson said that if Moore’s Law holds true to form, advances in edge recording will also have a dramatic impact on the way video is stored. In 2012, Nilsson said that a 64-gigabyte SD card recording at a full-frame rate of 720p would result in five days of storage. Nilsson expects storage capacity at the edge to increase exponentially over the next decade – one month of storage by 2015, three months of storage by 2018 and one year of storage by 2022.

Despite all of these technological advances the industry is expected to see, not everyone will profit from them. While the surveillance industry is currently highly fragmented, Nilsson expects that in 10 years, the top 10 companies will own about 90 percent of the total market.

For all the strides that have been made and will continue to be made in surveillance technology, Nilsson said it’s important to remember the ultimate objective of camera end-users.

“No one really wants a camera,” Nilsson told attendees, which consisted of a mix of vendors, integrators and end-users. “What everyone wants is a more secure and safe operation, but they are not necessarily looking for cameras.”

Of all of the money that is spent on security, Nilsson that only a small portion of it is currently being used on video surveillance and that the majority is spent on guard services.

With that in mind, Nilsson did a comparison of how cameras compare to humans. While humans clearly would be favored over analog cameras when you look at factors such as vision and deterrence, the advent of IP technology has thrown a new wrinkle into the equation because now there is a processor that comes into play. Now, rather than simply comparing cameras to humans in terms of vision, attention and deterrence - memory and intelligence must also be taken into consideration. Along with other advances in camera technology, such as improvements in field-of-view, resolution, dynamic range, thermal imaging, and light sensitivity, cameras have started to catch up the human eye.

“The vision side is catching up and becoming better in cameras,” he said. “At the end of the day… who do you bet on? Right now, it looks like cameras.”

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