Networking is a critical element of video surveillance solutions and end users in high security facilities are recognising the need for not just capturing security breaches, but also transmitting, storing, and controlling the video feeds over the Internet.
Vendors in the video surveillance equipment market are responding to this trend with IP-networked systems that can capture and transmit images in real time to personal computers, laptops, or even personal digital assistants (PDA).
"IP-networked surveillance systems are particularly popular in large-scale enterprise networks where hundreds, or even thousands, of cameras monitor a multitude of locations," observes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Michael Valenti.
The demand for digital equipment has been a direct offshoot of the growing reliance on IP-networked surveillance systems. However, there is much reluctance from end users to go completely digital due to the heavy investment in existing analogue cameras.
"A more economical option would be to purchase a conversion technology such as digital video reorders (DVRs) that convert downloaded video data into digital format for transmission over an IP network," notes Valenti.
Sophisticated analogue-to-digital converters are emerging where the translation to a digital signal occurs at the point of capture, rather than through a separate converter device. Such solutions are likely to compete intensely with traditional charge-coupled device (CCD) wide dynamic range cameras.
Researchers are also developing Ethernet-based video-matrix switchers that simplify the process of handling multiple video surveillance systems and also reduce the costs of running individual cables through an analog system.
"Users have access to a full cross-point switching program that takes any number of analog inputs from up to hundreds of typically coaxial cables, and provides outputs to monitors," explains Valenti. "Moreover, users can define the circumstances under which an input goes to a selected output."
Another emerging trend is the use of video servers to digitize the images captured by analogue cameras by integrating existing analogue closed circuit television systems into an IP-based solution.
Not only does the video server digitize images over an IP network, it also employs e-mail to notify operators in case of a security breach and uses the digital outputs to automatically open or close doors, turn lights on or off, and carry out other functions.
"In the future, as competitive pressure increases, vendors will have to work hard toward improving the analytical capabilities of video surveillance systems," says Valenti. "Chemical and biological detection instruments in particular must be made easier for non-technical personnel to use."