Video's Emerging Opportunities

July 14, 2011
ADT and Cisco outline five industry trends that are impacting surveillance at recent media summit

Pervasive Video is a concept that video, which already accounts for more than 50 percent of Internet traffic, can expand beyond the hardwired world via borderless networks and be unobtrusively embedded with other network technologies. The possibilities are dramatic and far-reaching.

Small wonder then that ADT Security and Cisco Systems — corporate giants in physical security and computer networking, respectively — have been collaborating since 2006 to enhance each other’s capabilities. Technology is driving improvements that both firms hope to harness in coming years. Experts from the two companies donned their prognosticating hats at the recent ADT Media Summit in Chicago to look at opportunities that will develop.

“We’re kind of in a new day in physical security,” ADT Director of Integrated Strategy Jim Lantrip told reporters representing security publications from all over the United States. “We’ve got processing horsepower that’s gotten extremely powerful. We’ve got network bandwidth that’s at our fingertips unlike ever before. With that, we’re seeing a shift in the industry.

“We’re seeing video cameras come to the network. We’re seeing video cameras get much more powerful,” he continued. “We’re seeing analytics at the edge, the ability to have storage at the edge. We’re seeing cameras that can actually make decisions around analytics and make our everyday life a little bit easier.”

Security’s role will be enhanced as technologies are integrated, Lantrip predicts: “Typically, the IT department has looked at the network as the transport mechanism, the tool to run the business and the business systems. They haven’t seen security as one of those business systems. Today, going forward, we’re making the security one of those business systems, so we need to be on the network so that we can bring more value to the companies.”

The value of both security and information technology (IT) will grow as the two become intertwined. As one example, Lantrip notes that companies can use their security system for a marketing purpose to check displays to make sure their merchandise is properly arranged.

“They can measure the number of dollars that are lost by not having the Christmas stuff up right after Thanksgiving,” he said. “We’re also looking to help companies optimize their production and manufacturing areas, helping them address employee safety, while we continue to do the same things we’ve always done in security, and that’s to protect against slip-and-falls and the liability associated with it, shrinkage, robbery prevention … all the items that we’ve been very good at over the years.”
Bill Stuntz, Vice President of Cisco’s Physical Security Unit, sees demand and buying power shifting from developed countries to developing countries. In the next 15 years, Stuntz predicts, at least a hundred new cities — each bigger than Boston or San Francisco — will be created from the ground up in developing countries. While existing cities are attempting to “retrofit” their various systems into the network, new cities can integrate from the beginning.

“‘Smart and connected communities’ is the label that a lot of people are putting on these new cities being built,” Stuntz said, “as well as existing cities that are going back and renovating and converting their infrastructure in order to remain competitive with these other cities that are springing up.

“These cities are creating a more effective work environment by being able to integrate all the different applications together, not only within the building — your energy management systems, your safety and security systems, and your signage and your communication systems — but throughout the overall city, tying transportation into that, tying waste disposal into that, everything to have a connected community. It’s to the point now that the network is another part of the basic infrastructure of that city, along with power and water and waste disposal.

Stuntz sees those developments as opportunities for companies like Cisco and ADT. He thinks there will continue to be a need for traditional stand-alone products offered by such firms but expects IT applications that specifically solve security issues to also occupy a strong niche in the market.

The mingling of needs and new technologies is driving five basic trends in the industry, Stuntz said:

1. Integration is moving products toward integrated solutions. “As new products come out, you will see more and more capabilities to plug them in with other products to create one unified solution, rather than stand-alone products,” he predicts. “Because you have a development environment, essentially, just as you have with the PC or with a Mac, where lots of other companies have now developed applications that enrich the value of those products, you’ll see the same thing happening as the industry moves from products to solutions. You’ll see companies developing more and more specific technologies. Video analytics is probably one of the most obvious ones that come to mind.”

2. Information is being distributed more efficiently, allowing it to get to the right person(s) sooner and thus enabling more effective decisions. “For instance, you have a security issue come up in an airport,” Stuntz said. “However, you see you have the same issue happening at four airports at the same time. No longer a local incident — that’s a coordinated incident and needs to be handled at a different level by a different type of decision-making. So getting all that information first of all identified by looking at patterns over a broader system, and then getting the relevant information to the right person to make rapid, good decisions can lead to more effective responses, which is the third trend.

3. Responses are becoming integrated into the system and automated, thus improving reaction time dramatically. Automatic notification can be passed on to citizens, employees or students if a high-risk event is happening — a fire, campus shooter, toxic gas release, weather emergency, etc. — so that immediate protective action can be taken. In addition, Stuntz points out, “Whoever has to be called in – different fire departments, police — giving all of them the ability to interact not only with each other but also interact with the people on the site, the management on site, to coordinate the event, creates a more effective response. And when you think about it, that is the purpose of the security system.”

4. The architecture of security systems will improve. Several benefits will accrue from this trend, Stuntz says, including data-storage efficiencies throughout the local area network, the corporation’s wide-area network, which in turn will reduce costs and improve efficiencies because information can be shared more broadly.

5. Services will be expanded and enhanced. Stuntz predicts that monitoring services like those offered by ADT will proliferate over time. “And that goes everywhere from being able to monitor the data,” he points out. “Alarms and video attached to those alarms could also monitor the health of these greater integrated systems that go beyond just a single site to tie multiple sites together for a global corporation or a school environment with multiple sites and schools or a bank or retail location.”

The emerging opportunities will play into the strengths of companies such as ADT and Cisco, Lantrip believes.
“They’re the leader in IP technologies, and we’re the leader in the security industry,” he said. “It’s just a very good complementary mix, so our partnership grows stronger every day. Cisco has network experience to support applications that reside in customers’ networks. While we develop that expertise to the same level, we’ve relied on them to help us work through issues that we didn’t quite understand yesterday. They’re investing $10 million in video technology in the last five years, and they’re going to continue to invest it, but we provide them voice-of-the-customer feedback so that we can help drive that technology in the direction that we see it going and to meet our customers’ needs.”

Bob Giles is a regular contributor to Security Technology Executive.