Increased Resolution, Reduced Bandwidth Pace Today’s Video Technology

June 24, 2015
VMS solutions will also have to deal with expanding video data bases and evolving analytics

This issue Security Technology Executive editorial director Steve Lasky sits down with several of the industry’s top experts to find out what’s trending and what issues were shaping the future of video surveillance technology. Here is what they had to say:

STE: As today’s video surveillance solutions boost system scalability, enhance functionality and reduce costs for the users, what will be the next “BIG” thing to hit the market?

Willem Ryan: The next big thing to hit the video surveillance market will be sharper and smarter technologies that make visual data actionable, giving end users the intelligence to take proactive action instead of simply reacting.

 Effective video surveillance demands clear images to maximize situational awareness, along with simultaneous persistent area coverage and detailed image interrogation. These standards need to be delivered while taking up minimum bandwidth and storage. New, sharper technologies are offering higher resolution, such as Avigilon’s 7K HD Pro camera. Smarter solutions are being supported by new bandwidth management technology and user-friendly software, such as the Avigilon Control Center software with High Definition Stream Management technology. The end result is a system that delivers scalability, bandwidth and storage management.

  The next wave of video surveillance is integrating self-learning video analytics, which produces intelligent monitoring that can prevent an incident before it happens, rather than dealing with the incident in its aftermath. Finally, video surveillance that can intelligently integrate with access control solutions will be a key factor. When combined, these solutions will help organizations keep people, property and assets safe with an easy-to-use system that won't waste time. The next wave of video surveillance solutions will enable the fastest, most appropriate response to any incident.

 Fredrik Nilsson: Most networked video surveillance systems today are limited by how much video can be stored. Camera technologies, such as sensors, optics and embedded image processing, have quickly evolved to create video with higher resolution, frame-rate and detail. Yet popular methods used to limit storage needs include reducing the storage retention time, resolution and frame-rate. Seems counterintuitive, right? Great video has little value if the storage is limited and the system is configured to remove the very information that new technologies made possible.

As a result, compression technology is going to have a significant impact on the market going forward. The long term solution will be with H.265, but in the short term there are improvements to the existing H.264 standard. Other trends that we’ll see hit the market include the Internet of Things as more products are network connected, such as speakers and door phones, to allow for a truly integrated security system. 

Sean Murphy: At the system level, H.265 compression and noise reduction technology will have a deep impact on increasing value and lowering costs. As users continue to seek more detailed images, bandwidth and storage consumption can increase along with the number of pixels – making noise reduction and compression extremely important for lowering bitrates. The best place to lower bitrates is in the camera by adjusting noise reduction based upon light levels and moving objects. Bosch accomplishes this with Intelligent Dynamic Noise Reduction (IDNR), which produces images with the least amount of noise, greatest amount of detail and lowest bitrates. When no motion is present, IDNR minimizes bitrates. When an important object is detected, bitrates increase to capture maximum details. Bandwidth is only being consumed at higher levels when increased scene detail may be needed. With IDNR, bitrates, and therefore bandwidth and storage requirements, can be lowered by up to 50 percent with no compromise on image quality.

In addition to improvements at the system level, greater integration of tangent systems – such as intrusion, access control, fire detection and more – with the video system will help users realize greater efficiencies and provide them with more information on events at their facilities.

Christian Morin: The next trend that will impact the security industry will be cloud computing. The ability for organizations to subscribe to cloud services, rather than invest in their own infrastructure and licenses, provides greater flexibility both from the ability to access new functionality on-demand, as well as transitioning potentially large capital procurements to operational expenses. The shift to the cloud does not mean customers will abandon their on-premises security systems. Rather, they are able to implement hybrid systems that leverage their existing infrastructure, software, and devices, and connect them to the cloud in order to utilize services that can extend their existing capabilities, and/or allow them reduce costs. The ability to leverage cloud resources means not only a savings in acquisition costs (e.g. not having to purchase new servers and licenses to deploy an application) but also in operational and maintenance costs, as an organization can reduce the time IT staff spends maintaining/upgrading equipment and software, and will no longer need to pay for the electricity for power, cooling and floor space for their own server rooms.

For example, Genetec’s Cloud Archives service has been designed to complement existing Security Center systems, where customers can transfer all or some of their video recordings to the cloud. They will do this to be able to protect certain key video recordings (whether minutes, hours, or days) in a secure, off-site location, and may also want to retain older archives for long-term retention in the cloud, in order to reduce the storage hardware that they require on-premises. This allows organizing to continue utilizing their existing infrastructure, while benefiting from the flexibility to transfer additional storage capacity to the cloud to minimize their investment in additional servers.  

 Kenneth Hune Petersen: Milestone Systems’ open platform technology and integration with other IP-based systems has changed the video surveillance industry. Now, video enabling - the combination of video and other business systems - is the way forward. It is not a move away from security, but rather additions of other functions to that of traditional asset protection and loss prevention. The amount of revenue-generating potential inherent in video enabling is a ‘win-win-win’ for vendors, partners and the customers. We see tremendous opportunities in areas such as customer service, elderly care, training, education and environmental applications.

 Doron Girmonsky: Everything is driving the market toward more data -- longer recording times, greater resolution, higher frame rates, and increased redundancy. By itself, more data is not more useful; in fact, it can be a hindrance. With too much data you’re unable to see the forest for the trees, which is the starting point for the next ‘BIG’ thing.

 The focus should be on converting data into something insightful; that’s the promise of big data. To deliver on this, we need tools that can automatically uncover patterns in data that can be used proactively. This operational intelligence can be used to predict what airport gates or bank branches are hotspots for issues, and to expedite a mass transit agency’s ability to find suspects faster than they could previously. Armed with this type of information and the potential to prevent crimes, organizations may be able to better justify additional investments to add more cameras or further expand their security system.

 Kevin Saldanha: From an imaging point of view, the use of panoramic cameras is rapidly growing in the market. Their appeal is their ability to provide total situational awareness and eliminate gaps in coverage, and to do so from fewer mount points and with less total cost. Advances in resolution and image quality are accelerating this trend. Products like Pelco’s IMM Series that delivers seamless panoramas and immersive views across transparently multiple sensors, will greatly improve user experience and speed up adoption.

 As for the VMS side of the system, as we all become more connected to each other and to the information in our lives, the systems use to manage all that content will have to evolve to more readily point out relationships and anticipate the usefulness of information for operators. VideoXpert is built on a scalable web oriented architecture that shares design roots with the databases behind information powerhouses like Facebook and Google.

 Tom Cook: We believe the next big thing this year will be pre-defined IP Kits. Most dealers are still using Analog not for just the price but the ease and comfort of installation.  With new IP Kits emerging and predefined POE ports built in the NVR, the standard dealer will now switch over to the digital world. This is the key item that will finally move dealers away from Analog into digital technology.

The next emerging technology that will not only change the landscape of our product lines but how everyone perceives the use of video will be mobile body cameras. This will not only be for police departments, but first responders, EMT, in Emergency rooms, next we will see it in retail on sales reps, etc. 

Allen Chan: Just as in the broadcast or consumer markets, the transition from SD (standard definition) to HD is pretty much established, and now, the trend is 4K.  We believe – as evidenced by recent product introductions, including Sony – that the next ‘big’ thing will be 4K.  Of course, innovative approaches to address existing concerns with resolution, sensitivity etc.  will be forthcoming.

Jammy DeSousa: Effective and efficient bandwidth reducing technologies, web/cloud/app-base solutions and cyber security seem to be big trends in the VMS/NVR space.  The first two are enablers for an enhanced user experience, while cyber security demand is being driven by many different vertical markets such as government, large and multinational corporations and the financial sector. Solution manufacturers are also continuing to understand the importance of the operator’s user experience. 

 STE: What are the market sweet spots for UltraHD, 4K and other extremely high-definition products and what do you see as the future progression of deployment costs of those systems?

Willem Ryan: Avigilon recently introduced the security industry’s first 7K (30 megapixel) camera to the market. This camera is most effective in applications such as parking lots, airports (both inside at locations such as baggage claims and outside to monitor the perimeter and tarmac), stadiums and critical infrastructure locations such as electric power stations. Future development of ultra-high definition products will involve the ability to provide wide area coverage with the simultaneous ability to zoom in for clear image detail. It is important that these HD products are paired with accompanying software that can manage bandwidth, storage and decoding appropriately.

 Fredrik Nilsson: 4K is ideal for environments where large areas need to be covered, while still maintaining a high level of detail. 4K products, which were first announced just last year, are for niche applications with wide spread adoption still far off as HDTV 720 and 1080 hold steady as the mainstream resolutions. Some of the drawbacks to 4K products are the cost associated with the lenses and the reduced light sensitivity as a result of the smaller pixels which require higher light levels to activate. Another drawback to 4K and megapixel cameras is that more image resolution means more data, ultimately requiring more bandwidth.

It’s important to remember that like HDTV, 4K is a standard that involves much more than just resolution, including color fidelity and frame rate. Megapixel cameras, on the other hand, are not bound by standards. As manufacturers continue to launch cameras with higher and higher resolution, integrators need to weigh the benefits of those technologies against the requirements of the specific scenario to ensure that the system provides the end customer with the quality, level of detail and storage requirements they truly need.

Sean Murphy: Cameras that deliver 4K ultra HD resolution should be considered one of the tools in a surveillance toolbox. These cameras are useful for situations where the user needs to be able to digitally zoom into areas of a scene without losing the wider field of view. This level of resolution may not be needed for every area of a facility, but it is ideal for covering large areas – such as inside an arena or stadium bowl, transportation facility, or large retail store – where identifying objects at a great distance is necessary.  4K ultra HD cameras provide more detailed images with more useful information that improves identification and retrospective analysis capabilities.

With more detailed images, the volume of data being transported and stored rises. There is technology available, such as IDNR, which limits the impact on bandwidth consumption and storage requirements to lower the costs associated with systems using high resolution products.

 Christian Morin: Given the higher bandwidth and storage costs to leverage 4K/multi-megapixel cameras, they are likely to see greater adoption in applications that will most benefit from the higher resolutions. This includes outdoor environments with large open spaces, whether on an airport runway or within a stadium or casino, where the greater field of view can provide the opportunity to replace the use of multiple lower-res cameras.  

 Kenneth Hune Petersen: Over time, 4K will become the de-facto standard for cameras in our industry. Right now we see increasing interest for it in high-end segments of the market. Customers interested in 4K deployments typically operate a command or situational awareness center. 4K cameras are interesting due to the unique combination of video overview and zoom-in for detail visibility, both for real-time and post-event investigations.

 Bob Banerjee: High-resolution cameras will probably replace a portion of PTZ cameras, especially unmanned PTZs, because they can see and record the same field of view, even when they digitally zoom into an area of interest. They’re also a solid-state solution, which translates into reliability, physical size, and power consumption benefits.

 However, PTZs benefit from greater image quality during optical zoom and less distortion since the field of view is narrower. Higher resolution cameras demand more bandwidth and storage, but since HD storage and processing costs are decreasing, cost probably won’t be a factor. For these reasons, we expect 4K and very high-resolution imagers to steal some market share from moving cameras, but we don’t expect them to entirely replace PTZs in the near future.

 Johnathan Lewit: Today, these products are attracting some interest from early adopters. They will become mainstream when they are capable of delivering the image quality demanded by security applications – specifically when low light and WDR performance of 4K sensors approaches that of HD Sensors today. Further, the high bandwidth and storage requirements of 4K cameras cry out for solutions in compression. When a critical mass of cameras and VMSs deploy technologies such as h.265 that can substantially reduce storage costs for customers, 4K cameras deliver on their promise of more detail in security video at a reasonable total cost.

 With all the interest in increasing the density/resolution of video data, Video Management Systems will focus more on helping to manage the load this content puts on the information backbone, the network.  Complex streaming algorithms will leverage the latest standards to most efficiently utilize bandwidth, storage and patience.

 Tom Cook: Eventual adoption will be in outdoor parking lots, as replacements of PTZs for long range detail views and large coverage.  Most end user try this with 2MP, and 3MP and find they are not adequate to support the full parking areas from where the cameras are mounted and to see detail license plates when necessary from the same camera views. The cost of this system is about 25 percent higher, but if it resolves the issue the end user will migrate quickly to this technology.

Allen Chan: The benefits of 4K and beyond will prove invaluable for outdoor city surveillance and transportation markets such as airport, railway, stadium entrances or the like, where large coverage is essential for situational awareness, but at the same time details can be shown when required.  However, 4K is not the only answer for all applications.  It is the combination with HD and FHD systems that can delivery cost efficiencies. 

 Jammy DeSousa: Multi-sensor cameras seem to be hot in the camera space.  Multi-mega pixel cameras are now commonplace for indoor applications but higher pixel count camera offer excellent options for outdoor or large indoor applications like stadiums or city surveillance. Camera technology, however, is once again ahead of viewing and recording technology – for example most standard monitors are not able to take advantage of the additional pixels offered by 4K. Once 4K capable monitors and other surveillance products become mainstream that will help to drive overall adoption.

About the Author

Steve Lasky | Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief/Security Technology Executive

Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes the magazine's Security Technology Executive, Security Business, and Locksmith Ledger International, and the top-rated website He is also the host of the SecurityDNA podcast series.Steve can be reached at [email protected]