There’s analog to digital but there is also digital video recorders to network video recorders. Courtesy of Frost & Sullivan

It might take thousands of years for a fish to evolve into a bird but, in the arena of digital video, the speed of evolution is super fast. That’s because, beyond digital video storage, there are huge business advantages now available to analyze the digital image information.

Those advantages of digital technology in analyzing and providing real-time feedback will likely fuel the IP video surveillance storage systems market. In addition to growing security concerns, the possibility of integration with the IT infrastructure provides the necessary business case for chief security officers and security managers to shift from analog to IP surveillance. And the shift has spurred a noticeable purchasing transition, first seen in storage.

For example, new analysis from Frost & Sullivan in its report, North American IP Video Surveillance Storage Markets, reveals that buyers spent $1.26 billion in 2006 and estimates $2.95 billion by 2013.

"The falling prices of hard disk drives (HDDs) as well as increasing demand from government and gaming sectors as they replace analog systems with IP surveillance drives this market," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst George Paul. "Further, the advent of Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) used for transferring data between hard disk and computer makes IP video surveillance storage systems relatively less complex."


However, the cost of replacing an existing analog system with an IP surveillance system includes the replacement of cameras, network, servers, recorders and monitoring stations, which represents a major cost. Additionally, applications such as casino gaming tables, can only operate with continuous video monitoring. Therefore, in order to prevent revenue loss, casinos require "hot swapping" wherein the analog surveillance system is replaced in stages by the IP system.

Both systems run in parallel until the IP surveillance is ready to take over.

"The challenge for the IP video surveillance storage market is to develop solutions targeting particular applications, with the right balance of flexibility, security and cost," noted Paul. "For instance, intermediate technologies such as encoders can be used to convert analog to digital before setting up IP storage systems so that when the transition from analog to digital takes place, the cost does not seem prohibitive."

There is, of course, yet another step in the transition to digital.

That’s called intelligent video or video analytics. Relatively new but also rapidly evolving, video analytics is attractive to many types of enterprises but also come with a number of confusing myths. Security Magazine asked Cernium’s Craig Chambers to spotlight three of those myths.

Myth #1:
The greater the number of detectable events/behaviors, the better the video analytics solution.

Certainly, motion detection is not the same as video analytics and the number of detectable events can indicate advanced capabilities. However, the real test of advanced analytics is not related to the number of detectable events in total, but rather the number of events that can be managed simultaneously, in real-time.

Real world security violations are not binary and are by nature, unpredictable. There is little value in an analytics solution that can detect 23 behaviors, if the user must choose only one to operate on each camera. Consider a scenario where an analytics solution tuned to detect an object left behind on a passenger rail platform misses the passenger who falls onto the rail because it was set up with a different scenario in mind.

The best analytics solutions are highly processor-efficient and can support multiple, concurrent behaviors on each channel. These solutions allow clients to “turn on” as many different combinations of behaviors on each channel, with the flexibility to change criteria as security requirements change.

Myth #2:
Server-based solutions are old school; analytics solutions embedded in edge devices that optimize network utilization are the way of the future.

Unless you’re dealing with an extremely large video surveillance system comprised of hundreds of security cameras, it actually doesn’t make a material difference where the analytics capabilities reside. Most organizations record every bit and byte of security video, which must traverse the network to be recorded and stored. For large enterprise systems, there can be a role for both edge and centralized solutions in combination.

The key issue is less about an “edge device” vs. a “central analytics server” but rather about the ability to place analytics everywhere they’re needed. The best analytics solutions are highly efficient and economically able to deliver analytics on every camera, if necessary. In a post 9/11 world, security violations can occur at any time and in any location. If the objective is to ensure the safety and security of people and assets, the system architecture and distribution of analytics capabilities should be driven by security requirements, not economic constraints. This is especially true of large, enterprise video surveillance systems. The best analytics solutions can scale efficiently and cost-effectively to support analytics on every camera, regardless of the number.

Myth #3:
Video analytics is just an early warning system for video surveillance.

Many chief security officers are familiar with video analytics and equate this capability with alerts and colored boxes drawn around people and objects. Interdicting security threats in progress is just one side of the equation. In actuality, the best analytics solutions not only work in real-time but also generate a wealth of information about what’s in the video so that it can be searched, much like the entire Web can be searched to retrieve very specific content. After an event has occurred, video that has been appropriately tagged with analytics-generated metadata can be searched again and again utilizing different criteria and parameters. The labor-intensive procedure of visually inspecting every video sequence for an event does not need to be the time-consuming activity that it once was.

As with any evolving technology, generally accepted beliefs are bound to change as capabilities expand and evolve. For video surveillance systems, best practices deliver highly efficient, highly flexible analytics capabilities that deliver real-time or forensic search capabilities for multiple, simultaneous criteria. Ultimately, best practices improve the safety and security of the people and assets that are protected – the reason why these truths and myths must be considered.