I remember walking the floor at more than a few trade shows in 2005 and witnessing the excitement around two little letters, IP.

IP cameras, IP controllers, IP this, IP that, worming its way into marketing presentations and press releases, dribbling off the lips of newly enlightened security professionals in ever aisle.  It was fun for me to watch an entire industry break into an awareness of the power and utility of Internet protocol.

In recent weeks, though, it seems IP has been trumped by a new alphanumeric jumble called H.264.

It’s Compression

Suddenly compression standards are all the rage, I guess.

Cisco, Axis and more than a dozen other companies made announcements or breakthroughs related to creative implementation of the H.264 compression standard.  More video squeezing through the wire, more efficient storage, faster searching for video clips, easier sharing of video to your iPhone.

Faster, easier, cheaper – all the promises of IP in 2005.

I talked to two vendors who sell video compression to the movie industry in Hollywood, and they tell me the really cool technology for compression and storage is still around the corner.  Sounds good to me.  I love it when innovation brings more efficient and effective business solutions.

Improving business was at the core of an event my company hosted at the Venetian the night before the ISC West show.  We called it The Future of Video Surveillance, and it sure was fun.  About 60 top consultants, integrators, security executives and investors schmoozed and feasted at David Burke restaurant at the Venetian while I shared a few thoughts about the future of video surveillance.

The squeeze is on. At ISC West, the hot security video topic was the use of a compression standard that allows more data through the IP pipeline but also places more demand on the end-line processing.

The Hottest Tech

Video sure is hot these days.

There is tremendous demand, and everyone (and their brother) is coming out with a camera or service to sell in order to carve off a bit of pie – a pie that seems to double in size every couple years with no end in sight.  For the security industry, video surveillance is like a mini Internet bubble, getting the investors, manufacturers, service providers and end users all frothy and wild eyed.

For me, video in security is boiling down to a few trends.

First is the notion that video can be something other than data.  Today, we think of pumping video through a pipe – more video, more stuff.  The IT intelligencia call that stuff data.  However, when we assemble and analyze data, it becomes information.  Information creates value for our organizations.  In the future, video becomes something more than bits through a pipe – something more than video.  It becomes “intelligence” just like any business application enriching productivity and profit.

The next trend is ubiquity.

Video will soon be everywhere – on every street corner and building lobby. Sharing (and in some cases not sharing) that video becomes an important discussion. Making video available to those who are authorized to it and who need it will bring pressure on price, interoperability, ease of deployment, ease of management, integration with analysis and response systems, compression, storage, and many other factors contributing to making video available on demand.

A Channel Thing

One other trend affecting the future of video surveillance also touches all of the physical security industry, and that is consultative selling.  The so-called sales channels of this industry are more like order-taking channels.  As we do with Amazon.com, we call our integrator when we already know what we want.  The future will find us talking about security more as a business enabler.  In fact, the best consultative sales people will be able to purge the word security from their vocabulary and as a result increase sales.  New sales techniques and channels will evolve to sell the new business application of intelligent video to business unit managers, CIOs and COOs.

Let’s keep advancing the conversation.