Martin Gren sees mega-trends impacting in video surveillance.

Yes, Martin Gren is the inventor of the IP camera, a Security’s 25 Most Influential List member, chairman and co-founder of Axis Communications (whose advertisement is across from this column). And, yes, Axis Communications invited me to their recent Architecture and Engineering event where Gren shared his thoughts on the future of network cameras. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I preface this month’s column with that information. But Gren did not wax poetic about Axis Communications during his talk. He put forth the mega-trends in video surveillance that will impact your security operations and they are worthy of sharing.

IP technology now represents about 20 percent of all video systems and our sister publication, SDM, forecasts that analog camera sales will decline in 2009 for the first time. Today, over 250 manufacturers offer IP security cameras and the technology advances and system designs continue to change at a fast pace.

Security as a Service (SaaS), cameras as a service and storing your video content “in the cloud” (like using Yahoo Web mail instead of Outlook PC-based e-mail) are all concepts that can help you leverage technology to meet the opportunities and challenges that come with migrating your security system to the next level (you might even start to understand the folks in IT).

Here are "Gren's Ten" key trends:
  1. Image quality will continue to improve as a result of improvements in lenses, compression, storage and camera technologies and cost/performance improvements.
  2. Image resolution will improve as megapixel technology becomes pervasive and high definition becomes common. As HDTV (1080i/p and 720p) increases market penetration, improvements will occur not only in resolution, but also in frame rate and color fidelity. And HDTV is standards-based, creating another open standard for best of breed (see #5) design.
  3. Storage will become more decentralized in network cameras. Hard disks are following Moore’s Law* by doubling in capacity every year. This will enable network cameras to de-centralize storage. (Read “Clusters, Clouds and the Future of Storage” Security 01/09.)
  4. Compression technology will evolve from JPEG to MPEG4 to H.264. H.264 compresses video content communicating the data faster and cheaper. H.264 is 80 percent more efficient than JPEG and 50 percent more efficient than MPEG-4. Storage costs are reduced and frame rates are almost unlimited. The current benefit of greater compression is better resolution.
  5. Bandwidth on the local network and the Internet enables video monitoring as a service to be used in place of a local monitoring and/or storage facility.
  6. Standards for the security industry will evolve. Open technology standards will enable interoperability. This will accelerate your security system design from best of brand (one brand whose closed system works on proprietary software) to best of breed (the best individual components such as camera, card reader, storage). Lab tested, compatible, open systems ensures different brands work together.
  7. Power over Ethernet (PoE) uses the network connection to power the camera, access control card reader or other device instead of an electrical connection. Open standards and increases in PoE to 25 watts will enable more security devices to be powered by the network.
  8. Mounting options, such as the change from fixed to dome mounts, will continue to reduce installation time and cost.
  9. Video analytics currently is most effective when applied to tampering and motion detection. But the hype is becoming reality as face recognition and more complex applications get better. This is also being driven by consumer technology where some cameras now include “smile detection.”
  10. What is driving security technology? Consumer electronics! Most of the advances in security technology come from the consumer electronics market. HDTV, H.264 and megapixel cameras are but a few of the applied technologies.
Looking ahead, Martin Gren noted that he sees no fundamental barriers to greater adoption of network video and anticipates the camera will become a service and storage will be in the cloud. And while no industry is recession-proof in this economy, network video will see growth in 2009.

Thank you, Martin! What trends do you and your organization see for our industry? Let us know at

*Named after Gordon Moore, Intel co-founder, who noted in 1958 that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubled approximately every 18 months. This exponential performance improvement held true for chips and been the driving force in technology advances.