Article | September 2020
Strong Demand in the Face of Global Uncertainty
Demand for video security has been on a steady rise over the past decade. Improvements in technology coupled with growing public concern about security are leading to increased spending across an array of industry verticals. Forecasts predict that the value of the global video surveillance market will grow at a CAGR of 10% between 2020 and 2025. This robust expansion comes amidst global concerns about health and social unrest due to COVID-19 and various pockets of protests occurring around the globe. These events have further spurred discussion and action by governments and companies around the world to explore video technology solutions to help facilitate safe economic reopening and to protect lives and assets.
Sidebar - Technological Background
Initially, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras were exclusively analog with their footage transmitted as uncompressed, unencrypted analog signals over coaxial cables recorded on a VCR with video stored on cassette tapes. Digital technology came on the scene with the advent of Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) in the mid-1990s. Replacing VCRs as the video recording medium, DVRs both digitized and compressed ingested analog signals for storage on internal hard drives allowing for more consistent recording quality and enabling easier search capabilities. The next major advancement came with the move to network video systems. By introducing ethernet connectivity through the use of Network Video Recorders (NVRs), video encoders, or ethernet-enabled DVRs, video security systems could now be transmitted over modern IP networks. As such, they gained the benefits of increased transmission range and integrity that comes with the TCP/IP protocol along with the possibility to record and manage surveillance networks remotely. These capabilities have been more widely embraced overtime given improvements in broadband speeds.
Advancements Spurred by IP Cameras
Advancements in video surveillance in the past 10 years have been driven to a large degree by the growth, maturation, and reduction in cost of network (IP) cameras. In contrast to their analog counterparts, IP cameras digitize their footage from within the cameras themselves rather than at the recorder / encoder. This made it possible to transmit higher quality and resolution video as the digitized footage sent from the camera is already compressed. Because they use ethernet rather than coax cables, they also allow the use of Power of Ethernet, native audio support, and two-way communication which enable control of camera features such as pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ). Thanks to their growing onboard computing power, IP cameras have begun to support more advanced video analytics in the past few years. Advancements in AI and specifically deep learning have unlocked a wealth of new use cases for specific verticals that are now being developed and deployed.
With the widespread success of cloud computing, Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) has gained popularity in the current market. Better video compression and higher bandwidth availability mean that organizations with limited IT resources who are looking to save on capex can now turn to video security service providers to host the video recording, storage, remote management, and cybersecurity functions for their video surveillance networks. While the benefits are clear (scalability, flexibility, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, security, etc.) they are often weighed against privacy concerns as well as local/regional regulations such as those governing where local data may be stored.
Shift to Alternate Uses
Traditionally, CCTV networks have been designed simply to provide end users with a live feed of critical areas along with a video log of events available for examination in the case of a security incident. Now however, organizations are seeking to get more from their video security investments and are exploring smarter features to achieve a more cross-functional use of their existing or new video security assets. Some are deploying video networks with deeper integration with other security systems like access controls, fire alarms, and motion control thus linking their video into a broader Internet of Things (IoT) network. For example, an IP camera with PTZ capability can be setup to automatically rotate or zoom into focus on a certain area if an access alarm is triggered or a certain sound (e.g. gun shot, scream, car crash, etc.) is detected. This sensor-to-camera communication can go both ways also allowing the camera to trigger alarms and alerts based on information detected in the video feed using AI enabled video analytics. Some leading-edge AI enhancements available for video surveillance networks include the following:
Forward-thinking organizations are studying the latest video analytics capabilities and evaluating how these features can be leveraged to advance their business objectives. For example, a retail store may look to utilize its security cameras to derive insights from traffic pattern along with video emotion recognition analytics to help optimize store layout and product displays. Or a public park with digital signage may use analytics capturing the audience characteristics like dwell/attention time, age, and gender to assess the engagement levels of their advertising content. They may even integrate the live audience characteristics data into the backend to tailor the content they show in real time based on viewer demographics. These extensions of the traditional CCTV network into other applications are allowing organizations to justify greater spending on their video network infrastructure as they can tap into the budgets from other interested departments such as marketing and sales.
Increased Awareness and Government Initiatives
While technological evolution has helped sustain a high demand for video security, greater concern over public safety has also played a role as well. Terrorism, protests, rising crime rates, mass shootings, and the extensive media coverage that these events often receive have stoked heightened awareness of potential security threats. Governments around the globe have responded by expanding video surveillance networks to help fight and deter crime to promote more livable and business-friendly communities. These efforts are often subsumed within or accompanied by broader digital transformation and smart city initiatives.
In an effort to stem high rates of crime in major cities, Jamaica’s Ministry of National Security launched a nationwide CCTV surveillance system in 2018 known as JamaicaEye. This system combines a mix of state-owned and private-owned cameras distributed throughout the island, granting citizens the ability to connect their personal security cameras onto the network thereby crowd-sharing footage with the police free of charge. As of early 2020, the system consisted of 445 government cameras and plans were in place to install 100 more in the near future. Of those already installed, 50 are PTZ cameras and 216 are equipped with license plate recognition technology. In 2019, JM$1.2 billion (US$8.3 million) was invested into the project while another JM$1 billion is allocated for 2020 to further enhance its capacity, quality, and intelligent capabilities.
Atlanta, USA is another area employing a similar public-private partnership to cost-effectively grow its video surveillance network. Known as Operation Shield, the project was launched by the Atlanta Police Foundation as a video integration initiative to pool live video from participating entities across the city into one central command center. The system features license plate recognition, a predictive policing platform, and criminal analytics software. Today the network boasts some 10,600+ cameras and is credited to have caused a 50% reduction in crime in locations where cameras are installed.
As a city with a keen interest in smart city technology, Atlanta has also taken steps to deploy a number of adjacent solutions that have garnered international attention. Two notable recent projects that have leveraged video analytics include the North Avenue Smart Corridor and the biometric terminal at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport. Launched in 2017, the Smart Corridor took aim at solving the city’s high traffic congestion along a 2.3-mile main city artery by deploying intelligent traffic signals and surveillance cameras that allow traffic lights to adapt dynamically to changing conditions such as pedestrians crossing the street or incoming emergency response vehicles. The program has succeeded in reducing traffic accidents along the stretch by 25%. Meanwhile, at the airport, Delta Airlines has installed facial recognition cameras that travelers can opt to use to simplify screening at check-in, TSA checkpoints, and at the boarding gate. The system has an estimated potential reduction in total boarding time (for all passengers combined) of 9 minutes.
Given the growing power of computer vision technologies, the industry can expect more companies and concerned cities to turn to video surveillance systems as a way to enhance public peace of mind and improve operational efficiencies.
Recent high-profile police incidents have fomented concern about potential prejudicial biases in law enforcement primarily in the US but also globally. One solution entertained has been the use of body-worn cameras to promote greater accountability and oversight within the police force. While police body worn cameras are widespread throughout the US, improvements have brought live-streaming, cloud storage, and AI analytics into the equation. Companies like Visual Labs and Axon provide the platform and/or hardware to help law enforcement more efficiently and safely respond in emergency situations. Axon’s system automatically activates the body camera when a critical event is detected (i.e. when a gun is drawn, the taser is turned on, or emergency lights are activated) allowing livestreamed footage to be viewed by a supervisor at the office. Some argue that this leads to improved decision-making in high-speed situations and more appropriate use of force.
On the health front, the COVID-19 pandemic which has triggered economic lockdowns around the globe is beginning to show signs of improvement. As many economies now look to reopen, leaders are turning to technology for ways to do so safely. Some are tapping video surveillance cameras to help spot non-compliance with social distancing policies along with thermal cameras to help identify persons with elevated temperatures. Although some believe that these new use cases are temporary spikes in demand, they have nonetheless added extra momentum in the adoption of advanced video analytics which is likely to having lasting impact.
As we see the need and desire for video surveillance technology on the rise, Cizmic is well positioned to help organizations looking to upgrade their aging video security network or pursue a greenfield deployments. After understanding key objectives and constraints along with assessing the existing infrastructure, we architect solutions designed to achieve a high return on investment. With the large number of technology vendors, platforms, and features available in the video security market, navigating the web of options and knowing how to mix and match the best technologies into a unified system takes expertise. Clients trust us to help them overcome design challenges and advance their business goals. See our Expertise Page for some of our technical consulting services.
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