Change is sometimes subtle, and other times change is sudden. Sometimes it’s predictable, and other times it’s only apparent in hindsight. When technology is at the source of change, it’s often both the cause and the effect. That is, technology is often a response to a market demand or a cause of another market demand. And amidst the course of this dynamic tempest, it’s easy to get confused.

SDM recently conducted a Q&A with two industry professionals to determine the current and future trends in video recording.

We spoke with Peter Strom, president and CEO of March Networks, Ottawa, Ontario, a member company of the Security Industry Association’s (SIA) CCTV Industry Group.

We also spoke with Lynden Yates, a member of SIA’s Committee on Digital Video Standards and the director of product management / Digital Group, GE Security - Commercial Solutions, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Here’s what they had to say.

SDM: What are the current trends in video recording?

STROM: We see two strong trends happening in the marketplace today. One trend is in the amount of data that organizations want to record and keep in immediate retrieval format. We have seen a change from what was a 30-day requirement a few years ago, to a 60-day normal video recording standard. This increase in video recording hours has been driven often to curtail possible litigation, rather than the immediate need of seeing what happened immediately following an incident.

Additionally, we have seen a strong growth in the number of customers wanting to have video recording integrated with other business systems, one example being retail point-of-sale data integrated with video of retail transactions.

YATES: For the last five years, video recording has been shifting from recording analog video to digitized, compressed video data. Several trends are changing the look of this rapidly growing industry, including:

• more efficient compression engines, which reduce average file size;

• larger and cheaper hard disk drives;

• increased bandwidth on transport infrastructure (example: 10BaseT is now 10/100 BaseT, with 1000BaseT coming behind it);

• increasing dependence on digital video being used as admissible evidence;

• stored video is being associated with stored text or data, for use as part of the video search criteria;

• record speed per camera is increasing;

• video is being used for demographic assessment to help cost justify a security expenditure (especially true in retail); and

• management by exception is the driving philosophy behind all contemporary security control center designs.

SDM: What sort of market demands created these trends?

STROM: On the longer recording period front, I believe that trend is being driven as much by the end user community as it is by the technology. Prices of hard drives have dropped due to the increased use of hard drives in the consumer PC market, so that today you can get a 300 GB hard drive for the same price as a 30 GB hard drive two years ago. Also, as end users now realize that the move to digital from analog can give them the longer recording times, with high quality video, they are changing their internal processes to match with what is possible with digital recording.

In addition, the demand for integrated systems is growing as our end-users are realizing the value of video information and what it can bring to their organizations in ways beyond traditional security and surveillance. Faster access to information and linking it to other business processes opens up new and tangible ways for organizations to operate more effectively – be it in decreased asset loss, or perhaps through a better understanding of what occurs at branch and remote locations. This knowledge can be applied in areas such as marketing research, risk management, and operations management.

YATES: End users are keeping video longer, meaning they need larger HDDs, smaller file size, or both. End users are also correlating video storage with transactional data storage (such as ATM, POS, EAS, or other). Additionally, users need for data for investigational purposes – when they need it, they need it quickly. And enterprise customers are using centralized monitoring to cost effectively control remote sites. Finally, there are faster communications and higher reliance on “tools” in the “personnel/procedures/ tools” triangle of security.

SDM: How are these trends manifested? What are some applications?

STROM: We are seeing a rapid up-take of our integrated software applications that provide the linking of external data with video data. In particular, the retail market is quickly adopting loss prevention applications that allow investigators to easily analyze retail transaction data of interest, such as returns, no sales, etc., and link directly to recorded video. This type of linking and dynamic analysis was not possible before with analog video-based systems.

The trend will also drive manufacturers to invest more in software development for the multiple user audiences tapping into new video management tools. These user communities will be remote and will rely upon an organization’s IT network to access the video information, so understanding network bandwidth utilization will be very important for manufacturers in the environment of increased demand of video information.

YATES: Banks store video for 90 days, as part of federal requirements. Banks are also using digital recorders with text insertion to associate ATM data with video files, and they use “real-time” (30fps) to monitor cash counting areas in cash vaults. Also, casinos store video for 14 days and need real-time to watch slight-of-hand movements. Highway vehicle weigh station scales use text insertion with truck scales to record violations. Retail chains are using digital recorders with point-of-sale text insertion from cash registers. Also, video recordings of “end caps” in retail stores are being analyzed for demographics – who is buying what and when.

SDM: How can dealers and integrators respond to these trends?

STROM: Security systems integrators play a key role in assisting organizations as they move to new technology. Often, the integrator can act as the technology expert and work very closely with the end user to ensure that the implementation will meet an organization’s requirements from both a technology perspective and a system use perspective. There is a growing opportunity for dealers and integrators to generate additional value and revenue in new video monitoring services and services for management of multiple DVRs within an organization.

YATES: They need to become knowledgeable about these trends and applications by attending training sessions from industry manufacturers. They should stay close to security consultants in their various markets, who are typically aware of manufacturers’ state-of-the-art technologies. They need their staff to develop new network-oriented skill sets in sales, installation, and support. They need to focus on a total solutions approach for their customers, blending tools with personnel and procedures. Lastly, they need to understand the ROI is more than security – digital video also becomes a huge management tool.

SDM: How do these trends differ from previous trends?

STROM: During the last six to eight years, we have seen the digital video market being driven by expectations set in an analog world where everything was about frame rate, video resolution and video quality. Now that most DVR systems offer high performance with 15 to 30 fps video on all video inputs, we are seeing video being able to reach beyond its use in pure surveillance applications.

YATES: Again, video has become more than an investigative tool – it is now a management tool. It will be used in countless security as well as non-security applications. In the past, focus was on components, such as cameras, recorders, etc. Now, it is a total solutions approach encompassing everything. It is happening faster than expected – maybe 2 years earlier than predicted.

SDM: What’s in store for video recording in the near future?

STROM: We expect two trends to move the market forward in the next few years: IP cameras and wireless networks. Applications with IP cameras are somewhat limited at present due to network bandwidth that is allocated to video applications. With increased bandwidth availability and improved compression, we will see IP camera applications increase in use. Wireless networks, including the 802.11x and CDMA networks, are allowing video to be used on moving vehicles, such as trains, buses, and emergency vehicles. Additionally, they are allowing some very interesting applications with hand-held devices to be implemented.

YATES: More of the same: smaller file size, faster record rate, higher framer rate streaming over less bandwidth, intelligent video, etc. Additionally, however, the key to the near future is the “hybrid age.” Digital manufacturers will offer products that allow existing users of analog infrastructures to utilize their legacy investments, yet migrate gracefully into the digital future. The total solutions approach offered by network-centric, integrated appliances will generate management tools that provide fast access to vital data.


The video security industry is undergoing a rapid conversion from the traditional analog TV system to a totally new digital communication method over IP networks. This affects not only form and function of products, but the communications infrastructure needed to support them. The new feature sets found in today’s digital products are expanding applications – and the market potential – exponentially.

The lion’s share of the ‘digital’ business done today is with DVRs. These are replacing analog VCRs for recording and adding the capability of remote monitoring and playback over local and wide area networks. While the talk of the industry is all about digital, very few systems sold today are all digital, meaning that every component from cameras to switching and distribution systems, to viewing is done via IP. Today’s IP-based systems lack the performance and system management options available in analog systems. The early adopters of IP video security systems are mostly in the government and transportation sectors, where there is a significant advantage for using network-based video.

The digital revolution affects every aspect of a video security system, from the camera, to the system wiring, to signal distribution, to display; everything will change as we move toward all-digital solutions. Look for all-IP systems to be offering better performance and more systems capability in the near future.

End users are playing an increasingly important role in the evolution of video security. They are asking for interface and performance standards. User groups such as LEVA, the Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Video Association, and SWGIT, the Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technologies, are developing guidelines and best practice documents for using video security. The Security Industry Association (SIA) has several standards projects underway that were initiated as a result of end-user demand. End users with specific suggestions may contact SIA through their website,, to submit further ideas.

As we move into the digital era, the biggest obstacle will be lack of IP networking competence at the integrator and the end user levels. Dealers and end users need to get up to speed on networks and how to work with IT management in order to implement the network-based systems that are coming. Manufacturers as well as independent training providers are developing a number of courses for this purpose. SIA’s CCTV Industry Group has been working with the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technology (NICET) and the National Systems Contractor’s Association (NSCA) to create a certification program for professional video systems designers and installers. This program will provide the structure and the incentives necessary to motivate practitioners to take courses and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to move into the world of IP video. More information on this program can be found at