This presentation, which counts down the top 10 technologies believed to transform both physical and cyber security in the near future, was first made by the author at the Axis Communications A&E Technology Summit, held in February. As a member of the ASIS Physical Security Council, the author polled many of his fellow council members as well as IT professionals and asked them what they think the top 10 technologies are. He then formulated their answers into a presentation, from which the following article is adapted.


10. Edge Devices

The first technology in our Top 10 list is known as “edge,” or small and stand-alone video surveillance and physical access control systems, which are having a strong impact on our market.

Today’s video solutions market brings an application and platform for virtually every end user requirement. Recording network video at the edge is trending for small systems (16 network cameras or less) primarily suited for forensic use and compliance, and for instances where Internet access is unavailable.

Managed or hosted video solutions deployed in public or private clouds represent a strong recurring monthly revenue (RMR) opportunity for integrators, while mobile device access and the as-a-service structure provide a cost-effective way to accommodate widely geographically dispersed smaller quantities of cameras (for example, many locations with few cameras in each).

We’re going to see a massive expansion of hosted video in the second half of 2012 and into 2013, because a lot of major national systems integrators are adopting this technology, making it incredibly affordable for traditional customers still using analog.

Appliance-type digital and network video recorders are a cost-effective, useful (but narrow) fit for the mid-range, 48 cameras or fewer, systems. This area is being squeezed from both sides. The large video management system (VMS) segment, which provides more interoperability and third-party solution integration, remains the go-to player when you need a complex search mechanism or have a corporate environment, facility, airport, etc.

We have also seen many physical access control systems that are edge devices, including smart perimeter sensor systems. A stand-alone system, perhaps a stand-alone sensor, may be something that actually has a battery and can record its location through a built-in accelerometer. This may be your next lowest cost perimeter sensing system.


9. Video Content Analysis

Video analytics embedded in the network camera represents a growing segment where applications run inside the “edge” network camera with minimal software. For video content analysis, there are a couple of interesting solutions on the market that are gaining a lot of popularity, especially in retail.

With video synopsis, also known as video summarization, a condensed clip of all the motion for a selected time frame is continuously generated and stored, allowing an “instant review” of a readily available video synopsis. It is possible to summarize a 24-hour period of event-trigger entries in as little as 15 minutes, reducing incident review time by at least 50 percent.

Video analytics offering abnormal scene detection allows the user to set specific object criteria and direction. The scene is analyzed continuously and “abnormal” or behavior differing from the majority of the scene content is detected and either annunciated or marked for later review. For example, it can be used to determine when someone steals top shelf vodka in a retail store or if a car turns onto a train track. By establishing a normalized baseline of information, it can detect these abnormal conditions.

One software company even does both flame and smoke detection. So your video surveillance system actually can be leveraged to serve as accurate indoor secondary detection, permitting safety personnel early notification and the opportunity to investigate. They are currently looking into actually placing it inside the camera itself to run at the edge.

Heat mapping provides real-time images showing how people have moved throughout the camera scene for a fixed duration. Useful in environments where business intelligence data is needed, this type of video content analysis can help improve safety by analyzing the flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow in a facility. Retail really has embraced this technology, using it to see if end caps are effective or where patrons spend most of their time in a store. License plate capture, automatic plate recognition and people counting are used to see who is passing into a designated zone.


8. Device Authentication

All of the aforementioned video solutions simplify surveillance; however, what about data security complexity? Data storage privacy, geography and logical security must be considered. The transmission security of video data must be maintained.

One example that secures both the producer and consumer of video data is a network camera and mobile device with a trusted and established credentialing authority (CA). This CA allows the security director to simply and efficiently establish or revoke the privilege of producing, storing, playing back and displaying video content. Credentialing authorities create strong, simple and scalable video data protection.


7. Video Verification & Video Events

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently reported that more than 75 percent of all dispatch requests are the result of user error. This is far too much wasted time for our law enforcement personnel. It is the responsibility of the public and private sectors to explore every possible reduction method by examining the viability of all technologies and procedures. One such method is becoming a requirement in many jurisdictions: video verification.

The statistics of our global aging population are alarming. In May 2011, the first of 77 million baby boomers in the United States turned 65. Every day, more than 12,000 people in this nation turn age 62. Today’s personal emergency response systems (PERS) are allowing seniors to maintain dignity in their lifestyles without compromising safety.

In both the video verification of intrusion alarm and PERS applications, integrated video surveillance and recorded event clips of alarm conditions positively contribute to public safety and are growing trends.


6. Cloud Computing / Managed Services

How practitioners have traditionally used their video surveillance systems has sometimes constrained their purchasing, and therefore can increase risk due to video storage estimates. They might have fewer funds to apply to much needed network cameras and display devices due to anticipated storage costs. With cloud-based services — otherwise known as hosted video — video data storage is elastic; it can reduce waste and match more closely with the often cyclic needs of video surveillance. These solutions also make video mobility easier and more reliable.

Need to grow or shrink the video surveillance system? Need to move cameras from one construction site to another? Need to open a new store? All of these use cases may be better served by video service delivery and other security apps from a private or public cloud infrastructure.

The cloud is very elastic and can follow the customer’s usage. One approach: figure out where the end user’s spikes are, and then recommend that they “rent the spike.” In other words, this is your basic cost; this is the baseline cost you accommodate for your storage and for your software solutions. When your video storage needs go up, you move back to the cloud.

The cloud is being adopted tremendously by the IT industries, of course. From the physical security standpoint, we traditionally are a little bit slower to adopt new technologies. However, as the services become available from national systems integrators and other solutions that meet end users’ needs, it is going to increase rapidly in usage.


5. Efficient Video Compression

H.264 is an open, licensed standard that supports the most efficient video compression techniques available today. Without compromising image quality, an H.264 encoder can reduce the size of a digital video file by more than 80 percent, compared with the Motion JPEG format, and as much as 50 percent more than the MPEG-4 Part 2 standard.

This means that much less network bandwidth and storage space are required for a video file — or seen another way, much higher video quality can be achieved for a given bit rate. H.264 compression continues to improve even several years after maturity, and the addition of Main Profile in surveillance applications reduces bandwidth and storage by approximately 20 percent more. VMS solutions now require less computing power to decode multiple streams encoded with H.264 compression, further lowering costs.


4. Low- to No-Light Imaging

With sensor improvements and powerful image processing a reality in today’s network cameras, dramatic improvements in reproducing poorly lit scenes are being realized. Improved noise reduction, reduced motion blur and the addition of color in near-dark scenarios make today’s low-light network camera a significant cost savings trend because the need for additional lighting is reduced.

In situations where auxiliary lighting is required, covert and semi-covert IR illumination extends the true day/night network camera’s application range. Lower cost thermal network cameras extend the perimeter surveillance range of many facilities to areas of foliage where vulnerabilities existed previously.


3. High-Definition Imaging

High-Definition Imaging is an interesting topic because we use HD every day of our lives — in entertainment, photography and, of course, public safety and physical security. HDTV is a type of megapixel imaging, but megapixel imaging is not HDTV.

HDTV is an entertainment industry standard governed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) that provides up to five times higher resolution than standard analog TV. HDTV’s standard includes guaranteed color fidelity, full frame rate and a 16:9 widescreen viewing format.

Automated recognition-based systems that use video analytics perform more effectively on an HDTV platform, and these cameras typically have stronger processors, so they can run analytics and stream video effectively. Public safety professionals are now using HDTV because they have seen demonstrations and sample video clips that prove use cases, like monitoring critical events for first responders, operating room surveillance, and transportation security.

Highly efficient LED lighting literally makes HDTV shine. It is one of video surveillance’s most powerful tools because of three reasons:

•          higher color temperature, higher color rendition and color fidelity with even distribution on higher-end fixtures;

•          lower energy consumption and total cost of ownership when the total fixture life is considered;

•          LED products can last 10 times the life and have much lower maintenance, when compared with popular high-intensity discharge lamps (HID lamps) and sodium vapor lighting fixtures.


2. Wireless Networks

The biggest news in wireless networks is the Presidential Executive Order (EO) that was released recently — “Executive Order – Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions” — that states:

The Federal Government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions. Survivable, resilient, enduring, and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; state, local, territorial, and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies, and other nations. Such communications must be possible under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies, and improve national resilience.

Simply put, the National Broadband Plan, which incorporates key technologies such as LTE, will be expanded, standardized and managed to improve national security. With this EO, the performance and dedicated spectrum that is needed to improve security data and video communications will be a reality in coming years.


1. Mobile Devices

The massive adoption of smartphones, BYOD policies and security mobility apps are bringing security information and situational awareness virtually everywhere. Near field communications (NFC) is enabling secure transmissions from device to device, simplifying the credential process. The mobile access control pilot at Arizona State University (ASU) was the first to validate the use of digital credentials on NFC smartphones for physical access control on a college campus. It essentially puts a smartcard on an NFC-equipped smartphone.

Video mobility is used in every surveillance segment, from small edge systems to managed video services. The bandwidth requirements for video mobility do not necessarily need to be as high as large format displays. The video refresh or display rate in frames or images per second should be matched for the mobile device’s display size. Mobile devices with smaller display resolution can require a lower minimum frame rate and resolution for a given surveillance function, while larger displays require a higher frame rate.

With the expanding video communications market, applications supporting Adaptive Bit Rate will automatically optimize video content delivery and often “smart transcode” the video stream, further improving the use of mobile devices.