The need for defense and security has never ceased. Terror attacks have increased in many regions and the terrible events at the beginning of the century, led to a rapid increase in global security and massive development in surveillance technology. Technologies are constantly changing, so what are the next-generation surveillance systems likely to look like?
The Evolution of Surveillance Technology
At first, surveillance systems consisted of basic analog video recording machines with simple light indicators on the exterior case to indicate the status and operation of the machine. After the advent of PCs in the 1980's the technology matured and we saw CRT screens with multiple images and multiple cameras. The system allowed you to monitor more than just one thing and enabled you see the entire system. As the internet began to mature in the 1990's, surveillance systems began to be upgraded again.
Through network links and embedded sensors, cameras were now everywhere and back-end systems became more remotely controlled. The advance of networking technology eliminated the problem of distance and expanded the surveillance range from a few local cameras into multiple widely distributed cameras which can pan, tilt and zoom to paint an even fuller picture.
The rise of Internet was the second wave of change in security surveillance. This world-wide network eliminated the last distance limitations, so that the surveillance systems could now break out of industrial applications and be used to monitor anything anywhere. There are two distinct functions over previous systems in today's web based security surveillance systems, the first is multi-point surveillance that uses up to 32 channels from a single image capture card, meaning that a host can be equipped with 32 cameras each with 32 screens for monitoring. The second is remote control, which emerged with the advent of IP cameras which can send and receive data via the network and can be operated independently or dependently through a control center.
The Third Revolution
What will be the third wave of the surveillance revolution? Systems with built-in intelligence will become more and more common. But what is meant by an intelligent system? As the name suggests, it means the device has built-in logic and capability to identify itself to other devices and thus make decisions. But machines will always be machines. They can not think and judge like a human do - at least for now. So the functions of an intelligent surveillance system can be divided into two categories, the first gives the device an intuitive, smart and user-friendly interface and functions, and the second is a system's ability to carry out independent decisions under special conditions.
For the first part, intelligent software for surveillance has been around for several years and was used mostly for the military in the early stages, and the technology gradually shifted to civilian use. Intelligent monitoring software allows operators to set up special warning conditions whereby events on screen trigger actions for example: if someone leaves luggage in a sensitive public place like an airport or train station, the system will notice that an unattended object has appeared on the screen and it will automatically trigger an event and inform security check it in out. Another example are art objects in a museum whereby an intelligent surveillance system can detect the presence - or not, of an object and will automatically alert security if something goes missing.
The second category of an intelligent surveillance system endows a system with more independent functions such as a digital signal processor (DSP) built-in to the camera that can record and process digital video in advance, they can then store them locally on hard drives or network attached storage, or transmit them to the back end, which not only reduces performance overheads but also helps with bandwidth management. Another feature of the camera is a damage report function. Criminals might try to damage or destroy a camera to avoid leaving any video evidence after they've committed an offence. Cameras with this feature will alert security so that they can react accordingly.
IoT Triggers Revolution in Intelligent Surveillance
As for the future direction of intelligent surveillance systems, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Cloud Services will enable a whole new range of applications. Thanks to the inevitable progress of silicon technology, embedding sensing or communication chips into any device is not difficult. Through these chips, all equipment and devices can be interconnected into a network of devices that can communicate with each other. IoT will allow surveillance systems interconnect with each other and deploy useful functions for use in factory automation, security, transportation and many other familiar and new industries. These connected surveillance systems will also generate huge amounts of data for online analytical processing (OLAP), data mining and other useful applications such as face recognition or motion detection.
In addition to a large number of digital video streams from several decentralized cameras, surveillance technology has teamed up with other technologies.
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