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Video Surveillance


The federal government is implementing video surveillance to help combat everything from traffic offenses to terrorist activity to illegal immigration. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's FY06 budget, for example, earmarked $51.1 million for the America's Shield Initiative, which enhances electronic-surveillance capabilities along our borders; that's an increase of $19.8 million over FY05. In August 2005, New York's transit authority awarded Lockheed Martin a $212 million contract, which includes installation of 1,000 cameras and related equipment in city subway stations, bridges and tunnels.

Such projects, however, are few and far between. Compared with that in Europe, the level of surveillance in U.S. enterprises and municipalities is pitifully low. The sophisticated systems we see in movies may exist in large gaming houses, financial firms and a few select transportation installations, but most organizations still use VCR tapes to store low-resolution video camera output--if they store video at all. Many simply pipe feeds to banks of monitors for real-time viewing. But is anyone watching? The worldwide Internet protocol surveillance market will grow to $6.48 billion in 2012 from last year's $435.8 million, according to a report by Frost and Sullivan. The technology is advanced: IP-enabled high-resolution cameras and encoders, video storage and search capabilities, and object-recognition software have long been available. Digital video surveillance--that is, using computers and networks to store, play back and analyze surveillance video--is the future. IT pros who understand this can prepare now for the mandate that surveillance video share the IT infrastructure.

Meanwhile, video consumers are becoming more sophisticated. Enterprise decision-makers can watch decent-quality video, with amazing ease of use and reasonably advanced features, for free on YouTube and Google Video. They'll accept nothing less from a system their company paid millions of dollars to deploy.

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