Video surveillance has been an effective monitoring tool for quite some time
now. Traditionally, however, this method of surveillance has played more of a
reactive rather than a proactive role in security. Recent technological
advancements have begun to revolutionize the way surveillance technology is
used. This growing trend of active, intelligent video surveillance will likely
continue to transform the way society utilizes this technology well into 2007
We will seek to review some of the emerging surveillance trends that will
likely garner a great deal of attention throughout the remainder of this year.
We will also seek to look at some of the concerns over how the increased use of
CCTV and surveillance equipment will affect our personal privacy.
New surveillance trends for 2007
In a Newsweek Web Exclusive (March 15, 2006) by Jessica Bennett entitled,
"Big Brother's Big Business," it was stated that nearly one in four major cities
within the United States is investing in new surveillance technology. In
addition, Joe Freeman, a columnist for Security Technology & Design Magazine
has noted that spending on surveillance equipment has nearly doubled in the last
The 2005 video surveillance market was a $9.2 billion dollar business, and is
expected to grow to $21 billion by 2010. Advancements that are likely to take
the spotlight in 2007 include intelligent video surveillance, new breakthroughs
in video surveillance cameras and equipment, and improved wireless IP video
Surveillance becomes proactive with intelligent video surveillance
Intelligent video surveillance is used to describe the active monitoring of
video feeds to detect suspicious activities and behaviors. Intelligent video
surveillance software is designed to actively and rapidly scan though video
feeds to monitor and detect such suspicious activities as a person entering an
unauthorized areas, a bag left unattended, or an individual loitering.
A gentleman by the name of Rama Chellappa, a professor in the department of
electrical and computer engineering of the University of Maryland's A. James
Clark School of Engineering, has developed just such a system. He has designed
an application that essentially has digitalized specific patterns of activity
such as walking. He then incorporated the intricate variations that occur when
an individual is harboring a hidden object, or carrying a package, for example.
His software is able to detect these variations and determine if they match a
pattern consistent with suspicious activity.
Chellappa and his team are now seeking to combine this technology with
advanced facial recognition software, and a software algorithm that can
estimate the height of subjects. This powerful combination of tools will
help identify individuals that might pose a security risk such as known
terrorists, criminals, and even unknown individuals who turn up repeatedly
in sensitive locations.
New breakthroughs in video surveillance cameras and equipment
Video surveillance cameras and related equipment become more sophisticated
every year. New technology rapidly emerges, and almost as quickly video
equipment that was once cutting-edge suddenly becomes obsolete. Two new
innovative additions to the surveillance marketplace include a distortion free
wide-angle camera lens and a hovering camera.
- Distortion free wide-angle camera lens -- A group of South Korean
researchers led by Gyeong-il Kweon have designed a wide-angle lens that produces
a distortion free image. The lens is built in the shape of a dome. When light
enters the dome of the lens, it is reflected off a v-shaped mirror. The light is
then redirected into a second "refractive" lens that produces a crisp, clear,
undistorted image. Video surveillance cameras equipped with this lens can
achieve a field of view of 151 degrees.
This camera lens is very
inexpensive, selling for only $105. Potential applications for this lens
include use in intelligent video security systems and as a robot
- Hovering video camera -- Another unique device we will likely be
hearing more about in 2007 is the hovering video camera. Honeywell Aerospace has
developed a small 13" compact aerial hovering video camera device called the
Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) that can be used in military applications to provide
information on surrounding areas without exposing troops to enemy fire.
This device can go as high as 10,500 feet, but it performs optimally at
around 500 feet. It is capable of hovering and loitering in one spot, or
can be used to track and follow a moving target. It is easy to see the
benefits this type of technology has for military applications.
Improved wireless IP video connectivity -- Wireless video technology
has experienced rapid growth and development in recent months. This technology
is responsible for greatly expanding the scope and outreach to which video
surveillance cameras can perform effectively. A new development in wireless
standards in March of 2006 has led to the 802.11n protocol. This greatly
increases both the range and transfer rate of wireless signals.
security has also improved drastically. It is now standard for a wireless system
to incorporate advanced encryption technologies. Examples include 128 bit AES,
TKIP, 152 bit WEP, and RADIUS. These technologies make it extremely difficult
for anyone to break-in or eavesdrop over any wireless network.
All of these advancements is a strong indicator that video surveillance
technology is here with us to stay. The applications to which video surveillance
technology will be applied will only become more creative and innovative as time
What do all of these innovations mean for us personally?
In general, most individuals are not bothered by the every present eye of
video surveillance cameras. A survey conducted in Chicago polled 700 registered
voters and found that 8 out of 10 were in favor of video surveillance cameras as
a crime prevention measure. The problem is, as video surveillance cameras get
more sophisticated they become more effective and easier to conceal. It becomes
increasingly difficult to detect and prosecute those that use surveillance
It is inevitable that there will be those that abuse this technology and
directly violate an individual's right to personal privacy. Civil liberties
groups have become more outspoken about the potential abuse and the need for
protective measures. The debate over the use of surveillance cameras is likely
to rage on, with no easy solution to the problem.
Like the video surveillance trends we reviewed that will remain with us
throughout the year, the conflict between personal protection and personal
privacy will remain with us long into the future.