Video surveillance: Secure communications

      When movies and television programs like "Quantum of Solace," "24" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" show the heroes doing amazing things with video technology, is that real? In a few cases, some liberties may be taken for entertainment purposes. But the fact is, video technology is making quantum leaps in its capabilities, especially in the public safety and public services sectors. Video has come a long way from simply video surveillance monitoring.

   Video surveillance has been a powerful productivity tool in the public safety and public services arenas for more than a quarter century now. But video surveillance merely scratches the surface of what is possible with video today, and what will be possible in the very near future.

   Video surveillance is rapidly evolving into a much more comprehensive concept: video security. The potential for video security to help improve public safety and public works, streamline services, fight and prosecute crime, increase efficiency, promote collaboration, reduce costs and save lives is virtually limitless.

   Video systems are now driven by bold new ways of thinking about video. A new wave of advanced video technologies is transforming video systems from the relative passivity of simple video surveillance to more preemptive, more proactive and more intelligent video security solutions.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

   For years, traditional video surveillance solutions have followed a simple, familiar path. It begins with analog video cameras recording activities in specific locations. Once the video is recorded, it is transported to a central command center where it is available for post-recording analysis. While proven effective over the years, this is essentially a passive methodology.

   Today, that's actively changing.

   From its beginnings in relatively straightforward video surveillance applications, video has evolved into multi-faceted video security systems that deliver more proactive public safety and services capabilities.

What is video security?

   Video security systems are end-to-end high-speed network architectures that deliver expanded and enhanced video-based functionalities driven by a variety of highly sophisticated technology tools. Video security solutions make video smarter, faster and more proactive. The fundamentals: the use of powerful analytic capabilities, automated intelligence throughout the network, seamless interoperability and common, intuitive end-user interfaces.

   Video security includes three major functionalities, enabling users to:

  • Capture and Transport. Video security encompasses the basic capture and transport of video surveillance images and data.
  • Manage and Correlate. Video security includes breakthrough management capabilities such as intelligent video analytics and correlation of video to other data.
  • Deploy and Act. Video security solutions enable proactive deployment, simplified personnel shifting and other ways of making video information more actionable.

   The new proactive video security solutions are driven by the move to digital cameras and IP-based network connectivity. The power and flexibility of IP-based video technologies now give video applications the crucial ability to cost-effectively distribute real-time video to many different places, providing immediate data and analysis that can dramatically improve the safety and effectiveness of police, fire, EMS, public works and other municipal and government personnel. At the same time, video security enables advanced new capabilities such as voice, video and data integration that consolidate and correlate all available data on a specific event, coordinating and delivering more and better information — all in real time.

Integrating different systems

   To empower public safety professionals with all available information on a specific situation, video security systems must seamlessly communicate with a variety of different networks, devices, applications and solutions — both in terms of technologies and manufacturers.

   Different systems and resources that capture and collect important security data often use different technologies that do not talk or interface with one another, creating a de facto language barrier. This issue is resolved in part by the move to open, standards-based IP connectivity that facilitates interoperability between other networks, other government entities, other communities and even some private enterprises. The language barrier is also shattered through the use of innovative software systems within the physical security information management (PSIM) category. These software solutions allow video security command centers to easily access, track, integrate and manage video and other data captured by other systems regardless of whether the systems are public or private, analog or IP-based, or comprised of technologies and equipment from a variety of different manufacturers.


   Integral to fast, effective public safety communications are user-friendly interfaces that are familiar, easy to understand and intuitive in their usage. Today's advanced new video security systems enable end-users to seamlessly connect to video whenever they need it, wherever they are. They can connect on their in-vehicle computers or handheld devices, receiving direct feeds from the communications center, via the Internet or on video walls and other installations. Equally important, whichever mode of connection they choose, they'll find a familiar, intuitive interface that is fast and easy to use, saving time and effort, eliminating frustration and improving effectiveness.

   No matter how large or small the department or operation, video is one of the most powerful and effective tools in improving safety, security and service.

   Kevin McDunn, director of strategy for Integrated Command & Control in Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Solutions business, can be reached at

Breakthrough capabilities

   Video security encompasses a wide range of powerful new video-based capabilities, including:

  • Streamlining video to vehicles and handheld devices to increase real-time situational awareness and enable first responders to assess events and circumstances before they arrive on the scene.
  • Integrating disparate analog and digital video networks into a single video management system.
  • Correlating voice, data and video information to create a more complete picture.
  • Delivering analytical capabilities that allow video systems to recognize certain events that can help deter crime, reduce road congestion, capture suspects and improve efficiency.
  • Identifying cameras based on geography or event brings up appropriate video(s) to the operator screen.

   Video security systems also have a beneficial effect on community relations. Studies show that the visible presence of video cameras and equipment in high-crime areas or at dangerous intersections helps demonstrate that government is proactive in its commitment to maximize public safety and security.