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How Has Video Security Evolved?

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From VCRs to hosted video, what’s changed in video security?

Like most forms of technology, video surveillance systems have seen rapid change in the last couple of decades. CCTV, or closed-circuit television, has been a staple in security systems worldwide since the early 1980s. 

Once dominated by VCRs and multiplexers, the world of video surveillance now bends toward hosted video. This evolution to cloud-based video security brings quite a few tactical changes for businesses utilizing video security, from image quality differences to storage amounts. 

Image Quality

In the early days of video surveillance and even in recent systems in which video is streamed over the internet, image quality can, at times, be spotty and choppy. For obvious reasons, this shortcoming posed serious problems in security processes and systems: when incidents occur, access to accurate and clear video can be the difference between appropriate follow-up and being unable to respond with next steps. 

Now, most high-end video security systems utilize IP megapixel cameras, which record video at more than five times the resolution of analog video. While some internet-connected traditional systems are still vulnerable to choppy video caused by poor internet, cloud based video security provides the convenience of smooth streaming with quick access to well-defined images and video. 

Storage

At one time, video surveillance required a separate monitor to observe each camera. In the 1980s, multiplexers allowed one monitor to display footage from multiple cameras at once while a VCR recorded the footage. Storage of footage required businesses to keep and organize physical tapes, constituting a heavy demand on building space as well as staff to keep these systems running and tapes archived. Before time lapse mode, VCRs could only store up to eight hours of footage. Because of these demands, many businesses opted not to keep long backlogs of video on hand after a specified time span. 

By the 2000s, DVR technology allowed for just one device to record, digitally store, and display footage from multiple cameras at once. The need for physical storage became immediately less of a burden and the ability to store larger backlogs of video increased exponentially. 

Now, recording and transmission are fully digital and many users opt for cloud-based systems that occupy little to no physical space while still storing virtually unlimited hours of video footage. The evolution of hosted video technology has led systems to require less physical space, while offering more data storage. 

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Scalability

Another benefit hosted video security solutions offer is the opportunity to smoothly scale a system as needed. Just as the video security solutions of the 1980s required more physical space, they also required more staffing and costly equipment. These elements all meant that if a business was looking to grow — a bank opening an additional branch, for example — they had to multiply their current security costs in order to keep the same level of protection. 

With hosted video security, growing — or moving, or tweaking — a business doesn’t have to mean multiplying costs and losing revenue for the sake of upholding necessary security requirements. Instead, adding systems and changing services is smooth and simple. The same service and provider systems will follow the business to a new office, the same security staff can continue to oversee additional buildings thanks to remote access, and the storage and hardware demands shrink in comparison to traditional systems. With hosted video, your security solutions easily grow alongside your business, without doubling or tripling in cost. 

Costs

As systems have grown simpler and more streamlined, they’ve also dropped in price. The equipment required for hosted video is minimal compared to the 1980s version of CCTV hardware, and it’s more widespread than ever before. With a wide range of manufacturers and options, providers and businesses have the power to select the cameras and equipment that offer the right features, at the right price point. 

Hosted video solutions also run updates internally, so every iteration of current technology doesn’t require an entire system overhaul of on-premises equipment. Instead, cloud users stay up-to-date without having to purchase and install new hardware or software upgrades repeatedly. 

It’s not only equipment costs that have dropped over the years with the advent of cloud technology. With integrated systems and hardware that more efficiently supports security workloads, businesses pay less to power their security solutions as well. No dedicated servers mean much less energy waste. 

A third area for capital savings is staffing. Hosted video security requires much less IT and security staff to run smoothly than other methods and certainly less than the systems of a decade ago. This allows for businesses to hire fewer people, or to designate larger portions of their IT team to other areas of the business. 

Opting for hosted video not only means you save on costs of your own staff, but also means you get the added bonus of provider staff working with you continuously to keep your systems updated and working their very best for your business’s unique priorities. 

Installation

Those who ran the installation of video surveillance systems twenty years ago would be in awe to see what the process looks like with a cloud-based system today. Even with current technology, setting up a traditional DVR or VMS system is a fairly involved process that can generally only be performed by IT experts. From configuring routers and cameras to installing application software and getting storage servers set up, installation can take hour upon frustrating hour and plenty of expensive manpower. 

Installing hosted video systems, on the other hand, is doable for anyone with a bit of technical knowledge. Plugging in the on-premises bridge appliance allows for your staff as well as the security provider to auto-configure cameras and manage the site going forward. 

This streamlined and simple process allows for your video security solutions to get up and running quickly. 

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Flexibility

In past iterations of video security, the hardware and system you chose to install would likely be the one you stuck with for years to come! Businesses couldn’t just pivot on a whim because the installation and equipment costs were too great. Plus, on-site storage meant that you chose a specified hardware capacity up front — so choosing to store more video meant upgrading to all new hardware. 

Now, with hosted video, businesses like hospitals and banks can tailor their video security to their needs at any given time. Easily upgrade the retention period of stored video or increase the resolution of video you take based on your current situation and priorities. It’s much easier to pivot and scale with the flexibility of a cloud-based video security solution. 

Hosted video security offers the added benefit of remote access. Security roles become more flexible as staff can stream video — live or from the archives — from anywhere. Some solutions offer mobile apps to keep that video secure, anywhere. 

Integration

Combining your hosted video security systems with other aspects of a cloud-based security framework is as easy as the click of a button.

Plus, many organizations are now using the cloud to host other critical data and information. It’s increasingly common for financial institutions and health providers alike to use the cloud to store customer and patient records and irreplaceable data. The degree of trust in cloud security has increased tenfold in the last few years, making the addition of hosted video security a natural next step for many businesses. 

Hosted video security folds in seamlessly with the hosted access control and cloud data solutions that help make banks, doctor’s offices, and countless other businesses secure. 

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Reliability

Arguably the most important improvement in video surveillance technology is the increase in reliability. While security systems that offered only spotty reliability were certainly better than nothing, gaps in video storage and low-quality video made it difficult to follow up on security issues and left businesses vulnerable during downtime or updates. 

Hosted video is stored reliably, recorded at high quality, and offers redundancy. With multiple data center locations, as most cloud systems have, there’s protection from technical errors because there are always backups running to complete the same task. 

Cloud systems can also be updated without needing downtime, which not only prevents vulnerable hours during system updates but also means that hosted systems are up-to-date more often than other systems. Technology evolves rapidly, and your security system benefits from that evolution best if updates are installed quickly and smoothly.

Hosted solutions are also more reliable in that they are much more difficult to hack — without on-premises software, open ports, and on-site firewalls, they are much less vulnerable than their internet-connected DVR or NVR predecessors and counterparts. 

Conclusion

Technology is changing by the day. Looking back over the last few decades at the evolution of video security proves that the only thing constant is change — and fortunately in this case, that change is for the better. 

With hosted video, your systems are ready to evolve with the times and shift to fit the needs and priorities of your business. The flexibility, scalability, and quality of hosted video security remain unmatched and these solutions improve businesses every day. 


Ready to learn what hosted video can do for you? Get in touch today.