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Since the first edition of Intelligent Network Video: Understanding Modern Video Surveillance Systems was launched in 2008, technology has advanced at an accelerated pace, profoundly impacting the way we live and work. In response to this new era of technological development, author Fredrik Nilsson, VP, Americas, Axis Communications — in conjunction with Taylor & Francis Group’s CRC Press — recently released an updated edition of the book.

video surveillance technologyIntelligent Network Video, Third Edition traces video surveillance technology from its roots to its current state, and highlights its future potential. The book takes a deep dive into areas that are currently driving video surveillance technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, cloud-based solutions, and more.

In an exclusive interview, Facility Executive spoke with Nilsson about his new book, and the current state of video surveillance systems.

Facility Executive: Over the past 15 years, since the first edition of Intelligent Network Video: Understanding Modern Video Surveillance Systems was released, would you say the same concerns around the use of video surveillance systems have remained? If so, how have they evolved?

Fredrik Nilsson: In general, there is greater acceptance for video surveillance systems today than there was 15 years ago, largely fostered by the benefits of surveillance in public spaces and business environments. Over time, the general population has come to realize the safety and security threats that exist, and that we as a society can use technology to innovate for a smarter, safer world. That said, there is also a heightened awareness around the need to protect privacy both through technology itself—with innovations such as real-time privacy masking, data encryption and cyber hardening tools—as well as through regulations like the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

FE: You also explore the impact of AI on video surveillance. How is AI being integrated into video surveillance technology in 2024?

FN: The launch of ChatGPT some 15 months ago, has brought AI to the forefront of every discussion. But in the security industry, we’ve focused on intelligent technology like video analytics for more than 15 years. In fact, it was one of the new topics addressed in the first edition of Intelligent Network Video. Since then, image quality and processing power at the edge have enabled deep learning (DL)—which is taking analytics to a whole new level. With the introduction of DL capabilities on the edge, analytics have become very powerful, accurate and effective. As a result, a variety of analytics are now widely used for security purposes but also for business optimization applications. As with any AI technology, video analytics must take ethics into consideration such as those outlined in the EU Artificial Intelligence Act and the recent Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.

FE: On the subject of cybersecurity, another key focus area in this edition, how is surveillance technology catching up to combat more sophisticated threats? What might older surveillance systems be missing to better prepare for cyber threats?

FN: The importance of cybersecurity cannot be underestimated. While cyberthreats have long existed, these threats and attacks are becoming more sophisticated, and the implications are bigger and bigger. Consider the fact that many organizations have more IP cameras than any other device, even laptops. As companies add more devices onto the network, cyber attackers have more potential points of entry.

The importance of cybersecurity cannot be underestimated. While cyberthreats have long existed, these threats and attacks are becoming more sophisticated, and the implications are bigger and bigger.

When it comes to modern cybersecurity, it’s important to employ time-tested best practices like password protection and software updates while combining them with newer approaches like zero trust. Modern surveillance technologies are indeed helping to support cybersecurity—combating new sophisticated threats through, among other things, device management tools that help update firmware automatically and remotely; cameras with unique video signing keys that add a signature into the video stream to prevent tampering and ensure authentication throughout chain of custody; and new layers of video data encryption that safeguard data during transmission.

FE: Do you think any elements of video surveillance, and camera maintenance, are easily overlooked? What advice might you have for security professionals on how to maintain effective and functioning surveillance systems?

FN: It is interesting to note that most critical IT equipment is considered to have an operation life of 5 years due to warranty and cyber concerns, while video surveillance cameras — which are essentially IT equipment — are often left installed for 7-10 years. As a result, physical maintenance often falls through the gaps, especially since cameras are usually outside the scope of physical infrastructure maintenance like window cleaning or building maintenance. What’s more, cameras are often placed in hard-to-reach locations which can hinder cleaning.

In order to provide best possible image quality, cameras have to be cleaned. In outdoor locations the need is typically higher. Many manufacturers provide guidelines for physical camera maintenance including specifications for cleaning agents. It’s important to abide by these guidelines to help ensure top performance. Accordingly, users should consider incorporating regular cleaning and maintenance into their service agreements. In addition to physical maintenance, image analytics and AI applications can be employed for camera self-analysis—analyzing image quality and alerting the operator when an image is blurry, or if the field of view is blocked. Additionally, with some software, digital dashboards can be created to provide an overview of camera health, generate task lists and provide instructions.

Last but certainly not least, it’s critical to maintain cameras from a cybersecurity standpoint. Today there are device management tools that help users to easily maintain updated firmware. Additionally, these tools can help users manage major installations and operational tasks, properly configure devices, apply cybersecurity controls and view warranty status of each device. In short, it’s essential for users to manage devices throughout their lifecycle — from implementation and in-service use to decommissioning and replacement — in order to maintain top performance and system security.

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FE: Ultimately, what would you like readers to take away from this new edition?

FN: I’d like readers to understand the level of growth that’s occurring within the security industry and the opportunities that this represents. Security is a dynamic, high-tech industry and a lot has changed in just a few years, especially in the areas of AI, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. The breadth of technology, degree of innovation, and expanding use cases in security tech, are creating new and exciting opportunities for people in various technical disciplines. So, we must continue to attract new talent to support our growing industry. I hope the book serves as a motivator and provides a solid foundation of knowledge for those who are exploring careers in technology.

Intelligent Network Video, Third Edition is available through a variety of outlets including the Taylor & Francis Group and Amazon.

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