The Evolution of the Security Camera: From Surveillance to Digital Transformation

In a recent interview with thought leaders at Intel and Wesco, we explored the changing role of the security camera. Kasia Hanson, Intel’s Global Director of Security Sales, and Tara Dunning, Wesco’s Vice President of Global Security, discussed the history of the security camera, the innovations that have transformed it into an advanced sensor, and the opportunity this transformation presents to integrators and their customers. 

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The Technical Evolution of the Security Camera

The surveillance camera has long been a symbol of security. It is as iconic as a lock and key. First introduced in the 1940s, the CCTV camera was a logical extension of the security guard, allowing more entries to be covered by fewer guards. Over the next 65 years, there were advancements in recording, optics, infrastructure and controls. Although essential, those advancements did little to expand the use of security cameras beyond their traditional security and loss prevention role. While introducing the first IP camera from Axis Communications in 1996 was an important milestone, it was still built for security applications. However, IP-based surveillance systems were a turning point. They paved the way for video management systems which became platforms for video analytics. The rapid innovation over the last 15 years has led to a convergence in communication systems and operations (IT/OT). ERP systems, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, facial recognition, cloud computing, edge computing, sensor technologies, high-speed networks and wireless infrastructure were coming together to empower digital transformation. 

From all these innovations, we asked Kasia Hanson which ones she believed were the most impactful.

There have been many innovations in recent years, but analytics, and especially intelligence at the edge, have forever changed the role of the camera. An intelligent camera is the eyes and brains for whatever use case it is supporting. Edge computing extends the reach of powerful applications and adds redundancy to your solution.

Kasia Hanson


Forecasted 2023 AI Market

IDC Research predicts 2023 market for artificial intelligence (AI) to exceed $500B. The AI market includes software, hardware and services.1




Projected Video Analytics Market by 2029

Fortune Business Insights – According to a 2021 market-sizing, video analytics market was projected to grow from $6.35B in 2022 to $28.37B by 2029 (23.8% CAGR).2



Private Investments in AI in 2021

The Stanford University 2021 Artificial Intelligence Index Report notes that private investment in AI doubled over the prior year to $93.5B.3


What Market Drivers are Building Demand and Disruption?

Security has historically been the number one driver for innovation in video analytics and many of those innovations have been adapted to support business use cases. But security is not the only driver. Cameras and analytics can support productivity, quality control, safety, space optimization, customer experience and even sales. Tara Dunning reflected on the balance of use cases for cameras, stating, “There are now more use cases for cameras outside the traditional security roles. This has turned the value of the security camera on its head, and the global pandemic has amplified these drivers for digitalization.”

During the heart of the pandemic, businesses were strained by remote operations, costly shutdowns, absent employees and customers. Labor shortages and the subsequent turmoil in supply chains added even more difficulties. The need to digitally enable operations was clear, and businesses are turning to technology to fill the gaps and adapt to dramatic changes. Organizations are now considering cameras for a broad range of applications, including condition monitoring, safety, occupancy intelligence, productivity improvements and enhancements to the retail experience.

The opportunities that cameras present are now well understood by many developers and customers. This interest is bringing businesses outside the usual purchasing and installation channels into the market for hardware historically sold through security integrators. This presents an opportunity – and a competitive threat.

Kasia shared her thoughts on the competitive threat, highlighting the strong drive of the developers and innovators. “Developers are able to create applications faster than ever before. Now is the time for integrators to embrace new business applications that deliver more business insights. The value to the developers, consultants and their customers is too great to sit patiently on the sidelines. At Intel, we are very familiar with these innovators and disruptors. We build ecosystems to help them flourish, help prepare markets for evolution and the security integration market is ripe for that evolution.” 

Woman with headset working in secure data center

The Time to Add Business Solutions to Your Security Practice is Now

Develop partners and build the business acumen to consult on critical business objectives beyond security. Video analytics supports use cases in marketing, real estate planning, operations and health and safety. Your customer access and installation expertise are valuable to the software providers.

Furthermore, boutique developers will benefit from your labor and geographic coverage for rolling out national deployments. These solutions require more than software.

Adding new analytics to an existing environment and surveillance system often requires additional equipment. So, you may need to augment the existing security system’s capabilities with new cameras, mounts, accessories and network equipment. You can also build a recurring revenue base if you resell the software, and if the software is running on-premises, a server may be required. These projects are great opportunities for an integrator and produce strong results for the end customer.

When you expand your value across the various lines of business within your customer’s organization, you strengthen your relationship and open new paths to revenue.

When discussing the value a supply chain partner can provide, Tara shared, "We want to help our security integrator partners level up to help them deliver business results for their customers. It is exciting to be a part of those stories, creating win-win opportunities. Security integrators that have the capacity to add this type of consulting are in a great position to monetize current market trends. We want to connect them to success stories, technologies and deliver these solutions at scale."


Will AI become a meaningful part of your solution in the next two years?

Most manufactures in the security industry believe AI will become a meaningful feature within their products, software or solutions in the next two years.4

4 Securing New Ground (SNG) poll at the October 2022 SNG Conference – Reported in SIA’s 2023 Security Megatrends Report

Intel White Paper Circle Chart

The Expanding Uses of the Security Camera, Now a Sensor

The innovations over the last 15 years have evolved what was once a security appliance into a sensor that enables digital transformation in every line of business. Video analytics are breaking down the boundaries for cameras, and the drivers for digitalization are shifting the focus of their applications. Whether you are a marketer, real estate manager, services leader, facility manager, operations manager or security or safety professional, video analytics can deliver powerful insights that help businesses meet critical business objectives. Let us explore a few of those objectives: 

  • Safety management
  • Operational improvement
  • Retail monetization
  • Customer experience
  • Space optimization
Closeup of camera lense

Safety Management

Providing a safe workplace requires a multi-layered strategy that includes training, safety equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and building a safety culture that permeates your operations. IoT (Internet of Things) solutions can support every facet of that strategy and cameras can play a key role. Video analytics can identify improper lifting motions, unsafe speeds, trip hazards, open doors, open hatches and missing PPE. You can use these data to measure progress toward your safety goals and send alerts. Alerting can deliver immediate feedback that supports training and rapid response to correct an issue before an injury occurs.

  • Identify improper lifting motions
  • Detect unsafe speeds
  • Trip hazard alerting and walkway monitoring
  • Open doors and hatches
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance

Operational Improvements

Cameras are an effective way to monitor almost anything, but when paired with video analytics, cameras become the eyes and brains for supporting operations. In an adaptation to license plate reading and optical copy recognition, warehouse cameras can read shipping labels to help ensure containers are shipping out of the correct zones. Cameras can also provide remote condition monitoring that turns dumb devices and instrumentation into smart meters, saving tremendous travel and labor. Plus, thermal cameras can remotely monitor temperatures, making it possible to detect overheating, rapid fluctuations and early fire detection. Overheating and temperature fluctuations can also indicate a need for maintenance. 

  • Operational monitoring and error detection
  • Remote condition monitoring
  • Overheat detection and maintenance prediction

Retail Monetization

Retailers are out to monetize every square inch of their space. Often, retailers can connect analytics to existing surveillance infrastructure to gain insights into how customers shop and move through their stores. Retail businesses place a premium on endcaps and other areas of their stores where customers spend the most time. The analytics can identify traffic patterns and build heat maps to help retailers optimize product placement and monetize their marketing efforts. By running configuration experiments and testing the models in their stores, they can create store templates that improve performance across their chain.

  • Endcap analysis
  • Traffic heatmaps
  • Product placement and purchasing analytics
  • Store configuration testing 

Customer Experience

Help prevent long lines, lost shoppers and disappointed guests with video analytics. Line analytics can provide a global view of a retailer’s checkout lanes, providing valuable insights for staffing and requesting on-site employees to assist at checkout. Shoppers looking for product assistance exhibit movement patterns that can be automatically identified and result in an alert to customer assistance. In a hospitality setting, cameras can deliver insights on lines and occupancy analytics to help you understand how your amenities like pools, saunas, workout facilities and conference rooms are used. 

  • Checkout lane alerting
  • Insights for staffing optimization
  • Detect shoppers in need of assistance
  • Amenity utilization

Space Optimization

The dramatic shift to hybrid and remote employees over the last three years has many organizations taking a hard look at how they use their commercial building space. As such, occupancy analytics is receiving a lot of consideration. There are many solutions for determining occupancy. What makes cameras an attractive source for data or sensor, is that existing cameras can be leveraged. Furthermore, any new cameras needed to support the application add to the facility’s security and are extraordinarily versatile. 

  • Return-to-office occupancy analysis
  • Desk use and “hoteling” reports
  • Conference room utilization

Value for Every Industry

The uses we discussed only scratch the surface of what is possible. Wherever vision and intelligence are useful, there is a case for cameras and video analytics. Airports, hospitals, retail chains, warehouses, mining operations, construction sites and substations; you would be hard-pressed to find an industry that would not benefit from an innovative camera solution.

We are in an exciting time for integrators and are witnessing more than a convergence of technologies but a convergence in capability and demand. Meeting the critical objectives of your customers is within your grasp. All you must do is find the right partners and build the business acumen to consult with your customers across their lines of business. 

Busy intersection at night aerial

Powering Innovation and Digital Transformation

Wesco and Intel bring unique perspectives and distinct capabilities to foster a global ecosystem that helps clients fully capitalize on the power of digital technology for business transformation. With unmatched capabilities at scale, Wesco and Intel together deliver world-class solutions, from edge to cloud.

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