Big Brother is big business.

J. Bonasia  writes at Yahoo Finance that global sales of video surveillance systems are expected to reach $41 billion in 2014, up from $19.4 billion this year, a nearly 15% compound annual growth rate, says ABI Research.

New technology is sparking the rise. Familiar closed-circuit analog video systems with grainy pictures, long used by banks and others, are giving way to more costly systems that rely on Internet standards to transmit data, often wirelessly.

Many of these newer video systems now use analytics software to detect meaningful patterns over many hours of surveillance. In this way, people don’t need to constantly watch each screen.

Retailers and restaurant chains are among those most quickly adopting these new systems, to guard against theft and to help gauge the effectiveness of product displays.

“Once video surveillance gets embedded into business processes, it’s probably there to stay,” said Stan Schatt, wireless security practice director at ABI Research.

Security threats are driving growth. Since 9/11, many more cameras have been installed to monitor public spaces, shopping centers, airports and waterways.

Customers include agencies from the government, defense, education and public safety sectors. Cameras are used to protect against terrorism, crime and vandalism. Federal stimulus funds are jump-starting many new projects.

Investing In Theft Prevention

Private businesses have also gotten more active. Video surveillance appeals to financial services firms and transportation companies, but especially to stores and restaurants.

“Retailers have cut back spending in some areas, but they’re still investing in theft prevention,” Schatt said. “They’re plowing money into security because as the economy goes down, shoplifting goes up.”

Some major tech vendors are building businesses in this fragmented field. They include Cisco Systems (NasdaqGS:CSCO – News), Honeywell (NYSE:HON – News) and Samsung. Camera makers such as Pelco, Panasonic (NYSE:PC – News) and Stanley (NYSE:SXE – News) are also active. Privately held systems vendors include Envysion, Cernium and IntelliVision.

Typical video security systems connect cameras with servers and data storage systems. Analytics software then sifts through the images to make sense of the data. In some cases, the software can edit out any irrelevant motion caused by rainfall or snowflakes.

A single server can capture data from dozens of Internet-connected cameras. The video is stored on an internal hard drive or storage area network. A large system might include thousands of cameras across hundreds of locations.

Video surveillance systems track routine actions such as people entering stores or leaving parking lots. Advanced analytics can tell when someone is loitering or crossing a fence. The software can record the event and send out alerts. By taping video only when events of interest occur, these systems can cut data storage requirements for business and enterprise users by a factor of 100, according to Cernium.

“With IP (Internet protocol) systems, you can send the information back to a central site for analysis,” Schatt said. “It’s no longer just having security guards with fat stomachs eating doughnuts and staring at video screens all day.”

Used By Burger King, Chipotle

Louisville, Colo.-based Envysion offers a Web-based video service to manage cash register transactions. By aiming cameras at each register and noting when cash drawers are opened without a sale, restaurants and stores can reduce losses from thefts or voided sales.

Envysion won a contract in July to install video systems for the O&M Restaurant Group, a Burger King (NYSE:BKC – News) franchisee, at 14 BK outlets in and near Oklahoma City. Envysion also has systems in some 800 outlets of the Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG – News) restaurant chain, among others.

Envysion Chief Executive Matt Steinfort says customers can improve profit by 10% to 15% within months of adopting the service.

“We enable multiple operators to use video across a large number of people and sites in a meaningful way to understand their business better and to improve profitability,” he said.

In addition, marketing execs can use video feeds to assess in-store customer reactions to new product launches. And store managers use the system to improve training programs and business processes.

Read more at: Yahoo Finance