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Milestone Systems' sustained growth during its first 15 years is attributed to its introduction of the open-platform approach to the security industry. By allowing other companies and developers to add functionality to the software and supporting the widest choices of servers and cameras, Milestone's open platform has radically affected the industry. This concept has attracted more than 6,500 partners from around the world, and within just five years, it has become the foundation for a thriving business ecosystem.
Open platform has created the freedom for both partners and customers to not only select their own video system components, but also to create, define and tweak solutions to suit their security needs. Milestone was aware of the need to shift analog to digital, and then introduced the open platform as a new avenue for using surveillance video.
For the surveillance industry, the decision to "go open" was the motivation for a series of developments that mark three distinct phases in its growth.
First Phase: IP Video Technology
When Milestone started in 1998, video surveillance was 100 percent analog.CCTV was synonymous with video surveillance, and even though the concept has changed a lot since then, most people still think of analog video when they think of video surveillance. Video surveillance is a tool to view and record video images, and the public generally considers it used in security only.
With the advent of the digital revolution and the drop in price of digital storage, the shift towards digital video surveillance became certain. Digital images were clearer, storage media were getting smaller and video compression improved dramatically. Digital files could be moved more easily, footage could be found more quickly—no more spooling tapes back and forth—and long-term storage had no effect on image quality. It was the way to the future. For many there were clear advantages in purchasing a digital video solution, but in practical terms it was not much different from analog in the way it was used. It was still basically a security tool.
Second Phase: Video Integration
The Internet brought with it a new electronic infrastructure that made IP applications like email, instant messaging, peer-to-peer file sharing and VoIP widely available. Digital video was soon added to this list, and saw application in video conferencing and, of course, video surveillance.
The main advantage of networked applications was that they were programmable, and this opened up a range of other benefits. These typically included better user experiences, network visibility and control, better access to data and development advantages, notably in the form of tailor-made video integrations.