Given networking’s current level of sophistication it’s hard to imagine just where things are going to go but if consider the fact effective networking only kicked off 5 years ago, and you start to get some sense of perspective. Fact is, we are at the threshold of something very unusual – a form of networked society that’s going to become so connected it will be possessed of what socially-minded boffins are calling a ‘hive mind’. Imagine billions of people and millions of businesses all linked by superfast, frictionless networks –able to reach each another anywhere, securely, remotely. Imagine networks that are supported by smart network devices that create comms paths which are collaborative, intuitive and self-healing – comms paths with a sense of themselves and with a sense of you. What would such a vast and seamless substrate mean for electronic security systems? For a start it would make them pervasive. The electronic security industry stands to grow significantly over the next 20 years as businesses take advantage of true convergence to apply security in ways never before possible. Systems are also going to get smarter and they’ll achieve this in part thanks to nanotechnology with a good measure of old-fashioned competitiveness thrown in. It’s already becoming clear that the security products able to retain their margins are those products and systems that demonstrate the smartest thinking. In electronic security systems, clever design is able to offset price falls to a certain extent. Nanotechnology is likely to play a major part in this as well as enhancing the base technologies driving advances. According to Marc Lurie of Foresight Nanotech, within 10 years advanced nanomaterials will bring a 1000-fold improvement in networking and computer performance. Such an increase defies conception – even a 100-fold increase would be astonishing. A key element in the future of networking is something that’s near and dear to the hearts of every electronic security installer – the challenge of shifting video over networks. There’s no doubt that the holy grail of networking is accommodation of real time video and as video communication becomes more prevalent across enhanced global networks, the public Internet is likely to play a larger role in the networking of electronic security systems. It’s a bit of a long bow to draw but it’s certain that in the long term integrators will be able to channel the multiple video feeds of large surveillance installations onto ‘standard’ wide band data networks and achieve high quality, live performance across hundreds of inputs. Sound impossible? Consider that the International Standards Body IEEE has just put its stamp of approval on 100Gbps Ethernet, a technology that will be available for installation within 10 years. Recently researchers at the Super Computing Show in Tampa Florida sent a 100Gbps data stream to Houston and while fibre is currently the comms path of choice, studies to determine the possibility of achieving 100G Ethernet over copper are underway.