By Kobus van Deventer, Guardian Eye Manager
A growing number of South African companies are taking advantage of advances in remote video surveillance and monitoring technology by using cloud-based analytics to gain new insight into improving safety and security, identify retail trends, understand customer behaviour and more.
According to research firm Markets and Markets, the video surveillance market was valued at US$30.3-billion in 2016, and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 15.4% to reach $75.6-billion by 2022.
Key vertical industries driving adoption of the technology globally include commercial, retail, and infrastructure, with hospitality also providing increasing opportunities for growth. In South Africa, the focus is on industrial, commercial and residential precincts, and the mining and transport sectors.
Improvements in local internet connectivity have also resulted in higher uptake: while video surveillance in itself is not new, the growth in coverage by high-speed fibre or wireless networks together with declining data costs means that organisations can now connect all their cameras to a central network for monitoring and video archival.
Increased Safety and Control
With event monitoring, virtual guarding and fully managed monitoring services, companies can progress from getting ‘blind’ event-based alerts, toward visual confirmation of suspicious activity on premises or within particular perimeter.
Apart from removing the requirement for multiple onsite control rooms, which helps companies with many sites to save on infrastructure, staffing and training costs, remote monitoring further tightens security by ensuring that there can be no coercion of or collusion with onsite security in order to gain improper access to a secured area.
Using the cloud further means that companies no longer need to worry about data storage, backups and disaster recovery, cyber security, or the threat of damage or theft of recording infrastructure.
Advanced Software-Based Services
The real value in this technology for companies goes beyond just security infrastructure, and toward the analytical tools and capabilities that are made possible through the switch to cloud computing.
With self-learning video analytics, operators are not bombarded with endless streams of footage from multiple sources; rather, technology is used to analyse all video recorded, to sift out what is not required, and provide a short synopsis of suspicious or predetermined events.
The security operators can define alerts by actions (people or vehicles traveling in a particular direction or crossing set boundaries), frequency (the number of times a person or vehicle enters a specific area), and even link to relevant databases to flag stolen or suspicious vehicles in real time.
The benefits for companies here are twofold: it allows for one operator to handle up to 100 cameras - as opposed to one operator to 16 cameras for a traditional CCTV system - and archiving only the video reports results in lower data storage costs.
Smart Retail: Going Beyond Security with Analytics
Not only does advanced video analytics further enable companies to effectively monitor areas with high volumes of traffic, such as public spaces and transportation nodes, but is also capable of providing them with business insight.
By analysing in-store behaviour, retailers can learn more about who their customers are, how long they spend inside stores, and which parts of the store they visit the most (heat mapping). Stores can also improve the customer experience by monitoring and actively managing how long it takes before shoppers are attended to, or have to wait at till lines. They can also use video analytics to improve efficiency in warehouse management.
Property owners or managers - at shopping centres and other high footfall areas such as airports - can use this data to design better retail spaces by taking human behaviour into account, and even to justify higher rentals for properties or stands in areas with proven higher footfall.
While video surveillance has been around for many years, combining it with high bandwidth connectivity and cloud computing means the potential applications are myriad, and businesses now have a powerful tool that helps them convert hours of video into actionable intelligence.