Technology Broadening a CIO's Standpoint

Dan Cremins, Global Leader of Product Management, March Networks
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Big data Analytics in Video Surveillance

We are definitely seeing a growing interest in using surveillance video and video analytics for insights into ‘non-security’ type applications, such as customer service, marketing effectiveness and compliance. Video itself is a source of big data, and when you combine it with analytics and information such as retail or banking transactions, it can place valuable business intelligence right at your fingertips.

For example, a retailer can use video combined with a queue length monitoring analytics to understand how long people are waiting in line, at each of its stores and to detect trends over time. Maybe one store is serving customers much faster than the rest. Once you know this, you can also use the video to see what staff are doing differently and then apply that information as a training tool to improve service at other locations.

We have a large retail customer that is using video for quite a few non-security applications. In fact, more than 200 staff outside of its security group are using the solution regularly to help manage their workforce, verify that safety practices are being followed, monitor how well merchandise is being restocked on the shelves and oversee other operations. One of the best parts of this arrangement is that the various groups using the video are also helping to pay for it, which essentially increases the ROI for everyone.

As another example, one of our banking customers plans to use video with integrated analytics to help gauge the success of new personal teller machines (PTMs) being introducing in some of its retail branches. By setting up automated reports from the video system, authorized staff will be able to monitor how long a customer stands at a PTM and whether or not they conducted a transaction. If no transaction occurs, staff can easily pull up the associated video to better understand why and possibly provide further instruction or assistance to increase PTM use.

High-definition technology is taking over

One of the most important things to remember about video is that it can require a lot of bandwidth, depending on factors like required resolution, so think big when you’re designing an upgraded or new video system. Even though video compression technology has improved significantly in recent years, those gains are somewhat offset by the increasing adoption of high-definition and multi-megapixel cameras, which of course require more bandwidth for video transmission. In addition, more people within the organization are starting to use video for non-security applications and most want to access that video remotely, which puts a further strain on the network.

The good news is that a true enterprise-class video solution will enable you to set limits on the portion of the corporate network you want to dedicate to video transmission, thereby allowing you to keep the majority of the network free for business-critical data. The availability of high-speed networks will also continue to increase globally, with competition driving down the cost of those faster upload and download services.

It also pays to think about whether your organization actually needs a multi-megapixel IP camera in every location, or if a mixture of lower megapixel and even analog cameras will fit the bill. A bank, for example, might be perfectly fine using a 720p camera in its lobby area but will want to install much higher resolution IP cameras behind its teller stations. Many of our education customers use a mix of analog and IP cameras in their schools very successfully. The analog video is just fine in some locations and means that the schools don’t have to replace existing analog cameras they’ve already purchased.

Another good idea is to involve groups other than security and loss or fraud prevention when you’re planning a new video solution. Consult operations, marketing and others to see what requirements they might have. That will give you a solid list of criteria to work from when evaluating different systems and help you plan for future, as well as immediate needs.

Finally, ask what your video surveillance vendor is doing to mitigate potential cybersecurity threats. At March Networks, we have a complete program in place to identify and address security threats. We track possible issues reported by the U.S Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and do in-depth investigations across our product line. If we detect a potential vulnerability, we provide the required software/firmware updates, and immediately alert our partners and customers so they are always informed and can take the appropriate precautions.

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