Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS): turning IP security into improved business intelligence
The business value of the internet of things (IoT) isn’t just in how data from a certain device is used: the bigger prize lies in understanding how insights and intelligence can be derived by bringing together data from multiple sources to truly answer a business problem. And as the physical security industry switches from analogue to digital systems, so its utility is moving from forensic reactive surveillance into proactive intelligence that can be a critical part of real-time decision making. Here Rodrigue Zbinden, CEO at Morphean, discusses the value that cloud-based physical security, such as Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS), can unlock for your business.
Exploiting better picture quality pictures from video cameras
Today’s video cameras, for example, have the potential to function as much more than security devices. They deliver better picture quality than their predecessors, which enriches video data to the point that it can be used for much more than monitoring suspicious behaviour. They can be connected to powerful cloud computing platforms which enable that data to be combined with other sources and used to train machine learning algorithms to great effect.
Flexibility with Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS)
But adoption of cloud among physical security professionals is slow. One key challenge is the way in which the prevalent business models in the sector operate. Potential customers are used to ‘as a service’ models in which they pay for usage, avoiding large capital expenses by purchasing IT infrastructure out of their operating budget when they need it. In a Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS) world, this means offering customers the flexibility of adding or removing devices depending on their business needs, based around a single, regular licensing payment.
Business intelligence: the extra eyes in the cloud
Video cameras, or any other common physical security device are, by their very nature, ubiquitous at critical points of business infrastructure. This means that they are collecting vital data that can be turned to different purposes through analysis and combination with other sources of intelligence. And once management of the security network has been shifted to the cloud, new features can be made available depending on need and budget – it’s no longer a question of upgrading or replacing expensive on-site hardware to deliver more benefits.
Flexibility with Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS) brings benefits
A simple example of the potential of cloud-connected video cameras might be: analysing feeds in real-time to count the number of visitors in a retail store on a particular day. This data could then be cross-referenced with current promotional campaigns to gauge effectiveness, or used to give deep insights into customer behaviour patterns in-store, or to find out how many customers leave without making a purchase. The same platform might “learn” what in-store behaviours cause queue build-ups, and trigger earlier alerts to advise staff that more tills need to be opened.
Similarly, machine learning can be used to spot suspicious behaviour, or recognise the start of a violent altercation between visitors and staff. By combining facial recognition software with access control and HR records, cameras could be used to do away with traditional time sheets, or alert staff if an employee is in an unusual or restricted area. Building management could benefit, too, as cameras could be used to shut down climate controls or turn off lighting in empty rooms.
We’re only just scratching the surface of what AI and machine learning can do with data from security networks. As more companies experiment with the potential, more use cases for using video and physical security to deliver business intelligence will emerge.
New business models – the rise of Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS)
Cloud-based physical security also opens up the opportunity for new business models. Rather than having to plan a single investment in security equipment that will take care of future possibilities, enterprise can shift to a pay-for-use model, enabling video surveillance as a service (VSaaS). This will reduce the need for large capital investment and improve the ability to add or remove temporary sites, for example, into a single, centralised security network.
There are other benefits to the model too. The cloud provides tamper-free security, as video data is stored off-site and protected by strong encryption from the moment it is captured on the camera. In a survey of European businesses conducted on behalf of Morphean[i], improved cybersecurity was the number one reason for moving applications to the cloud. As privacy laws continue to evolve, simple device management allows cloud applications to be quickly and easily updated to maintain compliance with the latest regulations such as GDPR.
There’s no doubt that the future of physical security will be cloud-based VSaaS. For security installers, VSaaS is an opportunity to get closer to customers and bring their expertise to wider business functions. For end users it’s a way to make use of existing devices to create new forms of ROI. The efficiencies and potential improvements for the core function of protecting staff and assets will drive businesses to adopt these solutions in the same way that cloud applications have become commonplace in other areas, such as accounting. The differentiating factor will be what is done with security data once it’s in the cloud, because the potential there is limitless.
RODRIGUE ZBINDEN – CEO, Morphean SA