IoT, Intelligent Buildings, Smart Cities Increase the Technology Footprint; No More Simple CCTV

Milestone Systems CTO Bjørn Skou Eilertsen believes that video will be a key element in the advance of smarter solutions, but that many in other technological sectors have yet to realize the potential. At an IoT conference in London attended by over 6,000 delegates, he was the only keynote speaker to address this. Benchmark magazine spoke with him.

‘It is interesting how the classic IoT companies, who are connecting many devices, are not thinking about cameras as IoT sensors,’ he states. ‘We’re in adjacent industries, where video surveillance and IoT need to move together to get better connected. The way each of us see a lot of customers buying IoT management software or video management software is for different use-cases.

‘If you consider door panels or temperature sensors, they’re IoT devices, but all can work collectively with video management software via a Rules engine. Once people understand how we can combine the sensor information with video capabilities, they will see how powerful it can be. It will often supersede the functionality that conventional IoT can deliver. That’s where I see the greatest opportunities for video solutions: to start creating a wider understanding of how customers can implement solutions.

Missed potential?

Eilertsen recognizes there is a danger that some people might miss the depth of functionality available from today’s smarter solutions.

‘I think there is a competence gap, a knowledge gap, about what systems are capable of doing, and we need to ensure integrators are aware of the possibilities.

‘End users start demanding solutions which they think of as smart, but it’s often little more than using one sensor to activate another device. That’s becoming more and more common.

It’s simple and logical from a customer’s point of view, but that’s where the integrator needs to be careful. It’s not a conversation to be avoided because they haven’t designed systems like that before. Integrators need to engage customers and discuss automated scenarios where it’s not just about the video capabilities of the system, but a combination of sensors and inputs.

‘The Rules engine in video management software is going to be a key asset in such applications. It will allow business process optimization based on combining video with IoT sensors.’

Public misconceptions

Eilertsen is also quick to acknowledge that today’s video-based solutions are often held back by public misconceptions about surveillance, harking back to the days of somewhat primitive and restricted technologies associated with CCTV. He believes that as the technologies have evolved, it is critical to change the way the systems are discussed.

‘Calling smart systems “CCTV” will be a problem, because it refers to technology which is old-fashioned, and the limitations of old are frowned upon nowadays. Limiting thinking about video to surveillance and investigations highlights negative connotations. I prefer to talk about video’s role in enabling IoT. It’s a better way to position the technology, highlighting what it can do. If you’re talking to customers who want video-enabled IoT and smart solutions which span beyond traditional surveillance and security purposes, it underlines the depth of use-cases which can be met.’

Service provision

There is a growing move in the smart solutions industry to a more service-based provision model. An increasing number of end users are running core business functionalities based around services such as SaaS (software as a service), and it could be necessary to meet user expectations by offering a wider range of video-enabled services.

‘It’s going to require a mix of different services that collectively provide a solution for the customer. Some of these will be running on hardware in the local environment, while others will be off-site and remotely accessed.

‘If you look at what the OSSA (Open Security and Safety Alliance) is doing (founded by Milestone, Bosch, Hanwha Techwin, Pelco and Vivotek), the key focus is to standardize definitions of operating systems and devices, to create trust with customers concerning the deployment of IoT devices, and to allow shared capabilities while sitting on a common operating system and a common programming interface.

‘This should allow all devices to be managed in a coherent way, regardless of the manufacturer. The applications which will run on the devices will deliver seamless services and solutions.’

In the future the scope will go beyond video surveillance into building automation, process control and a host of other industries.

A balanced approach

Eilertsen points out that since 1998, the Milestone mission is the migration of analogue video to an IP platform, but it’s also about enabling customers and partners to drive operational efficiencies through the use of video.

‘It’s taken a long time, but it is starting to happen: we are seeing the realization of those efficiencies,’ he states. ‘What needs to happen is the security agenda must shift. For example, instead of only having conversations with the head of security, we need to make the topic relevant for others in positions of leadership.

‘Disregarding the security element may make some integrators lose footing; if they try to compete with regular industrialized IoT, it might be a struggle. They’d be better off starting with a video surveillance agenda and expanding from there rather than leading with business optimization, retail or factory automation, quality assurance or whatever.

Despite this, Eilertsen recognizes that many other sectors – IT, lighting, HVAC, communications, AV, etc. – have adapted to the demands for smart solutions faster than many in the security sector have. There may be a need to seek new partnerships with those who are more at home with advanced solution provision.

‘The question is how fast and how many of the current integrator market will be able to move ahead and take that leap. Customers are asking for more integrated solutions that fulfill the needs of many use-cases, not just security.’

Read beyond these excerpts; Find the full interview on the Benchmark Magazine website: