The video technology industry is undergoing a revolution. The newly unveiled Security Industry Transformation Map (ITM) encourages security companies to move away from relying on manpower and instead leverage technology to deliver effective security solutions.
Video technology, when combined with analytics and storage capabilities, enables organisations to interpret patterns in behaviour and make sophisticated decisions about their assets. It is now part and parcel of life as the technology works its magic across various industry sectors – from healthcare to transport, to city surveillance, banking and leisure. It supports operators by being their eyes and ears, doing the tasks that are either beyond most humans, or would take hours, days or weeks of manpower.
What was once deemed impossible is now made possible – especially with a collaborative community within the security technology industry.
Security remains the traditional focus of video surveillance, and this role is even more pivotal as technology continues to evolve. With analytics and facial recognition software being integrated in today’s cameras, anomalies are easier to spot. Hotspots such as hotels and tourist attractions continue to face increasing security challenges with multiple access points and significant foot traffic throughout the day. For example, Sentosa Island has integrated video analytics using Milestone’s open-platform software to count and classify the type of vehicles going into and out of the island. This gives the island’s management visibility of visitorship data and trends for their marketing and operations planning.
In his recent Budget speech, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat reinforced the government’s commitment to the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP) to improve quality of life for Singaporeans. The application will help to better draw out plans for city planning and detect anomalies for potential unruly traffic congestion. As smart city solutions are applied to our everyday lives, video surveillance continues to boom. To ensure the backend runs smoothly, video solutions from storage providers such as Promise become crucial in overcoming performance bottlenecks.
Across the region, governments are investing in smart cities by integrating technology and sensors into their networks. Law enforcement and immigration authorities are increasingly integrating facial recognition features into their video surveillance software to enable simpler and more effective ways of operating.
One such example is evident in the United Kingdom, where facial recognition analytics powered by NEC is now being deployed by South Wales Police to locate persons of interests on pre-determined watchlists. The technology was used during a pilot project at the UEFA Champions League Final in 2017, and also resulted in the UK’s first ever arrest based on facial recognition.
Singapore’s biometric analytics for border security at its land and sea checkpoints also shows how governments are expanding the use of this technology to achieve smart nation goals. With iris recognition technology to be rolled out progressively, the government no longer needs to rely solely on manual identity verification by border security.
It’s not uncommon for sensitive (and potentially hazardous) areas to be situated in remote areas which are less accessible, and generally out of bounds to the ordinary citizen. Security and surveillance at such sites typically require a substantial amount of manpower – most of which is deployed without incident.
The introduction of video solutions, on the other hand, enables businesses to monitor their sites remotely, providing huge savings. One such example is the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the country’s largest state-owned power producer, which needed to survey its dams from across the country. With a scalable and cost-efficient Video Management Software (VMS), it was able to cut labour costs by 35 per cent while improving safety and security.
Another example is illegal parking, which has been an issue in Singapore, one that often causes inconvenience and safety concerns. Using cameras from Axis, Milestone’s open-platform video management software, and Smartboost technology integrated in Promise Technology‘s high-performing storage solutions, a comprehensive, integrated video surveillance solution was introduced to record and store critical legal information of illegally-parked vehicles. With such deterrent measures in place, the number of illegally-parked cars has fallen dramatically, improving traffic flow and reducing incidence of accidents.
Outside the security sphere, intelligent video applications can also be used as a tool for business intelligence to drive businesses towards their goals. Machine learning has reaped tangible benefits for retailers, for example. Retail’s future will not be solely physical or digital, as consumers now want a seamless shopping experience across all channels – physical, online and mobile.
Video technology is increasingly doing double duty to help stores improve sales. Companies such as Axis Communications and NEC offer facial recognition technologies with sophisticated analytics applications that can provide insights into visitor distribution, and also capture shoppers’ responses to product displays. As such, retailers can quickly identify a store’s hotspots, dead areas and bottlenecks, and take images from networked cameras. All these will help visualise customer traffic patterns with active queue management, to make shopping a more pleasant experience for the consumer. This data can then be churned out to detect the hours most frequented by consumers, delivering real-time understanding of customer behaviour for efficient store and resource arrangements.
As Singapore works towards its Smart Nation dream, video is a key focus that cannot be neglected. It is the tool that brings reel to real as the technology is now brought to life, making the impossible possible.
This article was co-authored by Benjamin Low, Vice President – APAC, Milestone Systems;
Winston Goh, Head of Marketing – South APAC, Axis Communications;
William Tan, Director of Face Recognition & Surveillance, Global Safety, NEC Corporation;
HC Chang, General Manager – APAC (excluding China), Promise Technology
This article ran in The Business Times, Singapore, in March 2018