Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
January 2, 2018

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Visual internet of things

Most visual data captured by security cameras is wasted, says Cloudview CEO

Most visual data captured by security cameras in the UK is wasted, according to the founder of a cloud-based surveillance company.

James Wickes, CEO of Cloudview, says few businesses analyse the CCTV images they capture.

In a new white paper from the company, Wickes touts the enormous potential of what he calls the Visual Internet of Things (VIoT): integrating visual data with the IoT, big data, cloud and analytics to generate new applications.

These applications could include, for instance, enabling a faster response to motorway accidents, optimising management of city parking, better managing people flows in transport hubs, aiding the care of vulnerable people and to a commercial advantage in retail and services.

Wickes believes the VIoT market is set for rapid growth this year.

“The Visual IoT will be central to many of the developments that will touch our lives,” he said. “Indeed, this is already proving to be the case.

“When you check in at an airport a reader scans your boarding pass and a camera scans your face. Without the visual data that the camera captures the system would be much less effective.

“Immensely valuable”

“Most visual data, however, is currently collected for a single purpose, and the vast majority is in effect wasted because it is never even looked at. Combining it with other IoT data streams and adding analytics would make it immensely valuable.”

Video analytics will grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 50% over the next five years, according to McKinsey, from $3.9tn to $11.1tn a year by 2025.

“We now have the processing power, bandwidth, data storage capacity and computing ability to enable fast, reliable analysis of visual data to a standard that makes this commercially viable,” said Wickes.

“Devices and systems need to ‘see’ what we see and respond accordingly, and using data from some of the UK’s millions of surveillance cameras is a good place to start.” James Wickes, CEO, Cloudview

“We are only just beginning to understand the potential of this data but, as sight is our most powerful sense, the benefit of integrating visual information with other IoT data streams is a no-brainer. Devices and systems need to ‘see’ what we see and respond accordingly, and using data from some of the UK’s millions of surveillance cameras is a good place to start.”

There are about 8.2 million surveillance cameras in the UK, producing 10.3 petabytes of visual data every hour, according to Cloudview’s research. Most of this footage is stored locally and never viewed.

Consolidated into cloud infrastructure and combined with other data sets, from static data like grid references to dynamic ones such as weather data, visual data can become immeasurably more useful in gauging what is happening, why, and  what might happen next.

The staggering growth in volumes of video data generated, with CCTV cameras part of a mix that also includes smartphones and various IoT devices, means that human monitoring of surveillance images is no longer practical. Automated analysis and even decision-making will increasingly become the norm if organisations are to exploit the opportunities presented by big data.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in May 2018, demands that data use, storage and retrieval be done in such a way that the privacy of individuals captured on surveillance cameras be respected. Another Cloudview white paper, Watching the Watchers, addressed the issues surrounding the GDPR when it comes to CCTV.

“There is tremendous potential for existing surveillance cameras to go beyond their single use function, and become part of wider, smart city initiatives that focus on improving the local environment,” said Wickes. “Local authorities and other camera users need to grasp this opportunity quickly and capitalise on their unused and unloved resources to benefit all of us.”

Download Cloudview’s new white paper, Visual IoT: Where the IoT, cloud and big data come together

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