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Director of Product Management, EMEA, Tyco Security Products

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Peter Ainsworth is the Director of Product Management, EMEA, for Tyco Security Products. With more than 20 years experience in the security industry, Peter oversees the regional strategy for the company’s broad portfolio of unified video, access control and intrusion solutions. He can be reached at [email protected]
October 9, 2014

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

Open-Platform Technology and the Future of Video Surveillance

A few years ago a mobile phone was just that: a phone.

Today it’s essentially a handheld computer that happens to make phone calls.The first thing people do when they purchase a new smartphone is download apps to give their phone greater personal value.

Why should this be any different for the humble network surveillance camera? Not too long ago a simple analogue camera created the image it was designed generate.  A few years ago the network camera was born, adding additional connectivity.

So what’s next? Can I have a smart camera? Why not?

Is this possible and if so, is it of any use to us?

Unused processing power 

Samsung 1The processors in the latest IP cameras have become ever-more powerful, so there’s considerable processing power to be harnessed.

Video, and to a lesser extent audio analytics, have been around for a few years, but until recently were either prohibitively expensive or not very effective.

Over the last couple of years analytics have improved greatly. Cost remains a stumbling block, not necessarily of the analytics themselves but the powerful server they need to run on.

Let’s look at what we have now: powerful IP cameras with spare processing capacity and great analytics, which are not as widely used as they could be due to prohibitive unit hosting costs.

Putting two and two together camera manufacturers have started to create open platforms, which accept third-party applications (Standard API) and act as a server for the analytics.  The increased choice to the end client becomes almost limitless, with some possibilities below:

  1. The end user’s site requires various analytics, so the camera can accept and run more than one analytic function simultaneously, such as people counting and heat-mapping.
  2. A multi-camera site may need a number of specialist analytics created by different companies. With the camera’s open platform each camera can essentially run different companies’ analytics without compromising on quality or incurring the expense of multiple servers to run different applications. These cameras are then viewed by video management software (VMS) that pulls everything together.
  3. Open platforms also have these advantages when processing analytics:
    1. Detection quality is much higher and results much improved because it is run inside the camera – at source.
    2. No need to transmit video from the camera to the analytics server, as bandwidth traffic to the recording/viewing platform is much reduced, enabling a smoother flow of image data across the network, increased capacity to add additional cameras without adding to network infrastructure costs, or reducing network infrastructural costs as the number of required network switches is reduced.
    3. Reducing total ownership costs by future-proofing is at the back of every buyer’s mind. An open platform does just that, as any new software release will automatically work with the camera without the need for a concomitant firmware upgrade.

Once the application has created meta data, what happens next? Two scenarios: the video and meta data is transmitted to the bespoke application company’s software, or to a VMS provider’s application.samsung 2

However, VMS applications now offer a wider choice of possibilities, as they can pull together hardware from multiple vendors, from cameras, intrusion detection and access control to – increasingly on larger systems – building management functions such as air-conditioning and lighting, to name a few.

As open-platform development continues apace, many apps will make decisions and pass on ‘orders’ directly to another piece of hardware, which can then bypass the controlling software. Exemplifying this would be camera detection of movement in a room, a message then sent to the light controller to switch on and a message sent to the air-conditioning system to adjust.

If the analytics can detect the person’s gender and/or age a message is sent to the audio/video systems to adjust promotional messages accordingly.

So why is this technology being developed?  Not just for development sake, but one of the most important reasons in business: to give customers the right solution for their needs, a real choice of application and software.samsung 3

Rather than events triggering specific actions in multiple devices, devices in the future will communicate with other devices more intelligently without human interaction.

HyperCat is a consortium of companies working on the ability to enables apps to discover data across all services, freeing machines from the human programmer bottleneck and allowing many-to-many relationships to develop.

For example, a facial recognition app could examine human resources and access control services to compare data (age, sex, height, work location etc) without human intervention or coding.

As with the division between the smartphone and old-style mobile phone, a schism is opening between IP cameras with open platforms, which offer a broad choice of applications to assist growing businesses, and standard cameras, whose remit doesn’t extend beyond creating great images.

Both have an important role to play in our industry because people deserve a choice.

Keep up with the wireless access control market

Download this free report to find out more about:

  • The current state of wireless access control solutions in the market
  • The developing ‘move to mobile access control’ trend
  • Views on open architecture and integration
  • The growing use of the cloud and ACaaS to manage access systems
  • How important is sustainability to the industry?

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