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sales director, IDIS Europe

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Jamie Barnfield brings with him nearly 20 years' sales experience in the security industry across IP-enabled video surveillance and security solutions as well as traditional CCTV systems. He has held sales management positions at The Solutions Group, March Networks, Silent Witness, and at Risco Group. Jamie joined IDIS in April 2013 and is responsible for value-add solution sales to support IDIS installers and integrators, as well as end-user sales from small businesses through to enterprise-sized organizations from a wide range of markets and environments.
November 11, 2021

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Whitepaper: Multi-residential access management – The move to digital

As labour pressures bite, AI-video and integrated tech can help in the quest for efficiency

With many sectors affected by staff shortages and rising wage costs there’s pressure on employers to improve operational efficiency, writes Jamie Barnfield, Senior Sales Director, IDIS Europe. A new approach to security tech is already making a difference, including AI-enabled video analytics, more ambitious systems integration, and the digitisation of processes and workflows.

Jamie Barnfield, Senior Sales Director, IDIS Europe

Across developed economies organisations are under pressure to operate more efficiently.

Job vacancies in the UK are now at a record high. By August, the figure was over a million for the first time since records began, according to the Office for National Statistics.

While that may sound like good news, especially after such a challenging year, it reflects a significant underlying problem for the economy: more and more employers are reporting staff shortages.

Sector-specific factors have been blamed for problems in the haulage industry – including an exodus of foreign drivers after Brexit, poor pay, inadequate facilities for long distance drivers, lack of status and recognition, and a testing backlog caused by Covid restrictions.

But other sectors are being affected equally, and by many of these same issues.

In the run up to Christmas, as demand increases, the pressures will become even more obvious in retail, hospitality, and health and social care. Already in industries from farming and food processing to logistics, businesses are working flat-out.

These problems are not unique to the UK.

For example, according to data collected by Transport Intelligence, Poland was short of more than 120,000 drivers last year. In Germany, between 45,000 and 60,000 drivers were needed.

Labour shortages may be having less impact in other European countries, where the guarantee of free movement means the labour pool is much larger, but in almost every developed economy there is pressure on organisations to operate more efficiently and to automate where there are benefits to be gained.

How video tech can help overcome the challenges

The benefits are clear, in the security tech sector we are seeing them first hand, with more powerful, digitised, streamlined systems being delivered which are helping customers operate more efficiently, with less pressure on their people.

These solutions are pulling together core business systems and databases with security and site protection infrastructure, frictionless staff, visitor and contractor management processes, and wider building control systems.

In a range of settings we are seeing how deployment of smarter solutions – including AI-enabled video analytics and affordable integration – is helping to adapt operations and reduce pressure on staff.

In the video tech market, the quest for operational efficiency is today one of the most significant drivers behind the adoption of AI. When looking at the value of a new system and calculating the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), the savings and payback delivered by efficiency gains now form part of the equation.

Video analytics are advancing rapidly, and reliable deep-learning technology means these tools have become ever more reliable, with an impressive 98% accuracy fast becoming the baseline for systems designed to reduce false alarms.

“Long gone are the days when video was only used to detect, investigate or deter crime. Now it offers much greater value to businesses, helping with everything from improving customer service in hotels, and faster, more secure processing and tracking of goods, to triggering automated alerts when queues get too long.”

AI-assisted alerts for line-cross, loitering, and object detection are much less prone to being triggered by harmless environmental factors than traditional analytics. Instead of needing the high-level attention to focus on multiple camera streams, operators now only need to view a single video feed. If a real event or threat occurs, they can and decide on what action to take.

Metadata is also speeding up investigations from hours and days to minutes, while mobile apps now allow staff to review events remotely, from smartphones and tablets.  It means managers can reduce staffing levels in control rooms and redeploy people to focus on more rewarding and value-added tasks – or cope when staffing levels are under pressure.

This striking performance lets organisations use automated alert triggers when cameras detect specific, pre-defined events occurring to drive efficiencies across their entire operations.

For example, in logistics and warehousing, notifications can be triggered for the arrival of deliveries and pickups, giving staff oversight of operations, ensuring workers follow processes and procedures to optimise offloading and onloading, and increasing the throughput of goods.


Deep-learning analytics can also be configured to detect unusual working conditions to better support adherence with health and safety standards, allowing operators to identify problems that interrupt business continuity, cause injury, and, importantly, limit the loss of life.

AI-powered ANPR also increases operational efficiency at busy logistics centres. Whitelists can be used to automate authorised vehicle entry and eliminate manual security checks on regular deliveries and pickups. At the same time, intercoms at barriers allow operatives to remotely direct trucks to loading bays or holding spaces to speed up throughput and avoid bottlenecks.

Deploying analytics also strengthens the security of goods in retail, hospitality, and healthcare environments by reducing internal and external shrinkage and fraudulent activity.

And as the supply chain squeeze continues in the build up to Christmas, inevitably certain goods will become more scarce, putting additional pressure on security staff. AI video will allow them to increase vigilance with automated alerts from a virtual line being crossed when somebody enters a stock area, to a crowd gathering, suspicious loitering behaviour around high-value goods or pharmaceutical storage areas, suspicious vehicle activity on perimeters, through to a door being propped open.

COVID has not gone away and looking ahead, even when the pandemic is over, it’s predicted that the virus will join others such as seasonal flu as an annual threat that needs to be managed. The innovative AI video tools that emerged at the height of the pandemic will remain valuable tools for reducing the spread of infection at times of increased risk. It’s been shown how well they can work in taking pressure off frontline personnel by automating functions from face mask detection, social distancing, and occupancy monitoring. Those lessons will be applied to other challenges too – for example delivering business intelligence around the movement of people, customer behaviour in retail, and building use more generally.

All this feeds into the increasing power, utility and value of video systems.

Long gone are the days when video was only used to detect, investigate or deter crime. Now it offers much greater value to businesses, helping with everything from improving customer service in hotels, and faster, more secure processing and tracking of goods, to triggering automated alerts when queues get too long.

Pressures from staff shortages will take months if not years to ease. But, as analytics become smarter, and as systems integration his harnessed more fully, organisations will not only cope, they’ll find new opportunities opening up.

And that’s already happening.

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