Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
March 12, 2021

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

IFSEC Interviews

“There is a big uptick in demand for deep-learning analytics”: IDIS on lasting changes in the video tech industry after COVID

IFSEC Global catches up with Jamie Barnfield, Senior Sales Director at IDIS, as we discuss the lasting changes for the video surveillance industry as a result of COVID-19, and how the business responded throughout the pandemic.



Jamie Barnfield, Senior Sales Director at IDIS

So, quite a lot has happened since we last spoke with you in 2019, Jamie. What are the primary changes the security industry has witnessed in the last 18 months?

Before COVID-19 struck, we were already seeing a big uptick in demand for deep-learning driven analytics, as were other manufacturers. Demand was coming from businesses experiencing a frustrating level of false-positive alarms. In most cases false alarms are triggered by environmental factors such as moving foliage, high winds, rain, or animals. That was something we could immediately overcome by deploying our IDIS Deep Learning Analytics, which gives operators 98% accurate AI-assisted notifications for object and loitering detection. For existing IDIS users, this is a simple and cost-effective upgrade path, and because IDIS video solutions come with the promise of forward and backward compatibility there’s often no need to upgrade existing cameras.

For many customers tackling false alarms is a priority because operator fatigue increases the risk of control room staff missing incidents or, worse, losing confidence in detection systems and shutting them down.  High frequency false alarms and call outs can also increase the cost of using alarm receiving centres and mobile response services. And, it’s not unusual for monitoring centres to withdraw services until cameras are replaced or sites upgraded, which leaves gaps in security. All this has made the transition to intelligent video analytics more urgent.

Customers and their systems integrators also more widely understand the benefits of metadata, even when analytics rules are not applied. Leveraging metadata in recorded footage, via edge or deep-learning applications, lets security operatives speed up investigations into suspicious or criminal activity, from hours previously to minutes now. They can simply take eyewitness reports based on the number of people involved, the colour of clothing, and vehicle type, to quickly find relevant footage and export it for evidential purposes.  The same principles apply to find persons of interest in recordings, allowing rapid searching of footage from camera streams from across single or multiple sites simultaneously to pinpoint and track last known locations and movements.

While there are obvious applications, such as initiating faster responses to theft, finding missing persons, or dealing with insurance claims by providing evidential footage, we’re discovering it’s also a useful tool for dealing with a much wider range of operational challenges.

For instance, the insider threat remains a top priority for organisations, with staff responsible for internal shrinkage via data and cyber breaches too. Those employees will often act suspiciously for some time before committing an offence, a change in behaviour than may be flagged by IT departments or by access control alerts triggered when an employee changes their working patterns, for example accessing facilities out of hours or trying to enter sensitive areas. And that’s when IT, HR and security departments can work together and leverage the latest AI video tools to easily track and monitor suspicious behaviour, and intervene if necessary.

Another good example is cabinet doors in server rooms that regularly get left open after maintenance. Users can configure analytics rules so that, if an engineer isn’t present after a pre-determined period, a notification will initiate a response.

Do you see any lasting tech changes emerging from the response to COVID-19?

Aside from the growing appreciation of deep learning analytics to improve overall situational awareness, one of the most significant changes is that the pandemic has made businesses realise they need the technology to pivot and adapt to future challenges. Nearly all organisations need better preparedness to deal with extreme weather events, the shift to greener energy, the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks, potential civil unrest, and terror threats.

At the same time, each sector is also dealing with its own pressures and drivers for change. So, we see high-street retailers dealing with the rapid shift to e-commerce; logistics operators ramping up to meet unprecedented demand; the energy sector, and industry generally, cutting CO2 emissions; corporate enterprises thinking of how to better attract and retain talent; and healthcare and care providers catering for aging populations.

This is evident in the speed with which organisations are now digitising to improve efficiency, to find productivity gains, and operate with increasingly mobile workforces. Security and FM operations professionals will have an important part to play, particularly when upgrading to AI video.


For instance, workspace and facilities optimisation will be important as organisations look to adapt buildings to accommodate more flexible working and prevent the spread of future diseases. Data is key to this to enable better decision making. The intelligence from video systems and access control will help FM managers drill down to understand how desks and workspaces are used, and for how long. It will let them review the flow of people in and around buildings and campuses to make decisions based on a proper understanding of peak occupancy and density. Building services and facilities can be fine-tuned, with better decisions about the right  balance between dedicated and shared workspaces, or demand for meeting rooms or customer hosting facilities. In the longer term some organisations may consider moving away from traditional large, centralised buildings in city centres in favour of a hub and spoke model.

And with increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions these insights will allow for better control of cooling, heating, and lighting, among other energy-saving measures.

And how has IDIS responded to COVID?

The IDIS Europe team is agile so we didn’t find it difficult to switch to remote working and video conferencing. With many of our systems integrators quickly doing the same, we were able to offer ongoing support to end users immediately. Many vendors quickly offered thermal cameras for body temperature screening. Yet lockdowns in Europe meant the urgent challenge was the need to deal with managing shut or partially operational sites, securing facilities with reduced resources, and security staff working work from home.

Our retail and hospitality customers faced the biggest obstacles. They needed to shut premises quickly while still allowing access to staff who didn’t have much experience of working alone. Our video tech helped minimise risks for these employees when assessing stock levels or distributing food to local charities and frontline workers, many of who are more used to working in busy environments with colleagues close by.

“Before COVID-19 struck, we were already seeing a big uptick in demand for deep-learning driven analytics, as were other manufacturers. Demand was coming from businesses experiencing a frustrating level of false-positive alarms.”

Typically, customers don’t use all the functions and features that come with their VMS or all the analytics commonly found on modern IP cameras. We’ve been focusing on helping them get more from their technology. Thanks to our online demos and e-learning modules most have now configured the IDIS app on their smartphones and tablets, so they now receive notifications – such as motion detection and line cross – to help them manage day-to-day operations and respond to threats and incidents remotely. More have realised the benefits of two-way audio for monitoring lone workers and providing verbal guidance to staff and contractors accessing facilities during lockdowns.

And there was also a tricky balance to be struck managing closed facilities. It would have been easy for businesses to lock staff out of premises by padlocking doors or changing intruder codes. But we knew that approach could lose employee trust – particularly among local managers – and alienate those teams that would be needed to return to work, quickly restore operations and welcome back customers.

To help customers avoid this ‘fortress premises’ approach which really sends the wrong message, we also launched the IDIS Mobile Plus App last year. This put more advanced VMS functions and features in the hands of safety and loss prevention professionals and increased their ability to ensure protection remotely. They could work more cost-efficiently and in many cases use client software together with the App to avoid hiring third party monitoring and mobile response services.

We know you released new products over the last year – how have they been received in the market?

IDIS went beyond other COVID-specific tech fixes that emerged during 2020, many of which disappointed or offered limited longer-term value.  And it’s paid off. Customers realise that COVID restrictions will continue well into 2021 and we’re likely to be living with the virus for years to come, so it’s unlikely businesses will be keen to relax safety and hygiene measures any time soon.

Crucially, our R&D team drew on South Korea’s expertise in controlling the virus. The DV-2232 was developed as an all-in-one solution that uses proven methods for preventing the spread of infection and that also has long-term value in mind.

So, we’ve made sure the features and functions can be used for longer-term business intelligence, particularly for the retail and hospitality sectors. It will have a part to play in managing workspace optimisation, which will become more important during the recovery.

IDIS-AIBox-20The new 32-channel AI Box for COVID-19 gives users four powerful and proven video analytics: social distancing monitoring; people counting and occupancy monitoring; crowd detection; and face mask-wearing detection. It also comes with a simple three step traffic light systems informing customers when it’s safe to enter shops and other facilities as well as displaying wait times. The dashboard also allows users to include promotional information or hygiene reminders.

Importantly, customers do not have to upgrade to edge VA cameras and can use AI Box license-free with the IDIS Center for smaller applications (up to 1024 devices) or with a simple, license structure for larger corporations, campuses or multi-site estates that choose the enterprise-level IDIS Solution Suite VMS. It also allows users to run all four analytics.

The IDIS Deep Learning Engine had already been trained using vast data sets to deliver exceptional accuracy. A good example is that it not only detects mask-wearing but also picks up when a mask is not worn correctly. At the same time, highly accurate people counting ensures occupancy and density control. Users can also set social distancing measurements dependent on country, state, sector, and site-specific compliance requirements.

Another advantage is that alternative AI video solutions may offer some of same functions, yet many rely on ‘top of the head’ ceiling-mounted cameras and don’t have the edge processing power to run all the analytics functions simultaneously. This makes them unsuitable for wider surveillance use and means that the more COVID-secure analytics functions customers require, the more cameras they need. By contrast, our AI Box works perfectly with existing cameras mounted in all standard positions and runs all four analytics functions simultaneously on each camera without separate license fees, which ensures they deliver long term value for both security, safety, and business intelligence purposes.

I think our approach to delivering long term value while solving immediate challenges was one of the reasons IDIS was named outstanding security equipment manufacturer of the year in the 2021 OSPA awards and was the only video solutions vendor to be shortlisted. We try to target out technology to deliver real world value for customers.

What does the future hold for IDIS? Any exciting launches coming up that you’re allowed to reveal to us?

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law last year in the US, has had a greater impact on the global surveillance market than perhaps many outside of the US anticipated. Many projects across Europe now require NDAA compliant hardware as customers and their integration partners have US operations and need to meet regulatory obligations if they are to continue with federal government work.

NDAA, coupled with the UK government removing Huawei from the 5G network, has made customers particularly nervous, especially at a time of unprecedented uncertainty during the pandemic. So many are reluctant to implement any equipment that uses critical components or System-on-a-Chip (SOC) from the US banned Chinese vendors, anticipating that similar embargoes might be introduced in Europe.

Today IDIS already has a range of compliant products to meet NDAA requirements, including our enterprise-level and most popular 8, 16 and 32-channel NVRs, as well as dome, bullet, and fisheye cameras. Our R&D department continue to work at speed to launch upgraded and new products quickly, with a raft of kit becoming available this quarter.

Customers can also expect a continued focus on IDIS Deep Learning Analytics as this is a priority for immediate and long-term growth. Our next AI innovation launch will look to help security personnel speed up investigations even further by complementing existing technologies, including Person Match and Instate Meta Filtering (IMF), to open up even more options for accurate searching leveraging metadata.

IDIS also just acquired a controlling stake in KT Powertel, a company that specialises in radio equipment as well as the push-to-talk over cellular (PoC) and Wi-Fi technology.  PoC expands conventional two-way radio to LTE and Wi-Fi networks that are more ubiquitous and accessible for mobile devices and IoT. In terms of comms, users can engage in secure one-to-one, targeted and mass communications over networks via any device even in built-up urban areas, basements, tunnels and large steel buildings that often suffer from poor LTE signals.

IDIS at IFSEC International 2019

The future aim will be to bring these applications together with our video surveillance and analytics capabilities into a single, unified platform. This will give first responders enhanced command and control over large and dispersed facilities and public spaces, enabling them to initiate faster and more accurate responses.

The immediate focus is on the Korean and South East Asian markets where IDIS and KT Powertel have significant advantages, including a strong existing customer base and excellent public Wi-Fi and 4G/5G network coverage. Yet in Europe we are starting to see pent-up demand for wide area coverage and low-cost bandwidth to allow both voice, data, and video communications, as well as integration with control room dispatch applications. Once the infrastructure such as 5G and public Wi-Fi becomes more universal across UK, that will create some exciting opportunities.

We can’t wait to get back on the road and to start networking again at in-person events. Yet despite the UK lockdown we’ve already had a busy couple of months with customers looking to get projects back on track, particularly witnessing the phenomenal speed of the UK vaccination rollout and the recent government roadmap for reopening.

2021 has started positively in terms of sales, which came hot on the heels of our customer, Tracey Edwards from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust success at last year’s Security & Fire Excellence Awards. Tracey has transformed staff safety and patient care using IDIS video and continues to be an inspiration both to the IDIS team and the wider industry. And Tracey’s tireless work and commitment to maintaining the highest NHS standards continues, so we should be able to share with you another successful IDIS implementation at a new facility that was purpose-built to rehabilitate adults with learning disabilities.

As for the rest, it’s a watch this space. I can’t steal all the thunder from the marketing and comms team!

However, I think it’s high-time we invite you along to see some IDIS surveillance in action, particularly since we have a raft of London-based customers ready to do case studies once they are re-open and back to business as usual. Like many of my peers I can’t wait to get back into our great city and see it bustling again – and as those who know me will confirm, getting back out there will keep me away from the fridge and all those sausage rolls (well, perhaps).


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Discover the latest developments in the rapidly-evolving video surveillance sector by downloading the 2022 Video Surveillance Report. Responses come from installers and integrators to consultants and heads of security, as we explore the latest trends including AI, software and hardware most in use, cyber security challenges, and the wider economic and geopolitical events impacting the sector!

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

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