The IP video surveillance systems market is witnessing a dramatic change because of its shifting preference from analog to IP systems. High scalability, easy installation, and remote accessibility with network-based models have led to the widespread adoption of IP video surveillance systems. These systems can be integrated with the existing IP network, and they provide the basic platform for software such as video analytics, video management software (VMS), and cloud storage.
Milestone Systems, a Danish provider of IP-based VMS and network video recorders (NVRs) for surveillance installations is one of the leading providers in this space. It was founded in 1998, and since inception, it operates as a stand-alone company in Canon Inc., selling reliable and scalable solutions through a network of authorized and certified partners in more than 130 countries. In a recent interaction with CXOToday, Benjamin Low, VP-APAC at Milestone Systems, explains the changing scenario in the video surveillance space, the various technologies impacting video surveillance and the role Milestone is playing in this space.
CXOToday: How is the video surveillance space changing? What are some of the key technology transformations in this space?
Benjamin Low: The legacy surveillance market has been going through a transition from analogue to IP-based video in the last decade or so. Today the market is at a tipping point as the customers are demanding more from the video. They don’t want to just keep collecting and storing video, but they want to make sense out of it and drive more RoI from their surveillance system. Surveillance is no more about just “keeping the bad guys out”. It’s a right assumption; but it’s a legacy assumption.
For instance, a shopping mall would use the surveillance video to understand shopping patterns, improve shop layout and customer flow. The surveillance market is thus witnessing some of the hottest technology transformations of recent times—be it AI, facial recognition, deep learning, video analytics, privacy masking, meta data, neural networks, and the biggest of all—IoT.
CXOToday: AI is projected to be the next market disruption for video technology. How is AI contributing to the making of intelligent video?
Benjamin Low: Today, a significant part of the data generated is from digital video stored or distributed via communication networks. AI will play a key role in translating this data into intelligence, by bringing in automation. AI helps in extending the possibilities of videos beyond security to other wider applications for organizations.
With IoT in the picture, video surveillance is not just limed to surveillance cameras. The endpoints can be your smartphones, the sensors embedded in a police car, traffic light, lampposts or practically anywhere. This makes the dataset quite incomprehensible and difficult to analyse. We need technologies like AI and deep learning to increase the level of intelligence within digital video systems.
Video analytics today applies logic and meaning based on the information gathered from video cameras, thanks to AI. Some deep learning algorithms have demonstrated greater than 90% facial recognition accurately, which is significantly higher than the conventional systems.
CXOToday: Globally, Milestone is one of the top players in open video management software (VMS). Why is open VMS a relevant discussion today?
Benjamin Low: Traditionally, the video surveillance market has never been interoperable. If a customer chose a specific brand of camera, he had no option but to use the video management software (VMS) that comes along with that. That can’t work anymore. Every single customer we speak to have a heterogeneous environment today, which consists of different cameras from a wide range of manufacturers, because of their diverse requirements.
Milestone has been focusing on bridging this gap through our open VMS platform. Our VMS, as the centralized piece in the surveillance system, connects to more than 7,000 unique devices in the market. Most importantly, our open architecture allows third-party solutions from our community of partners to be integrated onto the platform. This not only makes the platform ideal for all kinds of business needs, it also fosters constant innovation in the video space.
CXOToday: Video analytics has been an important discussion especially with the increased focus on smart city projects. How are some of the cities leveraging analytics?
Benjamin Low: Smart city is driving a lot of security spending across the world. In fact, continued improvements in analytics and VMS have contributed significantly to the increase in city surveillance spending. Smart city projects are also at the forefront when it comes to using AI and other technologies. Countries like Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau are among the early adopters of video analytics and VMS in the APAC region. Singapore’s Smart Nation project, for instance, focuses on using sensors and IoT devices to improve security, and leverages AI to improve public transport. In India, So, we are seeing the tip of the iceberg now, when it comes to smart city implementations. We will see a lot of momentum in this space very soon.
CXOToday: IoT basically gives a whole new meaning to video surveillance. How are you tapping into this massive opportunity?
Benjamin Low: We believe that, in less than four years, about 50 percent of the streams feeding into video management systems will not come from fixed cameras but will be streams from different types of sensors- fixed and mobile, visual, or non-visual. This is a big shift. So, we are already enabling our products to be IoT friendly, allowing it to connect with not just cameras, but mobile phones and all types of sensors. Some of the countries in APAC have started using public infrastructure such as lamppost installed with surveillance cameras and sensors to collect data for weather, facial recognition and traffic patterns. What it means that a lamppost suddenly becomes a collector of data, which we have never imagined before. So, we are moving to more end-points that can be integrated to our platform. The endpoint market is in fact much bigger than the traditional commercial camera market. We are already working with some IoT manufacturers globally. In the next 6 to 12 months, we see this space gaining momentum.
CXOToday: What does your technology and business roadmap look for the rest of the year?
Benjamin Low: We are investing a lot on our initiatives towards our community of solutions and channel partners, and in bringing innovative solutions to our customers. We are planning to launch Milestone Systems Marketplace, a Marketplace that connects solution providers and system integrators in one place to show the opportunities possible from the wide range of applications & integrations. In this way, we will hope to play a role in connecting the world and providing a knowledge hub for the industry.
Another key focus for us is channel enablement this year. As customers demand more from the video, they demand more from our channel as well. So, our channels are making sure that they are prepared for this growth. They are investing more into training, and acquiring skill-sets around security, storage and IT. We also help them in acquiring customized development skill sets to further address their customers’ unique requirements.a