Video surveillance cameras: Not just for security anymore

It used to be that video surveillance was considered just a security application. Organizations would use cameras to ‘keep an eye on things’ in mainly a defensive or preventive posture. In large companies, those using video surveillance would typically hold a security role. Today, the capabilities of video make it a useful tool for a much wider spectrum of job functions. These could be people in sales, marketing, facilities management or even research and development.

The security sector’s traditional boundaries continue to fade and blend over into neighboring sectors – be that for example building information management (BIM), business intelligence (BI) in the retail industry, and even leaping into scientific research with the analysis of traffic patterns and people movement.

The two main drivers behind this shift are more sophisticated video analytics as well as increased integration of IP video surveillance with other systems forming the Internet of Things. Simply put, more cameras with more sensing capabilities can gather more useful information, beyond just monitoring for suspicious behavior or helping prevent incidents.

Urbanization and the rise of the smart city

The city of the future will be a smart city, where digital technologies improve the quality of living for its inhabitants, reduce environmental impact, and make everyday services run more smoothly. This is a very good example of how IP-based video surveillance will have an important new role to play in this: Beyond today’s safety and security installations, they will take on the role of smart sensors; facilitating components that provide important data to inform and enable the smart city. New uses could include helping drivers find free parking spots, managing bike stations, displaying up to date information on traffic situations, and more.

Similar examples can be drawn from the retail and health sectors, where smart cameras can do much more than just keep an eye out for intrusions, theft and other malicious activity. In a retail setting, for example, data gathered by cameras can be used to understand how customers move around the shop, and identify a store’s hot spots, dead zones and bottlenecks. This helps retailers optimize the store layout, adjust staffing levels, and take measures to shorten wait times at the till.

In future posts, we’ll explore in more depth how networked video cameras and analytics can be used for much more than just security, and indeed improve the quality and convenience of our lives.