If you think of video surveillance as an instrument of the security department, you are missing the bigger picture. It’s true that video systems perform well in security applications, but by continuing to focus exclusively on security, you risk overlooking the broader benefits of video. The fact is — due to several major technological advancements during the past few years — video is much more than a security tool. It’s become a business intelligence tool.
Today’s video can help with process control, personnel management, inventory tracking, quality control, customer service, merchandising and a range of other uses. Video can determine the most efficient scheduling of personnel or the most effective sales display. It can streamline manufacturing processes by providing an alert if there is a malfunction. Integrated with an HVAC system, video can even save energy costs by, for example, turning up the air conditioner only when room occupancy reaches a certain number.
As a consultative installing systems integrator, it is essential to become intimately familiar with how your clients’ organizations operate. You must be able to determine how a surveillance system can fulfill their must-have requirements, as well as what they consider to be nice-to-have capabilities. It will then be incumbent upon you to render a solution that effectively and efficiently meets those parameters in a way that maximizes what can be achieved given their budget. A big part of that is a thorough understanding of existing applications for video data as described above, in addition to creating new ones as your customer’s problem solver.
VMS, Open Platforms Enable Change
In the world of IP-based systems, video is data and its value is unprecedented. Video data can travel along the company’s IT backbone and be analyzed at any point for content. This analysis can determine customer movements, the best use of employees, or quality control. Users can view manufacturing processes, monitor remote facilities, or even follow the migration of fish for scientific research.
Video surveillance software allows users to monitor any location from anywhere — even remotely or from a mobile device. Video management systems (VMS) deliver video data in user-friendly formats that enable immediate response. This type of data has never existed before and is extremely beneficial, empowering owners and managers to run their businesses more effectively. Video surveillance solutions can work alone to deliver this intelligence or integrate with other business systems and optimize operations for access control, point of sale (POS), teleconferencing, process control systems or anything on the enterprise network.
Much of the expansion in video management capabilities is driven by the benefits of open architecture. Collaboration with third-party vendors helps to extend the core benefits and functionality of VMS to include cutting-edge technologies, such as video analytics, and to expand networks using wireless mesh and broadband networks.
VMS are also becoming easier to use, and even large systems can now be managed effectively and efficiently. Customers need real-time business intelligence to be presented in a usable format. More and more video cameras and larger and larger systems are creating the real possibility of “information overload” for operators. To enable users to cope, video systems can tie the various information strands together, with video data at the center of it all as the “eyes” of the operation.
More importantly, systems can provide information to users in a prioritized and selective manner. The user gets only the information he or she needs — and gets it when, where and how it is needed. Better information enables better decision making and faster reactions. User interfaces are less complicated and include only information that is pertinent. Operating such a system is so intuitive as to become second-nature.
Virtually No Vertical Market Limits
There are virtually limitless vertical markets where video offers value beyond the security department. A partial list would include the following:
Education — Network video cameras can be located throughout a campus to view anything from stairwells where students congregate to entrances of residence halls, from parking lots to alleys between buildings. In addition to keeping students safe, cameras can help administrators manage discipline problems or view facility usage. Video can help to manage the flow of K-12 students during recess, analyze bottlenecks that form between classes or view traffic flow as parents drop students off in the morning.
In case of a maintenance problem, video can allow the central office to identify and observe the problem remotely before sending staff. Video can track facility occupancy, especially during the weekend or off-hours. The video system can provide instant access to real-time and archived video campus-wide, and utilizing an existing IP network infrastructure keeps system costs low.
Transportation — Expansive geography and large camera counts make VMS especially useful in the transportation sector. Video can provide real-time views of tollbooths, for example, to facilitate personnel management and improve customer service. Incorporating video and license-plate recognition functionality with toll payment systems can supply data tied to each transaction. Cameras installed along highways can provide real-time traffic information, with a single software interface providing access to various camera views. A single interface can also provide views of various transportation facilities, offering additional benefits related to facility maintenance and personnel.
Transportation applications also extend to ports and airports. Although security drives these markets, video also provides opportunities to improve operations and efficiencies at ports and airports.