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Advanced video surveillance systems have historically been too expensive for small to medium sized installations in the commercial and residential markets. Only highly secure homes and buildings have had access to state-of-the-art video surveillance due to the high capital outlay but, as in so many other technology spaces recently, there is a growing move to “as-a-Service” offerings. Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) removes capital barriers and gives customers of all sizes flexible, on-demand, best-of-breed combinations of surveillance services, orchestrated around cloud services.

The fact that video feeds need monitoring means that each systems needs full time staff. Most smaller installations simply cannot justify that for their limited surveillance requirements. Motion sensors can help by only bringing up the feed when something is happening but in most settings a pedestrian or animal walking past could trigger sensors leading to unnecessary alerts. Video surveillance needs more intelligence. Applying artificial intelligence (AI) to video surveillance systems means the system itself can identify what is happening and effectively decide whether it is interesting or not.

A video camera running 24 hours a day and seven days a week generates a lot of data, each camera in a system adds the same amount of data again. After days and weeks and months the cost of storing that data is massive and simply unjustifiable for the vast majority of the potential market. Those who do want video surveillance are left with the uncomfortable situation of limiting the number of cameras in order to reduce the cost of storing video, and then there’s how long you keep video content that may become useful months or years later.

Video Surveillance as a Service companies can offer cloud storage at lower cost due to the scale of their operations meaning the customer can benefit on cost but also the advanced security being offered my many cloud systems. Furthermore, AI can be used to automatically identify any potentially useful footage then cut and save just that part. This reduces overall data levels without compromising data quality, offering the advantages of storing all the video content without the massive levels of data.

A real estate firm recently asked video surveillance company Camio to find a way to make state-of-the-art video surveillance feasible across their 800 properties. The two firms began a 6 month collaboration to address the issue and show what can be achieved with video surveillance when you apply the latest in artificial intelligence and cloud computing technology.

“When industries move slowly, there’s less pressure to exploit the comparative advantages of ecosystem partners to deliver the best solutions quickly. Even as new technologies emerge, the uncertainty about each company’s role in the value chain impedes collaboration. Customers will wait. They’ll accept the status quo. They have few choices,” says Carter Maslan, founder and CEO of Camio.

However, evolution happens when customer demands change and that occurs when they have different expectations of what is possible. Not that long ago we would have accepted that we can’t make a call when hiking through the mountains or sailing across a lake, now we get upset that we can’t stream HD movies in those same places. Once upon a time we planned our diet based on what local fruit and vegetables were in season, now we might drive through the snow and complain when we don’t find tropical avocados and pineapples at the supermarket.

Technology changes what’s possible in one field and then society demands the same types of evolution in others. If I can order a taxi through an app I should be able to order food through an app too. If my food order can arrive within an hour then why can’t my groceries or the clothes i purchased online also? The same is true for video surveillance, as other fields enjoy the benefits offered by intelligent, connected, cloud-based services, why not video surveillance too?

“If we can search the entire World Wide Web in 50 milliseconds, why can’t we find the hit-and-run reported yesterday without hours of video review? If everyone is labeled automatically in our family photos for instant sharing, why can’t security staff be alerted when an unauthorized person is in a restricted area? If our phones alert us when we haven’t read a message, why can’t we learn that a camera is broken before we need its recordings?” says Maslan.

Due to the smart technology revolution that has been taking place over the past decade we now expect to be able to ask machines about what is happening and what has happened in the real world. We now demand analyzed, real-time information about our environment at the click of a button. Now that we have AI and the cloud video surveillance should be part of the technology platform that offers such insight and offers it in an affordable way.

Working with Camio, the real estate firm has been able to create cost-effective 24×7 video surveillance monitoring for their Security Operations Center, while also establishing a shared platform for business insights and integrations with other systems making video surveillance part of the smart evolution underway in our buildings and cities.