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Artificial intelligence: The future of visual surveillance

George Galica

George Galica

Head of Digital Buildings

Every minute of every day, you’re losing valuable data and insights. These are insights your CCTV cameras are collecting on how your business is performing, how many people visit your shops and how long people spend looking at your products. So, why is this being lost?

It’s possibly because you’ve never considered using your CCTV data for anything other than security purposes. If you have, it could be because your CCTV cameras are out of date, and it probably isn’t a priority to change them. How you currently collect and analyse visual data about your buildings can prove a lengthy task. Finding what you’re looking for might involve visiting each of your local sites, handling data from each CCTV camera and watching days of footage.

However, what if you could quickly transform the data from your old CCTV cameras into meaningful business insights? Imagine if you could tell who was coming and going from your organisation’s sites, and how long they were spending in your buildings in real time. You’d have a level of insight that would help you improve the security of your premises — and it could also help you make better use of them.

Last year, Cloudview estimated there were around 8.2 million CCTV cameras in the UK. But most of that surveillance camera data is wasted.1 How can you get more from the visual data you collect? The future lies in artificial intelligence (AI).

Get more from your visual data

Many retailers have surveillance cameras to check that nothing is stolen from their stores and improve staff safety. What if they could use this visual data to help them in making decisions on store layouts, for example? Similarly, surveillance cameras are used by local government to improve public safety — what if they could be used more effectively and provide data on footfall in the local library or a tourist site? What if this data could help in the better allocation of budgets and resources?

You may already be capturing a wealth of visual information on your buildings and other physical spaces, but making sense of it would mean sifting through hours of CCTV footage manually. That’s all changing thanks to the latest developments in AI and data analytics. These technologies can find patterns and draw insight from vast amounts of your visual data. That’s going to make it possible to gain data on how long customers wait in your checkout queue or the number of people that visited a new museum exhibit, without any human analysis.

It doesn’t stop there. AI will be able to learn and determine what visual data is the most important to you on its own. And it will be able to find correlations between this and other disparate sources of data — some of which humans would never even consider. You’ll be able to treat your CCTV footage just like any other piece of data. You’ll be able to extract more value from it and use it to help you make better informed business decisions.

Transform your business

The starting place for this is having buildings that can capture visual data centrally in real time. That’s possible today thanks to Internet of Things technology. Take Vodafone’s Digital Buildings solution. It enables you to predefine the events you want to know about — these can be anything from the length of that checkout queue, to signs of vandalism in a public space. It then transmits that data to you, wherever you are, in near-real time. You get an intelligent alert when an action is required. You don’t have to sift through hours of footage — and you don’t even have to leave your office.

That doesn’t mean you lose the rest of your video coverage. The data that matters to you is prioritised. All of your visual data is collected in one place, the cloud, and is ready for analysis whenever you need it. With Vodafone’s Digital Buildings, you don’t need to replace all your existing legacy systems and CCTV cameras — you can revitalise them.

It’s time to prepare for the future of visual surveillance. Find out more about how Vodafone for Business’s Digital Buildings could help you improve security and transform your business in our brochure.

1 Visual IoT: Where the IoT, cloud and big data come together, Cloudview, 2017

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