INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL

The Year of the Cloud

People are always trying to predict industry trends, but virtually all of the predicted trends I have read lately are just a subset of the benefits offered by cloud managed video.

Integrators and end-users alike are recognizing the benefits and flexibility that cloud managed video can provide for streamlining daily operations, improving cybersecurity, and creating more accurate and actionable business intelligence. Although this was possible before, it took a lot of complex integration, costly localized servers, and well-paid network engineers. Now the cloud can bring this same intelligence to users at a fraction of the cost and with significantly less complexity. Here are six major industry trends that cloud managed surveillance will champion in 2019:

Cybersecurity. With major breaches occurring in high profile companies on an almost monthly basis, customers are turning to their own networks and taking stock of where their vulnerabilities lie. IT is now increasingly in charge of or must sign off on any video solution deployed on their network. Bids and quotes regularly require completing security assessments and thorough documentation of how a recorder will function in a user’s network, what ports it requires, what software is running on it, and what measures are in place to ensure it will not be a potential access point for hackers. Requirements, which are already common on RFPs and will quickly become mandatory, include no open inbound ports, multi-factor authentication, encrypted communication, single sign-on and centralized user management. Cloud managed video surveillance can address all of these.

Intelligent alerts (analytics, machine learning, AI). Customers want real time notifications, with video verification, of potential security and operational issues. But this information is only useful if it is accurate. False positives can quickly lead users to ignore alerts or even turn them off entirely, resulting in critical events being missed. Intelligent alerting can help solve this, the biggest trend in this area is analytics and its potential to more accurately identify incidents like motion caused by a person vs a shadow or leaves. Analytics also promise to more accurately identify other common user concerns like gunshots, directional movement, camera tampering, or loitering. But intelligent alerts also extend to joining divergent pieces of data to reduce false positives by taking a more comprehensive overview of all available data associated with an event. For example, the system can poll the on premises alarm panel and only send a door propped alert when it is unarmed or alerting when a transaction takes place and a person is not detected at the counter. Merging this data makes alerts more accurate, unlocks the potential for new types of alerts, and reduces ‘alert fatigue’ caused by false alarms.

Business intelligence. Business are increasingly looking at their video systems not only as security tools to protect employees, customers, and prevent theft, but as a way to improve their operations and increase efficiencies. Video verification of events is an extremely powerful tool that can help turn operational data into actionable intelligence. Merging video with alarm panels, door sensors, Point of Sale, or analytics, and allowing users to create rules and filters to notify them in real time or retrospectively review events gives companies a new tool to make changes that can directly impact their bottom line. Cloud managed video surveillance puts these tools at your fingertips and makes them easier to use, more powerful, and, most important, more affordable.

Video surveillance as a service. Customers expect more value than just physical installation of a system when contracting with a security professional. With recording hardware becoming ever more commoditized and the learning curve for plug and play PoE powered systems lowering the bar for DIY installers, if you aren’t offering more than just the equipment it is going to get increasingly difficult to compete. With a cloud managed system, users can install less expensive hardware on site and move heavy computing to the cloud. This has the added benefit of being an operating expense which is often more palatable to consumers, especially with large numbers of locations. When combined with business intelligence reports, remote management, and health monitoring, a managed service contract becomes more compelling to end-user customers and as a result can boost integrators recurring monthly revenue stream.

Integrated solutions. With mainstream consumer solutions that can send a video clip to your phone when someone rings your doorbell, users of higher cost professional solutions expect the same level of functionality integrated within their business operations. This means integrating frequently divergent systems such as access control, video recorders, Point of Sale, and specialty sensors than can send a user an alert, let them review video and even dismiss or escalate it with a central station, all from their phone after hours. They want to review historic data and trends with video verification, generate reports, and share these with other users, all through one simple interface without jumping between applications. This also means cloud-to-cloud integrations. Users don’t want to manually enter or update connection information into clients, sync data, or update clients whenever they change their network settings or system user accounts. Cloud-to-cloud integrations not only eliminate these time sinks, they also improve cybersecurity and prevent connectivity and reliability issues.

Simplifying operations. IT and Operations have more than enough to do day-to-day keeping systems operational and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of cyber security threats. They don’t want another system that requires them to constantly fix connectivity issues, update firewall settings on remote sites, or send a service technician on site every time credentials need to be updated on a recorder. Cloud managed video will significantly reduce the burden on IT and Operations by streamlining common everyday tasks like sharing video clips of incidents, managing users, and resetting lost passwords. IT will also appreciate that these systems virtually eliminate open inbound ports, port forwarding, DDNS and other technologies which frequently contribute to connectivity issues and service calls. The end result is ongoing labor savings that can in many cases can pay for the migration to a cloud managed surveillance solution.

For these reasons, and many others, cloud managed video will see significant growth in 2019 and we expect by 2025 that it will eclipse traditional video recorder channel sales. However, as security and business intelligence are increasingly being pushed by the C-suite, the features of cloud managed video are being used as the requirements for the surveillance system of tomorrow. Combine this with HD analog retrofit solutions, more accurate video analytics, and cloud managed video solutions, of varying capabilities, from most major VMS companies and you will see cloud managed video quickly become the solution of choice.

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Security Today.

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