The once staid world of CCTV is already being revolutionised by the cloud. Traditionally CCTV was very much a ‘fit and forget’ solution, using – as its name implies – closed circuit wired systems that recorded data onto digital video recorders. Accessing footage usually meant a site visit to download material onto a DVD or USB stick for later review.
Today smart adapters mean that analogue and digital cameras can send data directly to secure cloud storage, enabling authorised users to monitor and review event-triggered alerts, live video feeds and recorded footage wherever and whenever they want via their smartphone, tablet or PC. This is now starting to transform the use of CCTV in sectors such as housing, policing and care homes.
However, cloud also opens up the opportunity to do much more with visual data. At present a huge amount of CCTV data is processed but only a very small percentage is actually used, and this is primarily for a single purpose, typically to identify problems such as unauthorised access to buildings or potential criminal damage. Visual data is also collected by digital cameras for applications ranging from traffic flow monitoring to how often a billboard advertisement is displayed, but again the data is only used for a single purpose.
First, as well as making footage much more accessible, cloud enables users to add basic features not present in legacy camera-based systems, such as remote monitoring and alerting. Companies such as Vodafone are already starting to introduce this by integrating cloud-based CCTV with building security systems, adding visual verification to intruder alarms. Such systems would enable home security companies to check properties visually when an alarm had gone off and quickly ascertain whether a break-in or other problem had occurred, or whether it was a false alarm. This provides huge savings in time and money, as well as enabling immediate action to be taken if appropriate.
The same principle could be applied to business premises and utilities, ensuring that they remained safe at all times. Maintaining the security of the data collected is of course vital, but by encrypting data prior to sending it to the cloud and ensuring secure cloud storage is used, in line with the Data Protection Act and the forthcoming GDPR, this can be ensured.
By doing this, traffic, weather, crime and accident reporting could be completely turned on its head. As an individual with a VIoT device enters a certain area, by previous agreement their data could be aggregated with that of others to create an accurate picture of an event, from how crowded it is to what the weather is like. Anyone travelling to that event would then know what to take, areas of congestion to avoid and even which food stands had the shortest queues.
While this could revolutionise our leisure, a more productive application would be in the world of work. For example, video could be used to help streamline workflow in a factory or ensure that people lift heavy loads correctly to avoid injury – not by retrospective analysis, such as when athletes review footage to find areas for improvement, but in real time through combining cameras and other sensors. It could also be used in hospitals to study the performance of surgical or A&E teams to improve the placing of equipment so that it is readily to hand when time is of the essence.