We’re well into 2018 now – and we have given you a number of predictions and analyses of what 2018 might bring. One of the most exciting developments for the coming year is the expected rise of Visual IoT. James Wickes, CEO and co-founder at Cloudview gives us his insights into what we might see – and what might be seeing us! – in the coming year.

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The rise of CCTV over the last 30 years has led to repeated warnings from many commentators of a “1984” / “Big Brother” style situation coming to pass. Whilst recent scare stories around the voluntary admittance of monitoring devices into the home (your smartphone / tablet can hear and see everything you say!) James Wickes views the situation far more positively, he tells us, “It’s very easy to be negative about the deployment of technology for sinister purposes. In the case of ‘CCTV’, I genuinely believe that collating data more securely in the cloud and using machine intelligence to interpret it offers ‘privacy plus’, where subject data rarely or never gets to be seen by another human being which, let’s face it, is when the problems start.”

Of course, privacy should always be a concern – but if machine learning can be used to analyse data collected for the stated purposes it was intended for, it may be possible to safely dispose of the footage much more quickly rather than hanging onto it for long periods of time.

the main benefits of IoT to date have been with the manufacturers of the devices and not so much to consumers

James went on to tell us that so far the main benefits of IoT to date have been with the manufacturers of the devices and not so much to consumers – to avoid a “quasi-1984” reality we all need to be more aware of the “give and take” relationship we have with our IoT devices and to stop giving up little liberties for the sake of little conveniences. Whilst we can all benefit and enjoy the fruits that IoT can give us, if we know what we are giving away in return for purchasing and using our IoT Devices, there is more chance of parity of power between the consumer and manufacturers.

And whilst we should be more aware of – and trying to redress – the balance of power, we do need to keep in mind the genuine and positive benefits Visual IoT can bring. Visual data can be used to empower people in numerous ways – monitoring crowd information can be used to help decide which train to take, which bank branch to go to on a lunch break, or if you’ll find your own slice of peace and calm on a visit to the seaside – or if that trip will be anything but a relaxing few-hours break!

Traditional CCTV numbers have actually started to fall – the cost of traditional CCTV is most evident mainly in the public sector where the cost of deployment and ongoing use is high. In 2018 we should expect this trend to continue with the number of IoT connected cameras to climb as the benefits and cost reduction of Visual IoT really kicks in.

Even though traditional CCTV is declining, there has been a massive historical investment, but that’s the great thing about Visual IoT – it doesn’t require existing CCTV to be replaced, it can absorb them. The lack of a need for “rip and replace” combined with the financial pressures felt by municipal authorities to reduce their costs – this all adds up to huge growth potential in 2018 and beyond.

James explains further, “The financial benefits from Visual IoT are easily understood through actual use cases. For example, local councils place cameras in public spaces (along high streets to monitor activity and protect citizens). Historically, footage is fed to manned monitoring centres, who identify issues and coordinate with on-the-ground resources. Attention is typically drawn to incidents in progress through, for example, a 999 call.

“Through the use of the cloud, detection analytics can be layered on without the need to replace camera hardware. These analytics can use machine intelligence to identify impending situations and alert the monitoring centre before they turn into actual incidents. This reduces the manpower required to provide monitoring services, removes the risk associated with fatigue and loss of concentration while improving the quality of service delivered.”

The future – and the present! – for Visual IoT is bright: monitoring with visual devices will not lead to a drab, grey, oppressive “Big Brother” dystopia as predicted by some in the past.