‘If you build it, they will come’ - Ray Kinsella, Field of Dreams, 1989
Unfortunately, when it comes to building an open video system, every video intelligence platform has tried building a solution that will make all camera systems come to the table yet. With camera technology driving pixel-perfect video footage to the limit, it is tempting to build a business case to push the boundaries of your visibility and bring the greatest camera systems under one roof. Take one more step further, environmental sensors and access control systems are usually separate from the video intelligence system. Imagine if all these systems are brought under a single unified platform along with the camera hardware with seamless software management and analysis capabilities, and you start seeing the status quo: it is an immense effort to bring it all together.
Which makes the argument to build an open and transparent system around video intelligence all the more compelling. Let's unpack all the aspects which set the stage for building an inclusive video software system and why it matters now.
Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, but at What Cost?
Let's start by acknowledging why video works well for today's needs. If seeing is believing, seeing everywhere and everything would be considered the ultimate end goal for any video surveillance system. Streaming high-quality video from portable camera equipment allows businesses of all sizes to put eyes on every aspect of their business: the shop floor, the supply chain, and the store. So then every business, regardless of their ability to procure, runs this race to buy expensive proprietary camera equipment to get high-quality video on pipe, only to realize two grim realities:
- How do I manage all these devices to stream video data in one place?
- What are the opportunities that arise from all this video data?
And that's where (for the most part) the video management cookie crumbles. Most camera systems manufacturers can get their camera equipment to work within the walled gardens of their proprietary software systems, but rarely do they play well with other software providers. If they do, they provide limited software capabilities to unlock the potential of the unstructured video data they extract from these devices, or integrate into other platforms and APIs. As a result, as businesses grow, they end up with device and software debt over the long run, which renders most camera equipment useless, without any compatible video software system to truly take advantage of the video data.
Why an Open System for Video Management?
Many times the time and the cost involved in maintaining an existing system overlaps with acquiring, installing and learning a new VMS, compounded by the need to train the technical staff responsible for managing these systems across multiple locations. There is an industry average of 3-5 years period in which VMS systems are either augmented or fully replaced. Having an agnostic system is key to minimize and possibly avoid recurring cost of maintenance of existing systems and deployment of new systems. In a nutshell one can control its own destiny with an open and flexible system.
When you think of an open system, you do not just make the camera hardware inclusive, you also need the systems consuming this video data to be more composable to talk to each other. The promise behind an open system is the opportunities it makes possible with unstructured data like video. In simple terms, it means that the created video data only realizes its true potential, if it gets consumed by other platforms throughout the business and re-invent the business model.
Putting open video systems to work
Let's talk about this point with an example from a car wash. Traditionally, a car wash owner might configure camera systems for surveillance and security needs. But if other platforms within the business can easily consume the streaming video data, you might also be able to derive deeper insights like understanding how frequently specific customers use a particular car wash location. These insights might not have been previously possible by merely looking at PoS transactions, but now by integrating video data and PoS transactions with your CRM, you would be able to improve the targeting of your marketing campaigns, and rapidly improve your business operations as a business owner.
Let's throw artificial intelligence into this mix of video-enabled insight consumption. If you are thrilled to learn that car wash customer feedback can be correlated with car wash quality inspection video data, you would be delighted to know that automatically documenting your car wash operation with clip segments for each customer can help you understand post-wash damage case scenarios and resolve damage claims faster.
As you go through this car wash example, you realize that open systems enable not just traditional security use cases, but operational scenarios too. Some VMS solutions might offer a slew of security-centric benefits like access controls and guest management, but at the cost of restricting your choices to operationalize the video data outside of these scenarios.
Open systems offer the larger benefit to think freely about video data as another compelling data point in your business analysis, not just a static feed running on your monitors. A genuinely open system would enable you to take raw video streaming and put that data in meaningful workflows, which everyone in your org can access, consume, and improve their productivity with these insights. Furthermore, with machine learning and AI capabilities plugged into the video data pipeline, you could turn around weak areas in your business faster than before, with these insights at hand. All these capabilities do not just open up possibilities for improving your security and business operations, but also introduce the flexibility to include video data as a consumable asset into any platforms within your org.
When fully realized, an open video management and monitoring system could extend the lifespan of any network-compatible camera equipment. In fact, an open video system could help small businesses push their dollars further by not compelling them to upgrade their camera hardware to get the latest high-quality video streaming data benchmark. To add to the mix, if the open system could also consume and optimize incoming video streams with other systems and APIs, it could consume any network-compatible camera footage and unlock tremendous value with the streaming data for the business.
You may think: this open video system concept seems too good to be true. What are you not hearing that makes all of this seem utopian? Let's understand what you might need to consider while evaluating open video systems.
What Should I Know When Considering an Open Video System?
If you get a warm fuzzy feeling on hearing about open video systems for camera management but are anxious to know what it means to adopt one, this section is for you. Unfortunately, not all open video systems are built equal. Building a genuinely comprehensive open video system, which can seamlessly manage all camera systems, and liberate the video data for consumption, takes a herculean effort.
So how do you help your business and IT teams decide which open video software system to choose? The following guidelines should help you evaluate an open video management system that enables you to maximize your video investments yet continue to future-proof your edge infrastructure.
Provides an inclusive system for edge hardware
An open video system should plug into any network-connected configuration of edge devices for camera equipment and help you access video instantly across your entire infrastructure. It should also be able to abstract the technical details of setting up any new equipment and enable your IT team to plug and play new edge devices as quickly as possible.
Puts ease of video consumption as the core focus
What you do with your video equipment will differentiate your business from the competition. Your open video system should enable tapping into any camera equipment, unlock the streaming video data sets within, and provide the ability to plug the video into any business-facing workflow by integrating seamlessly with APIs and workflows.
Optimizes for AI-informed object detection and vision capabilities
Your open video system should augment the video feed with the ability to store and process video footage for accurate pattern matching using AI and machine learning, coupled with real-time alerting capabilities for anomalous activity in your business. If your open video system could help you connect your business apps and workflows with an augmented visualization of this video data, it can truly set up your workforce to accelerate improvements to your business model.
Can scale with your business
The ideal open video system should keep pace with your network device infrastructure and seamlessly continue scaling your business demands. Adding new camera systems, plugging in new business apps into your video workflows, and plugging in new learning models should not be a deterrent when choosing the right open video system for your business needs.
Open Video Systems: Not a Silver Bullet, but a Building Block
Open video systems might seem like a panacea to all your video management and processing problems. However, when implemented effectively, open video management solutions can help your business make your camera investments last much longer. Consider evaluating an open video management solution if you do not like being constrained within the walled garden of proprietary camera equipment, slow software upgrade cycles, and software platforms which refuse to integrate with each other.
If an open video management system piques your interest, you might be intrigued by the prospect of seeing Spot AI in action. We do not just believe in open video systems - we have built our entire business on that vision. Our innovative camera system, combined with our IVR and dashboard has helped our clients increase their visibility and revenue opportunities, by automating complex video workflows. We can reimagine your video investments by giving your business the power of video intelligence.
Book a demo with Spot AI today to learn more about what such an innovative open video system could look like.