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Cloud technologies, big data analytics, and cyber security

Cloud technologies, big data analytics, and cyber security
Increasing cloud storage options and big data analytics are two of the most mentioned future developments that will affect the video surveillance industry, and will change technology as well as business models.

Today, most security related software is installed locally on dedicated servers. This is a major barrier in terms of cost and complexity and also the ability to provide end users with the latest feature sets. “We see a significant shift into cloud-based models which will remove these barriers. The cloud model will be both public and private depending on the user preference and regulatory requirements. In the future, the only hardware that will need to be installed on site will be the cameras, and possibly some storage, whereas everything else will be located in a cloud data center. This will also converge with the IoT trend where the camera is perceived as a sensor that will connect to various types of services,” said Zvika Ashani, CTO of Agent Video Intelligence.

“The cloud also brings us a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model, allowing users to avoid what is typically a major up-front capital expenditure for their business,” explained Charlie Erickson, VP of Product Management at 3xLOGIC. This is already evident in several companies offering VSaaS or ACaaS.

Dean Drako, President and CEO of Eagle Eye Networks pointed to several aspects that make cloud applications significant. “First, the cloud offers economies of scale — infrastructure can be shared and efficiency goes way up, compared with each customer buying their own hardware and software, then supporting it themselves.” In addition, Drako pointed to the ability to access video from anywhere in the world and the ability to gather more insight from big data analytics.

Big Data Analytics
If in the past the challenge was to gather information, today the challenge is how to make sense of the mass amounts of information at hand. In the video surveillance domain, mass amounts of footage already exist due to growing numbers of cameras and more storage capabilities.

Many of our interviewees point to cloud technology as the future direction of the surveillance industry. A combination of cloud technology, video analytics, and big data analytics will allow end users to collect information on the cloud, structure it using video analytics, and then use big data analytics to make sense of the sea of information: validate hypotheses and predict trends. This process will be for both revenue generating activities such as understanding consumer behavior in retail, learning driving and parking patterns in smart cities, and also in the security domain, trying to predict and manage security events.

The cloud might be gaining pace, however video files are big and the cost of uploading them to the cloud is still prohibitive for many end users. One should also remember that growing resolutions like 4K will only increase the demand for bandwidth. A successful introduction of cloud applications for video surveillance will require a reliable and efficient compression technology that can upload the data to the cloud without compromising its quality.

Upcoming Threats: Cyber Security
Cameras traditionally were designed to be tamper proof or vandal proof. However, as we move fast towards ever-growing connectivity, a new threat emerges, cyberattacks.

Regardless if we upload our content to a cloud or access a local server through the internet, we are exposed to possible security breaches. IP cameras are essentially part of the network and as such pose two risks: one is being compromised by an intruder and the other, an unprotected IP camera can serve as an access point to gain access to the network. These are not theoretical risks, in March 2015 Hikvision Digital Technology confirmed that vulnerabilities in its networks exposed clients to cyberattacks.

An attacker exploiting vulnerabilities in IP cameras can potentially breach installations from anywhere in the world. In view of this threat, manufacturers need to make sure their products are secure and end-users must also make sure they take the necessary precautions, even simple ones like changing a default password could greatly help. In this sense, there is an advantage for systems using coaxial cables which are not part of the IP network, or cloud solutions. Cloud solutions offer professional network management and therefore potentially more protection from cyberattacks.

Looking into the Future

The video surveillance industry is a mature industry and the past few years have been characterized with growing commoditization of its products. Price competition with Chinese manufacturers has driven prices down and also pushed the market to consolidate.

The questions that are still open are: What will be the fate of the other players in the market? Will they force to consolidate themselves? Will they specialize in niche markets or will we see smaller, agile companies respond to new market needs and come up with disruptive innovations? Will the industry adopt the cloud in a large scale, changing the business model from selling and installation to recurring monthly fees? The answers are not yet clear but we promise to continue and monitor the industry.

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