Despite the demand for new solutions, there are still concerns about existing projects, projects in the pipeline, and the future of the industry.
For the past several weeks, engineers at Sparsh CCTV’s Delhi office were working around the clock to develop analytic solutions that would help in controlling the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The company’s Founder and MD, Sanjeev Sehgal, calls it compliance software. When overlaid on existing surveillance camera footage, this software would detect people not practicing health care guidance such as social distancing and wearing masks.
This is a critical development as India looks for an exit strategy from perhaps what is the most extensive lockdown any country has attempted in history. The threat of virus infection has not gone away. The virus has not been eradicated. There is not even a vaccine or cure on the horizon yet. So, the only way, India or any other country, can get back to business is by making the people follow health care guidelines
This means offices, commercial establishments, educational and other organizations should mandate social distancing among staff and
customers as they reopen. Spaces that could potentially get crowded, like shops, should make sure they allow only customers wearing masks to enter.
Companies and stores have already begun to prepare for this. Some of the major IT and IT-enabled services (ITES) companies are using striped floor marking tapes to specify the distance that people need to maintain between each other. At office cafeterias, these tapes divide tables so that people know how much distance they should maintain while having food.
The difficulty of enforcement
These guidelines are easy to issue, difficult to follow, even more, difficult to enforce in a country of 1.3 billion people and cities that are crowded to the brink. As lockdowns ease and people try to get their life back to what it was, the chances of letting your guard down are high. This is where Sehgal’s solution becomes relevant.
“This is not a short-term requirement,” Sehgal pointed out. “Going forward, customers will want solutions that offer not just security but also safety from health issues. The biggest advantage is that this software can be run on existing systems. The solution can detect when someone does not comply with the guidelines and alert authorities.”
Sehgal feels that the software may not just be useful in enclosed settings, but also public spaces. In fact, he suggests that this could even become a part of the smart city projects currently running in the country, as governments consider health as important as security.
Given the potential of this solution, Sparsh CCTV is not the only company thinking along these lines. Videonetics has recently launched a Pandemic Management Suite
. Some VMS companies are also expected to come up with similar analytic solutions
, according to Sidharth Mehta, Director of ATOS Global. Mehta listed some other solutions that are gaining popularity.
Mehta has had customers asking for certain unique solutions after the COVID-19 crisis began. In many parts of India, authorities had started using short tunnel-like structures that would spray sanitizers as people walked through it.
“Some offices and other end customers wanted this solution as they could avoid having to employ staff to ensure sanitization of people who come in,” Mehta said. “Since we already work with solutions in the fire system, we were able to provide those, along with PIR sensors that would trigger the disinfectant sprays as people walk in.”
Besides this, the demand for thermal cameras for fever detection has also increased. Even before the lockdown as the fears of coronavirus had begun to crop up, several offices in the country had started using temperature scanning guns. As the lockdown eases and employees return, these devices appear to be even more in demand.
Security projects and demand
Despite the demand for new solutions, there are still concerns about existing projects, projects in the pipeline, and the future of the industry. The pandemic-induced economic slowdown could force some customers to delay or cancel some plans. However, there is no clarity on any of this yet.
“There is so much confusion right now,” said Ajay Baliga, Director and Co-founder of Intsys Technologies. “It’s a wait-and-watch time. How long it takes for the situation to come under control will determine what happens. It is too early to say anything at the moment.”
Larger companies have held back their yearly projections until the situation becomes predictable. For smaller companies, challenges of managing resources could come up. Their best bet would be to manage healthy cash flow and carry out business activities. But Baliga doesn’t see this problem hurting demand. There could be some temporary delays, and companies might opt for cheaper options to secure noncritical areas.
“On the contrary, surveillance cameras could be the first thing companies might procure and even ensure their current installations are working well to safeguard their assets envisaging similar situations in the future,” Baliga added.
What to expect now
Mehta said that the number of inquiries and orders has definitely come down after the lockdown began, but many customers have only put things on hold so that they can start work when businesses open up.
End customers in the IT and ITES sectors could be the first in line to get the market back up and running because, for many of these technology companies, the losses have been minimum as their employees work from home. Other sectors could follow suit, as the threat of the virus diminishes.