Video Turns Passive Cameras into Active Assets

Video Turns Passive Cameras into Active Assets

March 10, 2020

Milestone Systems Vice President APAC Benjamin Low discusses how the evolution of video enhances modern life.

By Benjamin Low

Video technology is so ingrained into the fabric of our everyday lives – from our mobile phones, laptops and even streetlights that we drive by – we cannot imagine life without it. But it was not so long ago that video played a more limited role.

In the early days, video technology was mainly used for surveillance. We’re talking about as far back as 1942 when closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems were used in Germany during World War II. It then evolved from black-and-white to colour cameras, and eventually the invention of the videocassette recorder (VCR) in 1970 which skyrocketed the popularity of video across the globe.

With the arrival of the IT revolution came the invention of the first-ever Internet Protocol camera in 1996 – an upgrade from the analogue CCTV camera. The IP camera has come a long way since. Today, sophisticated IP video management systems are integrated with new technologies like IoT, AI, facial recognition (FR), analytics and more to deliver greater value in new and exciting ways.

The fact is that video technologies are expanding way beyond their security applications. We are already seeing them in play in many different industries, be it transport, retail, healthcare or even in how our cities are being managed. Video helps improve customer engagements, the delivery of education in far-off places and the gathering of important data for better analyses.

However, video isn’t without its issues – there are some concerns around data privacy which need to be addressed responsibly. We believe that used properly with the right safeguards in place, video technology will prove to be an invaluable asset that can have tremendous potential to safeguard and enhance our lives.

Video technology is making strides in the transport sector by providing better security and a smoother commute when deployed within public transportation hubs such as train stations or airports.

Video can be used to create a safer environment for passengers, for example, through early detection of suspicious packages, high-risk individuals, or to combat epidemics at the frontline, which is especially relevant today.

Iris and FR scanners at Singapore’s Changi Airport Terminal 4 not only provide passengers with quicker identity verification during immigration clearance, but they also serve as great alternatives to passport-and-thumbprint systems.

By minimising physical contact, video ultimately present a safer option during high-risk times like today when Covid-19 (coronavirus) is top of mind.

Video cameras are also being outfitted with thermal imaging, FR and AI capabilities so that immigration/health officials can identify potentially infected passengers and take the appropriate measures to mitigate risks. Subways in Beijing are already deploying these systems to help control the spread of the virus, while similar systems are being pilot tested at St Andrew’s Community Hospital in Singapore.

Video technologies powered by FR are also being deployed to find lost or late passengers and handicapped or elderly passengers who require assistance. 5G backed FR ticketing systems have been deployed in Shenzhen, China to largely positive reactions. There is also a possibility for Singapore to jump on the FR bandwagon, providing a similar option to pay for MRT fares.

Besides supporting technological applications such as the use of FR for payments, 5G will also enhance the handling and processing of higher volumes of data, enabling the consolidated management of multiple assets into a single platform, optimizing efficiency and strategic application.

We’ll see smarter use of IoT enabled sensors and cameras that will benefit the management of our city and roads.

Faster data transfer will open greater bandwidth for the application of AI and analytics as well as possibilities for real-time decision making when it comes to urban management. On the maritime front, PSA is also experimenting with the integration of 5G to smart sensors and cameras that will take the maritime industry closer to its digital transformation goals.

In the retail space, FR, AI and analytics are being used with video cameras to help businesses better their marketing strategies, whilst streamlining processes and enhancing the customer experience. For example, these technologies allow customers to proceed with self-checkout and automatic payment authentication. They can even help identify customers within loyalty programs.

Beyond this, retailers will be able to receive valuable insights on customer satisfaction through automated and smart evaluation of their customer’s moods and facial expressions. This will help them determine if their customers are pleased with the products or services rendered if they require further assistance or even help businesses apply personalised marketing tactics.

Smart shopping malls in Singapore, such as Design Orchard and Funan DigitaLife Mall, are taking the retail experience for consumers to a whole new level. They even feature high-tech smart mirrors that can detect age, gender or emotions, provide intelligent product recommendations and even offer the option to process payment, eliminating the need for shoppers to wait in line for a physical cashier.

Singapore has come a long way in its pursuit of becoming a world-class smart city.

Regulatory guidelines such as the National AI Strategy, Model AI Governance Framework and Trusted Data Sharing Framework provide for a flexible and safe testbed for innovation. These regulatory frameworks will be key enablers for Singapore’s pursuit of a tech-enabled future and ensure that we are constantly at the forefront of smart city developments.

Video technology has evolved beyond surveillance and although many don’t realise the disruptive potential that these smart video capabilities can bring, they are poised to ensure us safer, and smarter cities for tomorrow.


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