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Tapping video equipment for transformative business insights

At this stage of the game, it would be silly for any business or technology leader to overlook the massive potential of IoT. Discovering new sources of data and analyzing the trends found as a result can deliver insights that create compelling competitive advantages over less savvy rivals. As Gartner research vice president, Nick Jones notes in a press release, “The IoT will continue to deliver new opportunities for digital business innovation for the next decade…”  But once the decision to explore IoT technologies has been made, many organizations flounder. In fact, it’s been reported that 74% of IoT projects fail. This is mainly because they are focused on doing IoT, instead of solving real business problems or enabling tangible new business opportunities.

The ideal approach for achieving optimal results for any IoT project is to start with the business problems the organization is trying to solve and then build or use a market-ready solution that addresses that very issue. For many businesses, however, leadership is only concerned with achieving the greatest ROI in the shortest period of time, instead of looking at how these projects can be built upon over time to generate new value for their customers and partners.

Luckily, most businesses already have the resources they need to tap into a trend that’s transforming industries, even though they might not know it. That trend is video intelligence.

Video cameras are nearly everywhere — at intersections, in airports, on factory floors and in retail stores — and tasked with keeping us and our property safe and secure. But the data these dumb cameras capture is only living up to a fraction of its potential. It’s also difficult to manage, because it transmits massive amounts of data very rapidly. Edge intelligence and faster networks such as 5G can help, along with the right data management strategy.

With layered intelligence and analytics capabilities, video can help usher in better efficiencies and less waste, improve public safety and create better experiences for citizens, customers and passengers, making video a top-tier data type that should be an important part of any organization’s data strategy.

Extracting insights from video

When analytics and video come together, they become a transformative force that can deliver actionable insights for data-driven decisions. With video data now available from almost everywhere in the physical world, video insights can support decisions about traffic, parking, transit, customer behavior and preferences, manufacturing quality assurance and much more. Here are a few examples:

Strengthen manufacturing: every year, 20,000 warehouse workers in the U.S. suffer serious workplace injuries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Aside from the human pain and suffering, each injury costs their employers an average of $35,000 for direct costs and $150,000 for indirect costs. With smart video, manufacturers can receive real-time alerts about safety violations, institute data-driven safety programs, improve incident response times, strengthen worker training programs and predict maintenance needs. This makes the workplace safer while significantly reducing business costs. It makes business sense to keep people safe, and it’s the ethical thing to do.

Revolutionize retail: By using video intelligence to gather insights into customer behavior and preferences in their stores, retailers can deliver more personalized options to customers and reduce product loss. For instance, one major retailer used video data to determine whether shoppers weren’t buying items in specific areas of the store because they couldn’t find associates to serve them. By deploying salespeople to those areas when needed, the store increased revenues by 15%.

Streamline transportation: transit organizations use video intelligence to detect crowded stations so the right number of buses or train cars can be deployed. Drivers can easily identify when and where parking spots are available and when mass transit would be a better option compared to driving. And cities can identify recurring traffic challenges, such as double-parking by rideshare drivers, and implement practical solutions like designated passenger loading zones.

Enhance pedestrian safety: AI software can use video data to prevent collisions by issuing immediate alerts to drivers when pedestrians are near, or train operators when a car is idling on the train track or to bus drivers when a person is crossing the street. By collecting data on near misses, city governments can improve safety and reduce incidents at the most dangerous locations.

Create smart campuses: By using video data to understand and optimize classroom and building usage, universities are able to use the resources they have more efficiently and push out new infrastructure construction by several years, saving millions in operating expenses. Some of the campus data is even being exposed to students for research and class projects, giving them a more hands-on and relevant education for the technological jobs they will be applying to after they graduate.

What about Privacy?

Privacy, data governance and security are an important part of any data conversation. Everyone is concerned about maintaining control over their identities and personally identifiable information, so it’s great news that smart video can protect privacy and improve transparency even as it gathers and analyzes vast amounts of data. AI software automatically obscures and protects people in security videos in real time through pixilation, while movement and actions remain recognizable.

While not specifically a video technology, 3D Lidar uses lasers to sense the world in real time and can be analyzed by AI to glean a wealth of valuable insights and real-time alerts, without capturing any private information. 3D Lidar is a particularly tailor-made solution for sensitive areas that demand privacy, such as hospitals and schools.

When potentially sensitive video footage needs to be viewed, access can be granted to authorized officers with proper credentials and identification cards. The actions performed by these authorized individuals on the system are recorded and can be audited for full transparency, making it GDPR and privacy regulation ready. By adding additional security measures into the data pipeline, intelligent data operations provide data orchestration, governance, security, privacy protection and compliance to further protect the identities of those captured on video and ensure that the usage of data is transparent.

As data becomes more and more valuable, these innovations will provide ever richer insights that improve quality of life, economies and sustainability, all while keeping privacy protected.

Video as the on-ramp to IoT

Organizations should start with a foundation of video as a prime data opportunity and combine it with data from other IoT sensors, ERP and process systems to gain deeper insights into how each element impacts each other. This sets the stage for an exponential ROI, taking advantage of a common infrastructure that enables multiple entities to share data insights over a single pane of glass and unlock multiple outcomes.

For example, cameras are already common in many cities, and they have been steadily generating video data for years. Their initial focus might have been narrow, such as to improve public safety or manage traffic congestion. However, with smart city initiatives, some cities are using the same cameras to analyze and decrease traffic and parking. Less traffic results in lower emissions. Video cameras and infrastructure could also be used to collect economic data that may be applied to help local merchants thrive, determine real estate values and create new business opportunities.

Additionally, organizations involved in a smart city initiative can easily share data between entities for better insights and collaboration. By incorporating video insights into a smart city strategy, the city can improve the quality of life for its citizens while improving economic development opportunities. The city’s ROI can be vastly expanded by using data that’s already being collected in new ways, and combine it with other forms of data for more sophisticated intelligence, thus extending the benefits of video insights to a greater number of its citizens.

Although video has been in our lives for a long time, we are just beginning to tap into its full potential. By adding AI software to existing cameras and stored footage, we can better address a wide array of social and business problems and ultimately create a safer, smarter, healthier and more secure world for everyone.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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