Hartmut Schaper, CEO and GM at Security & Safety Things and founding company member of the Open Security and Safety Alliance discusses IoT in smart security cameras
Hartmut Schaper is CEO and GM at Security & Safety Things – a Robert Bosch child company that has developed an open IoT platform for security cameras, enabling seamless management of networked cameras by unleashing a new generation of AI-based security apps. Together with important partners, they are one of the founding members of the industry technical alliance, the Open Security and Safety Alliance (OSSA). OSSA develops an open framework of standards and specifications that are meant to reduce friction in the market, foster collaboration and as a result unleash innovation in the previously very fragmented security and safety industry.
Security & Safety Things offers an open IoT platform for smart security cameras. What exactly does that mean and how is all of this used by security professionals?
Security & Safety Things is doing for security cameras what Android has done for smartphones. To achieve this, our platform includes an open operating system for cameras, an application store and a development environment for third party app developers. The open operating system is based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and has been optimised for surveillance cameras. Powering cameras from different manufacturers, it has created a global standard that can accelerate innovation in the industry by enabling software developers to create and market solutions quickly. End users are able to leverage increased operational efficiency and gain valuable business intelligence by using AI enabled apps created by these developers for business optimisation functions as well as surveillance. Integrators are able to offer customised solutions, as the applications themselves can solve a variety of customer pain points. Camera manufacturers, in turn, can offer their customers unprecedented freedom of choice with respect to video analytics apps.
The ability to run video analytics directly on the camera, at the edge of the network, is a growing trend in the market. What benefits does this bring in terms of technology, operational efficiency and potential cost savings?
The cameras we have access to today have a level of processing power once thought nearly impossible. Due to this increased power, analytics can be run directly on the edge – enabling the use of AI for more robust analytics and reducing the toll on network bandwidth previously consumed by constant video streams to central servers for further processing. This has enabled smart cameras to be used as a powerful, data-rich sensor capable of capturing all types of information. Video analysis on the edge also provides additional privacy safeguards, as the data being analysed – a face, a license plate or other identifier – can be configured to only be transmitted from the camera when an event is triggered, significantly reducing the amount of data – and potential personal information – that is required to transmit from the camera to a management platform.
As a new entrant to the market, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your company and the industry as a whole?
Like many industries, the security industry has certainly felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as life in the workplace and ongoing security installation projects and service effectively stalled in many customer verticals. Because of the flexibility of our platform, S&ST was able to offer COVID-19 related solutions very quickly – for example people counting apps for retail became an occupancy management solution. Additionally, our development partners immediately brought other, more specialised, COVID-19 related apps to the Application Store, such as facemask recognition.
Perhaps the biggest impact of the pandemic we have observed is the rapid acceleration in corporate digital transformation. Clearly this was an ongoing trend, but the intrinsic value that smart cameras can provide to an organisation’s migration to a digital infrastructure is becoming clear to many organisations. Smart cameras offer myriad uses to many different organisations, anything from digitising the readings from analog gauges in a manufacturing setting, keeping watch over a nursing home patient during the overnight hours or optimising space usage and access control of parking areas.
How do new technologies such as AI, machine learning and a growing IoT infrastructure factor into the S&ST approach to the market?
As we’ve talked about, cameras are an extremely powerful sensor, capable of capturing rich data that can be analysed for any number of things – movement, sound, light, human behavior. Without AI-enabled apps and a sophisticated IoT infrastructure for device management support, the contribution of this raw data collected by the cameras would be far less valuable to an organisation.
Additionally, in the past with traditional cameras, new innovations in analytics need to be constantly re-engineered to work with the many different camera vendors in the market. With our open camera operating system, free to any participating camera vendor, innovators have to develop new applications only once to present it to a global audience and ensure that their applications can run on cameras from a variety of manufacturers. This results in end users who are able to pick and choose a solution that fits their needs best, without having to worry about proprietary technology.
How do standards factor into these technologies working together?
Standards are an important part of enabling these technologies to work together, as they make up the framework for a collaborative, open system. The S&ST platform is a multi sided business model, and our success relies on cooperation between core security-industry stakeholders – which includes end customers, integrators, cameras manufacturers, VMS vendors and software developers. To facilitate this collaboration, our parent company Bosch, together with important partners, formed an industry alliance, the Open Security and Safety Alliance (OSSA). OSSA develops an open framework of standards and specifications that are meant to reduce friction in the market, foster collaboration and as a result unleash innovation in the previously very fragmented security and safety industry. S&ST is baking the standards defined by OSSA into our platform components such as our camera OS, effectively making it the first camera platform that enables seamless integration of solutions from different manufacturers out of the box.
Where does S&ST see the market for smart cameras moving?
We anticipate seeing even more and more powerful chipsets, which will result in more powerful cameras. With these capabilities, when paired with AI and Machine Learning, smart cameras will become the most ubiquitous sensor – offering improved data and business intelligence directly from the edge. This opens up the possibilities for uses across industries that haven’t been exposed to this technology before. Such fields of use include the agriculture sector, manufacturing and logistics, retail and shopping environments, and most applicable to the current state of affairs, healthcare and medical facilities. At S&ST, we foresee these capabilities will continue to evolve and grow, as the needs of these industries also evolve.
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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922