The Interview: Ryan Fairclough, Briefcam
In the Interview this month, Briefcam’s Ryan Fairclough talks about the potential of video analytics to meet operational demands using existing CCTV systems, the importance of partnering, the possibilities of lateral CCTV applications and the company’s plans for APAC.
JA: Would you agree that there are tens of millions of CCTV cameras around the world delivering practically no return on investment?
RF: Certainly, I’m not sure you can go as far as to say they have no return on investment but certainly they aren’t being utilised to their fullest. By complementing the initial surveillance system investment with comprehensive video analytics, you transform the massive amounts of video data that normally goes untouched, into valuable insights for safety, security and operational efficiency.
JA: Is it fair to say that these cameras have considerable potential when it comes to automating searches, reporting events?
RF: Completely fair! The better we can extract and manage events and data from cameras the more we can start to have great effect on not only the traditional safety and security applications but also expand to operational decision making, customer experience and the overall optimization of a physical space.
JA: Something the security industry thinks too little about is lateral applications for analytics-powered CCTV cameras – how big are the possibilities?
RF: I think analytics has evolved quite significantly over time, and the demand for transforming video content into meaningful, actionable insights is upon us. Those of us that have been in the industry for a while remember that it wasn’t so long ago that video analytics was over promised, and most often under delivered. Today, the world of video analytics is very different – the accuracy and performance of video analytic solutions, as well as the scope and breadth of capabilities, have dramatically improved.
The traditional use cases for analytics is most known in the safe city and policing aspects of forensic search. As technology has evolved, the use cases for safety and security have expanded and cover not only forensic video review, but real-time situational awareness and the ability to understand trends over time. With a robust platform approach to video analytics, the application for video analytics is expanding deeper into verticals such as retail, hospitality, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing – the list goes on.
In addition to the benefit across verticals, is the application of video analytics into areas of the business unrelated to security. These applications help operations, customer experience, marketing and other lines of business make better decisions for optimizing physical spaces, enhancing the customer experience and ultimately driving revenue. These applications take the existing investment in your security surveillance system and transform it into a cross functional business solution.
JA: Deep learning is an opaque label – what does it mean in the context of video content analysis? What are the operational benefits?
RF: I am always amused by the term deep learning; I believe if you ask 10 people what it means you will get 14 different answers. I love the use of the word opaque in the question. Fits nicely! I think as far as part of the ‘deep learning’ moniker is applied, we are attempting to unlock the unstructured data that is sitting in these tens of millions of cameras and making that data structured and useful to us to increase productivity and safety in order to free the human part of the equation to make better and more precise decisions faster.
JA: From the point of view of security integrators, what’s the key to worthwhile video analysis?
RF: This question is a simple as it is hard to answer! I think for anyone wishing to deploy and promote analytics it needs to fit your customers’ requirements. Is this making my customer’s experience better, is it improving their day-to-day interactions with my solution?
JA: Briefcam has been doing VCA for a long time – since 2008 – what does this pioneering history give the company’s solutions?
RF: I think anyone who has seen our products in action is always amazed how the patented VIDEO SYNOPSIS capability truncates many hours of surveillance footage into a brief takeaway to be analysed in much shorter periods. The expanded capabilities beyond VIDEO SYNOPISIS enable the acceleration of investigations, attaining situational awareness with real-time alerting, and the operational intelligence derived from understanding trends in video over time and as previous mentioned allow the human element of the interaction to make better decisions faster.
JA: What are some of the key points of difference with Briefcam’s solutions?
RF: I think our agnostic approach – being a self-contained comprehensive solution – allows a more flexible approach to solution deployment. We can be a foundation to a solution to cover multiple different types of analytics in one package. While we integrate and work with many different technology partner vendors, who may or may not offer their own solutions, at some level we offer the across-the-board, comprehensive approach to analytics in one package.
JA: As well as product development, Briefcam has done plenty of partnering – how important is that for integrators and end users?
RF: It is very important – if not the most important thing. Working with other technology vendors to mix and match the best solutions to address an end user’s needs is a core benefit of BriefCam. Because BriefCam is VMS and camera-agnostic, the solution can fit into almost any environment. For those that know me, it would be remiss of me not to drag this back to sport. Any good team has a multitude of different parts with differing skills that combine to win. Forwards, backs, goal kickers, goal keepers, etc.
In our case, VMS partners offer one skill, camera partners offer another and BriefCam beings another. Individually, they may be brilliant contributors, but combined they provide a far more compelling case by providing a solution that solves end user’s problems. Maybe I should wander down and mention this to my beloved Carlton Football Club, the security industry has worked it out, why can’t they?
JA: Would you argue VideoSynopsis is one of the key technology developments of the past 10 years thanks to its ability to deliver fast searches?
RF: In my mind, yes! Having been around this industry for nearly 20 years I’ve seen some great products. Our patented VIDEO SYNOPISIS is a core capability in the solution that sets BriefCam apart from other VA solutions. Like I mentioned before, these capabilities are leading in the traditional security space, but also become more and more necessary and relevant in new verticals and applications. VIDEO SYNOPSIS in combination with the breadth of BriefCam analytics is changing the game.
JA: Is VCA becoming more important as COVID-19 demands security solutions deliver operators more automated functions, more remote capabilities?
RF: I wonder if important is the right word – certainly it has sped up many applications within the analytics space. Maybe these applications would have evolved organically without the impact of COVID, but certainly with the limited nature of human interaction I think it showed a very quick snapshot of what the value of video analytics is.
I think also it showed how adaptive analytics vendors are. Very quickly R&D resources were pivoted away from their planned roadmaps and towards COVID solutions and some were deployed within months of the initial outbreaks. Distancing, mask check, etc. Which I think highlights how quickly the technology is evolving. It makes you really excited when it comes to what these same vendors will be able to achieve once we have seen the end of the COVID era.
JA: Generally speaking, what are your plans in terms of growing the Briefcam branch in APAC?
RF: BriefCam has quite rightly been historically positioned within law enforcement and government city safe applications, but as our product evolves and the peripheral technologies evolve with us, the plan is to start approaching a more commercial market strategy, we will still be working our traditional space. As we evolve our strategy, I hope to see us become active a wider range of verticals.
We have a small team at the moment, but I am right now working on expanding our sales and technical support channels to provide a better experience for our channel as they work with us. Any product like ours is underpinned by its technical support, so better access to training and support is paramount in regional success. For the interim the ANZ market will be serviced by myself from a sales side, as soon as I am allowed home for a visit but until then via the wonderful world of Zoom.
JA: Do you have a message for installers, integrators and end users – how can Briefcam help them meet operational demands?
RF: Add more value to your customers investment!
JA: How are things going up in Singapore and across SE Asia – is the security market there doing well, considering the current challenges?
RF: Like elsewhere the market shifts every other month, some open, some close and some are long term in not a great place. Just when you think a nice project is coming next month there is another outbreak of sorts, market sentiment drops and next month quickly becomes next quarter, but we are living a once in a generation event, so we roll with the punches.
I think the middle market has been most affected across Asia. The big deployments are still going ahead albeit at a slower pace and the smaller market seems to be picking up. We have had some great success even recently in North Asia and China – SEA has slowed down but luckily not come to a full stop. Stay tuned for some good announcements from Australia!
JA: How excited are you to join a company which has such a pointy solution suite?
RF: I think anyone who knows my history in the industry would say I don’t always choose the products that have an easy path to market. To borrow a quote from JFK:
“We choose…not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills”.
BriefCam has a solid product offering excellent backing from our parent company and the wider industry, it’s a respected product and I feel that as we start to realise a more aggressive strategy in the region more people will see the value of BriefCam, but also many other analytics options.
It’s a nice feeling to know that I have joined a company that stands on the edge of its demand explosion and to consider all the exciting and cool things I know we will be working on in the years to come with friends I know from the past and new ones I will meet in the future.