Cloud has already had a considerable impact on the alarm monitoring market but while the technology has existed to support CCTV solutions in the cloud for many years – think Genetec Stratocast – for most users the cloud surveillance equation has never quite added up.
This latency is probably not surprising historically, given the bandwidth demanded by a single high-resolution video stream. However, over the past 5 years plenty has changed in key areas like network infrastructure, mobile app intuitiveness, as well as in the key area of customer acceptance and expectation.
However, while bringing a VSaaS solution to market might be challenging for CCTV suppliers, that same rule doesn’t apply if you own the network. That’s the case when it comes to Australia’s largest telco Telstra’s new video surveillance as a service solution, which the company says provides end-to-end management of video surveillance network, from design and installation through to maintenance, monitoring and support for day-to-day use, leveraging a flexible business model which reduces the upfront cost of replacing legacy devices.
A strength of anything Telstra does is going to be an ability to scale regionally but perhaps what’s most interesting about Telstra’s VSaaS CCTV solution is the performance vectors. Australia’s biggest telco is optioning its solution with analytics, including facial recognition, smart alerts and license plate recognition. When you’re trying to ensure you only send the video you need to see over networks, this focus of IVA makes a lot of sense.
Something else to take note of is Telstra’s seamless sense of the possibilities of verticals. When outlining the service recently, Telstra’s head of electronic security products, Tamora Wells, said that an early adopter of the solution was a regional council, which had cameras set up on a bridge leading out of the shire. These were upgraded to IP cameras with licence plate recognition analytics, which gave council staff a record of vehicles arriving and leaving that could be used in support of police investigations.
Wells also pointed out that the system was just as capable of supporting retailers thanks to an open platform that can be integrated into a CRM system that tracks customer preferences, as well as being integrated with smart devices to allow management to put eyes onto alarm events or other alerts, as well as check in-store processes. According to Wells, there’s currently no cross-industry approach to video surveillance and most businesses still require a bespoke solution to integrate these new analytics into their businesses systems.
“Our unique ability to tie together all the network connectivity, scalable cloud services and technical services can dramatically simplify video management – particularly when among enterprise customers who are managing very large networks across geographically diverse sites. No one does regional connectivity like we do,” Wells said. “We based our managed video surveillance on open-platform video management systems, owing to their ability to be quickly tailored to work both with a variety of security platforms.”
News of Telstra’s move into VSaaS doesn’t come in isolation. There’s a distinct trend towards video surveillance as a service from companies that might once have deployed DVRs or NVRs to handle CCTV needs. Benefits include ease of installation, lack of on-site hardware, ease of scaling solutions and modest entry threshold. You pay for the cameras you need, rather than needing to install significant infrastructure onsite.
It’s true that VSaaS is likely to work best for smaller solutions, or remote site solutions. On a big site with live monitoring and recording of hundreds of cameras, VSaaS is not going to cut it. Or is it? Consider the U.S. Department of Defense and the $US10 billion Pentagon War Fighting cloud network currently being fought over by half a dozen of the world’s largest network providers.
Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) will reshape American warfare by absorbing, processing, and analyzing intelligence, sensor, and troop data, and by facilitating communications through the Defense Department’s worldwide network. The JEDI contract calls for a single cloud platform at the tactical edge, a move that will put a commercial company in charge of hosting and distributing mission-critical workloads and classified military secrets to warfighters around the globe.
Key, too, the winning solution must host classified data within 180 days of the contract award and meet standards to host Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information within 270 days. The Pentagon insisted in June, when defending its single-cloud concept, that multiple clouds would reduce “the ability to access and analyze critical data,” while the “lack of a common environment for computing and data storage” would minimize the effectiveness of new technologies like AI and machine learning.
Now you can see the correlation poking through. It seems to me what’s most fascinating about JEDI isn’t that it has led to a brawl between Amazon, Google and a collection of traditional high technology defense contractors. It’s that taking core warfighting capabilities into the cloud is being considered at all. And not on the basis of TCO, but on the basis of security. At the heart of the single cloud concept is the fact it’s much easier to defend one high end cloud than to protect multiple remote networks or multiple cloud networks – when it comes to networked security solutions, that’s a compelling development for us all.
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