When I first started out, CCTV was in its infancy. Back then a typical installation would be between four and nine black and white cameras with 24-hour VHS recording. The image quality was poor and there was nothing more frustrating than having to watch hours of footage to find an incident or discovering the VHS for that day had been recorded over. But many businesses were simply relieved to be able to record anything at all.
In the 90s we saw the introduction of CCTV recording using a digital hard drive. The first company to offer the technology introduced simple recording boxes, not dissimilar to today’s Sky boxes in terms of how easy they were to use. It was the first time the rest of the industry really sat up and took notice and over time the emergence of HD camera technology followed.
The development of IP (internet protocol) CCTV has revolutionised the market in recent years, accelerating the development of analytical software and really making the use of CCTV data for business intelligence a reality.
From heat map data to dwell time analytics, till point monitoring to facial recognition software; our clients are now analysing their CCTV data to help understand customer demographics, identify high footfall areas, improve store design or passenger flow and ultimately improve customer experience.
We’ve found that the retail industry has been a key early adopter of IP CCTV technology, partly driven by the need to keep pace with the data and business insight available to online retailers. However, the technology is just as applicable to any business or organisation where the public has a presence.
In recent years, we’ve also witnessed the increase in fraudulent insurance claims for slips, trips and falls, estimated to cost UK businesses in the region of £800 million a year. Digital evidence removes ambiguity but many claims are made months after the event so it is vital that data is stored for long enough. One of the areas we specialise in is helping businesses to understand their CCTV data needs to ensure they can effectively defend themselves against expensive compensation claims.
As currency uncertainty and ongoing nervousness around Brexit and negotiations with Europe continue to bite, I believe a key focus for the industry must be on continuing to demonstrate tangible return on investment and as part of this, increasing awareness of the potential benefits of CCTV for business intelligence.
However, the main challenge is going to be how we address the insatiable demand for data that has been prompted by the
emergence of CCTV for business intelligence and constant technological advancements in picture quality and camera size. By 2019, it is estimated that 3.3 trillion hours of CCTV footage will be captured daily. That’s why the major developments we will see in the next few years are going to be driven by the ability of suppliers to harness new approaches to file compression and capitalise on the emergence of cloud-based storage to provide cost-effective and secure data storage solutions for their clients.