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The future of security: Avigilon’s AI evolution has helped revolutionize the security and surveillance industry

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Avigilon and the history of video security

The security and surveillance industry has evolved from analog to digital, and while the benefits of this transition were significant, the resolution quality of early digital cameras still did not provide desired levels of detail. Avigilon Corporation was incorporated in 2004 to address an unmet need for a comprehensive and digital high-resolution video surveillance solution. In 2008, Avigilon released the first of its high definition (HD) digital solutions that included an 11-megapixel camera, providing a new level of evidentiary quality video to meet a growing demand for high definition video.

Since joining the industry, Avigilon and its CTO Mahesh Saptharishi have realized that, even with the advent of HD camera technology, security and surveillance systems were ultimately failing at their express purpose—the prevention of undesirable incidents.

“When customers think about purchasing a product meant to enhance their security, they are ultimately thinking of one thing: preventing negative outcomes. Video surveillance had come a long way since analog cameras, yet was still critically deficient in delivering against this promise,” said Saptharishi.

Rather than serving as preventative measures, video surveillance solutions are often used as retroactive tools—devices meant for gathering evidence and building cases following an event. With the evidence collected from video surveillance, customers may implement further security enhancements and policies intended to prevent similar incidents in the future. As a retroactive tool, these traditional cameras served this purpose well but were ultimately poorly suited to the task of proactive prevention.

In order to use video security solutions proactively as preventative measures, customers lean on security staff to monitor and observe the video feeds live, relying on this security staff to note any unusual or potentially suspicious behavior as it is happening. This method can be challenging due to both financial constraints and a lack in human attention spans.

“Proactive prevention using video has always been a very human resource intensive process. To be successful, customers need to employ several security staff who can replace each other in shifts. Typically, we find that customers, smaller customers especially, do not have enough staff to effectively monitor the video streams to the degree necessary to reliably prevent breaches. This is due in large part to human nature. What we have found is that while humans are really good at verifying whether an action seems suspicious as it is happening, they lack the focus in attention span needed to detect the event in the first place,” said Saptharishi.

“When customers think about purchasing a product meant to enhance their security, they are ultimately thinking of one thing: preventing negative outcomes. Video surveillance had come a long way since the analog cameras used in the 90’s yet was still critically deficient in delivering against this promise.”

- Mahesh Saptharishi, CTO, Avigilon

The problem is a combination of extreme monotony confronted with the limits of the human attention span which may deteriorate, particularly when monitoring hours and hours of footage that seldom reveals anything unusual or that requires any action. For larger companies, this problem is an easy one to solve—simply hire more security staff to monitor the relevant security feeds and cycle them frequently enough that they aren’t ground down by the monotony of the task. For smaller customers, however, this may not be financially possible, particularly given the question inevitably asked by most security value propositions: is the cost to prevent the breach becoming greater than the loss sustained in the breach itself?


VideoIQ and security analytics

Avigilon saw clear problems with the state of video security and got to work thinking about how to enhance its solution, looking to artificial intelligence (AI) and ‘internet of things’ (IoT) as opportunities to supplement the human element from proactive video security and threat prevention.

Looking to evolve, Avigilon acquired VideoIQ, Inc. in 2014, a company with a focus on, and experience in, AI technology. Embedding this technology into its full suite of HD cameras and software, Avigilon helped bring about a revolution in video security—intelligent, networked security solutions.

Now, with advancements in this AI technology, Avigilon can provide customers with smart solutions capable of detecting events as they happen, search through hours of footage with ease to find people and vehicles of interest, and help reveal events that might have otherwise been missed. Avigilon AI technology is changing the way its customers think about and interact with their video surveillance systems.

Having developed a suite of AI driven security solutions, Avigilon looked to the next stage of its growth as a company. To expand its customer base to more industries, Avigilon is utilizing cloud technology and Azure to deliver its AI security solutions to small and medium sized businesses (SMB) with the new Avigilon Blue platform.


The value of moving to the cloud

“We know that for our SMB customers to grow their business they need a way to manage more sites with fewer resources, and to scale their business faster while providing even greater value to their customers. That’s why we created Avigilon Blue, our cloud service platform, that allows our partners to deliver smart, secure, reliable systems that are simple to deploy and easy to maintain. Most importantly, flexible enough to scale,” stated Saptharishi.

“[…] what we have found is that while humans are really good at verifying whether an action seems suspicious as it is happening, they lack the focus in attention span needed to detect the event in the first place.”

- Mahesh Saptharishi, CTO, Avigilon

Dr. Saptharishi and the team at Avigilon developed Avigilon Blue, a web and mobile solution that harnesses the power of video analytics in order to notify users of relevant events that matter most. Users can also adjust camera and system settings, perform upgrades and check on the health of their sites, all through the cloud. Avigilon Blue enables customers to add new services and capabilities as the platform expands, allowing their systems to continually get smarter and bring additional value to their security and business operations.

For Avigilon, its developing cloud solution has a variety of applications within the SMB space that expand far beyond the initial scope and value Avigilon has always provided its customers from a security perspective.

“The vast majority of the SMB customers deploying video security and access control are interested in multipurpose solutions. We envision a future where our Avigilon Blue platform and cameras could integrate with other partner solutions to provide additional value. Avigilon Blue could integrate with HR or payroll software to automatically clock employees in and out when they enter and leave the office. Retail customers could leverage the analytics provided by Avigilon Blue to help monitor foot traffic throughout their stores during promotional events, providing valuable data as to the efficacy of the promotion across different stores.

“For large commercial buildings where the customer is the building owner themselves, our solution could be integrated to assist with energy management, providing automated policies to turn the lights in the building on and off and potentially even automatically lowering the ambient temperature in a crowded conference room,” said Saptharishi.

For Avigilon, the layered opportunities that the Avigilon Blue solution presents in the integrated IoT space offer the potential for its customers to experience a meaningful return on their investment, extending the value Avigilon’s solutions and services can offer.

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