When video analytics first emerged in the security industry about a decade ago, there were high hopes it would instantly transform the landscape of video surveillance. Problem was, the technology was not mature and, in essence, was oversold as far as its capabilities.

Analytics such as heat mapping, directional and license plate recognition technology have improved, lending themselves to applications beyond security and into the realm of actionable business intelligence

Integrators and their customers were disappointed. Analytics were not as stable as they were purported to be, and the software rules engines to set "exceptions" and alarms were unwieldy. But like other technology, time and increased implementation has erased many challenges, and now, systems integrators can be confident to revisit video analytics. Best of all, analytics such as heat mapping, directional and license plate recognition technology have improved, lending themselves to applications beyond security and into the realm of actionable business intelligence. As a bonus: They are easier to use and deploy.

Video analytics for retailers

Retailers and others are clamouring to get more from their video surveillance specifications, and that’s just what’s happening. Not only can cameras be used for security, but they can be tied to customer traffic patterns and therefore provide marketing data—such as how long someone lingers at a display, the most travelled area in a store, and when lines become long at cash registers so management can bring in more checkout personnel to ensure a positive customer experience. Video can be tied to inventory, alerting management when stocks are running low and more. For the integrator, that makes for an easier sale, and in addition, more recurring monthly revenue from the end user based on these additional applications.

Not only can cameras be used for security, but they can be tied to customer traffic patterns and therefore provide marketing data to ensure a positive customer experience

Video analytics data and security

Now that video analytics has stepped up its game to provide critical marketing metrics, and with businesses needing to improve operations and gain targeted customer data, the implementation of the technology is expected to continue to grow.

Video analytics work, says Net Payne, chief marketing officer of March Networks, Ottawa, Canada. They have become much more refined and mature than they were 10 years ago. The algorithms that drive analytics have been optimised, and the level of accuracy has certainly improved. You combine those things and you have a better recipe for success.

Payne says analytics have also been integrated with simple visualisation tools and dashboard reporting that aggregate and analyse the information coming in from the analytics -- giving integrators and their customers an easy-to-understand snapshot of data.

"They (video analytics) have become much more refined and mature than they were 10 years ago. The algorithms that drive analytics have been optimised, and the level of accuracy has certainly improved. You combine those things and you have a better recipe for success", says Net Payne, CMO of March Networks

Part of the change has simply been a by-product of the passage of time, he says. The companies that are still here have had a longer time to optimise analytics and use them in real-world settings. They understand what end users and installers are looking for and are working to deliver what they want. Analytics can analyse real-world business problems and solve those challenges reliably.

For the installer, installation and programming has of course moved to the smart phone, with applications and tools integrators can use in the field, like the company’s offering called GURU.

His advice on moving to analytics? Understand not all solutions are created equal.

Integrators need to do their due diligence on products. They should ask about proof of concepts and pilot programs. One of the things we do with our integrator partners is conduct a proof of concept with them, understanding what they are looking for and of course, understanding what their customers business goals are. There are different ways to spec analytics and different price points. They need to make sure they have all the information on the customers objectives to guide them to the right solution.