Exclusive: Why open platforms are the future of video security management

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Sam Lancia, Co-Founder and Head of Software Engineering, Ava Security analyses the benefits of cloud video management.

Establishing effective video security management is often viewed as a costly and complex task – but it doesn’t have to be.

Typically, an organisation will engage a video security provider to protect its physical assets, purchasing cameras along with dedicated hardware and software, in addition to separate systems such as physical access and sensor technologies, which typically operate in silos. However, this closed approach has created an enduring problem: how to maintain the system’s value throughout its lifespan, as the needs of the business rapidly evolve. As new threats emerge and as the need for richer business intelligence increases, organisations are faced with an unenviable problem: the necessity to upgrade security regularly while attempting to retain value from legacy systems.

One of the greatest barriers to upgrading video security solutions is the costly and resource-intensive ‘rip and replace’ approach. Many organisations are of the mindset that in order to keep pace with rapid technological innovation, systems must be removed and replaced every few years. However, this approach is expensive and proving return on investment can be difficult.

No more ‘rip and replace’

There is however a solution: open, cloud-native video security management. This does away with the ‘rip and replace’ approach and tackles this perennial issue through cloud-delivered software innovation. What is often viewed as a hardware constraint can now be solved through continuous software delivery and innovation. As legacy systems and cameras have relied on physical servers on the network, cloud-delivered systems allow organisations to remain in lockstep with new innovations as they emerge, rather than retrospectively playing catch-up, through wholesale system swap outs. For instance, legacy cameras receive new benefits in analytics and other features delivered through software. In short, no rip and replace of existing cameras.

Additionally, by merging video security with existing physical access and/or sensor systems, organisations can unlock enhanced situational awareness and better business intelligence, leading to proactive facility management and increased staff wellbeing and productivity.

At Ava Security, our Ava Aware Cloud Video Management System (VMS) does just this. We’re conscious that the security needs of both small and large enterprises vary and that security systems should reflect the unique composition each organisation requires. We’ve tackled the legacy systems problem head on. Through third-party integration, organisations can do away with the necessity to install a completely new video security solution. The Ava Aware open API allows users to connect to existing sensors, access control systems, dashboards, external viewers, BI tools and other communication systems to get a 360-degree overview of environments.

It also adds a layer of intelligence to security postures. Using its AI capabilities, gone are the days of having to search through reams of footage to find security incidents. Machine learning can be used to identify objects and events, sending instant alarms based on rules and unusual activity detection. Organisations also have the ability to quickly search by event, object and similarity to find a specific person, vehicle, or event of interest through countless hours of video within seconds or minutes.

There are considerations to be made when moving from a localised system to a cloud system, with one of the most common concerns being cybersecurity threats. However, the state of modern cloud security means that, as long as your video security provider prioritises cybersecurity, the safety of data should be inherent in cloud storage. For example, with automatic updates of the software from the cloud, end-to-end encrypted data and metadata and secure remote access from anywhere in the world, cybersecurity can be combined with video security to create truly robust defences.

Making a difference

We’ve seen this move to open video security management make a tangible difference to both small and large video security deployments. For example, in our work with Soham Town Council, who were looking for a more cost-effective and intelligent solution to protect the ancient town in Cambridgeshire.

Soham Council had a pre-existing video security system – however, this operated with outdated equipment, including CCTV cameras, older servers and limited recordings to review past incidents. This system created delays leading to slow and often no follow-up in investigations and invariably, frustration and complaint. The town council required a solution which needed to be flexible, high-performing and at the same time, cost-efficient.

We supplied them with the Ava Aware VMS, specifically tailored to meet their needs and integrate with their 34 existing cameras. As a result, forensic turnaround time has gone from days to minutes, saving over four hours of work daily.

In describing their experience with Ava, Dianne Marshall, Clerk and Financial Officer at Soham Town Council said: “The possibilities of this system are only limited to what you want to do with them. The scalability of the Ava Aware system is a huge advantage. We believe Soham will be the yardstick for what other town councils will do and there is the potential to create a nationwide net with this system.”

As our work in Soham shows, upgrading video security isn’t as intractable as it is often made out to be. We need to move the narrative away from purchasing new hardware as the only solution to enhancing security, as open platforms have side-stepped this problem and made it feasible to see real benefits – at any scale. It also enables the incorporation of the latest innovations in security to be easily integrated – like sensors, which wouldn’t have traditionally been part of video security infrastructure.

As more and more organisations see the benefits of this approach, one day in the not so distant future we will see open platforms become the dominant video security management solution and make the costly and unnecessary cycle of ripping and replacing a thing of the past.

For more information, visit: www.avasecurity.com

This article was originally published in the January 2022 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here.

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