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If you can see it, the computer can see it too

If you’re exploring IoT-enabled technologies for your enterprise, don’t overlook an asset you might already have on site, such as video cameras. IP cameras, which are digital video cameras that use the internet to receive control data and send back image data, are one of the most powerful data-collection tools available for IoT networks. And your business might be sitting on this source of untapped data and value.

By design, video cameras can provide a nearly complete visual account of operations and security by collecting data from multiple sources, which is a scenario well suited to IoT. Unlike other parts of the IoT ecosystem, these cameras’ IP cousins have been around for decades, meaning IP cameras have more mature technology with the robustness and dependability that comes with time-tested upgrades, as well as the ability to support a range of integrated technologies. This maturity also means manufacturers, installers and system integrators are more likely aware of cyber risks and have established best practices to prevent and monitor potential breaches.

IP cameras are also ubiquitous. What part of modern life doesn’t involve an IP camera? We use them to  monitor security in our homes, businesses and cities. We communicate through video on our phones and computers. They help cars and trucks navigate. We also use them for both entertainment as well as education. And nearly any of these cameras can be used as a business intelligence tool, provided the extra volume of data their digital video files generate is processed on the edge. Fortunately, hardware and software for edge processing abound with providers such as Amazon offering solutions that can provide real-time, secure processing capabilities. Consider these scenarios:

Video analytics and retail

One reason brick and mortar retailers struggle to compete with e-commerce shops is a relative lack of data, such as how many people visit their shops and when, as well as data about shopping patterns, such as where people browse, where they linger longest and which items they handle most. Fortunately, there’s a physical solution for these physical stores. Discreet IP cameras can track customer movement and behavior, providing the data that can reveal underlying reasons for both successes and misses on the floor and help store managers course correct accordingly.

When this video data is integrated with other networked sensors and systems, such as beacons, physical retailers can benefit from the deep, insight-rich analytics ecommerce providers have relied on for years. These analytics can help spark improvements, such as optimized store layouts and staffing levels, more personalized customer service, merchandising and marketing, and table stakes such as security and loss prevention.

Smart cameras, smart city

Say you’re planning to drive into town for an important meeting, and you know parking can be a challenge. Using networked cameras with video analytics, city managers can send parking information to your phone via an application showing what’s available and where. Sweeten the mix with analytics backed by AI, and your drive can be cross-referenced with parking pattern data to predict where a free spot is most likely to occur when you arrive. You might even be able to reserve that spot. All starting with cameras.

Eye in the sky, food on the plate

Shifting from town to country, farmers are also using cameras on drones for visual assessments, including mapping canopy cover and drainage, assessing crop growth and counting plants to predict yield. As in the retail space, data from these cameras can be combined with data from other sensors measuring light, humidity, temperatur or soil moisture for even more detailed crop analysis.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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