Video surveillance, investments are growing in Africa and the Middle East

Video surveillance, investments are growing in Africa and the Middle East

Video surveillance

Dubai - Video surveillance, including its most innovative applications beyond the security sector, is a topic that does not end with technological and business aspects, but has always had a lot to do with regulatory and regulatory aspects, which then they reflect cultural and collective consciousness issues. The high tech challenge of identifying ever new ways of using these technologies, in other words, is only part of the story.

On the sidelines of the Mips2022 event that was held in recent days in Dubai, ne we spoke exclusively for with two industry experts such as Jos Beernink, vice president for the EMEA area of ​​the multinational video management company Milestone Systems, and Hani Khalaf, Dell's Internet of things and digital cities lead for the Middle East.

“In terms of privacy and regulation, Europe is in a certain sense ahead - explained Khalaf -. In the European Union, topics are openly discussed and there are regulations such as the Ai Act which regulates the use of artificial intelligence. In the part of the world that includes Africa and the Middle East, today there is a different balance between security and privacy, with the issue of security being conceived as overriding the right to privacy. "Although the approach is security first, it is being held however, privacy is also increasingly considered: "for example, some recent rules on the use of drones go in this direction, and we expect further evolution in the future".

And for Europe? "Privacy standards are so restrictive today that people trust them," Beernink said. Even if we talk about installing cameras in intrinsically sensitive contexts such as hospital rooms, “the rate of adaptation and acceptance is high, because people recognize the benefits of innovations also in cultural terms. For example, one of the use cases we are working on in the healthcare sector is an application to stem the problem of patients falling out of bed: especially at night, with fewer nurses around, the problem is deeply felt, and a system of video monitoring may be able to identify when a person is about to fall, allowing to avoid it. ”

Jos Beernink, Vice President for the EMEA area of ​​Milestone Systems In such a scenario, in reality , the problem of privacy does not even arise, given that it is not necessary to identify patients one by one and it is possible to work only with infrared cameras, but more generally "recognition systems are an element considered culturally acceptable when applications are useful and the concrete benefits are perceived. For example, today there are systems for recognizing heart attacks or illnesses in environments such as gyms during the night, or which detect if a fight is taking place on the street. There remain some differences from country to country, and for example Germany is one of the states in which these solutions penetrate more easily, but Italy is also ahead, with a mature market. "It is no coincidence that, after Denmark where it has always based, Milestone has opened its own branch in Italy among the first ever.

The core of the transparency issue

There is no doubt that at the moment, beyond the balance between privacy and security, all over the world there is a push to make artificial intelligence systems more intelligible, more transparent. "The question of video footage is only a small part of a more general discourse - explained Khalaf -. Today the the real issue is to make algorithms explainable (the paradigm of explainable Ai, ed), that is to let people know how they are made and how they work. We have the responsibility not only to collect data that is without prejudice, but also to work on these data of the teams that are also built with a focus on diversity. Then end users must be made aware of the processes, and I believe companies also have a responsibility to educate people on how technology works ”. In parallel, as Khalaf also reiterated from the stage of Mips2022, the responsibility of companies also takes shape in terms of sustainability, both of the infrastructure itself and of the effectiveness of applications in making entire activities and processes more sustainable.

“A company like ours has become a major player in the Middle East area because we respect not only business and market demands, but also the standards that are required for video analysis technologies - commented Beernink -. To launch our applications in the healthcare sector, where regulatory and transparency issues are even more crucial, we have done a great deal of study and analysis. For example, the issue is not how many cameras are installed in a certain place (which at first glance might seem the most relevant, ed) but the way they are used and the type of analysis that is performed on the images ".

A smart city infrastructure

When a camera system is made available for the development of services in an urban area, the application possibilities are quite numerous. retail - through the analysis of the flow of people, where they are and how they move - up to traffic monitoring. "The city takes data from the streets and can benefit from them not only in terms of safety, but also for the improvement of services and for the management of emergency vehicles ", explained Khalaf. And if we enter buildings from the streets," in the health sector, recognition systems can be used in the operating room capable of identifying if a gross error is being made on the patient, such as operating on the wrong body part or forgetting a device inside the body. More generally, it becomes possible to measure performance, understand where the bottlenecks and the main efficiency losses are. On the other hand, it's a general rule: you can't improve what you're not measuring ".

Hani Khalaf, Dell's Internet of things and digital cities lead for the Middle East Another example of a smart city application, actually already in use in Dubai, it concerns the management of parking lots in shopping centers. Parking is free if it lasts less than 4 hours, but the time is not measured by the classic ticket to be collected at the entrance, but by the license plate number of the car: if the stop is short, the exit is free, otherwise the cost of the parking is charged directly via the app. And there are many analogues, starting with the hospitals which in Dubai are actually smart hospitals.

In these cases, beyond the regulatory and liability issues, an adequate reinvention of the information management architecture itself is also necessary. "The cloud is not a distant place to store data and applications, but rather a model of use or IT equipment - explained Khalaf -. Making the cloud today means having storage and computational resources available. For video technology, especially in cities, there is a technological challenge because it is not possible to simply take the video stream and send it to a public cloud, first of all because the process is too expensive. Today, images must be analyzed close to where they are collected, on the edge, to extract their metadata and send only the relevant information to the cloud ".

This then means that the new cameras will also have to incorporate the capacity. computation to analyze what they collect? "No. Khalaf clarifies - it would be too expensive and can only be done for some specific applications: in general it makes sense that the camera device is made ad hoc to record images, while the processing can be done in a nearby node, such as a single processing point for the 15 rooms of a shop, always inside the building itself. In this way, the video itself never leaves the shop, it is saved and analyzed by software such as the Milestone one directly inside the store. Only the metadata comes out, and this is essential to have a system that is scalable ".

A demonstration system active of Dell and Milestone Systems in Dubai photo: Gianluca Dotti / Wired In the current business model, in this sense, no company can offer end-to-end service, from top to bottom, but partnerships between original equipment manufacturers are required (in the initials Oem , such as Dell) which absorb the 60% -70% of the total cost that is given by the hardware infrastructure, and then software companies such as Milestone for the information analysis and processing part. A necessary alliance between companies that have specific experience and know-how on different parts of the image management chain. "There are many possible partnerships, and for this reason we too, like Milestone, continue to scout and select the best technological partners, in order not so much to propose products but to offer outcomes, solutions for specific needs of end users, not only to respond to a contingent necessity but above all looking to the future - said Beernink -. For example, for years we have shared our know-how with that of a partner to create a robotic telemedicine system, which has also proved extremely useful for managing the Covid-19</a> emergency ".

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