Monday, 15 Jun 2020


It is essential for a business to invest in smart surveillance systems.

Businesses need to invest in surveillance for the simple reason of security, as security -- physical, procedural or cyber -- is critical for business operations. 

There is no better way to illustrate the absolute necessity of security than to mention a bank, an airport, a public transport subway network, a law enforcement or intelligence agency or a telecommunications corporation where vital information and technology are created and stored.

Security is essential to prevent, to the best of ability, the incidence of unauthorised, criminal or illegal activity, in a business or on its premises, regardless of whether the threat is internal or external.

Security is key to business operational sustainability, and this issue becomes more pronounced when we add cybersecurity as an added concern to physical and procedural security for a business.

The Challenges of Business Security and Surveillance

There are challenges when a business invests in surveillance systems, specifically, in analog or manual security and surveillance. 

Firstly, such manual or analog systems require and employ a lot of manpower. The fallibility of human intellect and reasoning, combined with the slowness of processes, can result in lags or worse, inaccuracies. Furthermore, the issue of the storage of data for analytical purposes (large filing cabinets keeping records, for example) can eventually prove to be a growing challenge. Additionally, there is the cost factor to consider -- how many security personnel (including those who monitor the risk elements of daily operations) can an organisation employ with reliability and trustworthiness? There are always margins of human error to consider in a business, errors that can prove to be costly, not just inefficient.

In a more public context, security and surveillance are key to public health and safety. Incidence of public disorder has an effect on business as well as on the economy, as we see in Hong Kong recently.

How Smart Technology Brings The Solution

Connected devices are transforming our world, as is the development of the 5G network with its astonishing speeds and low latency, and the increasing integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) network. IoT devices, using the combination of product, software, analytics and the Internet and/or networking, to provide cost-savings, automation and new levels of efficiencies to businesses small and large.

The innovation and change in ICT and consumer technology has made its impact felt in the security industry. Some of these technologies include the creation of high-definition TV and the deployment of IoT.

To put into relatable terms how connectivity and smart technology are transforming lives and businesses, we can think of a smart watch or a smart home appliance. In the last four years, there are increasing numbers of devices able to transmit data between each other via the Internet, just as there are increasing technologies allowing varied equipment and machines to do the same and more.

The benefits of smart surveillance are not just for business, but also for governments, for public agencies and for the benefit of the public.

For example, high resolution fish-eye cameras employed in Germany’s subway trains, a system that is labyrinthine, where there are crowds in which a criminal could easily blend into. It is said at least a million people use the subway everyday.

It is because of security concerns (born of increasing criminal activity in such areas) that the public have become more accepting of smart surveillance devices and equipment such as high-resolution omni-directional smart cameras.

It is typical that one can find over 2000 smart cameras deployed across the entire subway system in a developed city.

Smart connected products, devices and equipment go beyond their role as the physical functioning, innovative representation of how disparate devices and machines can be connected while generating large pools of widely-dispersed data.

Smart Surveillance for Business

For businesses, at the most basic level, a smart security system involving motion sensors for doors, windows and rooms connected to smart controls for lighting and temperature at a business premise is one of several examples of beneficial smart technology.

But the application of smart technology in businesses and organisations extends beyond this simple iteration -- a business owner may deploy smart locks, smart thermostats, or merchandise RFID tags for inventory control, connected sensors to help you monitor inventory, logistics and your supply chain or even a hub to help connect all the devices in your business premises and using centralised digital assistants to streamline processes such as knowing if your budget will allow you to fly business class for that next work trip.

Smart technology for smart surveillance, however, is an equally dynamic aspect of business operations.

Whittling down smart security and surveillance systems for business can best be understood by looking at smart surveillance cameras.

The key point to consider is what your organisation needs, specific to the organisation. 

For small and medium enterprises, security or surveillance needs may differ from that of a large organisation. 

For instance, a smaller enterprise housed in cosy office space may not have the need for an extensive network of surveillance cameras internally, while a larger corporation with hundreds of employees and high employee traffic may require a more robust and comprehensive surveillance system.

Should that surveillance system be able to generate data and help management with analytics, then that would be a bonus.

Let’s explore some current real-world examples.

For example, Amazon. The company has begun to use thermal cameras that allow for workers to be screened for fever-level body temperatures, which essentially means a huge time-saving advantage over deploying manpower to individually screen employees as they enter the office or warehouse premises, using forehead thermometers.

In a time of a global pandemic where businesses have to continue under adjusted operating environments (worker health and safety), it is clear that smart technology helps business continuity.

Such equipment can also be deployed in organisations such as supermarket chains and grocery stores, not just for workers but also for visitors.

Furthermore, smart camera systems have been deployed at certain airports, proving to be an efficient solution where there is a large volume of human traffic.

Often, the cameras used at airports are more intelligent, equipped to detect suspicious items or people. 

Cameras at Munich Airport made by Bosch, for example, can differentiate between adults and children, but more intelligent programming can cause the computer to tell the camera to search for people with specific characteristics. 

This specific command-based user-dictated programming means searches can be refined instantaneously. The benefit here is it saves time, energy and manpower in doing a manual search.

There are advantages to switching from analog surveillance cameras to smart tech-enabled cameras.

Smart surveillance, with the help of facial recognition technology, can help detect, track or identify potential or existing trespassers, burglars, thieves or more grave group criminal activity.

Facial Recognition at Work

Another example that perfectly illustrates smart surveillance technology at work and in action is facial recognition camera technology, already in use in certain territories.

Before we talk about facial recognition technology in surveillance, we should remind ourselves that the technology already exists --- we can unlock our smartphones (Apple iPhones being one of the first to use this technology) or add an extra layer of security to our laptops when these devices scan our faces for security reasons. 

This has beneficial implications for public life.

Benefits and Advantages for Businesses

The outstanding benefit of smart cameras for facial recognition is, one, better security, and two, work/process automation, which can translate into better workplace productivity.

There are also numerous other benefits, including, faster processing, seamless integration, automation of detection and recognition and easier resolution of disputes or trouble spots using visual evidence.

Businesses are understandably concerned about cybersecurity and threats, such as hacking. 

Facial recognition technology allows for faster processing as a security measure as it is a secure and fast choice for instant verification of a person, and is said to be easily integrated into existing systems. 

Automation of detection from the combination of facial recognition technology (some 3D) and the use of infrared cameras solves the problem of using labour-intensive methods such as security guards using ID cards to verify a person’s identity. 

When a business has sensitive information, or processes where risk needs to be minimised (for example, on the factory floor of a chemical plant or on an offshore oil rig), both smart surveillance and facial recognition technology can help ensure minimal operational risk or security breach.

Real-time video monitoring is a key benefit for many businesses where accuracy, security and precision are critical to operational success and efficiency. 

For example, the factory floor manager can monitor smart equipment on the computer or tablet, without risking his or her safety by being physically present on the floor itself, if there are smart cameras affixed to automated machinery or equipment.

Sophisticated camera surveillance systems can be built and improved to a large-scale extent, which means operations requiring warehouse storage pre-delivery can benefit.

The benefits of smart surveillance technology for business are clear: it can help save time, reduce inaccuracies, minimise risk, reduce manpower costs and boost process operational efficiencies, while affording you access to large pools of data to help you make better business decisions.

Investing in smart surveillance systems together with an integrated platform for data storage, cloud storage or analytics tools, can transform your business. Talk to Celcom to help you take the next step in your business’ digital transformation journey.