11.14.22 – SIW – John Dobberstein
The way Dean Drako sees it, the technologies afforded by video surveillance and artificial intelligence will go together like “cookies and milk” in the future – not just by design, but by necessity. It’s estimated there are more than 1 billion surveillance cameras in use throughout the world, and the Eagle Eye Networks CEO and founder questions how the industry will supply the people to monitor them all.
“What happens with all that video surveillance footage? Mostly nothing,” Drako told hundreds of integrators and security stakeholders attending the recent Eagle Eye Networks/Brivo Cloud Security Summit in Washington D.C. “There’s just too much data there for humans to watch. We’d have to have one of every eight people in the world watching a camera if you wanted to watch them all.”
He sees forensics and real-time monitoring as some of the most profitable opportunities for video surveillance in the future, but with major shifts in who and how the work will be managed.
Forensics today is done by scrubbing and manually sifting through video. “That takes a lot of time. Half the time nobody wants to do it, so it doesn’t get done. People are just like, ‘Yeah, it’s not that important. Let’s not worry about it,’” Drako said.
Drako used the example of the Internet to describe what he believes will happen with video surveillance as AI technology matures. In the early days Internet users could search just categories and not do much else. Then Alta Vista emerged and was crawling the whole web, “something that was literally inconceivable to engineers and scientists because the area was so big. It was inconceivable to crawl every web page, put it in an index and then do a search engine on it,” Drako recalled.
“Then 10 years later, Google one-upped them and did it even better, and more reliably, and more accurately. It’s clear to me that the entire user interface with forensics is going to move to basically a search interface, just like the Internet moved to a search interface.”
When it comes to real-time monitoring, it has traditionally been done by “people watching stuff, alerts, notifications, filters, then we get better and better motion detection, filtering during rain, eliminating snow and shadows. We’ve gotten better and better at reducing what this poor person has to look at and watch,” Drako said.
“But in the new world, AI is actually going to watch all the billion cameras across the globe and find problems. You could have smoke detection running on all billion cameras. If there’s smoke, there’s usually a fire. You could have slip-and-fall detection running on all one billion of those cameras. If somebody slips and falls, generally somebody wants to know about it.”
As with the possibility of driverless cars and electric car makers such as Tesla disrupting the automotive market, Drako believes the same disruption will happen with video surveillance.
“We’re leading the charge into the cloud. We started that 10 years ago. We pioneered the cloud. I was the evangelist saying cloud, cloud, cloud. I was the one-man band for five years,” Drako told Security Info Watch. “You’re going to have new players, and old players that get hurt and some old players that survive, and it’s going to be a topsy turvy world, but all new and better.”
Drako told attendees at an executive Q&A discussion that video surveillance is mostly used for security and safety now, but it’s going to expand into business operations to help customers become more efficient.
He said the company is working with a customer who wants to detect pallets that have been sitting for more than 30 minutes in the back of the shop because that means it hasn’t been loaded quickly enough, and the goods may spoil. The customer wants a notification to the manager to expedite the pallet.
“Someone in an office building probably wouldn’t care about that, but someone in a Wal-Mart or a Kroger probably does care,” Drako noted. “Once you start to get integrated into the customer’s business process — and you’re not just selling to the security team but also selling to the business team – it’s a completely different value proposition.”
In Drako’s mind this translates into “significantly higher prices” that will cause the video surveillance and the security industry to grow into an industry two to three times bigger than it is today.
“It’s a challenge because as a dealer and reseller, you’re not just selling security anymore, you’re actually selling something that’s getting integrated into the customer’s business processes. You’re integrating into the operational team, you’re integrating into the marketing team, you’re integrating into the IT team. That’s exciting for me.”
Supply Chain Loosening?
Supply chain woes were prominent on the list of concerns for integrators attending the Summit this week. Drako acknowledged both Eagle Eye Networks and its access control integration partner, Brivo, have had trouble sourcing components, although he believes the companies have adapted better than most.
“But some of that adaptation has come at a little bit of a cost,” he added, addressing attendees. “We’ve had to redesign products quickly, modify products, get substitute supply, suppliers, substitute solutions in so that we can keep feeding you guys product so that you can keep going. It’s crucial to me that we always have product for you. So, we have gone through a lot of hoops to make that happen.
Drako added there have been some “quality issues” in the past with products but he thinks the company is past that now.
“We’ve put a tremendous focus on quality both at Eagle Eye and Brivo. It’s been a huge effort that has been ongoing for over a year and a half now, with a lot of additional testing, a lot of additional certifications, and a lot of quality checking in all our processes to get both the quality of the hardware and the software even higher,” he said.
Drako believes companies have started to reallocate and figure out how to manage manufacturing with a little less dependence on China, and China “isn’t doing the shutdowns they were doing for COVID, which were really painful for the people who bought all their stuff in China.”
Drako does feel there will be some trouble with exchange rates, which he said have undergone the largest shift he has been seen in his 40 years of doing business globally. “The U.S. dollar is just crazy strong. And we’ve made all of our goods and services very unaffordable overseas. We’ve exacerbated the export problem terribly. But it’s not something that you can really control,” he said.
Steve Van Till, CEO and president of Brivo, also acknowledged that the business environment for security providers “has never been more turbulent” due to worries about supply, global stability and the economy.
But he also insisted there are opportunities for integrators, especially in the Proptech arena where there are massive increases in spending for foundational security technologies like access control, AI-driven video analytics and cloud APIs.
Van Till informed attendees that those who adapt to technology trends and think of themselves more as problems solvers than just security salespeople will have an opportunity to expand into new verticals and boost recurring revenue. That would include “doing the things that make sense regardless of the economic forecast” or supply chain or global disruptions.
Some of the markets he urged integrators to pursue include multi-family units and property technology.
“The real estate community, the people that own big tracts of property and manage them, have woken up to the fact that technology is their way forward and it’s true in several respects,” he said.
In 2021, Van Till said, there was $32 billion invested in Proptech, which he believes was nearly “zero” a decade ago, dominated mostly by the U.S. and European markets and some activity starting up in Latin America and Asia.
“This is a lot of money heading toward property where people want to digitize and connect to the internet and make it better through technology. While we worry about the inflation rates, we worry about disruptions in supply chain, we worry about all the things going on with the rest of the world, this is a really good thing.”
Supply, Labor, Customer Service
SecurityInfoWatch also spoke with integrators at the Summit about their challenges, points of pain and goals for 2023. Many of them attended to find out what new products and services were going to be unveiled by Brivo and Eagle Eye Networks.
As expected, supply chain issues were a frequent topic. But many also lamented being unable to find technicians, as well as customers having trouble with local networks and bandwith.
Brett Willard, an enterprise account manager for Master Telecom in Memphis, Tenn., said he needed to find out more about software programs for video monitoring. He has an enterprise account interested in video monitoring, but his company doesn’t offer that currently.
“But (the customer) told us, ‘We like dealing with you, and we only want to deal with you. So, if you will do whatever it takes to get into the video monitoring world, then we’re on board,’” Willard said.
Daniel Islas, founder and CEO of MVP Security Systems in Brea, Calif., said he came to the Cloud Security Summit because it’s his intention to position his company to be “in the forefront of cloud security in Southern California.” He attended the Summit to find to get some perspective on opportunities, as not all vertical markets are embracing cloud security yet.
“Certainly, a lot of companies like MVP are dabbling in it. I see this as an opportunity to take advantage of the paradigm shift of going from on-premise solutions to cloud-based solutions, and I want MVP to be at the forefront in my market,” Islas said.
Overcoming the objections from the security practitioner’s side to cloud security is still a challenge, he noted, although there are opportunities to grow recurring monthly revenue through subscriptions.
“What that really means is we, as integrators, have to step up our game in terms of knowledge and how to properly frame the cloud versus their perception of on-premise, for sure. Because they do have real pain points with on-premise, with the overall total cost of ownership, the continual upkeep, upgrades, integration, limitations even,” said Islas.
“We’re not going to completely walk away from on-prem, but I am dedicating sales and engineering resources, and the technical staff we have ready to go, to have success and really promote, market and grow our RMR business for sure. At the end of the day, what’s tied at the hip with the cloud is the RMR business, which is very attractive for companies like us for all the obvious reasons.”