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Surveillance tech comes down in cost, rises in value

Today’s surveillance systems are no longer just about monitoring, but more so the intelligence that sits on the camera and what businesses can do with that information proactively, writes KEVIN PADAYACHEE, product manager for Surveillance at Rectron

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Video surveillance has been around for years with the primary aim of recording criminal related activity. However, technological advancements have transformed surveillance capabilities by adding business intelligence components. In turn, transforming businesses.

South Africa’s economy has hit a slump, contracting 3.2% in the first three months of 2019, according to Statistics South Africa.

Given the country’s constricted business climate, companies have got to find every edge to be more efficient in order to increase service levels, productivity and revenue. Fortunately, today’s surveillance systems equipped with BI allow businesses to do just that, effectively.

The infrastructure needed to monitor multiple cameras can now be achieved with one device, cutting the costs of servers, installation, labour, trenching, and not to mention the price tag that comes with having to purchase multiple cameras to monitor a small area.

Solutions integrated with business intelligence components can provide businesses with useful data which can then be used for actionable insights to spur growth and generate revenue.  

Wide-angle cameras

Businesses can achieve a lot more through a single wide-angle camera, more specifically 180 and 360-degree fisheye cameras.

The VIVOTEK MS9390-HV offers an 8MP image over 180 degrees. This is a combination of parameters that enables effective wide angle monitoring over 50m across from single camera that could rest in the palm of your hand. Integrators can reduce the overall footprint of their surveillance solution and hence the actual cost for the end user.

Real-time

For companies, having information at a later stage is of no help if action needs to be taken now. It is critical for businesses that they are in the know how, right now, in order to gain that competitive edge and ensure no revenue is lost.

Using public transportation as an example, if 100 people are travelling on a bus, but only 80 have paid, the route supervisor will receive a notification in real-time alerting to the fact that 20 commuters have an outstanding payment.  This information is not only necessary, but conveniently displayed and logged for later reference.

Alternatively, in the retail sector for example, Take the likes of VIVOTEK’s 12MP FE9191 fisheye camera with video content analysis which captures a 360-degree view when mounted on a ceiling, so businesses no longer require the installation of numerous cameras to cover a wide area.

If too many people are queuing in one area, the FE9191 Fisheye sends off an immediate trigger the moment the customer count exceeds the threshold in a designated area. The floor manager can then make changes to the staffing arrangement to accommodate this. This solution helps create a more efficient work environment with satisfied customers all around.

On-board analytics

Cameras and video content analysis (VCA) software have merged, playing a critical role in keeping places secure. However, onboard analytics are being used increasingly to also enhance business intelligence for users in various verticals.

Cameras with onboarding analytics also mean more intelligence and processing within, so all important data is captured, sent or stored for post-incident retrieval and analysis, allowing companies to make smarter choices going forward.

In the retail sector for example, a mall using the VIVOTEK SC8131 Counting Camera can count how many individuals entered store A compared to store B. Based on this information, the mall can then increase store A’s rent if the number was significantly higher than store B.

How does it work? No server is required as everything takes place on the camera. The solution uses a camera with 2 sensors and artificial intelligence to accurately identify human only objects. This reports to VIVOTEK VAST2 video management software or can be integrated into any other Customer Relationship Management software, a dashboard for performance monitoring then appears showing the total amount of people who entered the mall, store A and store B.  

Cloud access

At the end of the day, companies want a quick, convenient setup, not to mention having the freedom to access their solution from any location. This feeds into the growing demand for cloud access solutions, allowing companies to remotely access their surveillance system via the cloud, anytime, anywhere.

In the past, if you wanted to install an IP surveillance system you needed several components and a server to record video. However, Cloud access has changed the game. Companies can now take a single IP surveillance camera and make it a system entirely on its own

For example, with one camera using VIVOCloud from VIVOTEK, a company can access, view and playback recorded footage via an SD card, allowing for full functionality. The result? A scalable solution that is easy to access.  

Given the current economic climate in South Africa, businesses looking for a competitive edge should consider adopting a suitable surveillance system to improve performance levels and capitalise on emerging opportunities as they happen.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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