‘Axis is seeing CCTV demand slowly moving back to the pre-Covid level’

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CCTVs has come a long way to be one of the most trusted technologies that touches upon all works of life, providing safety and security across the globe. Even during these unprecedented times, it has proven to be the most trusted solution among all sectors. CCTV had seen a little slowdown during the first phase of 2020, due to the lockdowns, in sectors such as retail, aviation, travel and tourism. However, leading CCTV camera player, Axis Communication is beginning to see the demand going higher as the country is starting to begin economic activities. In a conversation Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India & SAARC shares how the CCTV is considered the ‘future of technology’

Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India SAARC

How are CCTVs extending support to the business leaders while they have become the caretaker of their workers and the workplace?

The world is upside down and sometimes it can be really daunting and impossible to stay optimistic. Amidst, all this, the business leaders are the ones who has been challenged to do the most herculean task of business resilience and being the caretaker of the employees. The ever-changing market dynamics have kept them on their feet to cater to the constantly changing situation.

Now as India is gradually opening up economic activities and employees are starting to get back to work, the biggest challenge is again for the companies to consider employee safety as optimum priority.  Companies are increasingly leveraging technology to ensure social distancing in the offices. Covid-19 has made mask compliance, crowding checks and temperature screening mandatory for all employees, and companies are installing high-tech solutions to avoid long queues outside their campuses.

We at Axis Communications, together with our system integrators, have come up with solutions to support our customers and cater to the ultimate need of the hour:

People Counting: Our People Counting solution has been specifically curated for measuring and taking faster action to avoid congestion or a queue and maintain social distancing norms. It gives analytics and valuable insights such as – how many people are in an area at the same time, how they move, where they congregate, and periods of peak occupancy. These insights further enable the management to plan accordingly and take immediate action to make social distancing normal while improving service, operational efficiency and profitability.

AXIS Occupancy Estimator: AXIS Occupancy Estimator offers a cost-efficient way to accurately estimate occupancy levels on office premises to understand visitor patterns better and how the space is used. It provides real-time data on how many people are present in the premises or in a certain area at a certain time. This valuable data helps in increasing operational efficiency to maintain the premises and avoid crowding, optimise workforce planning and opening hours and take necessary measures to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.

Alongside, we have collaborated with Application Development Partners (ADP) to offer solutions such as Social Distancing solutions, Touch Free solutions, Body Temperature Monitoring solutions, Mask Detection solutions and Touch Free Attendance systems with facial recognition capabilities.

Audio solutions and Public Announcement solutions are gaining prominence too, in the light of the pandemic, to manage crowd and monitor people so that they follow and adhere to the social distancing norms better.

How is CCTV helping in market boom despite the pandemic woes?

Going back to 1940s, when Siemens AG installed the first CCTV system in Peenemunde, Germany in 1942 during WWII to observe the launch of V2 rockets, it is primarily a military activity. Since then CCTVs has come a long way to be one of the most trusted technology that touches upon all works of life providing safety and security across the globe. Even during these unprecedented times, it has proven to be the most trusted solution among all sectors. We had seen a little slowdown during the first phase of 2020, due to lockdown, in sectors such as retail, aviation, travel and tourism. However, we have beginning to see the demand going higher as the country is starting to begin economic activities especially for technologies such as People Counting, Occupancy Estimator, Social Distancing solutions, Touch Free solutions, Body Temperature monitoring solutions, Mask Detection solutions, thermal cameras, facial recognition in-built solutions etc., to offer a safe experience to the employees and to the customers.

We also continue to see a boom in the manufacturing, critical infrastructure segments, data centres, healthcare and IT/ITes. The need for cameras for constant monitoring of the employee body temperature and premises to avoid crowd has taken the centre stage. We have also seen increase in government and healthcare projects where the demand for advanced technological solutions in CCTV has seen an exponential growth

Recently, we announced the installation at Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, a medical college under KiiT university, which is a super speciality hospital with 2000 beds, has partnered with Axis Communications for monitoring and securing their premises and optimising better healthcare management. The deployment is using Zipstream technology to optimize bandwidth and installed on an open platform using third party VMS. In addition, it uses Axis Lightfinder technology that delivers high-resolution, full colour video with a minimum of motion blur even in near darkness. Axis Lightfinder makes dark areas in a scene visible and captures great detail in very low light. The result is excellent image quality without the need for external light sources proved to be the largest surveillance system deployment in any healthcare facility in India.

We have also partnered with Emami Group in Kolkata and installed about 200 + Fixed and Dome cameras for ensuring the safety of the staff and facility and premises of the manufacturing unit to protect their products, employees and to check the safety of the processes. We are seeing the demand to slowly moving back to the pre-Covid level. We are seeing a surge in all sectors and in fact among most of our customers in  commercial settings, smart city, city surveillance, critical infrastructure retail, etc., are investing on surveillance solutions for securing workforce and premise  so that the organisations are rightly complied with the norms as people are returning back to work. Cyber security is another aspect where we are seeing a surge in demand of our solutions as there had been a significant increase in cyber due to the pandemic – organisations are opting for more reliable and robust surveillance solutions that secure the data as well. With increase in data centres, more so the private data centres, organisations are looking at more robust and unified solutions that secure both premises and people as well as the data.

How are CCTVs helping government authorities in monitoring and managing cities and traffic in the times of the new normal? Any examples that you can state?

CCTV cameras have been a long-standing technology that used in public, personal and commercial settings. A crime prevention tool of yesteryears does more than just that. It has proven to be one of the technological partners that is constantly supporting the government authorities in doing the herculean task of managing the city and traffic while maintaining the social distancing guidelines.  We have seen, in the past few months, many state governments increasingly investing on CCTVs with high technological solutions to help safeguard citizens.

Today, CCTV with wireless technology, CCTV with cloud-based storage, thermal cameras and other high-end technology infused CCTV has the ability to, not just preventing crime, but an efficient weapon for the government authorities to fight the battle of Covid and ensure that the guidelines of mask compliance, crowding checks are well maintained. We are working with different city authorities like Hyderabad, Kolkata Police, Karnal, Junagadh, Nanded, Kolhapur, etc. to help them with solutions to ensure those out on the streets are adhering to social distancing and other norms.

Recently we had announced our partnership with Kolkata Police to secure the city by deploying 800+ fixed and PTZ cameras across the city. These installed cameras help them in tracking vehicles, check for loopholes in the traffic management system on a real time basis round the clock. It has been used for crowd control and management and identifying miscreants in public rallies and demonstrations. Additionally, Axis Zip Stream Technology has helped them optimise bandwidth and overall storage requirements of the mass video produced throughout the day, 24*7. This, in return, will help them track, monitor, and analyse the video feed for detecting criminal activities, violations, and road congestion.

With the increasing sentiments on Chinese products how can CCTV with no backdoor policy help regulate India’s data privacy?

Cybersecurity has become the defacto importance. Axis Communications as a Swedish company strongly believe in our No Back-Door Policies. As a Swedish- engineered product and solutions company, we have always kept a No Backdoor Policy in all their products. In the current market situation, we believe that CCTV with no back-door policy has a strong competitive advantage and as one of only a few manufacturers we have our own system-on-chip – ARTPEC Chip, that directly complies with the India’s data privacy policy. This means that we have complete control over each and every transistor in our products. This brings in trust and a higher level of cybersecurity for our clients. Axis’ no backdoor policy makes it the only network surveillance company in the world that is un-hackable. So, using this customer’s sensitive data recorded by the camera cannot be utilized by any 3rd party for exploitation. Further it helps in implementing these cameras for national security as Axis solutions guarantees that other countries and foreign law enforcement (FBI, CIA, KIG) cannot surveil Indian citizens by hacking into the systems.

How is CCTV helping business leaders in fulfilling business goals?

The security and surveillance industry has undergone several disruptions over the last few years. Striving to make business while becoming employee-safety-first companies, organisations are going beyond business and heavily investing on technologies to up their game. Especially in the retail segment, providing a seamless customer experience encapsulates the various stages including the study and comprehension of the buying behaviour of the customers to influencing them in going forward with the purchase.

Today, we see retailers investing in IoT based surveillance to enhance the security of employees and customers, gain customer insights, and track inventory more efficiently. Protecting the underlying infrastructure is also essential and thus retailers who wish to embrace these technologies have to know how to put the right safeguards and processes in place. The benefits of a network-based system when deployed, also provides visitor headcount and other aggregated insights across the store. For instance, heat mapping can aid the retailers in understanding the functionality of the store and customer behaviour using real time imaging to analyse and track movements. Intelligent technologies like interactive displays to address customer queries, single out staff performance and preventing crime can also prove be to highly beneficial for a modern retailer to seamlessly fulfil his business goals. Additionally, good image quality is a fundamental requisite for monitoring money transactions. Video analytics can provide store occupancy rates, which will help store owners plan staffing levels through the day. The data collected can help determine the best timings for running marketing campaigns to drive consumers to the store. The real time data could also be integrated with the IP audio system to extend a dynamic in-store experience.

Smart city, city surveillance and critical infrastructure are a few other segments that saw positive outcomes from CCTV. Citizen safety is defacto importance for the city and municipal authorities. Thus, the surge in CCTVs with Social Distancing solutions, Touch Free solutions, Body Temperature monitoring solutions, Mask Detection solutions and Touch Free Attendance systems with facial recognition capabilities have increased at an exponential level.

Similarly, in a critical infrastructure segment, like that of thermal power plant, solar power plant, oil & gas, steal plant, etc., the demand for reliable security solutions has increased that helps in business continuity and also helps in achieve business process objectives. While CCTVs are widely used for perimeter and workforce security in this segment, we have seen a surge in demand for solutions that helps them in monitoring processes and breakdowns, solving compliance related issues, etc.

What is the roadmap for the Indian surveillance market and key sectors/regions where implementations are going up in the new Covid world? 

We remain positive on the outlook for the coming months, even though the times are volatile. We hope that the economy can revive soon. We will align our growth to the industry’s overall growth. Covid has proven to be both a boon and bane for our industry. Even though we are witnessing a dip in government initiated projects as they are currently on hold due to pending investments, surveillance market would continue to see an increase in demands, especially towards the end of the year, by the virtue of security and safety being the priority. The increasing awareness towards the importance of CCTVs have also led to the growing demand of its implementation.

The pandemic has acted as both a boon and a bane for us. We will continue to see a boom in the manufacturing, government, smart city and critical infrastructure segments, where we might see a growth, for securing the premises. We might experience a dip with regards to industries related to tourism, aviation and hospitality. With respect to government initiated projects, we again expect a rise in businesses especially for projects related to social distancing monitoring and surveillance of office buildings whereas some government projects have been put on hold at the moment due to pending investments. Now, in terms of market segmentation, we might experience both a dip and a growth. This is because some organisations might opt for cost cutting solutions whereas some companies might prioritise quality. We hold the heritage of delivering the highest standard products and solutions and hence the cost can be a parameter in the decision making for organisations. However, our Total Cost of Ownership are beneficial for reducing the operating and maintenance costs in the long term. Hence, organisations will need to think in a digital-first approach by evolving and aligning to the industry’s overall goals.

How is CCTV considered the future of technology? And Why?

Warming up to the limitless potential of adopting new technologies like AI, ML, IoT, Big Data, automation, are changing the way of our lives and workplaces.  One technology that not only ushered this revolution but has been, what we call the “Dark Horse” of this revolution – the network video surveillance which includes CCTV cameras and encoders. One such technology that have touched upon all works of lives – public, personal and commercial, as the long-standing confidante, securing millions of individuals. Although typically used as a crime prevention tool, it has widened its scope pervading to city civic authorities for proper management of cities to business leaders for fulfilling goals and taking care of their employees. In these uncertain and unprecedented times, one thing that has gained the maximum prominence, is the way CCTVs have helped the nation with its irreplaceable quality of supporting city surveillance in social distancing and care units,  manufacturing and commercial establishments.

Even though India is a price sensitive market and security will continue to be the most premium component of our society, CCTV and surveillance will reign high with or without a pandemic. We see a lot of demand of integrated solutions. In India, it had started with analog video network connection, then it shifted to network video and now it has moved to prioritising cameras that provide solutions for business resilience. As the world is phasing out  to the new normal , organisations, both public and private sector, are looking at solutions that will give them real time analytics to monitor and fast track measures that caters to employee safety while resuming the economic activity.

Together integrated with technologies such as AI/ML, WDR, IR Led, analytics, etc. CCTV cameras will help its human counterpart with analytical insights. While human will use them to augment their experiences for better and safer city management and create more business opportunities. They will use empathy, critical thinking and humane values to decide and act. That is the power of the human-machine combination.


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