“Surveillance devices can also make the concept of safe cities a veritable reality by leveraging video analytics.”
Better safe than sorry, this adage holds true, especially in today’s day and age. Technology has to a great extent helped authorities ensure safe and secure cities. The way our security industry has evolved significantly over the last decade is proof enough that its demand is only going to increase in future. In a candid chat with Manali Jaggi of BW SmartCities, Abhishek Kumar, Regional Director, South Asia, Oncam talks about the present day scenario of surveillance industry in India and the company’s objective to help create modern and scalable solutions for our cities.
Tell us more about Oncam? What kind of expertise do you bring to the table?
Our core competencies involve 360-degree and wide-angle smart IP video surveillance solutions, cutting-edge business intelligence, and an extensive network of specialized partners that help us transfer high business value to our customers. Our technological solutions are further complemented with its first-hand and in-depth acquired knowledge across multiple sectors including healthcare, retail, education, transportation, maritime and ports, banking, casinos and hospitality.
In India, Oncam has its own established subsidiary with regional offices located at Delhi and Bangalore. Focus in India has largely been on oil and gas, safe cities, transportation, and other critical infrastructure segments.
How are advanced surveillance technologies securing our future? What is the present scenario and how does it look like in future?
If we have a look at surveillance technology and its evolution over the years, many promising developments can be observed taking place in the market. Earlier, surveillance systems consisted of basic analog-based recording devices that featured ineffective modules and inefficient device designs. This significantly limited our overall capabilities since such solutions could not be flexibly operated, were prone to human errors and omissions, and involved resource drain both during and post deployment. Several breakthroughs in technology and product, however, have eliminated these problems while widening the surveillance range and providing broader coverage. And all of this while significantly reducing the deployed units and extending multiple video channels. Today, these breakthroughs have paved the way for automation of surveillance functions.
Today, forward-looking surveillance technologies are becoming a harbinger of another wave of changes that are going to completely redefine surveillance functions and capabilities in the near future. For instance, the integration of smart sensors and communication modules allows us to not singularly rely on images from the surveillance system, but also ascertain a given situation by correlating observations with movement, proximity, or temperature, as the need be. Intelligent video surveillance solutions have been the trend in the security industry. With the introduction of more sophisticated technologies, the individual abilities of modern surveillance systems are increasingly getting augmented, making them more resourceful. We now see clear multi-window surveillance screens and more refined image processing with powerful management, tracking, and sensing capabilities. All of these developments point towards a bright future for the surveillance industry.
Is technology a solution or a Panopticon gaze putting our cities and people under surveillance all the time?
In a sense it is actually both. Cities are the core of global development. Safe cities attract businesses, foster innovations, and provide countless opportunities. Technology gives a solution that effectively and intelligently manages multiple aspects of daily life, including traffic, transportation, and infrastructure. Surveillance systems helps to reduce crime, increase citizen safety, and stop damage to public property. However, it is true that Panopticism should not lurk in as surveillance devices continue to proliferate in the market. This can only be possible if there are enough checks and balances in place. For us, these checks and balances have been technology. Our solutions prevent privacy intrusion, even if they are closely monitoring a habitual criminal, something which is not possible otherwise. These systems can easily detect aggressive behaviour, theft, violence, or any other use case and instantly trigger response with the designated authority, which in this case is the police department. In this way, personal liberty and privacy of even a criminal offender is respected, giving him or her an opportunity to improve, while at the same time ensuring security of other city inhabitants.
How can surveillance help the Government in its Swacch Bharat Abhiyan?
Advance analytics on our cameras can measure the cleanliness in the city. If the same system is deployed at garbage picking points, a report can be generated everyday on how many times the municipality truck has collected the garbage. It is also a more effective approach that enables district municipality department to monitor the cleanliness of the city in real-time. Going forward, if Aadhaar database is also integrated to this surveillance infrastructure, littering can be easily detected and fined, much like automated penalization of vehicles that violate traffic rules through specialized IP solutions.
What are the challenges and opportunities peculiar to Indian cities when it comes to their safety and security?
A common challenge for all Indian cities is the rising threat of traffic violations. While only a few are killed in terrorist attacks, more than 1 lakh Indians are killed in road accidents every year due to these traffic violations. Safety of women and children in India is another big challenge. The Government is also focusing on increasing the quality of education nationally, but bringing the desired changes on ground is not going to be easy. India also faces the global threat of terrorism as multiple terror strikes are witnessed here every year.
Futuristic video surveillance technologies have proven themselves to be extremely effective in monitoring terrorist activities and recognizing the possession of weapons such as guns, knives, etc., which can easily go unnoticed using contemporary approach even if a video feed is being monitored. Considering road safety, automated e-challans can encourage safe driving habits and discourage violations, which will also result in improved traffic conditions and decrease traffic congestions. Surveillance devices can also make the concept of safe cities a veritable reality by leveraging video analytics. Leaders in the surveillance domain also find a promising opportunity in the education sector, as devices can non-intrusively be installed within classrooms to enhance the quality of education and develop better learning methodologies. Such deployments will also increase safety of school-going children and build greater confidence amongst their parents.
What is your roadmap for the next 5 years?
We will continue to focus on IP and 360-degree technology. The aim is to use both of these technologies along with cloud-based solutions to solve market challenges in specific segments. We are also looking at using cameras beyond surveillance. While we continue to innovate the panoramic technology in CCTV, our focus shall be on using the collected information in solving real problems that are faced by the society. At the same time, 360-degree cameras are bound to replace cameras having narrow field view in a phased manner with increase in its video resolution.