Video Surveillance & Physical Security Industry Viewpoints
November 16th, 2022
Author: Muhammad Sheikh

The Forgotten Value of Video Analytics

The Rise of Business Intelligence

Despite the recent buzz, video analytics is not a new technology. In fact, as reported by Entrepreneur, more rudimentary forms started emerging in the early 2000’s after video surveillance was largely adopted in the 90’s by retail and other service centers to promote increased security. Since then, video analytics has evolved with the application of AI and Deep Learning, largely delivering critical law enforcement solutions for accelerating investigations, increasing productivity, and promoting safer cities around world. These solutions remain impactful because they adapt to the ever-changing needs of fighting and solving crime.

Now – as we continue to look towards technology to support intelligent problem solving in nearly every area of life – people are finally discovering the under-utilized capabilities that video analytics has to offer and the potential of the applications that have always been there. Beyond the realm of safety and security lies the forgotten value of video analytics: an untapped world of operational and business intelligence ready for the taking.

A Foundation for Informed Decision Making

Business intelligence refers to the strategies and technologies companies use to analyze and manage business information for the purpose of informed decision making. Thus, a major driver of growth and success is derived from a company’s ability to gather concrete, actionable evidence about their business. Video analytics supports this goal by aggregating vast amounts of video metadata, so it can be visualized and analyzed as a data source. Simply put, video analytics can structure and visualize events like visitor traffic, demographic segmentations, behavior trending, loitering hotspots, and object interactions and translate them into interactive, intuitive, and easy to consume dashboard summaries for data analysis. Decision-makers empowered with these deep assessment tools can not only leverage a solid foundation for informed strategy building, but they also benefit from the competitive advantage of realizing the untapped value of their video surveillance systems.

Transforming Surveillance Investments

In the not-so-distant past, businesses made decisions by relying solely on traditional methods of anecdotal observation and a healthy dose of business acumen. While there is no doubt that many companies have and continue to meet with success using these methods, those who are adopting video analytics are translating video into impact with concrete, irrefutable insights that can influence every aspect of the function and growth of their companies.

The bottom line: Video analytics data provides visibility which translates to actionable, quantifiable data for informed decisions and strategies.

Check out these 4 ways that video analytics can transform your surveillance investments into valuable business intelligence.

  1. Uncover patterns and trends: Businesses can leverage video analytics to uncover demographic and traffic trends for building relevant targeted marketing and merchandising campaigns, as well as optimizing space utilization. Video analytics-generated heatmaps, for example, can illustrate customer traffic patterns throughout a store, highlighting the most common pathways and aisles that customers navigate, and the most (or least) popular product displays or information kiosks. Marketers and merchandising managers can leverage this actionable information when developing strategies, planning campaigns, and ordering inventory. It can be leveraged, similarly, for physical store planning.

Information about demographic patterns can also be visualized through heatmaps. For instance, if data gathered at an outdoor shopping mall indicates that men tend to spend their time gathered in a specific area, like a courtyard or food court, marketing teams can evaluate the video data and position targeted advertisements in the relevant areas. This business intelligence can help management develop plans to draw traffic to shops outside of the typical areas, thus boosting sales for stores experiencing low foot traffic.

To ensure retail stores, for example, are retaining current customers and acquiring new ones, they need to understand how customers interact with a location and how employees engage with their customers. Not only is it important for managers to understand the aggregate number of visits to a store, but it is critical to understand the unique visits; did these individuals return multiple times, how did they interact at the store, and how did long their visit last? Likewise, they need to understand whether their staff is efficiently serving those customers.

When analyzing customer traffic data, one of the biggest challenges for traditional solutions is excluding employees from the traffic report results. With comprehensive video analytics software that can combine people-counting and digital watchlists, business can exclude employees from traffic reports to increase their accuracy. Advanced video content analytics can also anonymously recognize distinct customer identities and deliver customer metrics such as bounce rate, unique customer visit duration, or repeat customer visits.

  1. Drive efficient operations: Video analytics has the unique ability to provide concrete data to address numerous operational questions and concerns. One interesting application is the intelligent deployment of staff based on actual usage data. Operations managers typically base facility maintenance on routine timetables; however, businesses can improve efficiency and create a cleaner environment for guests by directing maintenance efforts based on actual facility usage. Video analytics software aggregates video data into heatmaps and dashboard reports to show usage patterns which empower intelligent maintenance scheduling. It is also possible to trigger real-time, rule-based alerts to notify maintenance teams once a specific number of people have entered a restroom, changing area, or food court, thus indicating a required maintenance check.

Additionally, companies can use video analytics to rapidly investigate workplace incidents to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees while simultaneously mitigating the risks and costs associated with worker compensation claims. Companies can first leverage their video surveillance solutions to proactively understand employee engagement and staffing requirements, and then optimize the workspace to prevent incidents. But, in the unfortunate event of injury or harassment, the same solutions can aid effective investigations to protect both employee and company.

  1. Maximize profits: Understanding visitor data and traffic empowers business to make targeted changes to marketing, environment, and staffing strategies to increase profits. Video analytics can also help answer questions to support sales conversion strategy. For example, if 10% more of people passing a store entered the shop, how would that impact the conversion rate and accrued revenue? What promotional changes could be made to drive more people to enter a store? Combined data sets from store entry and sales conversion could also be used to highlight issues that have gone unnoticed. By creating a fuller picture based on multiple data sources, businesses can understand and address inefficiencies that occur.

Leasing justification is another way video analytics can support businesses. When a property manager employs the use of footfall analytics to track onsite traffic volume, they can count the number of people in a camera’s view which can be aggregated over time to determine patterns. Armed with this quantifiable data, managers can justify lease and rental costs to current and future tenants, while placing them in the best location for their success.

  1. Enhance loss prevention efforts: Video analytics can help security operators advance loss-prevention investigations through accelerated video review and extensive search and filter functionality. In real-time, rule-based alerts can increase situational awareness by notifying security operators of pre-defined, suspicious behaviors that require further investigation – for instance, excessive loitering near high value items or stock rooms and detecting entrance into staff-only areas. Furthermore, by better understanding traffic trends through video analytics, businesses can uncover patterns, make plans, and configure alerts for specific behaviors in order to mitigate shrinkage in the short and long term.

The world of video analytics-based intelligence is on the brink of mass adoption to address a variety of business cases and empower organizations with untapped intelligence. As these solutions gain momentum and meet the ever-growing need for data-driven problem solving, businesses are realizing that the surveillance tools they have utilized for decades as security solutions are rife with diverse possibilities. The forgotten value of video analytics is now the driving force behind the rise of business intelligence today.