Optimising edge analytics

CCTV Handbook 2022 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, IT infrastructure

Video surveillance and CCTV have been around for a long time. Monitoring using these tools still tends to be done manually and, due to a lack of resources, most surveillance video is never seen. Even when seen, there is still a risk of human error, leading to low accuracy and missed or misinterpreted events.

Software-based video analytics can improve both the accuracy and effectiveness of video surveillance by combining different methods, such as machine learning and AI to let the system do the tedious task of monitoring and automatically generate descriptions or metadata of events in videos.

With such increased accuracy and lower operational costs, as well as new areas of use, it is no surprise that the video analytics market (software and services) is experiencing strong growth, with the services segment expected to grow at an even faster rate than the software segment, providing ample opportunities for service providers. So how can service providers tap into such an opportunity? What is the optimum way to deploy such a service to ensure quality for the customer and profitability for the provider?

How to deploy and optimise video analytics as a service

Process the video at the edge

Software-based video analytics makes it possible to move monitoring activities from a centralised location to the customer premises without compromising on quality or generating higher costs. This has two major benefits:

• The data volumes produced by a single surveillance camera can be huge – several GB a day. This can create a bandwidth issue for many links, including LTE/5G. With multiple cameras in use, even fixed lines can become congested. Processing on premises removes bandwidth problems.

• Data privacy and protection means that many enterprises do not want to process any data offsite. Surveillance video footage can contain both personal and sensitive data. Video analysis on the edge enables this data to remain on-site.

Create maximum service flexibility

Analytics built into camera hardware or vendor-specific appliances comes with a fixed function set limiting how service providers and enterprises can use it or customise its functionality. A video analytics solution that can be used in many different ways and easily adapted to specific situations requires a much more flexible platform – one that separates the camera hardware from the analytics software to allow innovation at ‘software speed’. Universal Customer Premises Equipment (uCPE) is ideal for this and also provides a very cost-effective solution.

A uCPE is essentially a white-labelled networking and computing platform for customer premises, capable of hosting any workload. It is managed centrally, through a virtualisation and management layer, allowing software updates, application installations or removals on-demand, but with all processing taking place at the edge. Running video analytics software on a uCPE decouples the analytics application from the camera, thereby avoiding any hardware limitations.

Also, if the video analytics application is co-hosted with other virtual networking applications, e.g., a router, SD-WAN solution or firewall, it gains access to the connectivity needed to send metadata to the cloud or a data centre. A service provider can use a single uCPE platform to mix and match applications of various kinds and sources, allowing enterprises to choose which vendors they want for their different applications in addition to the video analytics service.

Providing AI-based Video Analytics-as-a-Service

inq., a pan-African digital service provider headquartered in Mauritius, offers both networking services based on secure SD-WAN, and smart video analytics as a service. Its video analytics service is mainly focused on three key areas:

• Compliance-as-a-Service: detecting compliance and safety issues using AI.

• Intelligent perimeter security: automatically monitoring and alerting across locations in real time.

• Retail analytics: AI-based real-time store and customer behaviour analytics.

The solution is completely software-based and can tap into existing camera systems. The captured video is processed on the uCPE and extracted metadata (selected, specific information) can be sent to centralised or cloud-based systems or it can generate alerts. The solution is controlled and managed through a cloud-based platform, also provided as a service.

Detection capabilities include:

• Motion detection.

• Facial recognition and licence plate reading.

• People counting and dwell time monitoring for retail stores.

• Recognising long lines at checkout and sending alerts.

• Compliance-as-a-Service in HSE (health, safety and environment).

• Retail analytics for the customer experience.

• Intelligent security.

• Behavioural Analytics (crowd management)

• Vehicle ANPR.

A major benefit of inq.’s solution is that it is completely based on software and agnostic to camera hardware, making it possible to use any IP camera. Even existing cameras can be connected to the solution, leveraging investments and installations.

Because the analytics software is decoupled from the camera hardware, it is easy to modify and enhance services. Detection algorithms can be customised to fit any use, new or existing, and fine-tuned to provide the highest possible accuracy using inq.’s control and machine learning platforms. Camera system training is part of the offering, providing the end user with a system adapted to their unique needs while still being delivered as a service.

Flexibility in uCPE

inq. saw a possibility to cross-sell its networking and video analytics services, using the secure connectivity provided by their SD-WAN solutions to remotely control the analytics solution and relay processed data back.

The company needed a flexible platform that could host both networking and video analytics applications at the customer premises edge and turned to uCPE. The right uCPE would offer the flexibility, performance and management features needed to address both technical and business needs.

In the end, inq. chose an Advantech white-box edge appliance in combination with the Enea Edge virtualisation and management platform. When installed at the customer premises, inq. can easily on-board and provision any application requested by the end user (including the enterprise’s own applications) and make changes and updates remotely and on-demand. This provides an excellent upsell opportunity, as inq. can instantly install and run additional services for any existing uCPE-based customer.

Advantech edge appliances

Advantech commercial-off-the-shelf edge appliances for uCPE, SD-WAN and SASE provide a solid and open foundation for service providers and enterprises allowing them to accelerate network transformation through agile and secure, cloud-native network solutions. The scalable white boxes integrate the latest Intel computing and networking technologies, from Intel Atom to Intel Xeon scalable processors. They are already widely deployed, running popular networking and security software from industry leading ecosystem partners. They have been carefully designed to minimise costly downtime, on-site interventions and service interruptions, and are supported by Advantech’s global service network.

Advantech appliances can scale to all needs including secure connectivity for small and medium enterprise branches to large campuses and headquarters. They adapt to multiple configurations and price points, with optional networking modules that allow a highly flexible WAN connectivity choice of hybrid 5G, 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 5, xDSL and SFP+. Rugged models supporting a wide operating temperature range (-20°C to 70°C) and surge protection allow Advantech to extend appliance use to environments such as smart cities and smart grids. In addition, server-class configurations that can integrate AI acceleration enable new uCPE use cases including intelligent retail and surveillance.

Enea Edge

Enea Edge is a uCPE operating system and management solution purpose-built to host virtual networking, security and edge applications like video analytics on white box uCPE. The universal design of Enea Edge allows it to support any application from any vendor, including an enterprise’s own applications, thereby freeing service providers and enterprises from vendor lock-in. This open approach enables service providers to grow their business by extending their offering with new functionalities.

Enea Edge consists of three elements:

• Enea Edge Runtime: white-box operating system providing virtual machines and container runtimes.

• Enea Edge Management: platform and application/VNF lifecycle management.

• Enea Edge Automation: a framework for automating deployment and operation of large-scale networks.

Enea Edge Runtime can be deployed on any Advantech white box hardware (uCPE) at the customer premises or service provider edge. It is optimised to combine high networking and computing performance with a small platform footprint, thereby enabling cost-effective use of available hardware resources.

Enea Edge Management and Enea Edge Automation are deployed in a data centre or cloud environment. Access is either through a web-based GUI or an API for integration with third-party tools. The management and automation solutions are tested on large-scale networks comprising thousands of units to ensure scalability for growing business.

Conclusion

Video analytics represents a huge opportunity for service providers especially when deployed on uCPE in combination with other services. inq. is an excellent example of how to build a successful offering, making surveillance systems more useful by adding smart video analytics to IP cameras. By reducing the workload on security and management staff, it helps enterprises capture the full value of video surveillance with intelligence, and adapts to any use case.

For service providers looking for a reliable, proven uCPE solution, Advantech’s white-box appliance with Enea Edge is an ideal combination.

For more information contact:

• inq., www.inq.inc

• Enea, www.enea.com/ucpe

• Advantech, www2.advantech.com/nc/spotlight/ucpe




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