An open OS and camera app store

CCTV Handbook 2022 Surveillance, Integrated Solutions


Fabio Marti.

In the CCTV Handbook 2020, Hi-Tech Security Solutions wrote about an organisation named S&ST; that had produced an open operating system for cameras as well as a market place where third parties could sell AI-based apps that can be loaded onto cameras running the OS (www.securitysa.com/11564r).

The organisation is now called Azena and has camera manufacturers like Bosch, Hanwha and Vivotek (among others) producing hardware running the operating system, and it has over 100 AI apps available in its store (https://store.azena.com/shop/). To find out more about what is happening with the ‘app store’ approach of Azena, Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to Fabio Marti, vice president of marketing at Azena.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What has the uptake been among the vendor and end-user communities of Azena’s open camera OS? Is it becoming a niche product or are you seeing broad adoption?

Marti: We are seeing both niche solutions – fish farming, flame detection on oil derricks – as well as large deployments where edge processing/edge intelligence on the cameras is being used to pre-filter events at a security operations centre to reduce incoming alarm traffic for the human operators. We’re pleased that adoption in both of these areas is growing, and it shows the versatility of our platform and the viability of the open approach to analytics that we have brought to the market.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Has the ‘app store’ concept proved successful among end users? Are you finding more developers showing interest in developing apps?

Marti: Just the fact that we now have more than 100 apps on the Azena Application Store proves how attractive the platform model is to developers and shows how easy it is for developers to develop AI video analytics for the platform. As with most new technology, there is a growing number of forward-thinking end users who are introducing the platform and cameras within their organisations as a cost-effective and easily customisable way to solve a very specific need within their organisation.

For example, we see growing adoption in the oil and gas industry with customers using the platform to inspect flares, ensuring excess gas is burnt in a clean and environmentally friendly way. The platform allows them to now also use the same cameras to detect intrusions to the perimeter with an app that runs simultaneously with the flare inspection app. Some are also piloting PPE inspection apps to check whether workers on the premises are wearing proper safety gear.

This is just one of many examples we see in the field today, but overall it is fair to say that end users are starting to discover the vast range of possibilities once they install the first cameras. The flexibility of the platform allows them to gradually add more use cases and source more value from the investment.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What reason would an end user have to change the analytics on a camera? Some may say that you install a camera for a specific purpose so there would seldom be a reason to add or remove the analytics on it.

Marti: Changing the analytics can come in three forms. You may want to improve the current set-up, change the use of a camera completely, or add additional analytics to a camera. And we do see the need for all three of these in the market. Even if you do not want to change the use of a camera, technology is advancing so fast these days, with new players entering the market at an unprecedented pace, that customers are increasingly looking for ways to harness these new solutions as they become available.

If you install a licence-plate recognition for barrier free parking today, it is very likely that in just a year’s time you will find a new solution on the market that features even better accuracy. Being able to take advantage of that, even if it comes from another vendor, may be of value and further improve your business case. With Azena this is possible.

There are also many examples where you may want to change the use of a camera over time. Think for instance about multi-purpose venues, such as convention centres. The use cases for analytics may vary depending on the nature of each event taking place or also specific requests of the organiser. There may also be changing regulations that you need to consider. Adding face mask detection or occupancy tracking to an existing installation as the pandemic hit in 2020 would have been easy with Azena-supported devices; our developer community already had respective apps in the store in early summer.

Lastly, there is tremendous value in the ability to add additional analytics to existing cameras to leverage more information from the camera infrastructure already in place, for long-term security or operational purposes or short-term data collection. As mentioned, we see that customers come up with new potential uses when the first cameras are installed. As an example, cameras used for perimeter protection can additionally also identify objects such as abandoned luggage, which can further add to safety in public buildings and venues, such as museums, train stations and stadiums.

In the end, we need to remember that many use cases for video analytics have not even been discovered yet. Things that you cannot think of today may be possible in just a few months. A flexible open platform allows you to benefit from the accelerated innovation in the field as new technology becomes available, without having had to think of all the potential scenarios upfront.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What does Azena do to ensure your OS as well as the apps available from third parties meet today’s complex cybersecurity requirements?

Marti: Security is a central component of Azena’s value proposition and we are in a perfect position to offer a very high level of security on our platform. We have built the Azena OS for video processing devices on top of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). There is no other operating system on the planet that has as much exposure as Android, so it is continuously being tested in the field and by a large open-source community, while Google put its full weight behind it to ensure high security. Android has been specifically built to run third-party applications without compromising security, which is exactly what we need.

On our end, we have further increased security of the camera OS by adding additional security components such as a security agent that monitors for and reports on unusual behaviour that could indicate a potential security threat. So, we are building on a very strong security foundation to start with, arguably stronger than Linux, with its hundreds of different distributions, that all need to constantly be kept up to date but are not always.

On top of this strong foundation, we have built our own security practice with regular penetration tests, scanning of apps for malware, a bug bounty programme and many more measures to ensure optimal security for our customers and our partners’ customers, while we take care of patching and updating for security.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: How is Azena planning on expanding its market? This is especially relevant as other companies also allow ‘apps’ to be loaded onto certain cameras.

Marti: We are working to continuously expand our network of camera hardware partners to further grow the available devices that systems integrators and end users can select for deployment to best fit their needs. Additionally, we are also adding to our robust list of development companies who are building apps specifically for our app marketplace, which is the only open platform marketplace for camera apps in the world. Also, the app catalogue keeps growing with use cases being added every month. This is extending the viability of the platform to more verticals and end user profiles. Access to the Azena platform is also available to an organisation’s existing camera infrastructure using a separate AI-box that enables traditional IP cameras to access the AI apps and the Azena platform. This is a cost-efficient option for many organisations to take advantage of the analytics offered by our development partners.




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