Millions of hours of visual data captured in the UK every day are being wasted because businesses are failing to use or even look at their CCTV footage. These are the words of James Wickes, co-founder and chief executive of Cloudview, who believes visual data can play a critical role in a market that is set for massive growth in 2018 – the Visual Internet of Things (VIoT).
In a new white paper, Wickes explains the positive impact of integrating existing visual data with the IoT, big data, cloud and analytics to create new applications. The resulting VIoT applications could range from speeding up the response to motorway accidents and managing city parking to working with people flows in transport hubs, caring for vulnerable people and helping to sell products and services.
“The Visual IoT will be central to many of the developments that will touch our lives,” Wickes says. “Indeed, this is already proving to be the case. When you check in at an airport a reader scans your boarding pass and a camera scans your face. Without the visual data that the camera captures the system would be much less effective.
“Most visual data, however, is currently collected for a single purpose, and the vast majority is in effect wasted because it is never even looked at. Combining it with other IoT data streams and adding analytics would make it immensely valuable.”
According to McKinsey, video analytics will see a compound annual growth rate of more than 50 percent over the next five years, contributing to a potential economic impact for the IoT of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025. The ability to integrate visual data into complex systems is expanding the horizons of what can be achieved.
“We now have the processing power, bandwidth, data storage capacity and computing ability to enable fast, reliable analysis of visual data to a standard that makes this commercially viable,” explains Wickes. “We are only just beginning to understand the potential of this data but, as sight is our most powerful sense, the benefit of integrating visual information with other IoT data streams is a no-brainer. Devices and systems need to ‘see’ what we see and respond accordingly, and using data from some of the UK’s millions of surveillance cameras is a good place to start.”
Our research suggests there are currently some 8.2 million surveillance cameras in the UK, producing 10.3 petabytes of visual data every hour. Most of this footage is stored locally and never looked at. By consolidating it in a cloud infrastructure and combining it with other data sets, from static data such as grid references to dynamic ones such as weather data, it could provide clear visual insight into what is happening, why, and what might happen next.
The big issue is of course privacy, but the right analytical software enables automatic decisions to be made without human involvement, while the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as discussed in our recent White Paper Watching the Watchers, provides additional data protection. There are also many applications in sectors such as the environment that will not involve individuals at all.
Wickes concludes: “There is tremendous potential for existing surveillance cameras to go beyond their single use function, and become part of wider, smart city initiatives that focus on improving the local environment. Local authorities and other camera users need to grasp this opportunity quickly and capitalise on their unused and unloved resources to benefit all of us.”
The White Paper VISUAL IoT: WHERE THE IoT, CLOUD AND BIG DATA COME TOGETHER can be downloaded from http://www.cloudview.co/whitepapers/visualiot
 Video meets the Internet of Things, McKinsey, December 2016 https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/video-meets-the-internet-of-things
 If the average MP3 encoding for mobile is around 1MB per minute, and the average song lasts about four minutes, then a petabyte of songs would last over 2,000 years playing continuously.