What is the internet of video things (IoVT)?

The internet of things (IoT) concept is adding connectivity to physical items so they may be networked together. The benefits of the IoT concept can be somewhat difficult to comprehend in siloed industries such as video surveillance. However, devices such as video surveillance cameras where video is the primary sensor will become more important in the IoT. Through integration into wider reaching platforms and ecosystems video sensors are forming an internet of video things (IoVT): a sub-set of the internet of video things which is video centric. IoVT platforms are geared to deal with the specialist requirements of video sensors, managing video data and running video analytics.

Via the integration of video and big data analytics a video sensor is a powerful but flexible source of data to digitise the physical world. Video sensors are unobtrusive, can cover wide areas and produce metadata to interpret what the physical world represents across huge numbers of parameters. It is the sensor most like our own eye. When paired with analytics such a system is like our brain interpreting inputs from our eyes. At present we are not at the level of accuracy of the human eye or brain. Yet, the technology is advancing towards this level. As the unit scale of connected video devices across common ecosystems increases, the barriers to innovation for software developers decrease. This innovation will lead to the development of many new video and big data analytics and subsequent new use cases furthering the value of video integration to the internet of things.

Examples of visual sensors include visible light and infrared video cameras, still or snapshot cameras, thermal cameras and lidar sensors. These sensors may be housed in mobile and/or multi-use devices such as cell phones or in more specific housings such as a video surveillance camera. Regardless, the past two decades have seen a huge proliferation of these devices into the physical world. Yet, many of these sensors are not connected to wider systems via an internet of video things. They remain in disparate systems where they typically have a single purpose such as a security camera. This too is changing. Barriers to integration are becoming smaller. Big cloud service providers such as AWS or Microsoft Azure are offering dedicated services for processing, storing, and managing video data. In video surveillance, ecosystems and platforms beyond video security are developing which offer relatively frictionless integrations to other non-video security domains and non-video sensors.

This connectivity and availability of video data when combined with other non-video IoT devices will allow end-users to gain additional insights and efficiencies through the digitalisation and automation of the physical world. Examples of this include IoT networks across cities, campuses, industrial sites, or individual buildings.

In a city example an IoT network is created by local authorities as part of a “smart city”. The IoVT layer has video amalgamated from multiple sources into a single platform. Potential video sources include: surveillance cameras, traffic cameras, dash cams from authority vehicles (emergency services, utility, and public transit), environmental monitoring cameras (tide, river or flood levels), video uploaded from cell phones or social media. In this video centric platform video inputs can be monitored, recorded, and analysed.

The IoVT layer is augmented with the wider internet of things. Other non-video IoT devices in a city could include: traffic sensors, other safety and security sensors (access control, intrusion and fire), utility and environmental sensors (waste receptacle levels, water levels, weather stations).  

The value of the internet of things in this city example occurs from providing a team of human operators in a city control room greater situational awareness and the ability to automate workflows across applications via multi-sensor inputs. This would include security and emergency response; public address and information; environmental monitoring; traffic and parking management; public transit systems; and utility management.

The IoVT and IoT value proposition is applicable in many use cases, not just large cities. It presents an advancement in functionality even at a base level in a siloed video surveillance application. Here the internet of video things allows for multiple types of visual sensors to be integrated with minimal friction in a common ecosystem; innovation from both hardware and software vendors can be incorporated to lead to new video and non-video based applications.