Exclusive interview: Ken Francis – Eagle Eye Networks

Exclusive interview: Ken Francis – Eagle Eye Networks

SME editor, Claire Mahoney, talks to Ken Francis president of cloud-based surveillance pioneers Eagle Eye Networks, who are opening an office in Dubai this year, about how off-premises surveillance can boost productivity and surveillance

Do you think COVID-19 will result in a renewed focus on cloud-based surveillance? And if so, how?

Some 90% of companies report doing business in the cloud. Its adoption started to ascend a few years ago and has accelerated with COVID-19, as the business world has scrambled to maintain productivity with a home-bound workforce – video security was part of that acceleration.

COVID-19 has influenced operations managers and security directors to recognise the true value of remote connectivity and the ability to access data from virtually anywhere. We are seeing an accelerated rate of adoption of cloud-based surveillance solutions because of the many benefits that cloud solutions provide.

For example, cloud-based solutions enable both integrators and end user customers to have unrestricted access to their solution and systems. Customers can remotely view video and extract data, so long as they have a cellular or Wifi connection and either a mobile device or access to a desktop computer. Integrators, on the other hand, can run remote diagnostics, troubleshoot problems and initiate software updates without having to physically step foot into a facility.

In addition, because a cloud-based surveillance system does not rely on a hardware-based infrastructure, scalability is much easier to achieve and at a lower price point. Many end users are looking at how to more cost-effectively run their security programs in the future and cloud-based surveillance solutions provide the resources to make this happen.

In certain sectors there are still security concerns about the security of the cloud itself, something that again has been highlighted during the pandemic with more people working remotely. How are you addressing these concerns?

We take privacy and cybersecurity seriously. Our founder, Dean Drako also founded Barracuda Networks, a global leader in cybersecurity and brought that knowledge and expertise to Eagle Eye Networks to ensure we provide the most hardened system available to protect data and privacy.

This becomes more and more important as the number of cloud video users grow — even today only about 10% of video surveillance is on the cloud, with the rest still being recorded on a server or a machine or computer located in the facility where the cameras are installed. These on-premise systems also leave video data vulnerable to physical threats, such as theft, or other natural disasters such as a typhoon or a hurricane, or a fire in a business.

Heightened data security, along with remote access and maintenance, increased stability, and disaster recovery are key drivers of the growth in cloud, along with major cost savings, flexible storage and retention and scalability. In addition, bandwidth challenges are no longer a feasible argument against cloud computing, as tremendous advances have been made in internet bandwidth availability. Additionally, the cloud also enables an open platform, which promotes flexible, fast technology innovation and longevity.

As one of the pioneers of cloud-based surveillance systems – you describe your offering as a ‘true cloud solution’ can you explain in more detail what you mean by this?

Not all physical security industry cloud offerings are true cloud systems. A true cloud system is specifically engineered for cloud computing. It provides valuable capabilities that premises-based systems can’t. Cloud systems engineering is very different from traditional client-server software engineering. A true cloud system’s architecture makes maximum use of modern cloud computing technology, through a “pay only for what you use” subscription model. A true cloud system affordably and securely provides scalable capabilities that can’t possibly be achieved in client-server on-premises systems.

The Eagle Eye Cloud Video Management System (VMS) is a smart cloud video surveillance solution, purpose-built to help businesses improve safety, security, operations, and customer service. Customers choose Eagle Eye Cloud VMS for its comprehensive central management, cloud reliability and redundancy, cost savings, and its open API video platform that provides a vast number of third-party integrations. Customers appreciate Eagle Eye’s inherent cyber secure design and extensive video encryption to protect their data and privacy. The Eagle Eye Cloud VMS works with thousands of industry cameras and does not require customers to “rip and replace” their existing infrastructure. Eagle Eye provides actionable business intelligence and proactive security to multi-family residences, smart cities, schools, hospitals, hotels, logistics, restaurants, retail shops and more. In fact, in less than two months we installed a system that connected to more than 16,000 cameras in Mexico City.

In terms of the ME region how will you be investing in this area going forward?

Eagle Eye Networks is launching its Middle East office in January 2021. The regional office will be led by an experienced, savvy sales team with experience building, running and growing video security business in the Middle East. We have hired two strong industry veterans, located in Dubai, UAE, to launch regional presale and post sale support and build channel relationships. We expect rapid cloud adoption in the Middle East based on similar market entries in LATAM, Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia. As business ramps up in this region, we will continue to expand our presence and team.

Which vertical sectors do you see as more ready adopters of ‘cloud based surveillance’?

Some of the strongest markets for cloud-based surveillance includes retail, restaurants, and fitness facilities. These facilities have a number of issues in common, such the need for a manager or owner to remotely monitor multiple facilities and also a desire to implement a surveillance system that can easily be scaled up for future growth. These facilities also want to connect their surveillance systems with POS systems, to help monitor transactions, to hold employees accountable and to create a better all around customer experience.

Has the ability to gather ‘business intelligence’ off the back of security systems becoming the USP for many companies in your market?

This is a very insightful question. The use of BI off the back of a cloud-based video system is far easier, less expensive and more secure. So yes, we are seeing a great deal of adoption for BI purposes. We have hundreds of very interesting use cases from warehousing, manufacturing, retail and all the way through Smart City applications. But this is only the tip of the iceberg because cloud-based surveillance is still a relatively small percentage of the video market. But we see a CAGR of BI use of video surveillance far over 100 percent. Our BI use forecast in Cloud Video Surveillance will be released within our upcoming “2021 Trends in Video Security” eBook due out in the first quarter of 2021.

Apart from the type of data it can help gather – how can AI offer improvements in workflow and security management and can it help bridge the skills gap in the region?

AI is rapidly becoming the means to improving physical security quality, accuracy and reducing the Total Cost of Ownership of the physical security “system.” In video specifically, the system collects 100 times more data than the system user can consume and AI is extremely helpful in steering the user to the pertinent data.

AI is somewhat helpful in “skills gap,” but the transition from on-site video system to cloud system is the real advantage. The best way to think about this is that each and every on-site system has to be installed and maintained and these are the two biggest cost buckets for operating a video system. A “cloud” system is already running and already maintained. The integrator and/or the end user only needs to attach the new site to the already running enterprise. This is far less complex and requires far less time.

What are the company’s plans going forward into 2021?

We will accelerate global expansion and deliver artificial intelligence for our cloud video surveillance platform. We’re hiring across the company and investing in the people, products and systems to accelerate our growth and deliver the best customer experience in the industry.

We are investing in resources to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity to leverage AI and alter the very nature of video surveillance. As the only platform robust enough to power the future of video surveillance we will continue to invest in APIs that allow cameras from any manufacturer to connect to our true cloud system. We have the means and the technology to enable cloud video surveillance to transform how companies manage security and business operations, in the same way self-driving/electric cars are transforming transportation. We will continue to bring high-quality products to market as quickly as possible, to grow and attract top talent, provide the best customer experience in the industry, and deliver on the promise of big data while respecting privacy at all levels.

“We have the means and the technology to enable cloud video surveillance to transform how companies manage security and business operations”