The data game

The data game

Claire Mahoney speaks to Costa Boukouvalas, CEO of Dubai-based surveillance storage company AgilityGrid about how their business has adapted and grown alongside the need for greater data storage and retention in the UAE …

What is you core product offering and how is it different from what else is available on the market?
Our core product is video surveillance storage and server solutions. Our solution is unique in that it is purpose-built for video surveillance. Our video storage carries six patents and is able to store video data with zero frame loss. It also retrieves video 20 times faster than general data storage devices and is easily scalable. As businesses grow they can add up to 1000 cameras on to a single storage device. The storage also can easily accommodate longer retention periods and higher resolution cameras as required. This means businesses wont be stuck with technology that quickly becomes out of date. Other unique features include the onboard monitoring tools that track performance in real-time, giving operators much more visibility.

You are quite a young company. What were your objectives when you established – did you feel there was a gap in the market?
Six years ago there was definitely a gap in the market. A lot of low-end data storage devices were being used in quite large CCTV installations such as theme parks, hotels etc. There was a lack of awareness of the capability and quality differences between these and the high end, enterprise technologies. Within the first 12 months of our operation, a number of businesses started to experience failures and inability to retrieve the security data they need. In addition, the UAE and Abu Dhabi Governments changed their regulations and increased the data retention periods required by law. That is when many business started to come back to us, having realised they needed more high performance surveillance solutions that guarantee no frame loss. Today the technology continues to evolve and there are so many new capabilities available.

Particularly with the range of new video analytics software that has come onto the market. Can you tell us about the types of projects you have supplied systems for?
We have supplied systems for a wide range of projects from law enforcement agencies, military sites, energy and utility sites, shopping malls and retail districts, many of the large hotel chains along with tourist attractions such as zoos and theme parks. Our large­scale solutions have ranged up to 10PB, 3000 cameras? and over 100 recording servers. In addition, we monitor and benchmark our installations to ensure they constantly perform to the KPls that we have set. This gives our customers confidence in our service and quality and we get a lot of repeat business as a result.

What is the most common requirement from your customers these days?
Our customers are mostly looking for solutions that are reliable in terms of being low maintenance with minimal risk of data loss. The other thing they look for is scalability. They may install the minimum requirements initially but want to be able to add more hardware such as increasing the amount of storage or number of cameras as they grow. Service support is also important in terms of their teams receiving thorough training on the systems and being able to receive 24 hour assistance should they have any issues.

You work closely with other industry partners – is this the way forward in the security industry?
Security technology is constantly changing and evolving as are the needs of our customers with expanding businesses. We are continually developing and enhancing our portfolio of products and solutions by hand picking partners with the same focus on quality, performance and innovation that we have. As a result we have really strong relationships with our partners and we have worked with them to further customise their technologies, to ensure it is fully integrated and works seamlessly with our overall Surveillance Solution. This way we can continue to meet and exceed our customers expectations.

What will you be showing at lntersec 2017?
We will be demonstrating how we have fully integrated our surveillance solution with a range of new hardware and video analytics software technology. We now have an amazing suite of video analytics software which can greatly reduce security risks for businesses, connect security guards to the CCTV system through their mobile devices, detect abnormal behaviour and provide alerts in real-time and much more. We are looking forward to being able to educate our customers about these further at the show. We also have a new line of hardware that we plan to launch in 2017 with some innovative features and built-in software technology.

Where do you see the market headed over the next three to five years?
The trend for Big Data analytics and understanding more about your customers and people’s behaviour in general, is going to increasingly be applied to video analytics. From use of facial recognition and biometric software to recognise VIP customers when they enter a retail outlet or hotel property to identifying and alerting authorities to the presence of known criminals that might be passing through an airport. Using machine learning and high performance computing to analyse the steams of video data coming from camera feeds to better understand people’s behaviours. This could include suspicious behaviour such as loitering, anti-social behaviour, probing, rioting etc … surveillance systems will move from relatively passive data gathering to being more proactive in providing earlier alerts for suspicious behaviours and automatically tracking the movement of suspects across multiple locations.