EXCLUSIVE: Keeping an open mind in cloud video surveillance

Dean Drako - on cloud video surveillance

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Dean Drako – engineer, inventor, entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of Eagle Eye Networks – talks to SJA about how cloud video surveillance with AI can make businesses more efficient and the world a safer place.

Can you tell me about your background in security?

I’ve worked in different sectors of the tech industry for the past three decades, building and running profitable, high recurring-revenue companies that solve business problems and contribute to making society safer and more secure.

In 2003, I founded the cybersecurity company Barracuda Networks and launched the IT industry’s first spam filter appliance.

Over the next nine years, that company became one of the world’s largest providers of software appliances with a global reputation.

Barracuda had offices across the globe and I was concerned about providing great service to my customers, as well as ensuring the safety and security of my employees.

I wanted to deploy a video surveillance system to keep everything safe and secure in all of Barracuda’s locations.

This was in 2010 and I was not impressed with what I found. The video surveillance solutions available did not enjoy the benefits of the cloud—they could not be centrally managed, could not use existing security cameras or cameras from different manufacturers and did not have automatic feature or cybersecurity updates.

I was surprised to learn that no one had yet made a true cloud video surveillance solution.

I knew I was not alone as a business owner who wanted a robust, cybersecure, easy-to-centrally-manage system, or cloud video surveillance.

I founded Eagle Eye Networks to solve that business problem. We set out to build the first ground-up solution for cloud video surveillance and I have been running and growing Eagle Eye Networks since then.

What is your vision for Eagle Eye Networks?

The overall vision for Eagle Eye Networks is to leverage cloud and AI to deliver a comprehensive cloud-based security, safety and operational efficiency video platform.

We believe the right long-term architecture is to put as much of the video into the cloud as possible where AI can be easily applied for a multitude of applications.

We further believe that open platforms are most desirable and the most flexible for larger enterprise organizations.

Today, 99% of security camera video is not viewed. When an incident does occur, traditional systems require that someone spends hours scrubbing video looking for a particular clip.

We want to change this so that video surveillance video is constantly monitored by AI to automatically provide alerts when something is out of place.

That is a possibility with AI, and the cloud makes it more practical, flexible and robust.

One of the things that is important to our customers is an open platform, which gives the business owner the choice to use any security cameras they desire and the flexibility to integrate with other types of products.

If they need license plate recognition, our platform can be integrated with their solution of choice; if they need an access control system, that can be integrated as well; if they want face recognition to automatically open doors, this can be added to the system.

What about Eagle Eye Networks are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of the fact that we are the first – and I think still the only – cloud video surveillance company where customers can send all their video to the cloud all the time. 

Most of our competitors avoid sending video surveillance to the cloud. While it took a lot of technological development and a lot of hard work, I’m pleased that we have achieved this capability.

We are an open system and we partner with resellers to sell and install our cloud solution around the globe.

We have stayed true to our resellers throughout our history and will continue to do so, maintaining the great partnership we have with them.

Finally, we are making a tremendous investment in AI, because we believe that it will fundamentally change the landscape of the video surveillance and cloud video surveillance industry, evolving us from a video surveillance business into a video AI safety/security business.

Can you expand on how you see AI being used in the future?

There are approximately a billion security cameras across the globe today. Most of these cameras are not watched.

Security cameras are used for forensic investigations, i.e., something happens, so the recording is watched to identify what happened. Very few video surveillance cameras are actively watched.

However, with AI, we can actively watch all cameras and look for events that need attention. For example, if AI identifies a fire, an alert can be sent so that the fire department can be notified more quickly.

Another example is AI scanning for anyone who has slipped and fallen, and automatically dispatching help to them.

AI can be used to look for children playing near dangerous areas or for cars that have slid off an icy road. AI can detect many things and let somebody know to take action, rather than just recording it. 

I think AI will also be used for productivity and efficiency in a business. For example, if the lines are getting too long at a store’s checkout, it will alert the manager to open another checkout lane.

We even have customers who operate 20 stores in a city; sometimes one store is very busy while another store is not, so they will send staff between the two when they get the appropriate AI alerts.

How does Eagle Eye Networks stay at the forefront of innovation?

Quality is our top priority. We’re laser-focused on quality across our entire organization – R&D, testing, manufacturing processes, customer, sales, marketing and technical support.

Our customers expect quality and that’s what Eagle Eye Networks delivers. We have an awesome and amazing engineering team and continue to invest in them.

As a part of this strategy, we are a responsive organization; we listen to the feedback from our customers and our teams work with them to develop and deliver the solutions to their problems.

Our open system is very helpful in this regard because we can always find ways to improve and add more solutions.

To invest in this further, we’ve just raised over $100 million, part of which is used for R&D.

Can you go into more detail about how you are going to use that investment? 

We have a strong presence in North America as it’s where our headquarters is, but we also have a significant presence in Latin America and South America that we’re looking to expand and the investment will aid us in this.

The funding will also allow us to further progress our AI, which we think will greatly improve the product to deliver on the promise of innovation.

When cloud-based systems become more widely adopted, the features and capabilities that customers want from the platform will become more regulated and comprehensive.

A large enterprise that wants to run 100,000 cameras has a different set of demands and requirements than an organization which needs 100 cameras.

We continue to build out the abilities of our platform using that investment to serve larger customers.

How do you see Eagle Eye Networks growing in the future?

The penetration of cloud video surveillance in the market is very small right now, but I believe – and industry analysts such as Novaira Insights agree – that it will come to dominate this sector and AI is key for this to happen.

Customers will no longer buy video management systems; instead, they will buy an AI security system that will give them peace of mind and help them run their businesses.

Eagle Eye Networks will be vital in helping this market to grow, because what drives me and the company is making the world a safer place.

What are the main conversations that the industry should be talking about at the moment?

I would say that we are still in the early stages of adoption for the cloud in video surveillance. Our channel and customers are still learning and understanding the trade-offs and advantages that the cloud brings.

Many are trying to figure out their transition strategies, which presents a challenge. Another challenge I see is with cybersecurity; the physical security industry has traditionally not paid a lot of attention to cybersecurity.

My background was in cybersecurity prior to Eagle Eye Networks, so we have a big focus on this embedded within the business, but convincing others to invest in their cybersecurity infrastructure is difficult. 

Do you have any parting thoughts? 

The key takeaway from me is that the cloud and AI go together like peanut butter and jelly, because if you get video surveillance into the cloud, running AI on it is much easier and much more effective.

I would also emphasize again the importance of cybersecurity and cybersecurity hygiene. Spending some time, money and effort on cybersecurity rather than just checking boxes is vital.

Lastly, AI is going to fundamentally change the product that we deliver; it’s going to shift toward an AI safety and security system that can help to advance proactive measures that protect people and organizations.

This article was originally published in the November edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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