How Integration Wizards Solutions turns CCTV cameras into analytical tools

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This Bangalore based AI startup Integration Wizards Solutions is on a mission to convert instantly CCTV cameras into active analytical tools. The idea behind this unique mission is to help private and government organisations and businesses gain actionable data insights from CCTV cameras’ video feeds.

Integration Wizards Solutions has envisioned a better utilization of CCTV infrastructure and investment with the power of AI algorithms and analytics backed solutions.

For this bootstrap, AI startup Integration Wizards Solutions that unique idea has turned into a flourishing business over the past seven years. Many of the Fortune 500 companies are amongst the startup’s list of customers including Xerox, Heineken, Carlsberg, Diageo, Tata Power Solar and several others. Founded in 2014, the startup has grown in size with offices in the US, UK, Europe and Canada with over 20,000 users and 75 deployments.

“Primarily, our business is around making sense of data that’s coming from CCTV cameras. We kind of started-off trying to solve a very simple problem that the world is full of CCTV cameras,” says Kunal Kisely, Co-Founder and CEO – Integration Wizards Solutions.

“And it’s getting denser and denser in terms of the number of CCTV installations that are out there. But it also happens to be largely one of the most underutilized investments that organisations and governments make. Because it is never giving you any active insight,” adds Kislay.

For most private and government organisations security and surveillance remains among their top priorities. And they make huge investments in CCTV installations and infrastructure. However, the maintenance and administration of such installations and infrastructure make it a costly affair for organisations, which often consider it as a dead investment with literally no return on investment (ROI).

And that’s where Integration Wizards Solutions leverages the power of AI algorithms and video analytics to build its cloud and on-premise solution offerings to meet different needs of customers across verticals. It mainly extracts data and real-time insights from video footage. This helps businesses and organisations not just avoid or guard against any untoward incidents such as intrusion or misuse of assets. But also provides business information such as footfalls and movement of people in any premise, their interests and more.

In this interview, Kunal Kislay, Co-Founder and CEO – Integration Wizards Solutions talks to about the scenario of CCTV infrastructure costs and ROI for organisations and how his startup’s solution offerings can provide data insights and information from CCTV camera video feeds. He also discusses the customisation of solutions with KPIs, engagements with partners and system integrators as well as the core issue of privacy linked with video surveillance and AI, and much more.

Edited excerpts…

Q1. CCTV infrastructure involves a high investment with its regular operational and maintenance cost. For organisations, it remains a big investment but low on ROI. How do you see this scenario?
Kunal Kislay:
One of the biggest pains of CCTV infrastructure in itself is not being able to justify ROI. You have hundreds of CCTV cameras, but somebody comes back and asks — why and what did you get out of it? The way we’ve tried to solve that is kind of directly correlating the infrastructure investment to ROI.

For example, Tata Power Solar is one of our customers. A typical solar farm of 50 megawatts has a periphery of around 7 – 7.5 km. But it’s almost impossible to man that 7.5 km periphery even with fences. And with the valuable equipment inside the periphery, (a typical transformer is around Rs 2.5 crore) thefts and pilferage in those areas are not very unheard of. So, that’s where we kind of directly correlate the investment made with CCTV cameras.

For example, if 70 cameras are guarding around the periphery and if you got an AI solution from us that can detect people when they are loitering around the periphery. Then even before people have intruded or done the intrusion in day or night time, you’re able to detect, raise an alarm, and use the existing security guards more effective.

So, even with three or four guards inside the entire premise, you could potentially use them in a targeted but more effective manner. Because the AI solution helps you to know, where an intrusion is happening, then the guards could potentially go there and try to avoid the intrusion. So that’s a direct correlation to ROI ( return on investment) that makes the CCTV infrastructure investment meaningful.

Q2. Can you brief how Integration Wizards Solutions works on captured video footage from CCTV cameras?
Kunal Kislay:
We put a small box inside a (customer) premise – it could be a retail outlet or manufacturing unit. The small box is then connected to the cameras and a real-time feed is generated, which we call AI pipelines to identify – any violation based on certain KPIs from that video feed. That gets essentially notified to the concerned person. He could be health and safety in charge in a plant and will get a WhatsApp notification that there’s a person is driving the forklift at a higher speed than the prescribed.

Q3. Each organisation/customer have different needs and requirements so how are KPIs defined? Is the solution offerings and KPIs customisable?
Kunal Kisley
: The first part of any customer engagement is essentially understanding what is the information they have from the CCTV cameras and convert that into a KPI attached dashboard. That dashboard differs from customer to customer. A hospital might have very different requirements than a mall and a warehouse might have completely different requirements altogether. So KPIs is one of the key deliverables to our customers.

We have a set of vertical solutions. For example, we’ve got solutions that are off-the-shelf for the warehouses and retail outlets that approximately matches 70 to 80% of the requirements of almost every customer have. However, there’s around a 20% gap of specific requirements that the customer has. And we try to tackle that during our design and development phase and then we configure and customize our solution to match the customer’s actual requirement.

Q4. In terms of deployment, do you work independently or through partners and system integrators?
Kunal Kislay:
We extensively work with system integrators based in the US, North America, Canada, Eastern Europe and India. We have been very clear that we are a product company and we focus on the platform. Deployment and solution engineering is not necessarily our forte and most of our deployments are done via system integrators.

For a customer that requires CCTV based solution, our focus has been to enable system integration partners to be able to build a solution with a more or less no-code interface. That can potentially be drag and drop as per the particular use case, then deploy and maintain it. We are a platform company more than a solution engineering company.

In India, our partners are amongst the top three software engineering companies of the world like Wipro. We have partners, even on the other end of the spectrum, where they are very focused companies working on specific areas, for example – security. These companies are working to make retail better.

Also, we have partnered with a very specific geographic reach. For example, we have a partner Soitron with a very good reach in Eastern Europe. Although that part is not looked at as a very high potential market, for us it has turned out pretty well.

We work with multiple smaller partners in India that are focused on providing security and monitoring solutions to large banks like SBI to monitor their ATMs continuously. A20 people team are looking at the monitor on a random basis to ensure there are no violations inside ATMs and no people with helmets coming inside. But we have turned it around very easily for them and ensured that they don’t need to monitor it continuously. If something untoward is happening inside the ATM we will inform them with the help of our solution. So, we have been working, with partners on both sides of the spectrum.

Q5. How do you see the usage and demand patterns for solutions in India and the overseas market?
Kunal Kislay
: It’s quite interesting. Typically in India, particularly we are a little less health and safety concern. Our majority of deployments in India has been health and safety-related. Large organisations like Britannia, Diageo, and ITC are trying to make their premises safe to avoid accidents to ensure there’s safety compliance and are consistently investing in them. In India, while we have got traction in retail and security, but our biggest traction, say 70 to 80% is in the health and safety domain.

Compared to India, the overseas market has matured a bit earlier. While Integration Wizards Solutions almost had zero traction in India, say three years ago but had significant traction in North America and Europe. For the last three years, India has been picking up. In 2020, for us, the growth in the Indian market was thrice the growth in Europe and North America.

Our installed base has increased from 2019 and we started with a target of doubling our revenue this year. By end of April, we pretty much had the bookings that doubles our revenue over the previous year. So I believe it’s going to be a very good year for us and the next two years as well.

Globally there’s a strong push towards digitization. And using video analytics or CCTV based analytics is a part of the digitization effort. So, having AI implementation potentially is a good thing to have in the roadmap for the next 5-10 years. However, it became a must-have thing, during the pandemic, specifically.

Q6. There’s a lot of talk about video surveillance and using AI. However, there are privacy concerns as well as ethical issues with the extensive use of AI. So what’s your take on this scenario and its usage?
Kunal Kislay:
Definitively. It’s a very important concern. So can videos or visual data be misused? Absolutely, yes, because it pretty much tells a lot about people.

Can strong legislation avoid AI misuse? The answer is — absolutely – yes, the example is GDPR in Europe. The way they have protected the privacy of EU citizens through very strong legislation is that they have not forbidden technology from being used. But have put a very specific set of requirements that ensure that you’re not able to misuse technology.

For instance, a camera that is facing outside can capture footage of pedestrians it cannot store the video where the faces are not redacted or blurred out. So that’s a rule. It’s not stopping me from using the information to understand how many people came in and went out, but at the same time, it is ensuring I do not misuse the information.

In India, unfortunately, so far, it’s still in the discussion, tabling phase of the personal data privacy act (PDPA). I hope we get there very soon. I sincerely believe it’s a double-edged sword. AI can be effectively be misused for civilians by infringing on personal privacy. But it is also possible to protect the privacy of individuals through strong legislation.

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