The Internet of Things (IoT) has given businesses a suite of tools to make life simpler. From reminding homeowners to turn off the lights before leaving the house to alerting the fire department when smoke is detected, smart sensors automate the most mundane tasks so end users can focus on more important things.

But for all the talk of IoT sensors and how they improve everyday life, video cameras are either left out of the conversation or limited to functions that don’t take advantage of their full potential in a business setting. Thanks to advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence that allow video to be turned into structured data, video cameras can now be the primary sensors in any digitally connected enterprise-scale ecosystem.

Video cameras are the eyes of your business

Video cameras are like an extra set of eyes. Your eyes allow you to perceive the world, providing the information you need to respond to events. If you see a football flying towards your head, for example, your brain processes the visual data and tells you to duck. But what if you see the ball and can’t effectively process the information? You will likely receive an unfortunate football to the face. You might even wonder what use your eyes are in the first place.

It sounds like a silly comparison, but the football analogy describes the way businesses have used video cameras in the past: as passive receivers of information, with little ability to inform decisions until after the fact.

Most companies have used video technology for passive security and surveillance purposes. Video cameras recorded a public space over a specific time frame. At a later date, a hired guard reviewed the footage and analyzed its contents. But by then, anything caught on tape had already occurred. You could identify problems using this information (like how a security breach occurred or who committed it), but the video camera usefulness was limited because it was entirely reactionary.

Given the state of AI technology, this is an archaic way of looking at video cameras. Now, we can teach video cameras to “think” like other IoT devices and work in conjunction with other sensors to react to scenarios as they unfold.

For example, a smart, cloud-based video solution doesn’t just alert a security guard to an intruder — it triggers other IoT sensors to lock down the building and immediately call the police.  Instead of functioning as a passive receiver of information, the camera becomes an active participant in formulating and executing an immediate response to real-time events. Cloud-based services can also leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve video camera capabilities, a function that is not available with traditional on-premise solutions.

Think bigger with smart video technology

Smart video cameras have broader wp-contentlications that can advance and simplify operations across all aspects of your business. For instance, data collected from video cameras can reduce energy costs by operating in tandem with thermostats. If a thermostat rises above the wp-contentropriate threshold, a sensor can trigger the cameras to see what might be causing the change. If a building door is open, the cameras can process the information and alert the access controls room to close the door and solve the problem. Intelligent, cloud-based solutions transform the footage initially captured by video cameras into structured, actionable insights that can be communicated to multiple sensors.

Additionally, cameras can improve the customer experience. In the hospitality space, a camera sensor can alert hoteliers when a VIP guest walks through the door, ensuring she receives the best treatment and exclusive services. Or at a baseball stadium, cameras in concessions areas could alert staff when there are instances of bottlenecking and nudge managers to send additional shift workers to service customers.

The list of use cases goes on and on. The point is, given the state of AI and machine learning technology, video cameras can truly serve as the eyes of your business. If implemented correctly, smart video cameras can cut costs, simplify workflows, strengthen safety measures, improve your customer experience and more.