Clear vision, smart thinking

Dennis Choi, General Manager, IDIS Middle East & Africa explains why video surveillance is advancing in key sectors across the region.


Users in the Middle East are among the most ambitious globally when it comes to taking advantage of the new capabilities that video technology has to offer.

Forward thinking in the region is being driven by both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors – the push of continuing and evolving risks in relation to key industries, and the pull of rapid economic, social, and regulatory development.

As we head into 2024 there are good reasons to be optimistic about the video market in many of the region’s economies, not only in the scale of projects but in opportunities for further innovation.

The region has become a hub for sectors including tourism and retail, as well as the long-established oil, gas, and associated petrochemicals industries. And the decades long trend of economic growth is continuing, thanks to the benefits of abundant natural resources, a strategic location, and a growing population.

Need for enhanced security

As pressure grows to shift away from fossil fuels in a bid to stabilise the climate, we can expect further investment in existing infrastructure, with the aim of increasing operational efficiency and offsetting the impact of emissions. Wider upgrade projects at these critical infrastructure sites inevitably involve strengthened security measures, and video surveillance is an integral part of the protective mix.

Increasing concerns about safety, cyber-attacks, and geopolitical uncertainty are among factors driving the focus on enhanced security. Producers are looking not only to enhance protection of these vast sites, but also to ensure the safety of people working in often hazardous environments. So significant project opportunities are being generated.

Primary video upgrade trends include the move toward more robust, higher resolution cameras, including explosion proof models; improved real-time image quality; more stable recording; enhanced redundancy; inherent cybersecurity; and advanced features such as remote access and AI-powered analytics. More flexible and powerful modular VMS is also in demand, as users look for greater scalability and easier options for integration with other security systems such as perimeter intrusion detection systems (PIDS) and access control.

Social development

Continuing urbanization and social development in countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, is resulting in yet more infrastructure projects. These include the construction of airports, ports, roads, and residential and commercial buildings. The result is not just large-scale security projects but also smaller project opportunities in retail, schools, hotels, and logistics hubs. As cities expand and populations grow, the need for up-to-date security measures continues to benefit the video market as a pull factor.

Video surveillance systems provide a cost-effective solution for monitoring large public spaces and urban areas as a deterrent to criminal activities. Video systems also help law enforcement agencies in investigations and provide essential evidence for prosecutions.

Regulation and more stringent standards

Government regulations and initiatives will continue to play a significant role in the development of the video market. Many countries are keen to tighten security compliance requirements as they look to protect their own citizens, and international visitors. Enhanced standards will drive upgrades to higher definition cameras, and function rich VMS which allows integration with access control, intruder detection and other security and safety technologies as part of a more joined-up security ecosystem. This integration allows for centralized monitoring and control, enabling security personnel to respond more effectively to incidents. It also enables data sharing between different systems, facilitating a more holistic approach to security management.

Investments in tourism

The region’s tourism sector also continues to grow and benefit from investment. Countries like the UAE, Oman, and Jordan have been investing heavily in their infrastructure, seeking to attract more visitors from around the world. The region offers a unique blend of cultural heritage, historical sites, and modern attractions. From iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa surrounded by the Dubai Mall to ancient wonders like Petra in Jordan, the Middle East appeals to a wide range of travellers.

Saudi Arabia is also working to open up its borders and promote itself as a tourist destination. The country has a rich cultural heritage and many historical sites that already attract significant numbers of visitors from around the world. The government is also investing in infrastructure projects such as new airports and hotels, and hosting major sporting events that will support further growth of the tourism industry.

Retail and e-commerce

Similarly, the retail and e-commerce sectors are evolving rapidly. As retailers respond to the preferences of the region’s young and tech-savvy population, as well as a continuing emphasis on experience-oriented shopping we see the inevitable growth of online shopping and the strengthening of e-commerce platforms that offer a wider range of products and services at more competitive prices. Countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE have witnessed a significant increase across all shopping activities, leading to the growth of new retail hubs with major European and U.S. brands expanding across the region and driving the need for new and more efficient logistics operations.

Rapid adoption of deep learning analytics

As these sectors evolve, we are seeing more rapid adoption of deep learning-based video analytics. For example, in many applications AI solutions are being used to automate video surveillance processes and enhance situational awareness. The technology can now help detect and track suspicious activities, identify objects or individuals of interest, and provide real-time alerts to security personnel or law enforcement agencies.

Deep learning algorithms can also be used not just to support investigations and more proactive security strategies but to analyse video footage to extract valuable insights and patterns; it is being used to provide actionable intelligence in the retail and hospitality sectors, through people counting, heat mapping, queue management and occupancy monitoring. Improved capabilities in each of these areas are helping businesses to both boost profitability and to enhance their customer experience offering.

Focus on data and privacy

The Middle East is witnessing an increased focus on privacy and data protection, with more concern to ensure that video surveillance systems respect individuals' rights. Privacy-enhancing technologies such as anonymization and encryption are being adopted as an important improvement in data safeguarding.

We are also beginning to see more emphasis on transparency and accountability in video surveillance operations, with more organizations concerned to demonstrate that their camera systems are being used responsibly and implementing technologies accordingly.

Ambitious projects

Finally, as video tech continues to develop, with new AI capabilities and better all-round system performance, we can expect to see some of the world’s most ambitious projects and deployments here in our region. This will not only drive growth in the video market, for users it will contribute to enhanced security and safety and improved operational efficiency with easier access to actionable business intelligence.

To discuss any of the above, IDIS will be exhibiting at Intersec 2024 from 16th to 19th January in Dubai on stand S1-H25, where we will be showing end-to-end video and AI solutions that can be tailored to meet the needs of applications of any size, scope, and scale.

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