A few months ago, we published an exclusive interview with J & M Security Solutions’ President, Jason Nagy, where he discussed his take on the security industry and the challenges it faces. Because it was so successful, we will continue to interview other security industry experts and leaders. This week we offer an in-depth interview with Thomas Carnevale.
Thomas Carnevale is the founder and CEO of Sentry360, a technology company focused on delivering the best quality evidence at the lowest total cost of ownership to any video surveillance system. Mr. Carnevale is an active author, speaker, and advisor in the security industry—consulting for major investment funds globally and plays a role in developing solutions focused on the end-user experience.
In this interview with Thomas Carnevale, he discusses both issues and opportunities presented by body cameras and the industry.
Special Interview with Thomas Carnevale, CEO of Sentry360
[James Nagy, Marketing Director]: Thank you for joining me today. So I know you’ve been in the security industry for over a decade now, but what first got you interested?
[Thomas]: It’s been a little longer than a decade now, almost a decade and a half. What got me interested in the security industry was just seeing the really unfortunate turn of events with 9/11 and then shortly after that, the London Bombings. You know, just seeing significant problems in this world we live in and the capturing of those incidents and the prosecution of those incidents and behaviors are significantly challenged by poor image quality and limited fields of view.
So that’s how I got into the industry: just really recognizing the incredible problem of image quality and blind spots and got me incredibly passionate to get involved and help.
Sentry360’s Panoramic Camera Views
[James]: So about your company: I know you try to be innovative, but how do you do that? Like, how do you be innovative both technologically and otherwise? And what methods do you use to do so?
[Thomas]: You know, that’s an interesting question. Innovation can come from anywhere, just like inspiration can come from anywhere. You can get inspired by going through your daily life, you can get inspired by people you meet or things you hear or see. And I think innovation, at the root, needs clear execution because an idea is only as good as its compatibility as it results to a solution.
So if you have a great idea and you can’t execute, it doesn’t mean very much. I think being innovative is really rooted in the problems you’re solving for customers. I just don’t think anyone just wakes up and says, “Hey, I’m going to be innovative today,” or, “Hey, our company is going to have this incredible process of being innovative.” It just doesn’t work that way, and it’s not organic. It’s not authentic at all if you think about it in that way.
You really need to think about what the problem is and work your way back; that’s how you get to what others perceive as innovative.
[James]: So to clear up what you said, are you more driven by the problems you see in the technology and the problems your customer are having, or is it maybe the industry, or is it a combination of both?
[Thomas]: I think a combination of both. I mean, I’m fueled by being able to solve complex problems; otherwise, I get really bored. So when I’m not busy doing that, I don’t find time to be useful. So solving complex problems are one of my passions and what I think every company should—in some shape, way, or form—be striving to achieve.
With that being said, the industry on a whole is still—you know, I’ve been lucky to witness a lot of layers of evolution, right? When I first got into the industry, there was a lot of legacy analog cameras, and the beauty part was that there was still compatibility. No matter what brand of camera or DVR, they worked through a common protocol of NTSC or PAL.
I saw a really significant amount of time (this was pre-ONVIF/Profile S), that the industry had to work with APIs and direct coding and a development moving target for all. And that is a challenge for private businesses to continue to develop for products on a moving target.
So I’ve seen that evolution and I’ve seen the problems, and I’ve seen other problems as it relates to analytics, as it relates to tying in IoT devices and third-party solutions to complete a video, and access and intrusion, and home automation, building automation solutions.
There’s a lot left to be done, and then we start to get into the Cloud and who should reign supreme.
Should it be Amazon and AWS? Should it be Google? Should it be others, a couple of data centers that should be hosting all of the world’s critical surveillance evidence? And then if they do, what are they going to do with that responsibility?
Turning video surveillance into a service and using video for more than just security is where I’m focused and where I’m passionate about and where I see trends happening, starting to take shape. Where video can be used for business, sales, marketing, and operational purposes, in addition to security.
Because if you really take a big step back and you look at the size of the video surveillance industry—and security industry—and then you look at other industries—big data—“Who is going to consume who?” is the question.
I think people don’t realize how small the security industry is; it really is small. It doesn’t take you long to go to a couple of trade shows and you kind of already know everybody. So it’s not that big.
So eventually, is big data going to consume security? That’s where I would put my bet.
[James]: So I want to move towards body cameras. As a new market, what challenges are you seeing?
[Thomas]: I’m seeing a lack of education overall with the bodyworn camera market. It’s still such a very new technology, and you know, I see a lot of problems with it.
The first problem is when people think bodyworn cameras, they automatically think law enforcement. I think that is missing the big picture, and there’s maybe a couple of companies driving that.
But I think “wearable video,” if we’re going to eliminate the word “bodyworn” and just say “wearable video cameras,” is the next thing for businesses to improve processes, training, operations, and security. So that’s a big problem: getting people to think about wearable video outside of law enforcement; that’s a big enough problem alone.
And then the other layer to the problem is the integration of wearable video; they’re still proprietary systems. It almost reminds me of what we were talking about earlier: the proprietary analog CCTV world and the APIs and the SDKs, the decade it took for ONVIF and open protocols to happen. And these are still fragmented, proprietary systems in the industry that aren’t part of a technology ecosystem. I think that’s a big mistake, but I can understand if you’re a big player and you really want to lock customers up into long-term service contracts and storage and additional solutions that you need to build a proprietary environment for them to live in. I just don’t think that lasts forever, and I think that wearables need to be a major part of the ecosystem. It’s just not there yet.
We’re pushing as hard as we can with the closest partners we can get an earful with their executive management team to get them to listen about integrating wearable video for mass markets. That’s what we’re trying to achieve.
So those are a few of the problems: the outside-of-the-box law enforcement idea as it relates to bodyworn, and the integration, and creating it to be an open-platform solution as I see it. There are a couple of others, but I would say those are the primary.
[James]: So it’s interesting that you mentioned that people tend to think “law enforcement” when they hear “bodyworn cameras.” One of the questions I wanted to ask you is: how do we overcome that singular association, and what other markets or avenues would benefit from bodyworn cameras?
[Thomas]: Great question. I think what’s going to drive awareness is results, just like with anything else. “Hey, this technology solved this problem.” Market what that was, what that solution was, and that will hopefully grow from there.
I think that’s the standard answer, but I also think education and showing those concepts is key. We’re trying to do that with our company; we’re trying to create vertical market-focused webinars or problem-specific webinars in the future, that we’re going to continue to elaborate the solutions for that.
What we’ve seen specifically is—we have a couple of neat applications that’s going on, and these are for high-volume amounts of wearable video and petabytes of storage, potentially. And business intelligence mixed in as well.
One of the opportunities—and it’s not just one, there’s actually many that we’re working on as an organization—one in particular is a food-processing plant. Specifically, it’s a factory that processes meat, and so their key issues are quality control and making sure the animals are raised correctly, are bred correctly, are treated correctly, and then that the whole process from A to Z is followed to the T. Especially over the last 10 years, these organizations are under a lot of criticism. You know, you look at the Chipotle situation that happened I think last year or the year before that: that was an issue with Chipotle, an issue with the whole supply chain. So using wearable video for quality control and processing in the food-processing world is a big opportunity.
We’re seeing biology labs, you know, the testing. So in chemical laboratories, we’re seeing a lot of interest, or animal testing facilities, as well, are a key market. And these are a high volume of cameras and very important for liability and quality control.
There’s obviously the natural security guards, commercial applications, but then there’s inspectors for bridges and tunnels and infrastructure. Our country right now is going on overhaul of trying to improve our roads, our bridges, our highways. So we’re getting an influx of demand from inspection companies and other divisions of government that are responsible for inspecting this, so what better way than a portable device that can capture high-definition video at length. They can create audits and reports and categorizations with software. So those are a few.
[James]: So focusing specifically on law enforcement, since that’s who our often company works with, what factors should they consider when looking to purchase body cameras?
[Thomas]: I think a lot of it has to do with establishing a clear policy and process before you pick a vendor. I think internally, police departments need to have that really nailed down and isolated and make that part of their specifications.
They also want to be able to grow with the technology or vendor after they acquire it. They want to create a runway where part of that process can be customized with software so you have custom fields within the software where it can be categorized to specific jurisdictions or terminology. If you have software that’s very proprietary and not have the ability to customize over time, you’re locking yourself into a solution that can be a challenge to maintain.
So from the chain of custody of the video, making the video encrypted at the edge is a very key feature—that no individual can delete or alter footage—is incredibly important for an entire on-premises storage solution (where that video’s stored, how it’s maintained, where it’s sent, who can send it).
I think a lot of this is information that departments—both small to mid-sized—really need to think through before they implement a bodyworn solution.
[James]: This is a lot of good information. Before we wrap up, is there anything else you wanted to add or comment on?
[Thomas]: Well, I just see a lot of opportunities still in the industry. I feel there’s still big problems to solve, and I think wearable video is a part of the solution, but creating an open-platform ecosystem is such an important area right now. There is a lot of industry companies right now that I can say by name that I would really like to see step up to the plate that are partners of ours that do that, you know, take that leadership on.
We’re trying—as our company grows—to take on that leadership role, that role of creating an ecosystem for bodyworn, and we’ve done that very recently with organizations like BCDVideo and NetApp and Arrow. We’ve started to create that storage structure and channel partnership with them—and we’re continuing to seek partners in that area.
I think that’s how the long-term success will play out—not necessarily locking customers into proprietary solutions, but really creating value within an open-architecture ecosystem.
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