Is video the next step for big data analytics?

With more companies getting on board with the latest big data technologies, the questions that many leading firms will be asking as they get to grips with the solutions will be 'where next?'.

One area that's set for large growth in the coming years is video analytics. Wired reports that using video has the potential to provide businesses with information that other data sources cannot. It noted this can provide real-time details about what is happening around the world, rather than just what has already occurred.

Sites such as YouTube, Vine and Facebook are also driving an explosion in the amount of video uploaded to the web. Meanwhile, the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, as well as solutions like home surveillance systems and even personal drones, are ensuring more activities than ever are captured on camera. 

Therefore, firms that are able to harness this data stand well-placed to gain much better insight into their customers and their environment.

Until now, Wired noted manual extraction was the primary way for businesses to gain value from their video – involving a human actually having to sit down and go through what is happening. But to make video analytics a practical part of the big data mix, companies need to move beyond this.

"True video analytics involves using computer vision algorithms to analyse video pixels automatically, and over time – not only identifying objects in the scene, but also tracking their movements and behaviour," the publication said. With this, users can can track patterns of movement of hundreds of objects in the scene, as well as their size, shape, speed and direction of movement.

Among the potential uses for video analytics, Wired highlights understanding traffic patterns or determining whether utilities companies are performing to their full potential. In the longer term, wider availability of aerial or satellite data could change the way we understand the world by giving businesses and individuals access to information that was previously only available to the military and intelligence agencies.

"It will let everyone see for themselves what is really happening around the world and disrupt the current notion of the big data revolution. This is true freedom of information and it is on the horizon," the publication stated.