For James Wickes, personal experience provided the inspiration for Cloudview, a provider of software which can convert video footage into visual data.
Following an attempted break-in at his home, Wickes found that, although many of his neighbours had CCTV, it was incredibly difficult to access the footage and piece together the sequence of events to help the police identify those responsible.
Wickes says: “I realised that CCTV technology was structurally incompatible with today’s connected world and as a result, much of the information it recorded was stored both insecurely and in such a way that it was not usable data.
“Cloudview is based on patented technology with security and accessibility of data baked in from the beginning, which I’ve since discovered is unusual.”
Wickes is described by some as a serial entrepreneur, and has 30 years’ experience in IT.
After what seems to have been an exasperating experience with the attempted break-in at his home, Wickes decided to develop technology which caught up and joined the internet of things.
Now he says Cloudview is “the world’s first corporate-grade, secure, cloud-based video surveillance system which is the only CCTV system to gain the ‘Secured by Design’ UK Police specification status”.
Cloudview uses the IoT to connect either IP or analogue CCTV cameras across multiple locations, encrypting and storing footage securely in the cloud from where it can be viewed, managed and shared by authorised users on any smartphone, tablet or PC.
Wickes says: “Most IoT devices are designed to carry out very simple data collection or to execute a single task – something that seems trivial, so they often slip under the personal or corporate security mindset.
“You can’t imagine buying a car without seat belts as by law they must be fitted. In the same way, I believe that IoT devices should legally be required to meet a certain standard of security.
“For Cloudview, security and compliance are vital; we are dead in the water if we wantonly fail in these areas.
“My focus is primarily on the company’s strategy and its resulting commercial performance. Cloudview is a relatively new technology and many aspects are unique.
“It offers the opportunity for a major change to a very traditional area of technology and I spend a lot of time explaining how that can be a very good thing – and also what is not possible.”
As it is often common practice for criminals to damage or destroy CCTV equipment, storing visual data in the cloud means that video evidence is placed out of reach except by those authorised to access it.
Although Wickes has developed what sounds like innovative technology with Cloudview, there are many technical challenges ahead, especially as artificial intelligence and other techniques for analysing video come to the fore.
But Wickes is maintaining course. “My current focus is almost entirely on Cloudview as it has reached a critical phase in its development.”
And although like most entrepreneurs Wickes works pretty much all the time, he does have other interests which provide refreshing breaks.
He says: “In any spare time I have a keen interest in the natural world and some years ago I purchased some land near my home in Surrey that I have reverted to natural meadow land to encourage the proliferation of British flora and fauna. It’s grazed by a flock of some 50 sheep, which I admit have become a great interest.”