IBM Shuts Down Intelligent Video AnalyticsBy: Charles Rollet, Published on May 02, 2019
Abruptly, IBM has discontinued its Intelligent Video Analytics solution, it confirmed to IPVM.
IBM's video analytics have faced recent media scrutiny over human rights concerns. Moreover, it has not sold well, based on our market research.
"IBM No Longer Offers Intelligent Video Analytics"
The document confirms there is no "replacement program" in the works:
IBM's Intelligent Video Analytics webpage [link no longer available] now redirects to IBM's weather solutions:
ISC West Booth No Show
IPVM first noticed a problem when IBM pulled out of ISC West, America's largest security and surveillance exhibition, at the last minute. The event, held in Las Vegas on April 10-12, 2019, saw IBM's booth left empty, as our image below shows:
Negative Media Coverage
IBM's video analytics has been the subject of serious recent media scrutiny, chiefly in the form of two articles from investigative news outlet The Intercept:
- One article from March 20 showed how IBM built an "Intelligent Operations Center" for authorities in the Philippines city of Davao, raising fears that IBM's analytics were used for extrajudicial killings. (For more, see IPVM's coverage: IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses).
- The other Intercept piece, from last September, exposed how IBM used NYPD surveillance camera footage to "develop technology that lets police search by skin color", raising racism/bias concerns.
Poor Commercial Performance
IPVM's market coverage over the past decade indicates the IBM video analytics program never had substantial commercial success. The combination of high costs, complex on-site setup, and accuracy issues made it hard for almost all to justify. While IBM did win some city projects (such as NYC and Davao, Philippines), overall the wins were few even in a video analytics market that has mostly disappointed in the past decade. For a company the size of IBM, this was more of a distraction.
IBM Spokesperson: No Comment on "Speculation"
Prior to our tweet, IPVM had reached out to IBM's communications team about the discontinuation and whether negative media coverage was behind it. In response, we were told:
We don't comment on market rumors and speculation
While a major factor behind IBM's decision was likely the program's poor market performance, the added negative press coverage gave IBM even more reason to finally end it. In that sense, the discontinuation shows that human rights/ethics are increasingly important for video surveillance.
However, video analytics are improving (deep learning, neural networks, etc.) which is increasing accuracy and lowering total cost. While IBM is now out of this market, as the technology matures, we expect greater conflict between commercial interests and human rights abuses.