CVC Spin Off

DAVANTIS: a 24-hour security guard

Credit: Freepik

112.925, a number that might seem high or low depending of its context. If anyone told us that it’s the number of residential burglaries by force that took place in Spain during 2016, we’d be shocked. Well it is, at least according to crime statistics carried out by the Spanish Government. But this number doesn’t include those that happened without violence or the number of robberies in warehouses, factories, shops, airports, or any other non-residential building. The exact figure of robberies is impossible to know, but we do know it is one of the most frequent crimes, only behind traffic infractions and injuries on humans.

Surveillance cameras are used more and more in order to help ensure security among citizens. They help cut down vandalism and theft, speeding up the process of identifying criminals. For this reason, many business and home owners decide to install static cameras outside their buildings and so monitor the perimeter. Still, an issue maintains: these cameras only record providing a proof of the crime but without giving owners the possibility of avoiding it.

Davantis started up as a solution to this problem. This CVC spin-off detects and alerts on robberies and so prevent them: “Davantis is like having a security guard 24 hours a day. It avoids having to watch the entire video to detect a crime as it makes a selection of the specific fragments in which something important is taking place”, as Davantis’ technical Director, Jordi Lluís, explains.

Crime detection on image information extraction

Davantis is a computer vision software that can be installed in any surveillance camera. It processes images and extracts information in the same way a human-being would do. Along these lines, it detects live time if a thief is trying to break into a building and automatically sends a message to an alarm center. Within the center, an operator watches the fragments and thus validates the information: “The last decision is always taken by a human once the alert is analysed. If there is a thief, the security personnel will activate the protocol”, Jordi Lluís states.

Person detcted in a Solar Plant. Credits: Davantis

False alarms occur constantly. Surroundings are impossible to control and there are, elements, such as light, camera quality, distance or weather conditions that will alter the proper functioning of the software. “Our software is applied to cameras and within conditions that we will never see, therefore, our intention has always been to develop something general enough to be applied in any situation”, the Technical Director states.  That’s why the last step of human validation is crucial in this technology.

Davantis is installed in many high-end residences, airports, prisons and nuclear power plants. However, its most common application is in industrial facilities. It is because of this, that they developed a range of products specifically for factories and plants, in tune with the customer’s needs.

Catching thieves: the major purpose

Davantis was founded in 2005 as a CVC spin-off by three entrepreneurs. In that moment, there weren’t many companies dedicated to theft detection so they were pioneers within the sector: “There was only one company in the United States that was actually doing it and we wanted to be the benchmark in Europe”, admitted Jordi. Nowadays, Davantis is a team of 26 (still increasing) and is fully consolidated at a national level.

In 2010 Davantis received the iLIDS, a UK Home Office certification confirming that a technology is validated by the British Government, being the first non-British technology to obtain it. Since then, they’ve started selling their software in the UK and expanded towards other countries: “This award authorized Davantis to be installed in many government buildings, such as prisons or military installations. It is a kind of evidence that comes to show our technology is efficient, works and is in line with the customer’s needs. At that moment, it was a landmark and it allowed us gain presence in the international market”, exposed Jordi.

In the end, as Jordi Lluis reiterates, the most important fact is that their technology is actually capable of stopping robberies. It is in that moment when the customer realises that it is the owner of a worthwhile technology. In its twelve years of existence, Davantis’ technology has helped detect many thefts and to alert them beforehand: “Curiously, the bigger we are, the less information we receive. In the past, when we could have a close contact with each client, they’d send us the recordings that showed the thieves had been detected. In fact, we already have more than 50 videos that show attempted robbery”, explained Jordi.

Security vs. privacy and further challenges

Despite improvements in security, installing cameras is also a controversial fact. Critics of video surveillance claim that they invade our private lives due to constant monitoring.  In fact, there are around 6 million surveillance cameras in the UK, a ratio of 1 camera per 11 citizens, being one of the most guarded countries in the world. This large number of video cameras within cities make citizens reluctant towards this kind of technology. The idea of George Orwell’s “Big “Brother is becoming ingrained: with the perception of video cameras as private life controllers.

A thin line separates risks and benefits within the surveillance industry. “We find great differences between countries. While in countries like the UK there is a great tolerance towards cameras and surveillance, in other countries, such as Germany, privacy prevails over security”, stated Jordi. The German market is a hard nut to crack for Davantis, suggesting the implementation of thermal cameras: lowering intrusion and respectful in privacy terms.

Davantis has two more important challenges ahead. Firstly, to increase its presence within the international markets and so reach a number of international clients that exceeds national ones. The other challenge is to improve the software and so decrease significantly false alarms. As Jordi Lluis puts it, “Davantis is at its best moment but also at its toughest. The bigger you are, the bigger your challenges are. Therefore, today is as difficult as in our beginnings”, admitted Jordi.

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Nuria Martínez

The author Nuria Martínez