A few years back, cannabis operations meant growing a couple of illegal plants in a basement under an LED light. But now, the entire market is booming and shifting into a legitimate industry. Today, many states within the US and Canada have a significant number of licensed large-scale companies growing recreational and medical cannabis.
But growing cannabis is still a sensitive topic. Shifting from the black market that went through years of prohibition, into full legitimate businesses requires the cannabis producers to adhere to strict external laws and internal controls.
Video is one of those requirements. Almost every state in the US that passed some form of cannabis regulations is requiring video monitoring and surveillance at their growing facilities and dispensaries.
One of the biggest difficulties when growing the cannabis plant, is adhering to the many strict regulations and compliance. Having had the troublesome road, cannabis has been through, the plant is still highly vulnerable to theft, loss, and damage, so the facilities and dispensaries must be (by law) protected with the proper video surveillance.
We will be reviewing a video monitoring solution that will help resolve most of those challenges. Lanner provides an intelligent edge NVR as the core element of the video monitoring solution. Lanner’s LEC-2290 is an AI-enabled Network Video Recorder (NVR), purpose-built for edge computing applications such as AI video analytics and surveillance. The LEC-2290 integrates all video feeds from cameras installed around the growth facilities, applies AI video analysis, and uses a VMS to keep all video feeds in one place.
LEC-2290 can also be expanded with certified 4G LTE wireless capabilities to cover those remote growth facilities and still serve with quality video to managers on-premises.
Cannabis businesses are like any other traditional business; they have to deal with the usual challenges such as financing, marketing, sales, logistics, and operations. But there is one big exception: due to the nature of the product— there are many complicated country/state laws and regulations that producers must follow. Cannabis growth facilities and dispensaries also need strong perimeters, proper physical security, video surveillance, and strong access control.
Cannabis producers are commonly faced with the following challenges.
In countries like the United States and Canada, cannabis has had a long and troublesome shift from the black market into a regulated industry. Nowadays, legal producers need to follow rigorous audits and ensure compliance regulations.
Cannabis growth facilities are not ordinary storefront shops. By law, these facilities are required to be far away from places such as schools or public places. In some states, it may also be required by law to enforce access control and video surveillance.
Security and Traceability
Cannabis dispensaries and facilities also need to follow strict asset protection regulations. They need to prevent theft and vandalism as much as possible and detect (and record footage of) intrusions or unauthorized personnel breaking into the facility. Additionally, it is vital to trace inventory and track bribes and unlawful sales within day-to-day operations.
Monitor Operations and Quality
Cannabis is a sensitive plant. It requires additional attention to lighting, humidity, temperature, additives, etc.— so it requires constant monitoring. Unfortunately, there is still a broad lack of specialized workforce and specific technology in this industry. In the remote facilities and dispensaries, it can be challenging for managers to keep track of the plant’s growth and the practices being followed by their employees.
Video Monitoring Solution for Cannabis Grow Ops
To meet the aforementioned challenges, cannabis producers need a video monitoring solution that leverages an AI-enabled x86 hardware and an intelligent Video Management Software (VMS) that meets specific needs of these cannabis grow up companies.
The solution uses video cameras that feed data into the NVR, which hosts Video Management Software (VMS) and may run video analytics on the data. The video feeds of all cameras (including those of other facilities) can be viewed in the monitoring center, using the VMS.
IP Video Cameras for Surveillance
IP cameras capture video and send image data over an IP network. These cameras are very convenient for cannabis’s grow operations because managers can view and record footage remotely from any device, as long as they are connected to the Internet.
Full HD video allows growers to capture every detail on screen, which is critical for cannabis growth operations. In some states, a specific resolution above 1080p is enforced by law.
Compute-Intensive Video Analytics NVR
These cameras feed their data into the NVR (Network Video Recorder), allowing managers to control all cameras from a central station, and view and record footage on demand.
Compute-intensive video analytics NVRs bring power to the edge network. They analyze video (run machine vision or other AI algorithms) of cannabis grow operations on-premises. AI video analytics will ultimately improve any surveillance system with facial recognition, object classification, geofencing, and more. Additionally, an intelligent NVR will also act as a gateway, as it allows access to cameras from remote devices.
Lanner’s LEC-2290 is an AI-powered embedded box built for intelligent edge computing applications such as video analytics and intelligent video surveillance. What sets LEC-2290 apart from any other smart NVR is that its computing capacity can be expanded with GPU, VPU, and FPGA for additional video processing power and AI applications.
- Support for Intel® Core™ i7-8700T/i7-8700. LEC-2290’s powerful CPU runs applications efficiently at low energy consumption levels. Its architecture allows hardware acceleration with GPU expansion, to execute faster imaging applications such as video surveillance.
- GPU Expansion. As mentioned above, LEC-2290 can be expanded with GPU, VPU, and FPGA for a more powerful video processing.
- Fast memory and expandable storage. The appliance comes with two DDR4 2133/2400 SO-DIMM at a maximum capability of 32GB. This type of memory allows the computing units CPU and GPU to change quickly between processing and execution. The storage also allows two removable HDD/SSD External Slot w/RAID.
Support for Intel’s OpenVINO toolkit and Movidius interface engine. The OpenVINO toolkit is a set of software tools that allows quickly developing apps that emulate human vision. And the Movidius (also from Intel) is a Vision Processing Unit (VPU) that allows resource-intensive computer vision and edge AI algorithms to run efficiently at the edge.
Aside from its powerful processing, the appliance is excellent for remote scenarios, as its communication can be expanded with wireless capabilities.
The LEC-2290 comes with wireless expansion options through PGN-300 or PGN-600, LTE modules to provide certified 4G/LTE wireless connectivity over commercial networks (AT&T & Verizon), CBRS, and Private LTE.
The VMS (Video Monitoring Software)
The LEC-2290 NVR may run with a VMS (Video Management Software), which can be operated via a remote monitoring center.
The VMS allows a security agent or a manager to combine all video feeds from dispensaries and growth facilities into a single platform. With the VMS managers can interact with their team remotely. For example, they can control access to restricted areas remotely, set motion detection sensors to record videos, monitor from their mobiles, and perform other actions such as zooming, recording, etc.
The video monitoring solution allows cannabis dispensaries and grow facilities to ensure strict compliance, prevent theft and loss, monitor operations, and help auditors and insurance.
Compliance in some states, says that the camera must be placed correctly, in order to identify access to the facility at all times. It also requires that video surveillance must identify any abnormal activity outside the perimeters. The video monitoring solution will help cannabis grow operations remain compliant on regulations like video quality, footage retention, access control, camera distribution, and more.
Reduce Theft, Damage, or Loss
The cannabis producers may also avoid theft, damage, or loss of their assets. The video monitoring solution prevents unauthorized personnel by controlling access to facilities and dispensaries. Since all video is integrated into a single platform, managers can keep an eye on all individuals accessing their premises or use AI-vision algorithms such as facial recognition or geofencing.
Monitor Daily Operations
The improved remote control will also help enhance the maintenance and operations. It will ensure that employees at cannabis growth facilities follow the rules, best practices, and are always productive. Managers may also go through recorded footage to maximize the efficiency of operations and keep an eye on the plants’ health.
Help Auditors and Insurance
Having stored footage at the NVR will ultimately help auditors and insurance agents with additional proof. For example, after a loss, the insurance company might want to go through the footage to gain evidence and perform their jobs easier.