Video management software company Milestone Systems, is a classic Portland software mushroom. The B2B company recently moved its U.S. headquarters from Nimbus in Beaverton to Kruse Way in Lake Oswego. The fast-growing company's lease was up and broker Shorenstein found them a space they could grow into in Meadows Road/Kruse Woods executive office suites.
The video management software can be used anywhere security cameras are: in factories, schools, airports, shops, hospitals, and even in the public right of way.
Milestone has over 750 employees worldwide, with 160 in the Americas. It was founded in Denmark in 1998 just after the world's first video camera for Internet (IP) video was created. (A company called Axis Communications developed the Neteye 200, transforming video surveillance from analog into digital. It shot at just three frames per minute and was used in places such as oil-rigs, saving people having to fly out to check for oil spills.
Axis also developed a video encoder to take the signal from older, analog video cameras and put it online. (This was the beginning of traffic cams and weather cams going online.)
Milestone expanded in the U.S. from startup in a Beaverton basement in 2004, and in 2014 being acquired by Canon, the Japanese company known for its cameras and photocopiers, among other products.
Milestone's technology is being used by a variety of local school districts, public transportation, healthcare institutions, dairy and other production, as well as retailers, like Dick Hannah Dealerships.
"Think of us like a security solution," Tim Palmquist, VP Americas, Milestone Systems, told the Business Tribune. "Take a campus at any big company, such as in Redmond (Washington) or Cupertino (California). You'll find our software managing the security cameras across the campus."
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Canon, he says Milestone has a compounded annual revenue growth of 28 percent.
Milestone uses an open platform business model, meaning it shares its application programming interface (API) software freely with other developers. The platform is called XProtect VMS (video management software). He said that in the software industry this is intuitive, but in the security industry, from when Milestone was born, it was a new idea and took some convincing.
Milestone XProtect VMS supports more than 7,500 cameras and hardware devices and is powerful, reliable, easy to use and proven in more than 150,000 installations worldwide.
The products are developed in Denmark, Bulgaria and Spain.
Internet of Things
The market is expanding as the IoT (Internet of Things) market expands. High resolution video cameras are so cheap they can be added to almost any gadget, but software is required to manage, archive and distribute the data.
Some other applications include monitoring shorelines for erosion control, and to monitor wildlife in remote areas. In one solution a highway camera can identify the make and model of a vehicle and the software instructs it to flash a targeted advertisement at the driver on a digital billboard further down the road.
With so many cameras around, the human element of sorting images is taking second place to artificial intelligence. "Now automation is augmenting it," says Palmquist. "It can include facial recognition. Now we can quickly filter scenes: Find me the grade school kid in a red shirt who was in this playground sometime today..."
The new space in Kruse Way is 25,000 square feet. The landlord put in $1 million of tenant improvements, and Milestone put in another $1 million, mainly in IT infrastructure.
Staff there include sales, marketing, custom software developers and tech support agents. The company is hiring in all departments.
He says they arm their staff with the tools to work from home — large monitors and audio equipment — but despite the inconvenience for some having to commute to a new location, the facilities at the new place have improved the work environment.
The new space also has a demonstration suite for the latest security cameras. Systems integrators (such as Palmquist used to be) are important in the industry. Consultants usually recommend the cameras and software for say, a new courthouse or mall, but systems integrators make it all work together, including with legacy old cameras and computers.
Palmquist says cameras are proliferating not just in Europe now but globally. "Smart cities are a big growth area: he said, referring to places that use cameras to manage traffic and crowds.
"They're big in healthcare too. There's a lot of compliance needed because they're very protective of the data on their assets and personnel safety."
In big offices and factories, data from a person's security access card can be linked to video surveillance, to verify and track who is coming and going.
"The big change now is connected devices. They're not always a camera, but as the IoT increases, we see more and more combining video input with other data. For example, HVAC systems, or access control systems. Where is this person, when did they log on, when did they go through the door, were they carrying something…?"
He remembers when Ring, the popular video doorbell, was called Doorbot and was rejected on Shark Tank in 2013. He bought one and had to get his money back. "It was a horrible product," he says. "But they got acquired and Amazon turned it into something good."
Milestone software can also handle RFID (radio-frequency identification) data, the sort used to track packages and products through the supply chain.
Palmquist reflected the easy optimism of the times:
"We're having fun and growing every year."
Milestone Systems Inc.
Video management software, specializing in security cameras
FTE: 750+ worldwide
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Canon
Address: 5300 Meadows Rd Suite 400, Lake Oswego
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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