Do you ever wonder how many cameras and sensors large retailers like Amazon use in their stores? Today at OCP Regional Summit 2023 in Prague, Amazon had a keynote around its new Enterprise Edge Gateway project and provided numbers that may shock some. Between cameras and CCTV, it now takes over 2000 cameras and 100,000 sensors to run a retail establishment. So much, so that the edge processing demands led Amazon to start its own OCP project to meet the processing and networking needs.
Amazon Building for Stores with 2000 Cameras and 100K Sensors
First, let us get to the hardware. At OCP Regional Summit 2023 in Prague, Amazon announced that it has a new Enterprise Edge Gateway platform. This can have up to 48x multi-gig ports, and four SFP28 ports, and a CPU on a COMe module with support for features like PoE, WiFi 7, and 5G networking as well. At this point, I was wondering how to get in touch with Michael Lane of Amazon on when these would be built and available to test.
That was interesting, and OCP has a number of different edge projects at this point. Perhaps the most interesting was the networking slide. The Enterprise Edge Gateway was a response to needing to handle the networking requirements in its retail operations and in theory for others.
Just to zoom into this slide a bit, here is why networking is critical in retail:
- >2000 Cameras & CCTV
- >500,000 labels
- >100,000 sensors
- >30 POS (point-of-sale)
- 200 to 40k sq ft.
At first, 2000 feels like a big number. One can easily imagine a retail store with dozens of CCTV cameras, as well as an array of cameras at checkout and self-checkout. There are also cameras in non-customer-facing areas, and now more cameras monitor customer movements, shelf activity, and machines within stores. It feels like a big number, but perhaps that is the new reality where there will be one camera or more per 20 sq ft or 1.85 sq meters.
It feels like all of these cameras are not distinct hardwired Ethernet units. 2000 ports would be around a full 42-45U rack worth of ports with 48 port switches and aggregation switches. That is more than just a lot of physical network ports, it is a lot to manage for modern retail.
At the OCP Regional Summit 2023 Prague keynote today this might have been the most standout figure through over 3 hours of keynotes. Amazon has a retail footprint of different size locations so these are practical challenges it faces that perhaps other hyper-scalers do not. Now it is looking to turn its retail edge requirements into a standardized form factor that others can adopt to drive down costs. Amazon is also using the Switch Abstraction layer to drive the use of either DENT or SONiC on the switch.
The idea of one and a half cameras (or more) in about the same areas as my extended arms would cover in a 360-degree spin certainly caused me to pause as I do not think I remember seeing a figure that high before.
That’s a lot of tech just to catch customers in the act of shoplifting. Seems excessive.
No, it is a massive up front expense just to avoid having to pay a few extra employees. They can’t unionize if you don’t employ them.
Amazon likely needs such a high camera density to track what people pick up from shelves. To enable “just walk out shopping” so consumers don’t have to stop and scan at checkout.