inReality provides an analytics platform that leverages IoT sensor data (for example, visual technologies) to bring operational excellence and exceptional customer experiences to all types of venues. The company’s clients range from public schools to major telecommunication companies with the goal being to make their spaces more secure and efficient, to solve problems, and to create better experiences for their patrons. inReality’s anonymized, aggregated in-venue behavioral data can be synced with its deep learning and AI to automate actions based on the information flowing in. This enables brands and businesses to better control the experience and operational efficiencies within the walls of their venues without additional staff. 

inReality’s CTO, Shylesh Karuvath, says that to effectively monitor a physical space requires ingesting a variety of in-venue consumer behavior data into a data lake for data scientists to establish KPIs. 

A data platform that securely scales

According to Karuvath, “The closer we get to real-time data from AI-based video analytics and IoT sensors, the more seamless the spatial analytics experience is for our customers. With Databricks, it would take up to 10 minutes to spin up a Spark cluster and power up, with data becoming available every three to four hours. We also tried creating dedicated relational databases for our customers. But that was not scalable with big data.” 

Governance over a single source of truth was also a high priority for Karuvath and his team. Previously, it was difficult to properly manage access and secure data silos across inReality. Data that was encrypted for storage would become visible again once brought into Delta Lake. 

“We had difficult challenges with our previous architecture. If personal data gets leaked for some reason, that’s a problem.”

—Shylesh Karuvath, CTO, inReality

inReality’s Journey to Snowflake

inReality chose Snowflake on AWS as its new platform, which functions as both its data lake and operational repository. According to Karuvath, “Snowflake already does all the heavy lifting for us. We can do all our queries directly from our single source of truth.” 

“What once took a dedicated team of DBAs and data engineers to ensure everything from data in transit to data at rest was safely encrypted, is now safely done in Snowflake.”

—Shylesh Karuvath, CTO, inReality

A New Product for Safe Spaces During the Pandemic

inReality’s Chief Strategy Officer, Laura Davis-Taylor, says that COVID-19 has changed the way the company approaches analyzing physical spaces. “People want to feel safe entering their place of work, school, and living places.” inReality created a Safe Space Solution for COVID-19 screening. This solution requires collecting personal information such as temperature screening information, employee information, Q&As, and even facial recognition data, all of which must comply with regulations ranging from HR and legal regulations to national and state policies (for example, GDPR).

Snowflake’s high data availability, which was in our experience 13x faster than Databricks’, enables inReality’s Safe Space Solution customers to receive screening results typically used to identify symptoms associated with COVID-19. If a key indicator such as elevated temperature is detected, a real-time alert is triggered indicating that human oversight is required. This helps businesses safely oversee screening visitors without full-time staff while also ensuring a compliance trail if a legal situation emerges. 

“With our previous architecture and Databricks, it was extremely difficult to determine if we were in compliance,” says Karuvath. “This put us in a difficult spot because we have partners and customers that are large public companies or even government entities. Snowflake met all the requirements on inReality’s checklist (such as SOC 2 and HIPAA compliance). For example, if collected PII data needs to be purged after 14 days, it’s a simple task for inReality now.”

New Data Sources for Product Innovations

Snowflake Data Marketplace opens the door to new product innovations at inReality. For example, weather data and COVID-19 research data is available through the marketplace. Karuvath says that any time saved for his small team is a big win. Before, acquiring data sets took them a full week to research, integrate, and test. With Snowflake, they can have the data in no time. Learn more about Snowflake Data Marketplace.

“Everyone can gather data—it’s having the ability to do something with it that makes or breaks a business. Using AI and deep learning, we’re able to automate critical business functions for both consumers and businesses. Using Snowflake, our ability to do it in real time has skyrocketed.”

—Shylesh Karuvath, CTO, inReality