Video Analytics

Security surveillance gets smarter

For the last two decades, governments and commercial organisations in United States, and around the world, have used video surveillance as the cornerstone of physical security capabilities.

Whether it was for national security, critical infrastructure protection, securing assets within the finance and banking sector or to protect private property, video surveillance has been universally accepted as the foundation layer upon which an organisation’s ability to protect its people, assets and facilities has been based. And it was solely the domain of physical security experts.

Even though the cost of new cameras has decreased, organisations have faced continued pressure to further reduce operating costs. CCTV provides a convenient and efficient solution to manage and protect large areas at all hours, so many organisations have increased the number of cameras deployed but not the number of people monitoring them.

However, more cameras does not necessarily equate to increased security assuredness. The only relevant measure of the organisation’s real-time enterprise-wide level of security situational awareness is the number of constantly monitored feeds. Unobserved camera feeds only provide retrospective information – which helps to identify what happened, but does nothing to help stop it when the event occurs. What’s more, even if a someone is monitoring the screens, studies show(1) that a person’s ability to constantly monitor a screen rapidly decreases after just 20 minutes.

The solution to this false economy of equating quantity of cameras with quality of security is the advent of Internet Protocol (IP) enabled digitals cameras. The video feeds from these cameras can be networked together and combined with video analytics software to automatically identify and respond to potential security threats as they happen.

Video analytics allow organisations to monitor and manage multiple video surveillance cameras by automatically recognising changes in activity on the screen to generate an alert or trigger a response from the monitoring staff observing the feed, such as automatically locking a door, sounding an alarm or notifying the nearest security officer. This may identify a potential threat before it has actually happened.

The action generated by these analytical tools can be as simple as on-screen alerts of suspicious or unwanted behaviours, or as complex as using biometric facial recognition technology to grant or deny a person access to a high security area. They can significantly increase the capabilities of what might otherwise be a very stock standard video surveillance system and turn it into a highly tuned, mission critical component of the organisation’s entire operations.

Even the simplest of video analytics implementations can increase an organisation’s security. These include motion detection (to notice when a person enters or leaves an area), virtual tripwires (to detect when someone or something enters a secure area), object recognition (which can identify when a particular object is removed or if additional objects appear), and Licence Plate Recognition software to scrutinise cars entering and leaving a facility.

Specialist CCTV analytical tools can help government bodies and commercial groups put their security systems to other uses such as identifying regular patterns in human traffic to review building plans in order to make work or public areas more efficient or safe. The possibilities are limitless.

In the future, organisations will look to further leverage the capabilities of their CCTV network to incorporate specialist functions such as biometric identification and behaviour pattern recognition. Using facial recognition and gait recognition technologies, it is already possible to match surveillance subjects against a watch list of “persons of interest”. As these biometric technologies continue to evolve, we are likely to see even greater convergence between surveillance and identification.