Trend: Moving toward intelligent surveillance systems

Published 15 March 2006

We reported yesterday of a company installing perimeter surveillance cameras with a difference: The cameras are connected to a central database which includes an algorithm which allows the cameras to spot suspicious behavior and alert security personnel. That system is part of a trend itself which is an effort to reconcile two facts:

First: Technology now makes it possible for very high quality images to be captured in any environment, anywhere in the world, and shared over IP networks. Brian Montgomery, an executive with Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada-based Extreme CCTV says that “Some newer technologies can even capture images such as license plates that are normally not seen by standard cameras. Accurate facial images can now be captured from anywhere between ten miles and three feet.”

Second: The range, scope, and sophistication of cameras increase, but human capacity to observe, absorb, and analyze information does not increase. Some corporate security executives incorrectly believe that merely adding cameras to their surveillance systems will increase security, but this fails to consider human performance issues. Phil Robertson, VP of corporate development for St. Louis, Missouri-based Cernium, says:

Adding more cameras alone does not increase security. Industry studies show that a security person can effectively watch between nine and twelve cameras for only fifteen minutes, and it’s possible that the average human’s observation capabilities are even shorter than that. It’s imperative to leverage tools like video analytics to help security personnel to be more effective by focusing their attention to the right video information at the right time by presenting only that data that is relevant to the situation at hand.

The solution is to bridge the gap between the expanding capabilities of surveillance systems and stagnant human observation capabilities by using video analytics. Video analytics involves the development of predetermined criteria which would trigger the attention of security personnel. Video analytics use rules built around an organization? security policies and critical information. These user-defined rules automate event detection and response and help the organization to address potential threats before they materialize and promote timely response to emergency situations.

The use of video analytics has been made possible by the migration from analog to digital video, which now enables images to be managed, analyzed, and distributed over the IT infrastructure in important new ways. The convergence of video security and IT has other consequences. Dennis Charlebois, vice president of marketing at Santa Clara, California-based BroadWare says that “Video security and IT are converging rapidly and this is creating pressure to move towards more open technologies and more open standards that support interoperable connectivity and increased bandwidth.

All these, and many other issues, were discussed at the Video, Security and Integration Summit 2006, which was cosponsored by BroadWare Technologies and held over two days in Dallas and Houston. The gathering of Fortune 100 security and IT leaders reviewed the state of the art in the video surveillance and security industries. In addition to vendors such as Axis Communications, Cernium Intelligent Video, Extreme CCTV, and MDS Wireless Networking, it was important that the meeting was attended by executives from a wide variety of industries including oil and gas, chemicals, health care, food processing, electronics, engineering, aerospace, airport management, transit and transportation, international shipping, travel and hospitality, law enforcement, security, manufacturing, utilities, water management, federal and local government, retail, and others.

-read more about the summit in this document; and see product details at Web sites of Extreme CCTV | Cernium | BroadWare