8 Factors to Consider When Deploying Video Analytics

With more campuses adopting bigger and more sophisticated security camera systems than ever before, there is a growing need for effective tools to monitor the footage. Analytics-enabled video management is one technological solution that can help hospitals, schools and universities improve their situational awareness.

One notable trend at healthcare and educational facilities is the rapid adoption of video surveillance systems. While this capability can help achieve security objectives, it can only do so in combination with other enabling technologies, policies and procedures. Rather than simply installing more cameras, security directors should consider a holistic approach that protects the safety and security of the people and assets they’re charged to protect.

Conventional closed circuit television (CCTV) and video surveillance systems are traditional approaches that were never designed to accommodate the scale of modern installations. In today’s campus environment, it is not uncommon for video surveillance systems to have several hundred cameras. In order to manage the sheer volume of video, the security industry has responded with new technologies and architectures that leverage the power of broadband IT networks to efficiently capture, transport, display, archive and retrieve video streams.

While these new system designs have made the physical management of video data feasible, they have done little to actually improve security. Campus security departments must be able to “see” threats in order to increase situational awareness and proactively respond, but traditional video surveillance operations have failed to deliver on this promise for several reasons.

First, the probability of an operator actually seeing suspicious activity or a crime in progress on a 32-camera system, let alone a 400-camera system, is extremely low. An assault can occur in 10 seconds, and cars can be stolen in 60 seconds.

System expansion can also prove to be difficult and expensive due to network constraints and the inability to scale human resources to effectively monitor all the video. Additionally, the many cameras that are not monitored live are reduced to inefficient forensic tools that require labor-intensive, manual review during post-event investigations.

  A Layered, Combination Approach Works Best

Effective campus safety and security is achieved by a layered approach that includes alignment of security operations with overall organizational goals, operational efficiency, sound communications structures, well-trained staff and the appropriate implementation of security technology. For campuses that currently have or are considering video surveillance systems, analytics-enabled video management is an integral component of this approach.

  Video analytics software makes it possible to economically and less labor-intensively manage, monitor, store and retrieve critical information from video, both in real-time for incident recognition, assessment and response, and after the fact for forensic purposes. Much more than motion detection, video analytics can validate the presence of people, vehicles or objects, looking for patterns of movement or nonmovement that could represent a threat to campus safety and security.

  Enhancing a digital video management system with video analytics enables a small campus security force to proactively and cost-efficiently monitor large video surveillance installations. Rather than relying on the operator to look at the right camera view precisely when an event is occurring, an analytics-enabled system can deliver the event – or series of events – in progress for assessment and action.

Alerts Stretch Human Resources, Manage Operations

Audible, visual and messaged alerts can bring potential threats to the attention of personnel who are in the position to do what humans do best – assess the situation and respond accordingly. Digital files of the alerts may be shared across the network and sent directly to mobile security units or local law enforcement officials. Video content can also be used to manage risk and operations, providing more than security.

A good video analytics solution, like any effective security technology, enables educators to focus on creating a rich learning environment and allows healthcare centers to concentrate on providing the highest quality care to individuals and communities.

When evaluating video analytics solutions, security directors should carefully consider the following:

  • 1. Adaptability: The selected video analytics system must be able to expand and adapt according to changing security requirements as well as support the addition of future technologies. Best-in-class analytics systems should integrate easily into an open-architecture Internet protocol (IP) network, working with both analog and IP cameras as needed. The system should also easily accommodate the addition of cameras to the network.
  • 2. Cost: Due to overall system implementation cost, users sometimes limit analytics to a small number of the cameras in their systems. While this approach seems reasonable from a budget perspective, it fails to increase safety and security. Who can predict exactly when and where the next security violation will occur? Limiting analytics to a few select cameras assumes a level of predictability that does not exist. Ideally, system costs should enable analytics on all cameras to enhance system-wide security, which can be achieved through a combination of server-based and edge devices.

    The more efficient the analytics software in terms of processing capability, the lower the cost of analytics will tend to be per camera, particularly over the longer term as the system expands to meet changing requirements. With a server-based system, hardware costs are also amortized over many cameras. A system that is easy to deploy and use will also require less professional time, further keeping costs low.

  • 3. Ease of installation, configuration and operation: When deployed as a server-based solution, the installation of video analytics should be a standard IT installation, which requires only a few mouse clicks to set up and configure. A point-and-click interface is critical, enabling personnel to focus on their mission as well as easily train new operators. Operators should be able to effortlessly replay events and share video files with other users, departments or law enforcement agencies.
  • 4. Advanced search (forensic) functionality: Best-in-class analytics solutions incorporate a powerful search function as part of the analytics package. While real-time crime interdiction is the goal, at times it is necessary to review video to identify suspects, suspicious activities, or behavioral patterns. An efficient search function allows operators to search for and retrieve specific incidents within minutes.
  • 5. Bandwidth considerations: For bandwidth-constrained systems, it may be desirable to perform some video analytics at the edge of the network. Under these conditions, analytics can process the video locally and send only metadata or compressed video clips over the network.

    While it may save on network management costs, this approach requires the additional expenses involved in purchasing and maintaining the edge devices. A well-designed system will trade off operational and cost considerations to achieve a balance of economy and functionality.

  • 6. How the system will be deployed: Prior to implementing a video analytics solution, security directors should carefully consider how they will use the technology. With an advanced analytics solution, multiple detectable scenarios and behaviors can be customized for every camera. This allows security directors to specify the most relevant behaviors or scenarios they wish to see for each camera, according to time of day, weekends or holidays.
  • 7. How others use video analytics: Taking the opportunity to view an existing analytics-enabled video surveillance system can also be of tremendous benefit. The value of seeing how other organizations use the technology, witnessing best practices, and learning how systems are effectively implemented cannot be underestimated.

  • 8. Results of a site assessment: A site assessment is critical in order to maximize the success of implementing a video analytics
    solution in a particular campus environment. Details such as camera angles, lighting and video quality that can determine the success or failure of an installation can generally be uncovered and addressed during the site assessment.

    If video analytics technology is implemented the right way the first time, the possibilities for successful crime interdiction, risk management, and enhanced operational effectiveness are endless.

Properly Deployed Analytics Are Scalable

Each campus has its own security requirements. Analytics-enabled video management solutions incorporating these best practices are flexible enough to successfully evolve with changing requirements, integrate with existing and future technologies, and grow along with campus security operations.

              Craig A. Chambers is president and CEO of CerniumTM Inc., a provider of video analytics products. For additional information on Cernium, go to www.cernium.com.

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