Managing Security and Big Data With Video Analytics

Technology providers are collaborating like never before to bring amazing capabilities into the marketplace. At the top of that list is video analytics, which is finally working out the bugs, kinks and false alarms to deliver on its extremely high potential.

Consider the past limitations facial video analytics. First, the realities of the environment where cameras were installed had a significant impact on the validity of the video data captured for analysis. Other considerations included the angle of the camera, the lighting/shadowing of the face and the “ear-to-ear” orientation of the face to the camera. These were hard-to-control variables that delivered a wide variety of results. This brought about both false positive and false negative results, which did not instill confidence.

One can argue the merits of processing video content on the edge or back in the server depends on the application, scope of video input, how the analyzed video will be used and, most importantly, how quickly it will be used. Each processing method has pluses and minuses. Time, bandwidth and processing power come to mind. Are we talking about real-time or forensic video analysis? This depends on the security application, the threat timeline, criticality, usage policy and the environment.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget about the budget!

Big Data Can Bring Big Value

So what makes Big Data so BIG? Simple answer, there is a lot of it. The real answer is how data is viewed and managed by IT types. Structured data is data that fits into a well-defined protocol that IT uses to manage business processes or military operations. Unstructured data is like that crazy, evil twin who lives in the closet and nobody knows what to do with him. This scares the heck out of those rational IT types. It is the discipline of giving some structure (analytics) to unstructured (raw video streams) data and then making some sense of it that we all have struggled with during the past five years.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has testing for facial bio recognition in both uncontrolled (unstructured) and controlled (structured) environments based on facial angle and everyone’s nemesis — environmental lighting/shading. In the past we didn’t have the tools to work with unstructured data. That is changing.

Untethered, high quality mobile image capture (smartphone) and fast, inexpensive transmission of data to cloud-based processing of large databases is one of the reasons video analytics will start delivering on its real potential. According to 3VR’s Shipp, in the commercial/industrial/retail world, facial and special video analytics have made significant strides in the past three years.

Pioneering new technologies is not for the faint of heart; it takes both determination and financial backing to cross the chasm to mainstream technology tools. It means real-time information from video that can support more informed decisions for security and business operations. Business intelligence mined from real-time video across enterprises allows dramatic and measureable reduction in fraud, as well as delivering insights into marketing and customer service.

Paul Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is principal of Canfield, Ohio-based Matterhorn Consulting ( He has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience and can be contacted at

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