Tracking Suspects: Finding that Needle in the Haystack Just Got Easier

Advanced video analytics solutions can now help officers quickly and effectively review hours of footage from security cameras to search for suspects and missing persons.

The average college football game draws more than 40,000 fans, with some of the bigger schools drawing more than 100,000 fans per game on average. Amidst that sea of students, alumni, local residents and families, if a child wanders away or becomes separated from his parents, finding him or her could take hours. With tens of thousands of people milling around parking lots tailgating and making their way between their seats and concessions, how can parents quickly find their child, and how can campus security help them spot this proverbial needle in a haystack?

It’s a question that has long vexed the security world, and not just in the case of a lost child. While most campuses typically have coverage of both indoor and outdoor spaces through surveillance cameras, safety and security teams lack both the time and the manpower to comb through hours of footage for the three seconds when a person of interest wanders through the frame.

Especially in a situation when time is of the essence, video alone isn’t enough. Analytics add another layer, one that cuts through the libraries of footage to pinpoint the relevant portions, and does so fast enough to aid responses as they unfold instead of after the fact. Recent advances in video analytics have enabled some solutions to sift through multiple video sources to detect and track a target in real time. Based on a recorded image, an uploaded full-body photo, or a composite based on an eyewitness account, the system can simultaneously search for a target across an entire network of cameras, filtering out most irrelevant images. Based on the results, officials can map out a target’s route through an area.

In the lost child example, the parents need only provide a description of what their son was wearing and the system will pull up all footage of him and his path through the parking lots or stadium breezeways, including his last known location, reducing a search that might take hours down to a few minutes.

But this is just one example of how advanced video analytics that track targets can aid the security of campuses. Whether it’s finding a missing person, monitoring for a suspected criminal or other outsider entering campus, or locating a student suspected of wrongdoing, these solutions can significantly accelerate campus security teams’ searches and enhance their ability to keep the whole university safe and secure. 

Analytics Address Urgent Safety Concerns
There are typically two types of college campuses. There are those that make their home in less populous areas, where students make up a significant portion of the population, and then there are campuses located in the middle of a city. Some campuses are so integrated into the city around them that you could walk down a block, through campus and out the other side, potentially without realizing you had ever been on campus at all. 

Especially for campuses in cities, the phenomenon of a criminal entering campus to burglarize a dorm room or apartment or break into a car is all too common. For many colleges, safety officers would turn to the camera system, but it would take considerable time and effort to monitor feeds for future signs of the perpetrator.

The urgency is even greater in the case of student safety. If students report being followed by a stranger through a parking garage or to their dorm room, safety officials need a rapid way to immediately recognize that individual if he should appear again. Advanced video analytics can trace the outsider’s path through campus, identifying any security vulnerabilities – how he entered campus, where he went, and what else he was doing – to limit future incidents.

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