What you need to know about Video Analytics for Security Surveillance before its implementation

The introduction of video analytics for surveillance was revolutionary. Since then these applications have evolved and changed the way video surveillance is installed, monitored, and reviewed. The premise of these software applications is to optimize the human resource and focus the attention on those events that are relevant based on a set of predefined rules or conditions.

Today, most manufacturers provide one or more video analytics as part of their solution. Moreover, there are companies that focus specifically on video analytics development. Not all analytics have been designed the same way, however, and depending on the situation, one video analytic type can provide better results than others. At the same time, there are important factors that can support or undermine the video analytic performance.

How do video analytics work?

No matter the type of video analytic solution, the process they follow is very similar. Video analytics use video as input to compare against the condition(s) or rule(s) defined on the software engine. Depending on the type of analytic, the engine will look for specific information on the image. If the event is matched with the rule, then the analytic will trigger an output or action. Imagine that you are interested in identifying all events where an object crosses a virtual fence defined on the video analytic. If the event matches the condition, the operator should get a visual notification while the system logs the event on the server.

As part of the output, the video analytic generates meta-data, which is information in the form of text to describe what happened on the event. Meta-data can be used to trigger an alarm, classify events, run reports and search for information (i.e. forensic analysis).

An important point is that video analytics require a learning period before the engine can start detecting events. This learning period will give the analytic a baseline to gather information and compare it against the condition. Furthermore, some video analytics will require a minimum video resolution to operate properly, at least x number of frames per second to run the analysis and in some cases a camera angle to obtain better results.

What are the different types of video analytics?

If we classify the types of video analytics available in the market, we can cluster them in three main groups. Basic video analytics, advanced video analytics, and deep learning video analytics.

Basic video analytics were developed more than 15 years ago. These video analytics are designed to use pixel changes to trigger an event. An example of a basic video analytic is simple motion detection. When a group of pixels on the image change its color, the engine will consider this event as something moving on the scene resulting in motion detection.

Another example is camera sabotage/tampering. In this case, the camera will take a snapshot of the scene and if most of the pixels on the image change, then the analytic will consider this as tampering.

The disadvantage of basic video analytics is the number of false positives you could get since the engine is very basic, especially in complex scenes. Shadows, trees, animals or weather conditions can trigger the analytic, reducing its benefits.

Advanced analytics were developed more recently. These analytics use Binary Large Objects (BLOB), which is a group of connected pixels. This type of analytic look for shapes and forms reducing the number of false positives. Compared to basic video analytics, this type also provides additional settings to finetune the engine such as perspectives, camera angle, type of scene, number of frames for analysis, among others. Finally, algorithms using advanced analytics can reduce the number of false positives by narrowing down the number of events that can trigger the analytic (i.e. Object classification).

Artificial Intelligence (AI) or deep learning video analytics is the most recent technology used for video analysis. These video analytics take advantage of neural networks to train the analytic and produce an outcome. The more events the analytic is trained with, the higher the accuracy to detect relevant events. The learning process can be manual (human intervention to mark the events that are relevant) or automatic using a library of events gathered from different sources. Deep learning analytics will provide more advanced analysis such as feature searching or multiple conditions.

Deep learning analytics offer the ability to sift through information and compare against conditions faster and more accurately.

Server Analytics vs. Edge Analytics vs. Cloud Analytics

When implementing video analytics, you should decide if the analytic will reside on the camera (edge analytics), on the server, or on the cloud. Most camera manufacturers offer video analytics on the camera either for free or for an additional fee. In contrast, video analytic manufacturers offer video analytics either on the camera, on the server, or on the cloud.

It’s important to remember that for more advanced analysis you will require more processing, thus not all advanced video analytics or deep learning can run on the edge, but on a server, the cloud, or a hybrid. If the video analytic can run on the camera, most probably will require high-end camera models since these cameras will have better processors.

Finally, another important factor is the Video Management System (VMS) compatibility with the video analytic. Not all camera manufacturers or third-party video analytics manufacturers have integration with all VMSs. In some cases, the integration might be limited to sending alarms to the VMS rather than transmitting the meta-data to the VMS.

What other factors should be considered when implementing Video Analytics?

The video analytic can only deliver a good analysis if the video provided is of good quality. A barrel effect (optic distortion) on economic lens can be an issue when the subjects move to the corners of the image. Cameras without a true wide dynamic range will provide a poor image when there is a high contrast on the scene reducing the detection capabilities of the video analytic. A high shutter speed could be a key feature when objects move fast on the scene or when the camera is zoomed in on a small area of the object (i.e. vehicle’s license plate) reducing blurred images.

Video analytics, either on the server side or on the cloud, will require bandwidth to receive the camera streams and processing power to run the analysis. The advantage of this architecture is that you don’t require a specific type of camera chip, the disadvantage is that bandwidth usage will be higher. Depending on the number of video analytics, you might require more than one processor on the sever or increase your internet bandwidth if using cloud analytics. If bandwidth is an issue, evaluate if edge video analytics can meet your project requirements.

Measuring video analytic accuracy is a relative subject, especially when there is no standard in the industry for it. A manufacturer can increase the video analytic accuracy if the sample is constrained to a few trials (i.e. 10 trials and 9 of them were positive = 90% accuracy vs. 100 trials and 9 of them positive = 9% accuracy). Accuracy could be measured only on real events, eliminating false positives from the sample, or if the statistic is obtained under ideal conditions (i.e. camera angle, controlled lighting, simple background, little activity on the scene, a set distance from the camera, specific lens or camera type).

The only accuracy statistic you should trust is a trial period based on your conditions and settings.

Conclusion: Four important points about video analytics for video surveillance

There are important differences in video analytics and using the right video analytic in your implementation is crucial to obtain the best results. In most projects a combination of different types of video analytics will be the way to go, whereas in very specific situations one type can be more suitable than others.

Compare and test the video analytic before choosing a manufacturer. Even though two manufacturers claim to have the same type of video analytic, the outcome on the same scenario might differ considerably since accuracy can be measured differently. Not all the scenes are ideal, especially when using video analytics outdoors. Lighting, camera angle, weather conditions, and the image quality are some examples of factors that commonly affect the results of a video analytic.

Remember that all analytics will require configuration and fine tuning. Assess the ease of use and the level of training required to make changes and obtain results.

An integration between the Video Management System and the video analytic is important. Furthermore, an integration that includes meta-data support will give you more usability and the possibility to expand its applications.

Predictive Analytics: Why is it important?

As we continue to push the frontiers of data science, predictive analytics continues to gain momentum. Data scientists are making increasingly accurate predictions about unknown future events, making our world less uncertain. For those who are new to the concept, predictive analytics draw from methods that include big data, data mining, machine learning, and statistical modeling. Assumptions and forecasts are made based from trends and patterns contained within the data. Models are formulated based on a set of conditions, guiding the user toward a desired outcome, essentially mitigating risk associated with an unpredictable outcome.

The logic behind predictive analytics is simple: the more data acquired, the more accurate the prediction.

The real-world applications of predictive analytics range from streamlining basic services to forecasting profitability. Retailers, for example, use predictive models to make purchasing decisions and determine merchandise layouts to maximize sales. The healthcare industry is beginning to use big data and AI to provide patients with treatment plans and granular diagnoses. The travel industry is known for using predictive analytics to set ticket and room prices based on how many travelers are forecasted for a given day.

With advancements in surveillance technology and robust data streams, security or law enforcement professionals can now be immediately alerted when incidents occur and more importantly, provided with a host of relevant information that can reduce response times and increase crime “clearance” rates.

Predictive analytics can be used to sift through bulk data looking for patterns and unusual events. For example, video data could be searched looking for suspicious behavior automatically and reports of any unusual incidents can be presented automatically to appropriate personnel. This tool can even map patterns of criminal activity within a community over time, helping prevent incidents before they start and allowing law enforcement to use resources efficiently. Predictive analytics in the surveillance sector provides a wide range of applications in civic life and private industry including city traffic, sports venues, oil and gas, healthcare, retail, transportation hubs, and more.

Detecting and preventing ATM fraud can be a unique challenge for security officials. For example, an individual frequently visiting an ATM in the span of one day can be flagged as suspicious behavior by an intelligent surveillance solution that incorporates predictive analytics capabilities. Once detected, the camera can issue an alert to bank security operators, who can then investigate such breaches.to find out whether a card skimmer is being used to steal money.

Although the potential value of predictive analytics is still growing, many of today’s video management systems are only just starting the journey into using more than just video as a data source. Having an open-platform system is a critical element that contributes to the adoption of new technology. In the case of predictive analytics, there are a multitude of diverse systems and forms of data that will need to integrate and communicate with one another to accurately predict specific outcomes. What’s more, the use cases for this are expanding far beyond traditional sources of physical security information.

To see an example of what Pelco is doing to pave the way for predictive analytics capabilities, see the motion-based tracking in the VideoXpert platform in action. Learn more about their industry-leading surveillance solutions today.

Tracking Undesirable Behavior in Casinos

Casinos with hotel properties are popular vacation destinations, and with good reason. They provide numerous forms of entertainment and amenities from one location to the next, including gaming halls, pools and beaches, spas, retail shops, amusement parks, and restaurants. Surveillance and security personnel need to be on top of all of these high traffic areas, and the unique challenges that these amenities face as complements to gaming operations.

Because they are attractions across all demographics and cultures, gaming properties and casinos attract a very wide variety of visitors, many of whom elicit undesirable behaviors ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to cheating.

Casino security has to balance a welcoming guest-focused attitude with a firm and capable presence to prevent and handle problems as they arise. Surveillance and security operations are a mainstay at casinos because they support a range of business imperatives, including not only the protection of employees, patrons and assets, but also compliance with stringent gaming regulations.

For many casinos, one of the best ways to create a highly structured, discreet and secure environment is by employing advanced video surveillance technologies that support high-quality analytics. In addition to delivering high levels of situational awareness, these systems also deliver documented evidence for investigations and court cases.

Integrated analytics in fixed, PTZ, 360 degree, and panoramic security cameras can help to detect undesirable behaviors – such as an object left behind, card counting at the gaming table, a door propped open, a guest whose behavior is inappropriate, theft from employees or vendors, and more – and send alerts to security personnel. Surveillance analytics can also track identified individuals from camera to camera throughout the premises. Additionally, facial recognition analytics can alert operators if a known offender enters the casino, freeing security officers from constant monitoring of entrances and exits. And heat mapping can provide valuable insight into loitering statistics so that security officers can better allocate staff to problematic areas. The vast amounts of data provided by the surveillance system can be reviewed for specific trends to prevent further incidents from taking place, and deliver new sources of business intelligence.

With integrated video imaging, camera control and management, and analytics technologies in place, gaming facilities can have the real-time situational awareness and data needed to respond to and deescalate real potential threats and incidents from guests with simply bad manners and behavior.

No Child Left Behind

As air travel becomes more and more a part of everyday life, airports are becoming more complex facilities. Multiple terminals, the proliferation of retail and food service outlets, circuitous layouts, front- and back-of-house areas, varying levels of security, and large crowds all make an airport more difficult to navigate, requiring intricate signage to ensure that patrons don’t get lost. In this environment, should a young child be separated from their traveling companions, it may be difficult for them to find their way back.

If a child becomes separated from their family in an airport, they can be extremely difficult to locate. Many areas that a small child can access before anyone even notices they’re gone can put them in hazardous situations or out of sight of airport personnel. Locating the child is obviously of paramount importance to the frightened family, and the child may not be old enough to understand how to find their way to airport staff who can help them. In these situations, security may need to step in to help find a lost child and bring them back before any problems arise for the child or the airport – all while making sure the family is on time for their flight.

However, the security personnel at airports are already extremely busy with the many threats they must deal with on a continual basis. Security personnel are constantly on the lookout for issues, from potential terrorism to disgruntled employees that may cause issues to the growing crowds waiting to get on their flights. Having to locate a lost child and reunite them with their family could divert significant resources away from protecting everyone else within the airport and ensuring the safety of flights as they depart and arrive. Fortunately, many security technologies on the market today deliver dynamic features that help make searches for lost children simple, fast and accurate.

Intelligent analytics in place on many modern video management systems (VMS) can help to quickly locate lost children and aid security officers in reconnecting them with their families. People-tracking analytics are able to scan thousands of people in seconds, using predetermined search criteria— height, hair color, shirt color, and others— to search faster and more accurately than is possible by human eyes alone and locate an individual meeting that criteria. Security officers can then minimize time wasted with on-the-ground searching by notifying officers nearby and keeping them updated with the location of a missing child as they move through the airport.

Analytics can also be leveraged to detect lost children entering hazardous areas before they’re even reported by their worried families. By setting alarms to be triggered by a VMS when a perimeter or barrier is breached without authorization, when movement is detected in the opposite direction of traffic, or when doors are opened with force, security officers are notified immediately, allowing them to proactively respond to possible incidents and helping to prevent harm to anyone in an unauthorized area. The use of this analytics software can even allow for unmanned monitoring, freeing up security teams to perform additional tasks.

In addition to analytics, many surveillance cameras are equipped with features that can assist in locating lost children. Multi-sensor panoramic cameras allow operators a better view of the entirety of the facility, covering high and low areas that other cameras might miss and giving officers a better view of people who are lower to the ground.

When a child goes missing in a complex facility like an airport, time is of the essence to reunite them with their worried family and prevent them from accidentally harming themselves or others. With modern cameras and the right integrated analytics on your surveillance system, you can limit the manpower required to find a lost child and locate them even more efficiently than with an extensive ground-level search, ensuring that they keep out of danger and can even still make their flight.

How Advancements in Video Management Systems Help to Protect Small-To-Mid-Size Businesses

Small-to-mid-size businesses, or SMBs, are some of the most difficult businesses to properly protect from risk. Security systems and personnel often come at a cost that is difficult to justify because it seems large in comparison with revenue. Yet, without safeguards in place, it can be difficult for SMBs with modest cash flows to recover from losses resulting from security breaches. Protecting your assets, facility, and personnel is a mission-critical objective, and SMBs need cost-effective solutions to protect themselves.

SMBs that install a modern, advanced video surveillance system get a number of benefits beyond simple monitoring. The presence of security cameras itself is often enough to act as a criminal deterrent, and the implementation of a system can help dramatically reduce the rate of security breaches and criminal activity, in addition to preventing some issues altogether. Video surveillance improves response time in case of a threat or other situation that requires physical intervention, and reduces liability by providing auditable video.

SMBs are particularly vulnerable, as they often do not have the resources to put these important safeguards in place–a potent combination with limited resources to absorb losses and proactively protect themselves against threats. Crimes against SMBs have been known to go completely unreported out of fear of bad publicity, and because the chances of successful prosecution are low. To mitigate this risk, SMBs have to be both proactive and savvy when planning and implementing risk-reduction strategies– including physical security.

Because they needed to be cost-effective, SMBs have until recently tried to make due with basic video surveillance systems, consisting of Network Video Recorders (NVRs) without the advanced functionality available on video management systems (VMS) designed for larger, enterprise-level installations. In the past, smaller businesses had to make a difficult choice between enterprise-level systems, which were highly capable but also complex and expensive, and entry-level systems that were not much more powerful than basic consumer-level systems. Today, however, VMS solutions with high-performing functionality are available for SMBs as well.

When looking for a VMS specifically for small-to-midsize business, there are several factors to consider. The typical video surveillance system for an SMB is between 20 and 75 cameras, and is typically used to cover the outside of a facility, parking lots, entrances, and key interior locations. A VMS designed to handle up to 100 cameras per server is therefore ideal, meeting today’s needs while preserving flexibility and the capability for scaling up as needs may change and grow. Most SMBs do not possess extensive or highly technical security personnel, so a VMS with an intuitive user interface that is easy to learn and operate is essential.

In addition, recent advances allow new VMS to provide improved analytics for smaller installations. Analytics supplements and enhances human monitoring of the video feeds, tirelessly watching for certain triggers to activate alarms or send alerts to security staff for evaluation and response. Integrated analytics can include loitering (a person staying in one area longer than expected or allowed), wrong way (a person traveling in the wrong direction – entering an exit, for example), object removal (something that is normally in the monitored scene is no longer there), and others. These triggers can also be used to locate specific video data in the event that it’s later needed. With analytics present on a VMS, security systems can do much of the work for the user—a crucial aid to any SMB.

SMB security presents many challenges—the need for the same dynamic protection as larger businesses, for much lower cost and with much simpler operation. With modern VMS systems, this type of protection has become much more cost-effective, easier to implement and operate, and more highly functional than any video surveillance system for this scale has ever been.

How to Choose A VMS for SMB Applications

As you facilitate the growth of your business, the ability to protect people, property and assets is a mission critical business objective for general security purposes and to minimize risks and liabilities. Video surveillance is one of the most important investments you will make to ensure this goal, so it’s important to choose the Video Management System (VMS) that will best meet your specific needs. This is particularly true of small-to-mid-size businesses (SMBs) that often require VMS solutions with enterprise level performance and intuitiveness on a greater cost-value basis. Here are some considerations SMBs should explore before selecting a VMS:

Size of Business

Make sure your VMS is the right size for your operation. Though many VMS systems today can connect thousands of cameras across multiple facilities, such a massive system will overwhelm your business needs – and you’ll be paying for much more than you need today. These systems weren’t designed from the ground up for prospering SMBs with long-term growth objectives. The average camera count for an SMB is well below 100 cameras, which requires a VMS solution scaled to this capacity.

Although your business may not require a large number of cameras and an enterprise-level VMS, SMBs have heftier needs than mom and pop level businesses. For example, an entry-level Network Video Recorder (NVR) is typically capable of supporting up to 16 cameras, which is often too few cameras for most SMB installations. In addition, the functionality and capabilities of NVR-based camera control systems are fairly basic, and insufficiently suited to the surveillance objectives most SMBs want and need.

Define Your VMS Needs and Objectives

Once you begin researching various VMS solutions, you’ll find a multitude of options designed to serve a variety of purposes. Some will fulfill a specific function faster and better, but not share capacity for other purposes, while some solutions are designed for very general surveillance applications. However, there are VMS solutions designed specifically for SMBs that are optimized for unique functionality, provide scalable camera and recording capacities, and accommodate third-party integrations for more advanced functionality. You should evaluate these capabilities very carefully to help ensure you are making the best decision based on your present and future needs.

Feature Selection Criteria

There are powerful and highly efficient features available on today’s latest VMS solutions designed to deliver easy installation and operation. This is important on several fronts, most notably relative to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), personnel training and system operation. The personnel who install and operate your VMS solution are probably not technicians, so it’s important to evaluate the User Interface (UI) for intuitiveness and overall simplicity. A complicated UI may look impressive and promise to provide greater functionality, but it will most likely confuse novice operators which can result in costly mistakes. VMS solutions with an intuitive UI will help flatten the learning curve, saving both time and money while ensuring proper system operation. Inquire about estimated installation and training requirements when evaluating systems, as these should be core selection criteria.

Additional key features to look for in a VMS solution include “plug and play” operation to easily install and add cameras, and the ability to support extended recording capacity using internal or attached storage. Ideally, the VMS solution should also support third party plug-ins to enhance its operation with advanced capabilities such as people counting, object left behind detection, license plate recognition, integration with point of sale systems, and more. These added functions can help improve overall security and contribute to other present and future business intelligence applications.

Purchasing a VMS solution for your SMB is an investment in your business – one that will allow you to establish and maintain a safe and secure environment – so you can focus on growth. Take the time to ask questions and compare various VMS solutions. And never hesitate to ask a video expert to help steer you in the right direction.

Choosing the Right VMS: What You Should Know

Choosing the correct video management software (VMS) can be a challenge. With all of the VMS offerings available on the market today, weighing the pros and cons of each tech feature or system architecture can be a daunting task for both integrators and end users. Which functions are right for our team? Who will have access to the platform? Will it integrate seamlessly with other devices? Can it grow with the business?

We offer a few helpful concepts for businesses to consider when selecting the right VMS platform to make the rest of the process as quick and efficient as possible (much like your final choice of VMS will be).

Performance. The single most important factor is performance. All other system capabilities are built from or rely on this. Configuration and management of video from a central location can make all the difference in efficiency, especially if (or when) servers go down, leaving users scrambling to ensure that video data is safely stored. Leading VMS platforms maintain a high level of performance through advanced configuration and accessibility, with comprehensive databases that allow easy access to video and data from multiple systems.

User experience. Not all security teams are created equal, so to compensate for gaps in technical know-how, it is critical to create a seamless user experience. Intuitive platforms that have easy-to-use interfaces with information at an operator’s fingertips allow security teams to make more informed, effective decisions that propel proactive security planning, such as fast, efficient tactical responses. These platforms also reduce training requirements and manual processes, so that end users can safely deliver continuity of their services.

Open platforms. It is virtually impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of a VMS system without stressing the importance of advanced integration capabilities with third-party technology. Security leaders realize even greater capabilities with open platforms that allow other security devices and business systems to easily integrate with video management solutions. These other devices offer a wide range of benefits, including license plate recognition (LPR), video analytics, alarm management, visitor management, access control, mobile access, and lighting and building automation.

Flexibility. Businesses are constantly evolving, moving locations and updating their infrastructure to keep up with supply and demand for video security as much as any other proprietary services they offer. Whether migrating to IP for the first time or looking to boost a current installation, businesses can use advanced VMS systems to bridge the integration gap without abandoning existing infrastructure through enhanced flexibility. These advanced systems even support existing cameras, allowing users to retain costly investments and realize more returns without requiring surveillance triage.

Scalability. Once users have identified the right features for the size and nature of their installation, the last piece of the puzzle is assessing the ease with which the VMS system can accommodate the installation’s rate of expansion. True scalability allows organizations to build a VMS system that meets specific operational and surveillance needs as they grow, and continue without interruption even as security risks increase proportionally to growth.

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