A Needle in a Video Haystack

Event-driven intelligence can identify the most important elements in surveillance data

Steve Birkmeier, Arteco

Today’s global security teams are faced with a complex set of threats, from vandalism, violence and severe weather to more extreme dangers, such as terrorism, all of which can be unpredictable. Because of the nature of these threats and the devastation that each one has the potential to inflict, comprehensive building management and security solutions are required to safeguard people, facilities, critical data and assets.

Security managers often rely on video surveillance and captured video data to assist them in maintaining awareness of the happenings within a facility at any given time. Since manpower is not sufficient to cover all areas and budgets tend to be constrained, video surveillance typically serves as the “eyes” of a security team.

It is clear that the need for more comprehensive surveillance and situational awareness is spiking, as evidenced by the more than 200 million cameras in use around the globe since 2014. The industry is also in the midst of a sea change, with IP cameras outpacing analog camera sales for the first time in history. However, in terms of combining security approaches and taking them to the next level of interconnectivity, barriers to entry remain.

New Challenges in the Security Market

An exploding global population and a growing risk environment has resulted in a staggering rise in the sheer amount of data that is used for security purposes. IHS estimates that the amount of data produced in a single day by all new video surveillance cameras installed worldwide reached 566 petabytes in 2015. This is the equivalent of 11.3 million standard double-layer Blu-ray discs, or twice the amount of all user data stored by Facebook.

Secondary systems of protection are also facing a revolution in technological innovation, with many platforms reconfiguring notification centers to better mesh with intelligent devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets, allowing users to have eyes and ears in many more places than ever before.

This surge in software-enabled solutions has increased the potential for comprehensive, real-time safety measures, but it can also leave users with a sense of weariness from trying to keep up with the constant turnover of technology.

The information provided by video surveillance is often overwhelming to operators, especially since video systems are typically set to record 24/7. It can be a challenge to identify the specific data that is important since it takes hours of sifting through seemingly endless amounts of recorded information. Now add all the data coming from other alarm-based platforms and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as access control equipment, analytics, mobile platforms and alarm and life safety systems, and the amount of incoming data per application becomes massive.

To develop a proactive approach, security managers need an intuitive way to identify the most valuable pieces of captured video data and corresponding system alerts.

What is Event-Driven Intelligence?

Event-driven intelligence (EDI) is a highly streamlined method of collecting, analyzing and responding to security data that allows users to use the incoming information to their advantage for emergencies and investigations. EDI platforms, such as video event management software (VEMS), rely on streaming, notification and management of data from multiple third-party devices, such as video surveillance, access control, building automation, and fire and intrusion alarms. These systems shift the burden from hardware to software as they link facility device notifications into a single easy-to-use interface, using high-level configuration for increased customization and, eventually, more efficient tactical responses to prioritized events.

Event-driven solutions are applicable across a number of markets, making them the nimblest and most intelligent security solution for users seeking organization, clarity and increased awareness of the incidents that matter (as well as peace of mind in false alarm situations). Applications ranging from education facilities and retail to critical infrastructure sites and city surveillance are adopting an event-based intelligence approach as a way to gain insight and improve operations in security and enterprise applications.

Event-driven intelligence allows users to intuitively and easily recognize key trends to drive informed and effective incident management and emergency response.

With intelligent tools, such as built-in video analytics, critical details can be easily and quickly identified to facilitate rapid response, while allowing facilities to maximize manpower and ensure a high level of safety.

Advanced Detection, Robust Intelligence

Video cameras traditionally collect video data, but it is how this data is used that makes it so valuable to security managers. They need a solution that is able to home in on specific events to collect details that can be used to properly address incidents. The quicker an operator can find video evidence of the incident in question, the quicker a problem can be remedied and security restored. Moreover, security teams should identify a video solution that will meet these needs in a cost-effective manner while empowering users with intuitive options. And an easily scalable solution is critical to taking advantage of growth possibilities.

Fast-Tracked Interoperability

Interoperability between systems, devices, and applications is important when making the whole system more intuitive. Solutions should offer the ability to detect and manage any and all events captured by video cameras while simultaneously integrating other security-focused measures, such as access control, intrusion detection, fire detection, license plate recognition, etc. The more information that is available about a certain event, the quicker the resolution. When choosing a solution, users should make sure it is based on open standards so that it will easily integrate with other third-party systems, devices, and applications.

End users seek to retain as much of their initial investment as possible while looking for ways to improve these systems as risks and business needs evolve. Integrators should look to bring an end user’s diverse security devices into one integrated platform. The ability to integrate with building management systems is critical, as well. The combination of multiple devices and platforms into one interface allows security managers to realize new levels of awareness, as well as increased functionalities, across networked systems. Without question, integration and interoperability are crucial for scalability and for “future-proofing” these installations, and it is imperative that integrators look into the innovation capacity of high-quality manufacturers.

Higher Levels of Situational Awareness

Opting for an event-driven intelligent solution with video analytics and video management software allows users to recognize key trends in data. Video analytics enhance video intelligence by performing event detection. For example, VEMS can track which alerts are triggered most and least frequently as well as identify gaps in security. This can be the difference between proactively securing an area and reacting to a situation after the fact. Security managers can define a specific set of events when alerts are necessary while, at the same time, the software continuously analyzes incoming video data, providing an immediate alert upon detection of a relevant incident.

VEMS can track which alerts are triggered most and least frequently as well as identify gaps in security. This can be the difference between proactively securing an area and reacting to a situation after the fact.

VEMS and School Security

One way that VEMS is helping security managers improve and secure operations is by lending a hand in some of the most data-driven environments: school campuses.

Campuses range from semi-closed environments with high-level access control to more open perimeters with multiple sites spread across town, which can make a unified security approach difficult to achieve.

Many universities and K-12 campuses have strict budgetary requirements from trustees or school boards and try to maximize security allowances while still balancing the books for all other operational functions. Now more than ever, these schools are facing a growing demand for increased security within a tight budget, making it difficult to dedicate a larger portion of funds to one particular department.

Event-driven intelligence and video event management software are changing the way schools visualize, analyze and tackle security operations by allowing stakeholders to maintain existing security infrastructure, but they also take it a step further by funneling video alerts, alarms and notifications into one interface. As a result, the return on investment for VEMS is increased through its interoperability and reduced need for costly upgrades. This highly streamlined approach has allowed schools to absorb the increased video security presence at a custom level and identify key trends for emergency protocols, all while promoting significant cost savings by avoiding expensive end-to-end solutions.

Increased Return on Investment

Platforms that are able to remember patterns of behavior for a particular camera scene are most beneficial to security managers. Once users adopt EDI-based technology, they are able to retain their initial security investment and run proper VEMS, along with other third-party integration and reporting tools. They are also able to reduce investments in physical guards and move toward fewer operators manning more cameras through one platform, delivering robust ROI.

The “event” – a particular activity that seems suspicious or otherwise draws attention – should always be the focus when it comes to increasing situational awareness and enhancing facility security. When events occur and security managers are able to tune into them by using event-driven intelligent solutions, this enables optimal security and safety for all.

Steve Birkmeier (sbirkmeier@artecous.com) is vice president, sales and business development, for Arteco (www.artecous.com).