IP video has many benefits outside of security

Empowering the Next Generation

IP video has many benefits outside of security

IP video has many benefits outside of securityAn underappreciated benefit of IP-based video surveillance systems is their ability to transform video into useful information. As the industry transitions from analog to IP systems, much of the discussion about the benefits of these new systems has centered on how they perform better as a direct replacement for analog systems. But, that’s just a small part of the equation and barely scratches the surface of how IP video systems are impacting security at end user companies, and even transforming them.

This fundamental change is not unlike another familiar transition of recent years. Smartphones have largely replaced yesterday’s cell phones. However, the ability of a smartphone to make a telephone call doesn’t completely reflect the benefits of the technology, which enables users to surf the Internet, take pictures, listen to music and a myriad of other functions as reflected by thousands of apps. Like smartphones, IP video, compared to analog video systems, dramatically expands the range of available functionality and its value.

The added value of IP systems emanates from a basic function they perform, translating visual images and video into data. This makes it easier to manage in the enterprise environment because video can be analyzed and quantified, and thus, transformed into a wealth of new and useful information.

Data from video can be combined with data from other networked enterprise systems to provide a broader view of company operations. Intelligent IP surveillance solutions enable customer organizations to leverage data from a wide variety of communications, video and data sources to enhance security and maximize operations. Data collection from various networked sources, though, allows users to streamline investigations, proving that beyond security, data trends and metrics can help companies fine-tune their overall operations and maximize business efficiency.

Due to the value derived from video across multiple disciplines, IP systems lend themselves to a lower total cost of ownership because of decentralized and automated administration and maintenance. Moreover, today’s product innovators allow users the added advantage of purchasing an end-to-end solution from a single vendor that streamlines management and bandwidth, providing a more efficient IT process.

The combination of advanced solutions simplifies the management of enterprise systems and significantly improves situation awareness, emergency management and operational efficiency. The associated capabilities, emerging in several vertical markets, are just now beginning to be realized as ways that videoas- data can provide a new business tool for today’s enterprises.

Video When and Where You Want It

New IP video systems generate more images than ever before with more cameras, while new video management software (VMS) systems help end users make sense out of the vast volumes of captured video and data.

New user-friendly, software systems can streamline a security operation. With capabilities such as policy-based, video distribution, networked video viewing and investigation management ensure end users have access to the exact video they need when they need it. Real-time situational awareness is a valuable commodity in today’s companies, and video provides just that, by putting extra eyes on various aspects of an enterprise’s operation. Software quickly distributes video to any monitoring station where it is needed, and systems can be customized to ensure only operators with permission can access video.

Maintaining large IP systems is a challenge for the IT staff, so new automated video system “health monitoring” capabilities simplify the job of managing large, geographically-dispersed systems.

User interfaces are more flexible, designed to enhance visibility and simplify operation of complex video systems. Mobile and Web-based clients provide easy remote access and viewing, and enable easy export of video and investigation details for use by law enforcement or other agencies.

Another benefit of advanced VMS is the incorporation of the video analytics functionality. Analyzing the contents of a scene enables a VMS system to provide an alert or trigger live video of an event based on what’s happening in the view of a camera. For example, loitering detection can determine if a person or vehicle remains in an area for an extended period of time, which could suggest a security concern. Likewise, unattended object detection can provide an alarm if someone leaves a bag or other item behind that could suggest a possible bomb.

Other useful video analytics include:

  • Wrong direction monitoring: detects people moving the wrong way, such as entering through an exit into a restricted area.
  • Equipment removal: detects when an object has been moved.
  • Secure area monitoring: can pinpoint people or vehicles moving through sensitive areas.
  • Perimeter intrusion detection: can lessen requirements to monitor perimeters.
  • Camera tampering: detection that can identify if a camera has been damaged or its view has been shifted.

More sophisticated VMS systems improve decisionmaking abilities and drive operational efficiency. Wellmanaged video transitions threat detection from a manual, resource-intensive operation to an efficient, accurate and increasingly automated process. There’s no reason to stare at banks of video monitors if the software system ensures that a specific segment of needed video is presented exactly when and where it is needed.

Fusing Video Data with Other Data

Information technology generates vast amounts of data to enhance the operation of today’s enterprises; however, managing that data is a monumental task that is central to optimizing its value.

In the security arena, physical security information management (PSIM) systems have emerged to compile, correlate and analyze the data, and present it in usable form. In effect, a PSIM fuses information from a variety of security, safety and building management systems to allow users to quickly and efficiently identify situations that require attention, and to manage fast and effective response. Based on open and scalable architecture, PSIM systems address each phase of an incident management cycle, facilitating situational awareness and directing response.

Incorporating a geographic map of remote locations, a PSIM can facilitate a broad-based response across multiple geographic regions simultaneously. A multi-site view allows operators to communicate, take control and monitor sites as required. Two and threedimensional maps for indoors and outdoors, and the ability to use multiple layers to represent streets, locations and coverage areas of cameras and other sensors, simplify the processes of responding to incidents. Delineation of threat regions and damage zones allows operators to track incidents and suspects, initiate and manage response, and report on potential escalation or spread of incidents in real time.

Standardized workflows ensure operators respond in accordance with established policies and procedures. PSIM systems provide the ability for security leaders to maintain organizational control and management through centralized and decentralized monitoring. They also can design and enforce standard policies and procedures for response to routine or emergency situations as well as build in redundancy to ensure business continuity in crisis situations.

Video provides the critical visual element to security and emergency response in a PSIM environment. Incidents can automatically trigger multiple camera views in a surrounding area, enabling operators to have “eyes” on any situation to guide operator response.

Analyzing Video to Boost Operations

Beyond usefulness for security purposes, video-as-data is a useful tool to promote business performance. For example, new systems can track employee movements, operational efficiency and other facets related to effectively managing a business. New technology provides high accuracy in variable environments, including resistance to external lighting elements such as sun, shadows and extremely high traffic. The combination of video with analysis and real-time data acquisition can greatly increase the real-time information flow about what’s happening in a business.

Enterprises are challenged to reduce expenses and increase revenue by improving their operations. New data allows enterprises to gather, monitor and act on patterns of their business, and quickly search pertinent data. This approach dramatically reduces an organization’s reliance on soft data, replacing it with real-world information to help optimize operations.

Video Provides Business Intelligence

The retail market was, and still is, an early adopter of business intelligence aspects of video. New systems provide retailers accurate and holistic data about customer behavior patterns.

Data about shopper traffic can be acquired and correlated with other elements to provide metrics and dashboards to guide strategic management. Technology can count people entering or exiting a retail store with 95 percent accuracy, which helps retailers optimize their workforce and adapt staffing levels to accommodate changing customer traffic trends.

Other aspects of business intelligence in a retail environment include:

  • promoting better service by monitoring customer wait times and/or how many people are in line at a cash register;
  • maximizing marketing and merchandising strategies by viewing videos of customer traffic through a store to show what areas capture customer’s attention;
  • optimizing store layouts, improving merchandising and enhancing promotional offerings by determining how much time a customer spends in each part of the store;
  • scheduling staff by highlighting busy and slow times; and
  • tracking traffic patterns to provide a heat map of busy and quiet areas of a store, including where customers are going within the store.

Video provides metrics to promote business efficiency

Every day, businesses of all types including finance, enterprise, transportation and critical infrastructure verticals are finding new and innovative ways to tap into the immense value of video as they build upon new technology innovations. The specifics of how video can positively impact operations in multiple vertical markets are still emerging; however, by working closely with integrators and end users, video surveillance manufacturers can identify the opportunities to leverage video-as-data most effectively to address the specific pain-points of each industry.

In general, video can help close the gap between operational assumptions and informed data-driven intelligence. Open architecture ensures IP video systems can be easily integrated with current business systems.

Information gleaned from video systems provides real-world information to direct the successful course of businesses in the 21st century. Gathering data points, based on people counting or traffic flow, and/or various video analytical algorithms can keep business managers better informed about their overall operations.

Interfacing with a video system no longer means just watching images pass by on a monitor. Now, data-driven metrics and real-time dashboards of real-time occurrences within a business can drive smarter and faster decision-making, and overall business success.

Video is a forecasting tool. Historical data based on new data points, converged and analyzed in context of other business statistics, can point to changing trends and future needs.

Today, IP video systems offer not only clear images of what’s happening in real time, but they also help analyze trends and changing business requirements.

A Fundamental Shift in Technology

Analyzing multiple data sources, including video, enables security staff to rapidly detect, act upon and investigate security risks. The combination of advanced solutions simplifies the management of enterprise systems and significantly improves situational awareness, emergency management and overall operational efficiency.

The transition from analog video to IP video truly represents a much broader shift in how video is used and the benefits it can provide. More than a replacement for analog video systems, IP-networked video represents an enhanced, feature-packed technology that empowers surveillance systems.

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Security Today.

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