Growing the Role of Analytics in Video Surveillance

Growing the Role of Analytics in Video Surveillance

Adding value to video surveillance

The situations that call for intelligent video, also referred to as video content analysis and video analytics, are growing by the day. As this technology continues to advance, on-board camera innovations are unveiling a range of new features and functionality to deliver additional value, as well as proving to be increasingly relevant across a variety of vertical markets and customer applications beyond traditional video surveillance.

Once reserved primarily for stable, high-security specifications only, video analytics are growing into mainstream use for not only gathering security-related, loss prevention information, but also to provide valuable data that can be passed along to end-user customers in detailed reports. These reports deliver business intelligence information that improve operational efficiency, deliver insights into customer demographics that inform marketing strategies and ultimately improve business profitability.

At the core of this innovation is greater image processing power in cameras, leading to deeper, more targeted and easily deployable analytics. Advanced video analytics record summaries of what the analytics scrutinize, such as size, object, speed, trajectory, aspect ratio and/or license plate numbers. These advanced types of video analytics applications can generate all kinds of information, known as metadata, for future use. Camera-based, or edge analytics, are particularly advantageous for remote locations with limited bandwidth, providing an effective solution without requiring additional servers.

For the technology solution provider, increased processing power and memory in the camera gives them the ability to apply analytics across a larger, more diverse customer base. Now, providers can offer security cameras not only as a way to provide traditional video surveillance and security, but also as a method to extract additional data insights related to merchandising, marketing and even inventory control.

The more the surveillance solution can yield measurable results and actionable data, the more likely the technology provider will be valued as an integral part of the company they are serving. The more data the end user can glean from their cameras, the better the justification for additional spending and greater the likelihood of using analytics for other applications. In addition, surveillance that moves into the realm of business intelligence can be more easily justified as a regular business operating expense rather than a capital outlay, more palatable to the end user and their sometimes restricted budgets.

Evolution of Cameras

The evolution of security cameras has moved these devices away from the genre of static, reactive security tools. They are now being used not only for surveillance and to assess security at the protected premises in real-time, but have also gained the capacity for analytic applications. The processing power is greater in today’s devices, and the addition of 4K innovation is having a positive effect on analytics deployments. Ultra high-definition 4K cameras boast the ability to capture the highest quality images ever, assisting in deeper analysis of surveillance areas for more effective deployments and reduced likelihood of false positives.

The growing availability of increasingly high resolution cameras, such as a 12MP 360 camera that produces a 9MP 3K x 3K fisheye image at 15fps and a 4MP fisheye image at 30fps, deliver more pixel-perfect image detail across the broad field of view in a panoramic format and allow the kind of detailed images analytics thrive on for reliability and accuracy. In addition, advanced image sensors in the latest cameras are now capable of managing the light required to activate the smaller, more numerous pixels in 4K images, which also assists in cultivating analytics.

Applications across the Board

With 4K camera technology, advanced analytics can help end users in multiple vertical markets obtain ultra-high quality video to protect people, property and assets, and provide additional tools for business process improvement. Since some 4K cameras now entering the market include analytics and facial recognition capabilities, they are well suited for stadiums, casino floors and smart city applications because of their ability to zoom in and provide exceptional detail on a particular individual, activity or potential threat in large crowds.

In addition, 4K cameras with video motion detection/ analytics capabilities such as loitering and wrong direction alerts are ideal for monitoring large, open spaces such as airports, warehouses and public transit terminals. In retail environments, heat mapping, people counting and dwell times provide insights into both personnel and customer paths, further uncovering business optimization and marketing opportunities.

Advanced auto tracking, an intelligent video analytics features combined with conventional video motion detection is another innovation made possible by higher processing power on board cameras. When an advanced network camera finds a moving object in its view, the camera automatically detects the moving object displayed and triggers an alarm based on preconfigured alert rules for loitering, direction, scene change or other atypical activity.

Extracting Value from Video

In retail applications, the latest video surveillance cameras are helping yield rich rewards beyond physical security. Cameras with advanced analytics capabilities provide more than video surveillance, protection against shoplifters, and video evidence of transactions, but other data collection information that retailers are beginning to leverage to obtain a variety of useful business metrics.

For example, these cameras can provide heat mapping functionality that identifies which displays customers linger at longest (dwell times), traffic patterns of how customers move through stores and which areas cause ‘pinch points’ where traffic becomes heavy. When checkout lines or queues become long, store management can be automatically alerted to add staff at cash registers.

With new, field-proven image processing technology and network cameras equipped with high-performance processors, intelligent video analytics have made substantial progress in extracting more information and value from the field of view, such as approximate age/gender, moving direction and loitering time from the detected objects while analyzing behavior.

Analytics can help businesses improve their operations with easy-to-interpret reporting. Additional analytics include bi-directional “people counting” function to assist in quantifying activity in a scene. These new analytics are ideal for generating insight into floor behavior in retail environments or to track people movement in public spaces.

Other types of popular video analytics for indoor application based on motion detection and enhanced with advanced auto tracking include:

Loitering detection sends alerts of people who are idling in the camera’s view. When a network camera detects human-sized moving objects in a pre-configured area, the camera starts tracking each of them. When they loiter for a specific period of time, the camera sends an alarm and highlights them with frames, helping operators easily identify who is being tracked.

Direction detection detects persons, cars or moving objects that go the wrong way down an aisle or street. When the object is moving in an unauthorized or unusual direction, the camera sends an alarm to the operators and highlights the object the camera is tracking.

Face detection searches images for face-shaped parts in real time and highlights them with frames, providing the ability to watch those entering and leaving a facility or protected premises.

With greater processing capability comes better accuracy of deployed analytics and fewer false alarms. Now, heat mapping is useful not only in retail applications, but in premises where large groups of people are congregating where perhaps they shouldn’t be. Highly secure areas such as high-tech biomedical facilities can use directional analytics to manage the flow of traffic, and alert discrepancies of traveled patterns.

The move to on-board analytics will continue to open the market to many additional application possibilities, including installations for small-to-medium businesses (SMB). For technology solution providers and SMB customers, cameras with on-board analytics can be strategically placed in the protected premises as a force multiplier and information extractor.

Camera surveillance is changing, with high-definition images and advanced processing allowing for embedded analytics that gather crisp images and add a level of data that can be efficiently communicated to the end user for effective business reporting metrics.

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Security Today.


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