Action Video Q&A

Making what works best for the transportation industry

The transportation industry continues to expand, but crime may be stalling growth. We talked with Ryan Nolan, vice president of global sales for Avigilon Corp., to discuss how advances in video analytics can help improve surveillance.

Q: What’s the current state of transportation security in North America? A: Transportation has a huge impact in North America and on the security industry. For instance, civil air transport alone contributes more than 5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, contributes $1.6 trillion in total economic activity, and supports nearly 11 million jobs.1

With the importance of the transportation industry so high, keeping ports, terminals, and cargo facilities safe and secure is fundamental to keeping goods moving. When looking at a transportation model holistically, it is apparent that any interruption across logistics, whether from theft or other incidents, will affect a company’s bottom line.

Worldwide, losses due to cargo theft equal as much as $22.6 billion. 2 The logistics security services provider FreightWatch International recorded a total of 193 cargo thefts in the United States in the third quarter of 2016, saying the average loss value per incident totaled $120,536. This represents a 14 percent increase in volume compared with the second quarter of the year.3

Video surveillance can help protect terminals, checkpoints, rail stations, ports of entry and barges. But just having cameras available is only the beginning. Taking advantage of today’s video analytics software can help make video actionable, which means turning live and recorded footage into something more intelligent.

Innovations in megapixel surveillance cameras equipped with video analytics can help give security personnel and law enforcement effective tools to capture and prosecute perpetrators.

Q: Does transportation have any unique security challenges? A: Yes, it does. Container robbery is a big challenge for ports and distribution centers. Because cargo theft incidents often happen between the time freight is loaded and when it reaches its destination, the transportation industry primarily uses video as a forensics tool to go back and trace the shipment from beginning to end to help piece together a trail of accountability. Making video actionable increases the value of that surveillance.

By taking advantage of the latest advances in video surveillance using pattern-based object classification and tracking technology, transportation businesses can help improve incident response accuracy, enabling security staff to react sooner and increase efficiency and usability.

Q: Can you provide some examples of how actionable video could be used to protect transportation companies? A: Actionable video can help combat criminal activity in a variety of ways. One example is perimeter protection where pattern-based object classification technology detects user-defined abnormal or suspicious behavior. Continuously self-learning analytics with no manual calibration required will adapt and evolve over time to the specific location’s environment.

Unlike other video sensing technologies, object classification enables the software to distinguish between vehicles, people, and nontriggering objects such as wildlife. For example, a car could trigger an alert if it crosses a predefined directional line or moves in the wrong direction. If a person or dog crosses the same line, they would not trigger the alert.

In addition to addressing crime, comprehensive security systems can help improve transportation operations and efficiencies. Let’s say a business is contacted by one of its customers claiming that only half of their order was delivered. With an intelligent surveillance system, that business can quickly pull up and share video of that merchandise being loaded, which proves that the full order was fulfilled. It might be that the shipment was stolen in transit or maybe the customer was trying to commit fraud. In either case, that video could help protect the reputation of the business and avoid liability claims.

Similarly, high-definition surveillance cameras can complement tracking systems if shipments are lost. Actionable video gives businesses the ability to visually verify exactly when, where, and what merchandise is loaded—and find this footage in minutes—so it can more easily be reported and located.

Q: How else can actionable surveillance video help the transportation industry? A: Beyond mitigating the impact of damage and loss from incidents, actionable video can optimize employee effectiveness. Current video technology enables administrators to benefit from a variety of proactive measures and productivity uses, including:

  • In warehouses, video can help supervisors ensure that equipment like fork lifts are being used properly by employees.
  • In rail yards, alerts can be set based on how long an object is in an area, so that people or vehicles that loiter can be observed in real time.
  • At airports, actionable video can be used to monitor pedestrian traffic flow patterns and baggage-cart usage to help determine where employees might best be located throughout the terminal for improved customer relations.
  • Pattern-based object classification technology can help security personnel locate lost luggage or children.
  • Being able to access the system remotely from mobile devices can provide flexibility, as it enables users to view their surveillance system from anywhere the internet is available.

Q: Do high-definition cameras make a difference? A: They make a big difference not just in viewing a scene, but in the playback quality. High-definition video increases recognition and identification accuracy and provides a superior ability to see images in low-light and mixed-light conditions.

The cameras are able to cover a wider area with fewer cameras, which boosts security personnel’s capabilities. Plus, image resolution can be increased while minimizing the requirements—and costs—for storage and bandwidth.

They also enable remote monitoring and provide better perimeter protection. And combined with self-learning analytics, HD cameras are able to instantly detect and learn surrounding scenes so that you get fewer false alarms.

Q: What do you see as the future of security in transportation? A: Security leaders are evolving to be more future oriented and able to envision the possibilities of effective and actionable intelligence.

The integration of surveillance cameras and analytics systems will continue to progress to help provide businesses with a holistic and effective solution for monitoring their facilities.

The exponential increase of sophistication in video analytics positively impacts the security sector. The accuracy of object search programs will continue to improve to provide security personnel with even more powerful tools not just for after-the-fact forensics purposes, but to better combat crime proactively.

Transportation is a growing market and the surveillance industry will continue to stay on the cutting edge of keeping airports, ports, rail lines, warehouses, cruise ships, and truck lines as protected as possible.

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Security Today.

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