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More Than a Set of Eyes
The technology behind today’s
optical sensors and lenses has
come a long way in trying to
mimic some of the hallmark
characteristics of the human
visual system. When it comes to video surveillance,
the human brain can limit the effectiveness
of even the best camera system.
Our brains have an amazing ability to filter
out information even when we don’t realize
it. Similar to digital compression, our brains
tend to ignore redundant data, particularly
when other distractions are present.
Tune In, Tune Out
There are studies that illustrate how security
staff, when looking at a video monitor with
no action, will tune it out after just 20 minutes
and completely miss an event when it
finally does take place. Multiply that by the
number of cameras and monitor windows
and the problem only compounds itself.
Any surveillance system where humans
are part of the monitoring process is subject
to this type of human error. It is no one’s
fault, it is just the way we are made, and may
actually allow us to better process information
based on an internal “priority.” While
it might be possible to throw more bodies at
the problem, it wouldn’t really fix the underlying
issue, so we can still predict that events
will be missed.
Cameras don’t miss a thing of course,
and with motion tags written to an NVR, it
is easy to go back and quickly find incidents
after they have occurred.
What about stopping events in progress?
Security personnel can have a lot on their
minds. Depending on the size and scope of
an organization, they may be required to
multi-task, doing much more than simply
staring at a monitor waiting for something
to happen. What operators really need is
help to detect events as they happen, in real
time, so that attention can be focused when
When a Camera is More
Than a Camera
IP-based cameras today can do so much
more than their analog counterparts and
“seeing” is only a small part of it. Analytics
are not new to our industry, but using them
for focused, real-time response to events is
still underused. Even for customers who own
cameras with analytics features, many of
them never get the follow-through with their
integrators to set them up correctly. This
is an opportunity to add real value to the
system, but typically the analytics are only
used to set motion markers or tags on captured
footage for easier post-event searching.
There’s so much more that cameras can do
when it comes to alerting staff when an event
Take the example of a business that closes
in the evening and should have zero motion
occurring inside the building after hours. If
an intruder somehow manages to bypass
the standard security system by tricking a
door sensor, should a camera not be able to
send an alert that motion is occurring when
it should not be? These simple additions are
often overlooked by integrators, installers
and customers alike.
Audio Analytics Enable
Focused and Quick
When glass is smashed, and a business is in
the process of being burglarized, it is important
to be notified immediately. If a camera
with a microphone can detect and correctly
identify the sound of glass breaking, then it
is a perfect complement to any security system
and can help reduce overall costs of installing
purpose-built glass break sensors at
every point of ingress.
Gunshots, screams, or even just noise going
beyond a normal threshold can all be detected
by modern on-edge camera analytics,
yet few of the myriad number of IP-based
surveillance systems deployed make making
use of this technology.
Audio analytics can quickly pinpoint
zones that security staff should focus on,
which can dramatically shorten response
times to incidents. Audio-derived data also
provides a secondary layer of verification
that an event is taking place, which can help
prioritize responses from police and emergency
Is it Legal to
With many state laws governing audio recording,
audio analytics on the edge overcomes
legal challenges as it never passes
audio outside of the camera. The result of
audio analytics processed at the camera is
simply an event message saying a certain type
of sound was identified.
Processing audio analytics in-camera
provides excellent privacy since audio data is
analyzed internally with a set of algorithms
that only compares and assess the audio content.
Processing audio analytics on the edge
also reduces latency compared with any system
that needs to send the raw audio to an
on-premise or cloud server for analysis.
How Do In-Camera
Audio Analytics Work?
Many IP-based cameras have small microphones
embedded in the housing while some
have a jack for connecting external microphones
to the camera. Microphones on indoor
cameras work well since the housing allows
for a small hole to permit sound waves
to reach the microphone. Outdoor cameras
that are IP66 certified against water and dust
ingress will typically have less sensitivity
since the microphone is not exposed. In cases
like these, an outdoor microphone, strategically
placed, can significantly improve outdoor
There are several companies that make
excellent directional microphones for outdoor
use, some of which can also combat
wind noise. Any high-quality external microphone
should easily outperform a camera’s
internal microphone in terms of analytic accuracy,
so it is worth considering in outdoor
areas where audio information gathering is
deemed most important.
The camera extracts the characteristics of
the audio source collected using the camera’s
internal or externally connected microphone
and calculates its likelihood based on the
pre-defined database of audio signatures. If
a match is found for a known sound—gunshot,
explosion, glass break, or scream—an
event is triggered, and the message is passed
to the VMS.
Surveillance cameras with a dedicated
System on Chip (SoC) have become available
in recent years with in-built video and audio
analytics that can detect and classify audio
events and send alerts to staff and emergency
staff. Having a SoC allows a manufacturer to
reserve space for specialized features such
as an audio analytics database of reference
sounds needed for comparison or room for
specialized business analytics.
Analytics for Business
In the retail space, business analytics applications
enable people counting, heat maps, and
queue management. Similar to audio analytics,
no records are kept about personal identities,
only actionable insights about what is
working and what needs improvement. This
capability is seeing rapid adoption as more
integrators and end users discover the consistent
business value inherent in what was previously
a capital expense. A security system
that delivers actionable intelligence about
businesses and city infrastructure can rapidly
pay for itself and even become a revenue generating
tool in some instances.
Just as computers and VMS continue to
get “smarter,” so too are cameras, evolving
their capabilities to see beyond the pixels
they capture. IP-based cameras can do much
more than simply pass images to a monitor
or NVR. Modern IP-based cameras with
sophisticated system-on-a-chip designs are
completely self-contained security devices
capable of detecting a range of events and
behaviors both visually and aurally.
Hanwha Techwin’s Wisenet cameras include
a suite of built-in analytics. We continue
to invest heavily in R&D to bring new
levels of edge-based analytic capability to
our customers as technology and deep learning
algorithms continue to evolve. There also
is focus on cyber-security and installation
flexibility has allowed us to develop a unique
SoC that both protects and enhances our
cameras in a way that is truly industry leading.
In-camera audio analytics are a unique
Wisenet camera feature.
As advances in AI and machine learning
continue to evolve on-edge analytics, it
is time to set expectations higher for security
systems and infrastructure. Make sure your
camera system goes beyond simply providing
video feeds and becomes a key component to
a holistic security infrastructure.
When considering a new system or updates
to an existing one, look for manufacturers
with a solid track record and a constantly
evolving product line. Most importantly,
think about what else your security system
can do for your business with regards to analytics,
not just for security,
but also for business intelligence.
You might just
find it pays for itself.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Security Today.
Paul Kong is the Technical Director for Hanwha Techwin America.