Making the Most of Your Security System’s Insights
- By Fabiola Ruvalcaba
- Sep 20, 2022
Organizations of every type and size often need to make informed decisions for areas of improvement, enhancement, and change. In order to review and discuss these opportunities, they seek to have as much relevant information as possible to guide their decisions. Rather than implement a new system for gathering information, many organizations are now looking to mine and analyze the data already collected by their physical security systems.
Traditionally, security departments used video analytics as a reactive tool. The system detects something in a live video stream and creates an event to which operators respond. But organizations have begun to use video, as well as related data from access control and automatic license plate recognition (ALPR), for more than physical security.
Modern security software gathers an immense amount of data from cameras, sensors, databases, and internet-connected devices. When all these data points are brought together within one unified system, they present new opportunities to gain deeper insights — not only relating to security, but also overall facilities management, business operations, marketing, customer service, and more.
To begin, think about the questions you want to answer
Extracting the data is the easy part. Understanding what data is needed to help with decisions, can be more challenging. Begin by defining your use case: what is the problem you need to solve? What data is most relevant to solving this problem? How will that data influence the decision you need to make or the next steps you plan to take?
True business intelligence requires being clear on your purpose. Are you trying to improve security? Safety? Operations? Customer experience? Narrowing your focus to the most relevant data will make it much easier to use that data in a meaningful way.
Consider the multiple ways video analytics data can be valuable
If improving security at access points is your focus, you can review analytics such as intrusion detection or object classification to help you quickly identify what incidences are occurring most frequently and take action. These analytics can help reduce nuisance alarms and assist teams in the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure security resources are deployed more efficiently. You might also want to have an indicator on your dashboard that lets you know if any of your cameras or sensors are not functioning properly, so you can send out repair teams.
In contrast, if improving workplace safety is your goal, perhaps you want to use video analytics to find out if staff members are consistently wearing full protective gear in your facility or factory. Video analytics can be used to establish a benchmark for how often correct procedures are followed or not. This can offer clues that may help you define new routines or protocols to keep employees safe. After implementing the changes, you can use your system to review results on a consistent basis to see if there is an improvement.
In the retail industry, video analytics are often used to improve business intelligence. If you want to know how many visitors to your store make a purchase, you can cross-reference people counting video analytics with your point-of-sale transaction data to calculate your average conversion rate. You can then test different marketing, merchandising, and pricing strategies to see how effective they are at driving foot traffic to your store and increasing sales.
Video analytics can also help businesses make decisions that improve the guest experience. For example, a resort was able to identify times and specific locations of increased occupancy. They then scheduled more frequent cleanings of the restrooms and high-touch surfaces in these areas. Likewise, they identified times of low traffic and discussed ways to incentivize customers to visit during those slower periods. Occupancy counting can also help identify bottlenecks so improvements can be made to the facility layout or signage to help improve the flow of pedestrian traffic.
If your industry is transportation, you might use crowd counting analytics to improve decision-making on service frequency. If you can keep track of how many people are waiting for trains or buses at different times, you can adjust service frequency to better align with real demand and use resources most efficiently. You can also identify times and locations of the most traffic so changes can be made to alleviate congestion.
Facilities managers can use video analytics to track occupancy patterns to get a better sense of how much office space is required and used regularly. Do people use all the meeting rooms? How often do people use a large meeting room? If you discover that most meetings are in groups of four or less, maybe you could consider splitting one or more large rooms to create small meeting spaces.
Make the most out of video analytics data
Video analytics tools take large amounts of unstructured data and streamline it to unlock its value. When you correlate and extract information, you can gain an immense amount of insight into your business and environment.
To unlock this value, you need to consider three things:
- What internal processes and routines are relevant to the question(s) you seek to answer? This will help you know what data to consider and from what resources.
- What kind of information are you able to gather from your system? This allows you to understand what can be counted and analyzed.
- What is your baseline? This establishes a benchmark for comparison as you seek to implement changes and see results.
The security software industry is evolving from focusing on features and products to being more solutions-oriented to help companies solve the issues they face – whether those relate to security, operations, or business insights. By combining analytics from different cameras, sensors, and IoT devices, businesses can not only improve security but also make better decisions and respond more quickly to changing market conditions.
When getting the exact data you want isn’t possible, you may need to get creative. Sometimes the exact data you prefer isn’t available, perhaps for privacy reasons or because gathering it would be too complex. You can identify other indicators that can offer meaningful, relevant information. Likewise, if you’re not certain what tools you need to invest in, your systems integrator or software partner can help you explore options. You may discover a simpler or less expensive way to gather the information you need.
Your software partner can also help you create dashboards to display the information that is most relevant to the information you want to gather. Likewise, the dashboard can be customized to the needs of each department. For example, what data the marketing department needs is different from what operations managers or security teams need. While the system’s dashboard pulls from the same pool of data, it can display different alerts or notifications, charts, map views, and updates.
Video analytics will continue to evolve to meet customer needs
With advances in computing power, video analytics has evolved considerably to extract very reliable and powerful data from our video streams. The security software industry is also improving the ways the mined data is presented and making it easier to display and analyze the information in more consumable ways. Instead of just providing a list of all the data that is available, solution providers are looking at what data users actually need to answer questions and how to present that information in the clearest possible way.
When the information is presented in clear, consumable ways, data from your security system can be valuable for helping your organization make informed business decisions. As you and your team determine the specific issues to address and the questions needing answers, you can identify the best tools to gather relevant information.
A unified security solution can consolidate all of the data, sort through it, and present it in a single interface that is easy to understand. The results can be reviewed and discussed as you seek ways to change and improve your organization whether in areas of safety, guest experience, traffic flow, or a multitude of other options. More and more frequently, information from video analytics is reaching beyond the security operations center to help businesses and organizations realize a return on their investment using the data their security solution provides.
This article originally appeared in the September / October 2022 issue of Security Today.