Video Metadata: Describing the Details that Matter

Modern surveillance systems generate an overwhelming (and mostly unused) amount of data. This is especially true when recording video in 24/7 operations, which is essential to capturing evidence, incidents and events. It is not only hard to pick out what really matters in a scene, but also extremely time consuming. Making data more identifiable and actionable is a key problem to solve. Applying metadata to describe key details in a scene allows data to be more identifiable and actionable.

This is why metadata is the foundation for gathering intelligence from surveillance video and/or audio streams. Metadata provides a fast way to find, evaluate, and act on the singular details that matter the most through one, hundreds or thousands of video and audio footage streams. Metadata is now an essential part of effective security and business operations.

What is Metadata?
Typically, Metadata is referred to as ‘data about other data.’ In the context of video surveillance, that translates to ‘data about video data’. Video metadata accurately describes the details that matter in a scene. For instance, attributes for metadata can describe all sort of details about moving objects of interest, e.g. location, time, colors, sizes, shapes, coordinates, volume decibels, speed, direction, etc.
Additionally, foundational details can be added, such as video stream description, codec, time stamps and device identity.

The aforementioned are ‘meta’ descriptions of details in, or related to, a scene. Based on AI machine and deep learning, Meta descriptions can be more (or less) granular. This allows for classifying a group of pixels as a person, animal, vehicle or other pre-defined object classes. Being more precise with more refined descriptions of people or objects e.g. vehicle type, make model, color, speed, direction, etc.

The Value of Metadata
Metadata not only provides details about people, objects and events in a scene. It also allows large amounts of video and recorded footage to quickly group, sort, search, recover and use. As a result, the overall use cases for metadata fit into three areas.

1. Real-time alarm triggering and notifications
2. Post event forensic searching
3. Statistical analysis and reporting

Adding Intelligence to Scenes
Metadata essentially assigns digital meaning to each video frame about the objects and events within it. In other words, it adds interpretation or intelligence about the scene rather than just the raw video footage, which needs to be processed manually by an operator.

Once software can interpret scenes in this way, it can understand the scene details and enable the scene to be acted upon in real-time via events, after events (post-event), via manual search or simply analyzed for statistical analysis. This enables the use of metadata to design baselines that define what is ‘normal’ for any scene feed from any individual camera. In turn, this allows software to recognize any degree of deviation, anomaly or specific behavior or activities, etc. as well as predict what will happen in that scene to a specific probability.

Harnessing the Full Potential of Metadata
Video metadata adds immense value to a video management system. In fact, its true potential is realized when applied to multiple inputs spanning visual, audio, activity, and process-related inputs. In the management of any site, things like RFID tracking, GPS coordinates, tampering alerts, noise detection, and point of sale transactional data, are all high value data sources. Unifying this metadata generated from many different sources means gaining much more insights than one can ever get from each system alone. Interoperability is key, and open-protocols and industry standards are essential to this effort. Ultimately seamless metadata integration will allow us to harness massive amounts of data from all kids of systems and gain a greater understanding of everything around us.

This article originally appeared in the November / December 2022 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Joe Danielson, Global Enterprise Solutions, Axis Communications, AB.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    The Importance of Proactive Security Measures: 4 Stories of Regret

    We all want to believe that crime won’t happen to us. So, some business owners hope for the best and put proactive security measures on the back burner, because other things like growth, attracting new customers, and meeting deadlines all seem more pressing. Read Now

  • Today's Enterprise

    Protecting servers and data has evolved rapidly over the past 15-plus years. Early on, concerns centered around the environmental conditions of where servers were housed within a building and the effects of humidity, temperature and air quality on their performance. This led to a better understanding of the need for a controlled environment to maximize equipment lifespan and capacity. It was also a driving force behind consolidating servers in a common space, i.e., the data center. Read Now

  • Study Proves It: Security Awareness Training Reduces Phishing Attacks

    Attackers are increasingly targeting human-based vulnerabilities to infiltrate organizations. Humans have direct access to insider systems and data – any threat actor can easily phish users, steal their credentials and secure keys to the kingdom without having to fight advanced cybersecurity defenses. Studies show social engineering attacks and human errors are behind 68% of all breaches.  Read Now

  • Security Questions Persist After Attempted Assassination Attempt of Donald Trump

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • Mobile Safe Shield

    Mobile Safe Shield

    SafeWood Designs, Inc., a manufacturer of patented bullet resistant products, is excited to announce the launch of the Mobile Safe Shield. The Mobile Safe Shield is a moveable bullet resistant shield that provides protection in the event of an assailant and supplies cover in the event of an active shooter. With a heavy-duty steel frame, quality castor wheels, and bullet resistant core, the Mobile Safe Shield is a perfect addition to any guard station, security desks, courthouses, police stations, schools, office spaces and more. The Mobile Safe Shield is incredibly customizable. Bullet resistant materials are available in UL 752 Levels 1 through 8 and include glass, white board, tack board, veneer, and plastic laminate. Flexibility in bullet resistant materials allows for the Mobile Safe Shield to blend more with current interior décor for a seamless design aesthetic. Optional custom paint colors are also available for the steel frame. 3

  • AC Nio

    AC Nio

    Aiphone, a leading international manufacturer of intercom, access control, and emergency communication products, has introduced the AC Nio, its access control management software, an important addition to its new line of access control solutions. 3

  • Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden Door Controls is pleased to announce that, in response to soaring customer demand, it has expanded its range of ValueWave™ no-touch switches to include a narrow (slimline) version with manual override. This override button is designed to provide additional assurance that the request to exit switch will open a door, even if the no-touch sensor fails to operate. This new slimline switch also features a heavy gauge stainless steel faceplate, a red/green illuminated light ring, and is IP65 rated, making it ideal for indoor or outdoor use as part of an automatic door or access control system. ValueWave™ no-touch switches are designed for easy installation and trouble-free service in high traffic applications. In addition to this narrow version, the CM-221 & CM-222 Series switches are available in a range of other models with single and double gang heavy-gauge stainless steel faceplates and include illuminated light rings. 3