Securing the Past
IP Video analytics keep valuable artifacts safe in Indian state museum
- By Alex Swanson
- May 01, 2012
Patna Museum is recognized as one of the greatest
museums in India. It was built in 1917 during the
British Raj to house historical artifacts found in
and around Patna. It is now the state museum of
Bihar, India’s third most populous state, located in
the eastern portion of the country. The valuable items on display
include archaeological objects, coins, instruments, textiles,
paintings, bronze sculptures and terracotta images by Hindu
and Buddhist artists.
The museum also houses a rare collection of paintings depicting
everyday life during the British Raj (1858-1942), as well
as a fine collection related to the first president of India, Dr.
Rajendra Prasad. A 16-meter-long fossilized tree, more than
200 million years old, is one of the museum’s special features,
along with what are believed to be the ashes of Lord Buddha.
The museum’s most valuable piece, however, is the Didarganj
Yakshi, or Didarganj Chauri Bearer statue, which was discovered
on the Ganges riverbank in 1917.
A 64-inch-tall statue carved out of a single piece of highly
polished Chunar sandstone, the Didarganj Yakshi was created
in the third to second century B.C. and is one of the finest remaining
examples of Mauryan art.
Following a burglary in 2006 that saw the loss of 18 priceless
and irreplaceable Pala-period bronze statues of Lord
Buddha, the museum’s management undertook a full security
review. They faced the difficult security challenges of any museum
or art gallery that is open to the public—how
to ensure the security of the important artifacts
stored in the historic building without affecting
visitor access or spoiling their pleasure with intrusive
With this in mind, the museum management
chose to work with IndigoVision and local
partner Neural Integrated Systems to deploy
a complete IP security management solution
throughout the site. The solution was chosen
because it delivers high-quality video with low
bandwidth and advanced features such as real-time
analytics. The IP video surveillance and analytics
technology was put in place to protect
the contents at the museum.
Real-time motion analytics have
been installed on each camera to
automatically detect events and
help improve operator incident response.
Managing analytics at the
network edge in this way reduces
the amount of data transmitted
around the system and improves
the system’s scalability.
Virtual trip wires have been set
up alongside restricted areas, and
the operator is informed whenever
a trip wire is breached. These
trip wires are a refinement of motion detection by triggering
an alarm when someone or something “breaks” a line that has
been configured in the image. This is useful in any large area
with no-go zones because people are allowed to move in unrestricted
areas, but the system registers an alarm as soon as any
of them move out of these areas. A “region of interest” can
also be specified for motion detection, so only a specific area of
the camera view is monitored.
Because the system “understands” direction, alarm discrimination
based on direction of approach is possible. A dual trip
wire feature allows a second trip wire to be configured for more
complex analytics or as a secondary confirmation to reduce
Additionally, IndigoVision’s museum-mode analytics function
is used to detect theft, such as the removal of a painting or
a statue. In this mode, sensitivity is configurable, and moving
foreground objects are ignored. Using this analytic function,
the operator can quickly determine when an object is moved or
removed from the scene.
The analytics automatically generate alarms in Control
Center—IndigoVision’s user interface—when they are triggered
by events in the camera scene. These alarms are displayed
on an interactive map of the museum, allowing operators to
instantly locate the source of the problem, and the associated
camera view is automatically displayed. Guards can then be
quickly dispatched to the correct area to investigate.
Control Center allows the security team to continually view
images that are streamed from the 60 analog cameras connected
to IndigoVision’s video transmitters. Real-time analytics are
installed in more than half of these transmitter modules, which
helps the security team to operate the system more efficiently
and improve incident response.
The amount of storage required is significantly reduced
compared to other IP video systems because of the advanced
compression technology and the use of the unique activitycontrolled
frame rate (ACF) feature, which is built into the
IP cameras. ACF controls the frame rate of the video stream
based on the amount of motion in the scene. When there is no
activity, video is streamed at a minimal frame rate; the instant any motion is detected, video is simultaneously
transmitted at the maximumconfigured
The end-to-end security management
system ties together the full surveillance
setup at Patna and allows the
museum to expand security easily as
its needs grow. IndigoVision SMS4TM
is ONVIF-conformant and integrates
with access control and other systems,
making it an open security architecture.
The system’s distributed architecture
means that no central server is required;
one component may go offline,
but the rest keep running, ensuring
maximum uptime. Patna Museum’s security
staff can, therefore, be confident
of continual surveillance coverage.
Unfortunately, the current Patna
Museum building, built in 1917, is aging
badly and will soon be unable to
store the precious relics it houses in the
controlled environment they need. A
new, almost $705 million museum is being
planned for Patna, and the contents
will then be moved to more suitable
surroundings. Japanese architect Maki
and Associates and Indian partner
Opolis won a competition to build the
new museum. The new site is expected
to open in 2015.
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Security Today.