Empowering the Next Generation
IP video has many benefits outside of security
- By Debjit Das
- Nov 01, 2013
An underappreciated benefit of IP-based video surveillance systems
is their ability to transform video into useful information. As the
industry transitions from analog to IP systems, much of the discussion
about the benefits of these new systems has centered on
how they perform better as a direct replacement for analog systems.
But, that’s just a small part of the equation and barely scratches the surface
of how IP video systems are impacting security at end user companies, and even
This fundamental change is not unlike another familiar transition of recent
years. Smartphones have largely replaced yesterday’s cell phones. However, the
ability of a smartphone to make a telephone call doesn’t completely reflect the
benefits of the technology, which enables users to surf the Internet, take pictures,
listen to music and a myriad of other functions as reflected by thousands of apps.
Like smartphones, IP video, compared to analog video systems, dramatically expands
the range of available functionality and its value.
The added value of IP systems emanates from a basic function they perform,
translating visual images and video into data. This makes it easier to manage in the
enterprise environment because video can be analyzed and quantified, and thus,
transformed into a wealth of new and useful information.
Data from video can be combined with data from other networked enterprise
systems to provide a broader view of company operations. Intelligent IP surveillance
solutions enable customer organizations to leverage data from a wide variety
of communications, video and data sources to enhance security and maximize
operations. Data collection from various networked sources, though, allows users to streamline investigations, proving that beyond
security, data trends and metrics can help companies
fine-tune their overall operations and maximize business
Due to the value derived from video across multiple
disciplines, IP systems lend themselves to a lower
total cost of ownership because of decentralized
and automated administration and maintenance.
Moreover, today’s product innovators allow users
the added advantage of purchasing an end-to-end
solution from a single vendor that streamlines management
and bandwidth, providing a more efficient
The combination of advanced solutions simplifies
the management of enterprise systems and significantly
improves situation awareness, emergency management
and operational efficiency. The associated
capabilities, emerging in several vertical markets, are
just now beginning to be realized as ways that videoas-
data can provide a new business tool for today’s
Video When and Where You Want It
New IP video systems generate more images than
ever before with more cameras, while new video
management software (VMS) systems help end users
make sense out of the vast volumes of captured
video and data.
New user-friendly, software systems can streamline
a security operation. With capabilities such as
policy-based, video distribution, networked video
viewing and investigation management ensure end users
have access to the exact video they need when they
need it. Real-time situational awareness is a valuable
commodity in today’s companies, and video provides
just that, by putting extra eyes on various aspects of
an enterprise’s operation. Software quickly distributes
video to any monitoring station where it is needed,
and systems can be customized to ensure only operators
with permission can access video.
Maintaining large IP systems is a challenge for
the IT staff, so new automated video system “health
monitoring” capabilities simplify the job of managing
large, geographically-dispersed systems.
User interfaces are more flexible, designed to enhance
visibility and simplify operation of complex
video systems. Mobile and Web-based clients provide
easy remote access and viewing, and enable easy export
of video and investigation details for use by law
enforcement or other agencies.
Another benefit of advanced VMS is the incorporation
of the video analytics functionality. Analyzing
the contents of a scene enables a VMS system to provide
an alert or trigger live video of an event based
on what’s happening in the view of a camera. For
example, loitering detection can determine if a person
or vehicle remains in an area for an extended period
of time, which could suggest a security concern.
Likewise, unattended object detection can provide an
alarm if someone leaves a bag or other item behind
that could suggest a possible bomb.
Other useful video analytics include:
- Wrong direction monitoring: detects people moving
the wrong way, such as entering through an exit
into a restricted area.
- Equipment removal: detects when an object has
- Secure area monitoring: can pinpoint people or vehicles
moving through sensitive areas.
- Perimeter intrusion detection: can lessen requirements
to monitor perimeters.
- Camera tampering: detection that can identify if a
camera has been damaged or its view has been shifted.
More sophisticated VMS systems improve decisionmaking
abilities and drive operational efficiency. Wellmanaged
video transitions threat detection from a
manual, resource-intensive operation to an efficient, accurate
and increasingly automated process. There’s no
reason to stare at banks of video monitors if the software
system ensures that a specific segment of needed
video is presented exactly when and where it is needed.
Fusing Video Data with Other Data
Information technology generates vast amounts of
data to enhance the operation of today’s enterprises;
however, managing that data is a monumental task
that is central to optimizing its value.
In the security arena, physical security information
management (PSIM) systems have emerged to
compile, correlate and analyze the data, and present
it in usable form. In effect, a PSIM fuses information
from a variety of security, safety and building management
systems to allow users to quickly and efficiently
identify situations that require attention, and
to manage fast and effective response. Based on open
and scalable architecture, PSIM systems address each
phase of an incident management cycle, facilitating
situational awareness and directing response.
Incorporating a geographic map of remote locations,
a PSIM can facilitate a broad-based response
across multiple geographic regions simultaneously. A
multi-site view allows operators to communicate, take
control and monitor sites as required. Two and threedimensional
maps for indoors and outdoors, and the
ability to use multiple layers to represent streets, locations
and coverage areas of cameras and other sensors,
simplify the processes of responding to incidents. Delineation
of threat regions and damage zones allows
operators to track incidents and suspects, initiate and
manage response, and report on potential escalation
or spread of incidents in real time.
Standardized workflows ensure operators respond
in accordance with established policies and procedures.
PSIM systems provide the ability for security
leaders to maintain organizational control and management
through centralized and decentralized monitoring.
They also can design and enforce standard
policies and procedures for response to routine or
emergency situations as well as build in redundancy
to ensure business continuity in crisis situations.
Video provides the critical visual element to security
and emergency response in a PSIM environment.
Incidents can automatically trigger multiple camera
views in a surrounding area, enabling operators to have
“eyes” on any situation to guide operator response.
Analyzing Video to Boost Operations
Beyond usefulness for security purposes, video-as-data
is a useful tool to promote business performance.
For example, new systems can track employee movements,
operational efficiency and other facets related
to effectively managing a business. New technology
provides high accuracy in variable environments, including
resistance to external lighting elements such
as sun, shadows and extremely high traffic. The combination
of video with analysis and real-time data
acquisition can greatly increase the real-time information
flow about what’s happening in a business.
Enterprises are challenged to reduce expenses and
increase revenue by improving their operations. New
data allows enterprises to gather, monitor and act on
patterns of their business, and quickly search pertinent
data. This approach dramatically reduces an
organization’s reliance on soft data, replacing it with real-world information to help optimize operations.
Video Provides Business Intelligence
The retail market was, and still is, an early adopter
of business intelligence aspects of video. New systems
provide retailers accurate and holistic data about customer
Data about shopper traffic can be acquired and
correlated with other elements to provide metrics and
dashboards to guide strategic management. Technology
can count people entering or exiting a retail store
with 95 percent accuracy, which helps retailers optimize
their workforce and adapt staffing levels to accommodate
changing customer traffic trends.
Other aspects of business intelligence in a retail environment
- promoting better service by monitoring customer
wait times and/or how many people are in line at a
- maximizing marketing and merchandising strategies
by viewing videos of customer traffic through a store
to show what areas capture customer’s attention;
- optimizing store layouts, improving merchandising
and enhancing promotional offerings by determining
how much time a customer spends in each
part of the store;
- scheduling staff by highlighting busy and slow
- tracking traffic patterns to provide a heat map of
busy and quiet areas of a store, including where
customers are going within the store.
Video provides metrics to promote
Every day, businesses of all types including finance,
enterprise, transportation and critical infrastructure
verticals are finding new and innovative ways to tap
into the immense value of video as they build upon
new technology innovations. The specifics of how video
can positively impact operations in multiple vertical
markets are still emerging; however, by working
closely with integrators and end users, video surveillance
manufacturers can identify the opportunities to
leverage video-as-data most effectively to address the
specific pain-points of each industry.
In general, video can help close the gap between operational
assumptions and informed data-driven intelligence.
Open architecture ensures IP video systems can
be easily integrated with current business systems.
Information gleaned from video systems provides
real-world information to direct the successful course
of businesses in the 21st century. Gathering data points,
based on people counting or traffic flow, and/or various
video analytical algorithms can keep business managers
better informed about their overall operations.
Interfacing with a video system no longer means just
watching images pass by on a monitor. Now, data-driven
metrics and real-time dashboards of real-time occurrences
within a business can drive smarter and faster
decision-making, and overall business success.
Video is a forecasting tool. Historical data based
on new data points, converged and analyzed in context
of other business statistics, can point to changing
trends and future needs.
Today, IP video systems offer not only clear images
of what’s happening in real time, but they also help
analyze trends and changing business requirements.
A Fundamental Shift in Technology
Analyzing multiple data sources, including video, enables
security staff to rapidly detect, act upon and investigate
security risks. The combination of advanced
solutions simplifies the management of enterprise
systems and significantly improves situational awareness,
emergency management and overall operational
The transition from analog video to IP video truly
represents a much broader shift in how video is used
and the benefits it can provide. More than a replacement
for analog video systems, IP-networked video represents
an enhanced, feature-packed
technology that empowers surveillance
This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Security Today.