A Day in the Life
Safety elevates; security gets tactical
- By Steve Surfaro
- Jul 01, 2014
Students, staff and instructors begin their day
at a reasonable hour during a work day, but
for security, time has no meaning. The criminal
element does not watch the clock and often
strikes when there is opportunity. Safety and
security go hand-in-hand, no matter the hour of
the day or night.
Early in the morning at a university in the Midwest, a vehicle breaches
a staff parking entrance. The driver parks near a poorly lit loading dock
and forces a service door open. Responding security officers get a head
start when the vehicle’s license plate does not register in the school
database and the gate camera sends an alert.
The video intercom at the service door shows the door breached, and
the suspect vehicle with an accomplice waiting inside. The vigilant campus
command center operator dispatches law enforcement, which
arrives immediately after campus security and apprehends the suspects.
The campus day begins with the arrival of a fresh security shift that
checks in at command. The team reviews the last shift’s events with a
quick overview of several video clips, providing the incoming safety and
security officers with additional intelligence to keep their campus safe.
The footage shows the usual main entrance monitoring and screening
overviews, classes letting out, students returning to access-controlled
dormitories, evening deliveries, and automated faculty escorts;
plus, the one overnight breach. All these events are reviewed in minutes
using the video management system’s search features. The team
goes on their way to begin their tours and man their posts.
All officers are equipped with tablets capable of real-time video
view, alarm review, dispatched incidents and direct messaging to the
local public safety answering point (PSAP) for all first responders
including EMS, law enforcement, fire, explosives, HAZMAT and
search and rescue.
Staff, student and faculty arrival builds continuously in the early morning,
and command center operators and the safety/security director
are all at attention and monitoring the activity. The use of 360°, HDTV,
network cameras achieves a useful overview of controlled access points
and the main student entry and reception area, with a panoramic view
of school ingress and egress areas.
“My field of view has been increased tenfold,” said the safety and
security director when asked about this system’s enhanced video surveillance.
“If I don’t get you coming in; I’m going to get you going out.”
The campus lunch break has the usual students eating both indoors
and outdoors with a number of activity tables on the common grounds.
Seeing that the break has just started, the command center uses the
campus’ public address system to direct students on which way to go
for various events. The video surveillance system confirms they got the
message as activity builds.
The day is nearly over for most of the student population, but not for
staff and faculty.
The incoming evening security shift reviews the previous day’s events,
again made simple by intelligent searches and embedded applications
inside these network cameras. These apps, whether license plate detection,
cross-line detection, student activity mapping or people counting,
literally turn these network cameras into domain-awareness sensors,
relaying a steady stream of data that is available on demand.
The video surveillance “heat” or activity mapping tools let the
incoming security crew know when to expect the student exit activity
to decrease, waiting until after this time to conduct the shift transition
to avoid any missed incidents.
The evening student’s dorm access control entries continue, and security
officers on patrol are ready to receive alerts of doors left propped
open. The door entries are silent until a signal buzzes on a door that
was left open. Safety and security command reviews the door breach
on video and verifies that no suspicious activity or “piggybacking” has
taken place. This simplified alarm “histogram” guides the operator
over to the video associated with the door alarm.
Safe waiting areas around the campus see a good amount of pedestrian
traffic as students and faculty board transportation at prearranged
locations around campus. Each area features enhanced LED
lighting; 360°, HDTV, network cameras; area video analytics; wireless
connectivity and an audio system. If someone walks toward the waiting
area, the LED lights flash as a safety indication. The person in the
waiting area then has the option to use their smartphone or call box as
an alert device should they feel unsafe.
Also, this time of evening finds faculty and staff walking to their
vehicles and using a “video escort” app on their smartphones. If they
confirm an incident or fail to check in while they walk to their cars or
dorm, campus command is immediately notified and nearby cameras
are activated. The system has preprogrammed camera locations that
are related to the alert’s location.
Our “day-in-the-life” concludes with the security staff verifying cafeteria
and facility supply deliveries. Each of the delivering vendors has
checked in online prior to delivery and entered their commercial trailer
license plate and approximate delivery window. The embedded
license plate recognition system automatically detects the plate on
entry and exit, and delivers an exception alert if the plate is not in the
database or the truck fails to exit.
The safety/security officers work together with command to make a
visual verification of the delivery into the transition space. This means
the vendor does not have to enter the secured building space for delivery,
simplifying and shortening the process for both parties. An
HDTV, network camera monitors the delivery transition area, and the
camera’s embedded video motion detector is active after hours.
These are examples of technology in action, enhancing campus safety
and delivering tactical advantages to campus resources.
Forensic Video Readiness in Campus Security
In campus security, recorded video and related feature data of events is
one of the first and most important resources for incident review. But,
what is available in this data, and what are the opportunities for command
center personnel, first responders, operations management and
safety teams? To understand this, we first need to define what is included
with this “forensic” video data and then apply a process for its use.
Digital Multimedia Content is more than just video data. It represents
audio and video content, content stream data, location-based
information, relevant IP addresses, recording time, system time and
any other information attached to a digital file. Designing a video solution
to provide maximum coverage is of great importance for systems
used for forensic review. Advances in camera technologies that produce
usable color or find the lights in dark or low-illumination scenes
are improving forensic video content.
Video analytics help campus safety and security professionals by
performing complex, repetitive functions, such as object detection and
recognition, simultaneously on many channels of video. These tools
can provide improved searches based on object characteristics and
behavior. One popular example is a “people counter.” This analytic can
report student behavior at main entry/egress points and return the
number of people passing into a zone, through a boundary or into the
field of view. This can provide criteria on increasing camera frame rate
and stored resolution during the time of highest traffic.
Another popular video-recognition solution is fixed license plate recognition/
capture (LPR/LPC). This specialized app runs either as an
embedded network camera application or in the video management system
to capture license plate data. LPR is a mature application embraced
for campus safety at entry and exit locations. The trend to embed this
function reduces cost and allows greater flexibility, while embedded
video analytics represent a growing segment.
Heat activity mapping is a type of video content analysis that can
improve safety by analyzing the flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic
on campus. Understanding staff traffic flow will often help camera
placement and ultimately the video forensic-review process.
A balance of operational responsibilities, appropriate
response, technology engagement and,
hopefully, personal growth and insight into their
service delivery mark the day-to-day activities on
campus for the safety and security professional.
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Security Today.