The Role of Video Security
How AI is transforming the way users interact with security systems
- By Alex Asnovich
- Feb 01, 2020
The security industry is being pressed to do more
with less while dealing with the compounded issue
of managing new internal and external threats
on a daily basis. Risk management can feel like a
daunting challenge, but responsible AI can help
a security operator deal with large amounts of information efficiently
by focusing their attention on important events.
With every passing month, artificial intelligence is moving
beyond the natural limits of human attention and transforming
video security in the process. The latest intelligent systems analyze
vast amounts of video data quickly — a true benefit to the
modern security operator who has a broad range of information
Today’s smarter technology is able to process information
incredibly quickly, optimizing operators’ ability do their jobs.
Significant AI advancements transmit the most relevant data to
operators at near-immediate speed, have faster search capability
and more sophisticated motion detection.
Today, AI plays an integral role in the security industry, sharpening
security workers’ on-the-job capabilities. It helps humans
pay attention to the elements of their jobs that require critical
thinking and action.
Mitigating Risk with Faster Search
Without AI, security operators typically monitor tens of video
screens — a tedious, lengthy process comparable to finding and
assessing information before the existence of online search engines.
According to research, factors that impact an operators’
ability to “actively” monitor include the number of screens and
amount of activity per screen, ability to remain alert, task interruptions
and background noise.1
Recognizing the need for improvement in the security industry,
some companies have developed responsible AI tools to make
video security as easy as an online search today — imagine the
world of keyword searches, algorithms and programming applied
to motion detection and video search. Technology that allows security
operators to search based on physical appearance is a good
example of AI’s capabilities.
Instead of searching through video feeds to try and find a specific
person or vehicle, a security operator can input physical descriptions
to begin a search to find what they’re looking for faster.
This ability heavily enhances the operators’ search capabilities and
dramatically improves the overall information-seeking process.
Today, faster search and AI technologies allow teams to detect,
verify and act on events more efficiently and effectively. Take the example of Independent Express Cargo Ltd. (Independent
Express Cargo), one of Ireland’s largest pallet delivery operators,
serving as a national transport network hub and full third-party
logistics supplier with 25 depots across the country, 1,000 active
clients and a turnover of €35 million annually. As 4,000 pallets
are moved through its Dublin site daily, security and the ability to
track between 8,000 to 14,000 pallets of storage at any given time
for its clients is essential for the integrity of its services.
To improve security and surveillance throughout its Dublin
site, which consists of 180,000 sq. ft. of warehouses on a nineacre
site, Independent Express Cargo Ltd. installed a complete
AI-enabled integrated security surveillance system.
By presenting transport managers with the ability to detect
people and vehicles in unusual areas, self-learning video analytics
do the heavy lifting by providing alerts for further verification,
helping to enable faster response when needed. Then, if the person
or vehicle who was last seen with a missing pallet needs to
be located throughout the site, the transport managers can use
technology that searches by appearance to quickly locate them.
Focused Attention, Greater Detail
Human attention spans have natural limits. Research shows that
after 20 minutes of staring at a video screen, we tend to lose focus
and our attention spans decrease significantly. In fact, a study
found that even after 12 minutes of continuous video monitoring,
an operator will often miss up to 45 percent of screen activity,
and after 22 minutes of viewing, up to 95 percent is overlooked.2
For decades, security operators used pixel motion detection to
analyze the changes in pixels from one screen to another. While
pixel motion detection technology detects motion, it does so in
an unsophisticated way: the pixels change for irrelevant motion,
such as leaves blowing or a change in lighting.
Just as high-definition imaging has become essential to today’s
video security cameras, so have AI tools. AI brings relevant atypical
events that require further investigation to the forefront of security
operators’ attention, allowing them to focus on the critical
questions at hand: who, what, where and when.
Today’s AI security systems are able to detect motion in complex
and varied situations. AI-powered video analytics and motion
detection can determine what information is most important
and presents it to the operator in an easily interpretable way,
making the system smarter and its response times faster.
Motion detection technology uses advanced AI to detect and
refine typical activity that could otherwise go unnoticed in security
video; it continuously learns what typical activity in a scene
looks like and flags any unusual motion. Whereas an older system
monitoring a fence line might be programmed with a rule
to track movements suggestive of someone jumping a fence, a
modern system has the capability of assessing dozens of other
potential movements and events that may be of equal or greater
importance to the security of the site.
While it is possible for operators to come up with a range of
rules and permutations to apply manually over time to the above
scenario, advanced AI and motion detection technology does the
work for them more quickly and efficiently from the start and
keeps improving as it continuously learns and adapts to the scene.
Keeping Criminals at Bay
Newer, long-lasting integrated security systems are helping make
vulnerable communities safer places to live. Long Beach Housing
Authority in Nassau County, Long Beach, New York, is committed
to helping people lift themselves out of poverty, and its Channel
Park Homes and Sol Scher Apartments provide life-changing
support for those in vulnerable situations. However, low-income
neighborhoods all across the nation can face issues related to
crime and vandalism, and the area around LBHA is no different;
in fact, it’s the only neighborhood in Nassau County designated
“high risk” on the crime index. With a mandate to ensure the
well-being of its tenants, LBHA knew it had to find a more effective
way to keep its residents, employees and the surrounding
To gain the level of protection they were looking for, LBHA
upgraded to a more modern, integrated system with cameras
equipped with enhanced image quality and video analytics, providing
the community with a much higher level of protection.
These new cameras include loitering detection, automatically detecting
people who linger in an area past a certain time threshold
and alerting security operators to potential threats.
Today, officers have the ability to stream and download video
directly from the site to their headquarters and on mobile devices.
Whenever a resident alerts them to gang-related activity,
officers have immediate access to recorded video for investigations
and evidence—evidence which now meets the standard to
be admissible in court.
Advanced AI security technology allows security operators to
be more proactive than reactive, directing operators’ attention
to where it matters most. Modern, AI-equipped security systems
detect motion in more complex and varied situations than ever
before, making intelligent assessments about the most relevant
information to present to operators in an easily accessible way.
These tools empower operators to make better critical decisions
in high-stakes situations, immediately conveying the most
important events and insights. The systems are smarter and organizational
response times can be faster as a result.
The threats aren’t going away. Leveraging the power of AI
into your overall security ecosystem is one way to help to better
keep your organization and stakeholders safer.
This article originally appeared in the January / February 2020 issue of Security Today.