The Core Value Proposition
AI can help predict an undesirable event could take place
- By Shawn Kermani
- Mar 27, 2023
Machine and deep learning algorithms are everywhere in our lives. Masquerading as AI, they are only in their infancy. Have a conversation with a ChatGPT chatbot, and it becomes clear just how far we have come in a short time and how far we have to go. For security professionals, it is no longer if, but when will AI-based analytics be standard on every surveillance camera in the market.
Predictive analytics and AI are enabling security professionals to adopt a more proactive stance versus a traditional reactive one. AI-based object detection in network cameras, coupled with in-built analytics, has the capability of preventing or interacting with events in real time, not just documenting evidence of something that has occurred in the past.
The same technology behind self-driving cars deployed at the edge in i-PRO cameras to provide operators with real-time situational awareness. AI is driven by numerous use cases, which is one of the reasons it is evolving so quickly. If a vehicle is loitering outside a jewelry store at 3am, an AI system can help predict that an undesirable event could soon take place and warn operators to take a closer look.
AI and analytics change the core value proposition by going beyond security and providing valuable insights into operations and sales for customers as well. Cameras have become IoT smart sensors that can measure the flow of people and vehicles around a facility. Loitering, while undesirable from a security standpoint, becomes a positive indicator for marketing and sales professionals when potential customers are pausing to look at a new product on display. Having the same camera that looks for shoplifters also can notify staff when stock replenishment is required represents tremendous opportunity to enhance operations and efficiency.
AI-based Analytics Turns Security Cameras into Smart Data-gathering Sensors
AI-based object detection in network cameras make analytics more accurate and error free. Prior generations of analytics reacted to pixel-based motion that would include triggering when passing shadows or wind-blown objects moved in a scene.
AI assisted analytics enhance customer site awareness, both from a security point of view, but also from an operations point of view. AI-based cameras can also identify unique attributes of the objects it detects. This allows analytics to be further defined and customized to the end users’ exact needs.
If someone is loitering near the back door after hours, an AI-based camera can send a notification directly or via VMS to operators. If a queue at a register gets too long, it can notify the store manager. AI-based cameras can accurately count people entering a store so sales conversion rates can be calculated. It can also make evidence more useable and searchable. Thousands of petabytes record per day worldwide, which is unusable since it is too much for anyone to go through. With the additional descriptive metadata captured by an AI camera, a VMS can find all occurrences of a person in a red shirt and white shoes carrying a bag in just minutes, if not seconds. AI enhances security and allows operators to do more with less. It also provides business intelligence features that can have a positive impact revenue.
Evaluating AI Software and Image Technology is Crucial to Success
While AI-based solutions are everywhere, the implementation of the technology can vary widely between manufacturers. The powerful descriptive metadata captured from an AI-based camera is only useful if it can be interpreted and displayed within a VMS or NVR.
It is imperative to ensure that the VMS supports all the data from any camera system you choose to deploy. For example, i-PRO’s Active Guard plug-in works seamlessly with both Genetec and Milestone VMSs. Algorithms based on machine and deep learning are very useful for recognizing vehicles and humans and detecting attributes such as vehicle/clothing colors, gender, age, objects being carried, glasses, hats, bags and more. Having this additional information makes motion analytics like line
crossing, direction and loitering almost entirely error free.
Color is a critical component of successful AI analytics. It is also important to note how many attributes can be described for objects recognized since this directly affects the relative success of any search. For example, some cameras can detect shoe color, while others cannot.
To keep AI analytics functionality working at night, colors that define objects need to be maintained. The goal should be to keep a camera capturing color mode as long as possible. This requires the best low light performance available from a lens/sensor combination. Make note of the low light capabilities of any camera considered for AI-based use cases. Once a camera turns on IR to illuminate a scene, color will be lost since most cameras automatically change to black and white mode that effectively reduces the effectiveness of any AI-assisted analytics.
AI technology can to inform the camera’s image processing system about which objects in an image, such as a face, are important to capture with the highest clarity. Look for features such as advanced intelligent auto (which automatically adjusts shutter speed, auto exposure, gamma correction and noise reduction) to aid in image enhancement.
Open Platform — A Key to the Future
Technology evolves quickly, and so do the needs of businesses. To maintain value, minimize cybersecurity risk and future-proof security cameras, it is paramount to have an easy way to update and add capabilities in the field with regular updates and enhancements as required. Customers can future proof their investments by choosing cameras that can update in the field as well as host third-party analytics plug-ins via an open platform and SDK/API.
Being able to customize cameras with specific add-ons, such as automated license plate readers (ALPR) or advanced business and operations analytics adds value and lets you ride the technology evolution without replacing the camera as often. We need to adopt the app-based mindset that we’re all familiar with found in our smartphones, where we are able to add capabilities and features without changing our phones each time something new is developed.
Don’t Skimp on Cybersecurity
With the abundant AI features and reduced form factor of the latest breed of cameras, there is no need to skimp on cybersecurity. The last thing anyone wants is to have the security system itself be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
To help ensure the security and integrity of video data while protecting against unauthorized access to the network, it is crucial to choose cameras and infrastructure that conform to industry-leading standards. FIPS 140-2 level 3 encryption and level 3 compliance, vandal-resistant technology, and identity-based authentication add extra layers of security that protect critical security parameters on the device.
While AI is a hot topic of discussion, it is time to focus on the true business value it can also represent for companies large and small. Data is king and every organization wants more of it, so why not utilize that already accepted fixture mounted on ceilings and walls to provide valuable insights?
Today’s AI-based cameras allow security departments to adopt a proactive stance to events as they evolve while delivering valuable operations and marketing data to the rest of the organization.
This article originally appeared in the March / April 2023 issue of Security Today.