Video Surveillance

Boosting Detection with Video Analytics

Can a high-tech, high-cost video surveillance system be wasted on its monitors?

August 1, 2014

Can a high-tech, high-cost video surveillance system be wasted on its monitors? The human rate of activity detection on video is only between 7 and 15 percent, according to James White, President and CEO of JL White & Associates, a contracting company which assists in military deployments and securing overseas military bases. “Our eyes are really not designed to stay alert and detect activity over a long period of time,” White says. “Twenty minutes of staring at video monitors, and detection rates drop.”

White helped to install a sophisticated video analytics system at a military base in Afghanistan. Complex video surveillance systems come with unique problem sets, and the base’s goals were to deploy a system that could offer an 85-percent detection rate and a less than two-percent false positive rate. White worked with HP to develop a unique system for the base, building programming within the analytics software to set up target size, shape and texture for alerts.

“Without requirements of what you really want, analytics will detect everything,” he says. “If you have a busy front gate that has 6,000 people entering daily, you could have 6,000 alarms. The best system will send three alarms a day – this system is one that understands real threats so you can focus your manpower appropriately. The more you train the software, the more useful your analytics will be.”

One of the most critical elements to providing a safe and secure building is to ensure that visual monitoring capabilities are not compromised. At the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in Denver, Colorado, strategically arrayed video analytics were integrated into the building’s design from the basement up.

Administrator for Judicial Security Steve Steadman says the Agent Vi analytics software and Milestone video management system assists personnel by increasing the detection of unwanted behavior that could have dire consequences, especially unattended packages or wrong-way entry such as piggybacking risks or unscreened entry into the building.

“It is essential that we constantly monitor and control traffic into and out of the building,” Steadman says. “The analytics and surveillance help us keep authorized and unauthorized foot traffic separate.”

The cameras in the judicial center are monitored by the Colorado State Patrol.  In the event of an alert, a dispatcher in the monitoring center examines and triages the situation, and decides on the most appropriate course of action.

“The human eye and brain have limited powers of observation,” Steadman says. “Using video analytics with numerous camera views affords individuals the ability to watch more and provide better building security.”

Video is helping Cornhusker Bank in Lincoln, Nebraska, do more for its customers and stakeholders as well. Video surveillance has been deployed throughout the bank’s five branches, technology center and three part-time branches. Working with a unified platform (combining video surveillance and access control through Genetec technology), bank employees can use video to settle disputes, provide video evidence of crime-related activity and create a deterrence effect for any potential wrongdoers.

According to Royce Jeffries, the VP of Security Risk Management for Cornhusker Bank, the area had been affected by “lane gang crimes” – thieves break into vehicles or homes to take wallets and checkbooks. Then they drive to the bank with a check and the account holder’s ID, go to the furthest drive-through lane, often in disguise, and try to cash checks.

By training cameras on every drive-through lane, even if the costumed criminals fool the teller, the bank has the thief’s license plate number, the make and While this particular system is not yet using analytics within its video surveillance program, the scalability of the system leaves that opportunity open for the future.

Cezary Jozwiak, the Chief Security Officer – Port Facilities Security Officer for crude-oil shipment company Naftoport in Poland, says: “Our facility security system consists of: a security video system with analog, IP and infrared cameras; video analytics; intrusion & holdup alarm systems (I&HAS); perimeter security subsystem consisting of PIR (Passive Infrared) sensors; access control system (ACS); sonar; radar; an Automatic Identification System for ships (as required by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea – SOLAS); and a guard location GPS system.” In an effort to help the operator (dispatcher) work more efficiently, the systems were combined in one PSIM platform from NICE, and analytic capabilities were added. This helped the operator interact with just one interface instead of many to reduce complexity without compromising security.

In the event of an alert, “Our security system operator (dispatcher) is notified of alarms, and our security protection system guards respond according to the guidelines set forth by the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) amendment to the SOLAS convention,” he says. “Each response is different, depending on the particular situation. We have foot patrols, car patrols, and boat patrols, and sometimes we have to inform and cooperate with the military border control, police, or fire brigade.” The system has helped the Naftoport security team better achieve its goal of being able to reliably detect intruders inside the port perimeter while leveraging existing systems.

“Through the NICE Situator PSIM solution, we were able to successfully integrate nine security subsystems working in parallel, with mutual correlation and dedicated procedures,” Jozwiak adds.

According to White, integrating analytics with other technology outside of surveillance can reap myriad benefits by helping operators triage situations more effectively. For example, if there are seismic sensors installed on perimeter fencing, an alarm would show up on the common operations picture or integrated platform, and operators could easily train cameras on that area without needing to switch back and forth to different systems. Then, personnel in the Base Defense Operations Center can be more informed when they choose how to respond, he says.

Steadman adds that analytics can help security leaders achieve a return on their investment: “Smart equipment selections and technology installation decisions are capital expenses that are spread over many years of use. So if you can use technology to offset things that would otherwise have been done by people, that’s beneficial, and we believe that’s beneficial to the people that we serve in the State of Colorado.” 

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