The reactive solution, like the forensics, can be either analog, IP or a hybrid of both. There are reactive solutions that are proprietary systems with all components from a single vendor, solutions that support a wide variety of proprietary equipment from multiple vendors and as the industry standards by the ONVIF and PSIA become more prevalent 100 percent open and interoperable.

To find a definition for what constitutes an Intelligent Video Solution one could turn to the video surveillance manufacturers. Almost all of the major video surveillance manufacturers, hardware and software, have some statement or representation of what is an intelligent video solution or system. Unfortunately, no single, unifying definition will be found.

The only unifying aspect of these quasi definitions is that they are different. Most of them have a common theme and that theme is centered around their particular product or products.

The security industry trade associations and standards organizations are the next logical place to look. But again, no single unified or common definition is found. Why is it so difficult to find a common industry acceptable definition of an intelligent video solution? The main reason is that it can mean or be something different for each video surveillance entity.

An “Intelligent Video Solution” could easily be defined as “any video surveillance solution that utilizes technology too automatically, without human intervention, process, manipulate and/or perform actions to or because of either the live or stored video images.” This could be as simple as a DVR changing the frame rate, image size and compression of a live stream due to a relay contact changing state from closed to open, like a door sensor. Or it could be as complex as a VNS or PSIM recognizing an event is happening or has happened and generating an alarm, displaying all of the pertinent live cameras, initiating the correct first response actions as defined within a standard operating procedure guide. As defined above, an “Intelligent Video Solution” is a system of hardware and software that aids the security executives in performing their daily tasks. An intelligent video solution can be from a single manufacturer or it can be a compilation of components (both hardware and software) from a variety of manufacturers. The net end result is that it is the sum of all of its parts performing the tasks they were designed to do.

How then can an intelligent video solution be something different for each organization? This has a simple explanation. No two separate security organizations have the exact same requirements, the exact same facilities or the exact same functions, actions or regulatory/legal requirements. They can be very similar, but never exactly the same.

Is a DVR or NVR an intelligent video solution? In some cases, the answer is yes. Just like the previous example, if the DVR or NVR’s technology supports the ability to be configured to perform a single action or multiple actions automatically based on predefined events or signals, they are “Intelligent Video Solutions.” Do most people within the video surveillance industry consider a DVR or NVR used in this manner to be an intelligent video solution? The answer is no, not really. The surveillance industry tends to consider this as a standard feature or function of today’s modern DVR’s and NVR’s.

There are three distinct functional segments that make up intelligent video solutions, when the above definition is used. These functional areas are forensics, reactive and proactive. A forensics based intelligent video solution is one where its main operational function is to record cameras for later playback and analysis. The core function is to find or confirm in the present, an event that has happened in the past and to be able to save or export the recorded event for later use. The forensic solution can be either entirely analog camera and DVR or IP camera and NVR based or a hybrid utilizing both technologies. Most implementations are proprietary from a single vendor using a basic VMS.

A reactive based intelligent video solution is one where its main operational function is to recognize that an event is happening or has just happened and to provide the security executives both the live and recorded images. A reactive based system usually supports most of the functions of a forensics system, with the added capabilities of a broader set of predefined actions or processes. The action on event alarms include the I/O relays as well as integrated support for Video Content Analysis (VCA), access control and other third-party add-ons via a documented external software/hardware interface. The reactive solution, like the forensics, can be either analog, IP or a hybrid of both.

A proactive system is the top end of the video surveillance market. Proactive solutions can be extremely complex, time consuming and costly to implement due to the breadth of external systems with which they integrate. They are best suited for organizations with multiple facilities, vital resources or personnel to protect and need fast response times with the most current information for both the security operations center and the first responders. A proactive solution is one that expands outside of video surveillance and into the realm of real time event or situation management. They can include VCAs, external interfaces to building access and life safety, intercom or PA systems as well as IT security systems and third party organizations like fire and police departments. Proactive solutions usually have a more advanced and robust action on event systems, and can include an electronic software based equivalent of a security organization’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). This electronic SOP could be enabled by a rules based workflow analysis engine that further automates the recognition and response capabilities.

There are no predefined set of features, functions and capabilities that make up an intelligent video solution. However, there are many systems and solutions, from a large variety of manufacturers that become an intelligent video solution when implemented and configured to perform a specific or series of specific tasks to enhance a security operation in its daily activities.

Thank you to Aimetis Inc., March Networks, Sightlogix, VidSys Inc. and Verint Systems, Inc. for their contributions to this article.