Physical security is a critical operational element for companies and organizations both in the public and private sectors that requires a high degree of accuracy, scalability, and operational efficiencies for incident handling. Traditional camera-based systems have continued to serve their purpose well for years, but they have limitations that can create security gaps, increase costs, and waste valuable resources if not optimally configured for alarm events. 3D LiDAR solutions, however, can overcome these limitations to increase effectiveness and reliability, reduce false alarms, and improve operational efficiency.
Advantages of LiDAR
Due to their design and technology, LiDAR sensors have several advantages over cameras that inherently enhance security capabilities.
- Sensing Dimension: 3D delivers depth perception and much more accurate information about a monitored space, with fewer sensors. Most other sensors work in either one or two dimensions, including the AI or computer vision software used to analyze that sensor data.
- Accuracy and Range: LiDAR sensors are accurate to within <3 cm with an angular resolution of 0.03°–0.13°, and a range of up to 70 m in radius. These factors, combined with the high-density point cloud, enable not only accurate rendering of spaces, but also detection, tracking and classification of objects.
- Speed and Directionality: Because the sensors constantly send out pulses, they can detect objects in motion in addition to static objects, including the speed and direction of the objects.
- Lighting and Environment: Unlike cameras, LiDAR sensors are not impacted by ambient lighting conditions. They work equally well in well-lit rooms, sunny outdoor spaces, and darkness.
- Mesh Network: LiDAR sensors can be fused together to create a surveillance mesh, allowing larger and more complex spaces to be covered with a single system and fewer sensors.
- Seamless ID Handover: LiDAR perception software assigns a unique ID to each object/person/vehicle entering a zone. With the mesh capability, the system can track each object uniquely anywhere in the space that is covered by the LiDAR sensors without losing track due to obstructions or other variables. Importantly, no PII (Personal Identifiable Information) is detected by the LiDAR, eliminating any potential privacy concerns.
The real magic, though, happens in the security management software, which is where security teams can see real improvement in their capabilities and efficiency.
More Flexible and Complete Incident Alerts
Traditional camera systems using AI and analytics can only accommodate two-dimensional alarm zones, and object tracking to trigger an event. With a LiDAR system, users can set three-dimensional alarm zones, anywhere within the space covered by the sensors. Instead of a single alarm plane, the 3D capability of LiDAR enables the creation of cuboid-shaped virtual alarm zones, so an alert can be triggered when an object enters an event zone from anywhere or in any direction. A single LiDAR sensor can not only cover a larger area but can cover it in all three planes.
In addition, LiDAR solutions can support multiple 3D alarm zones, with each being able to trigger a different alert or response.
Take a classified research facility, for instance. A multi-layered alarm and response system might include an initial zone 50 meters from a fence line. If an individual or vehicle enters the first zone, an automated announcement might be triggered, alerting the individual and telling them to turn around and leave the area.
If that individual continues to move towards the fence line, that motion might trigger a second response, such as dispatching security personnel. If the individual breaches the fence – either by going over or through it – a third level of response might dispatch additional security personnel and lock down the facility.
Because of its accuracy, LiDAR is also ideal for people counting. It’s often important for security teams or facility management to understand how many people are in a facility. With LiDAR sensors and virtual count zones, accurate head counts are as simple as setting up the virtual event zones where individuals enter and exit facilities or specific areas to conform to security and safety protocols. That can mean keeping the total headcount below maximum capacity in a public space or ensuring only one person enters a highly restricted area at a time.
It’s all done through integration with other third-party systems and without requiring security teams to continuously monitor cameras or perimeter zones once configured.
Integration with Camera Systems
That’s not to say LiDAR will replace camera systems.
There is value in cameras, especially for identifying persons of interest. One thing LiDAR can’t do is see color or identify biometric features. If a LiDAR system identifies an object with id “0022” as having walked into a sensitive area, it has no idea that object id “0022” is wearing a blue sweatshirt and white ball cap. But, cameras aren’t smart and need someone or an event to action in the security management software to manage and move them into position via presets or PTZ controls. Typically, the security team has to cycle through cameras to locate an individual when an alert is triggered.
LiDAR systems can integrate with video management systems and control PTZ cameras into position to identify and follow specific people or objects of interest. The right cameras can be properly positioned and moved to track any object that the LiDAR system has identified as an alarm event. Instead of having to cycle through multiple cameras to find the individual in question, geolocation data from the LiDAR system can position cameras so security personnel can immediately identify the person of interest as wearing a blue sweatshirt and white cap, making response time faster and more accurate.
Cameras are a necessity for security, and LiDAR sensors aren’t likely to replace camera systems any time soon. But, by integrating with camera systems, LiDAR can turn idle cameras into smart security devices to increase response efficiency and reduce false alarms. Not only will the combination of LiDAR and cameras reduce workloads for security teams, but it will also require fewer cameras to be installed and maintained to support security plans due to the tremendous amount of coverage LIDAR sensors can deliver. LiDAR is the next generation of security solutions and will enhance security measures in nearly every market, including retail, government, entertainment, hospitality, critical infrastructure, transport, enterprise and more.
This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine.Subscribe here.