For all the advancements the video surveillance industry has seen over the past two decades — the widespread shift from analog to IP, increasing acceptance and use of cloud-based platforms, and proliferation of high-resolution cameras driven by the commoditization of video hardware — the job of monitoring surveillance feeds has changed relatively little.
Sure, some of these advancements have greatly aided security operators in quickly distinguishing between benign incidents and actual intrusions. Still, video monitoring remains a largely reactive tool to address incidents after they have already occurred.
This is not necessarily bad, as reducing nuisance alarms remains one of the hallmarks of good security monitoring. It's also become clear that preventing unnecessary responses from first responders is no longer a "nice to have" feature for business owners in large swaths of the country.
Many local counties and municipalities have sought to recoup the costs associated with such responses by imposing false alarm fines. Though both the dollar amount and guidelines as to when and how these fines can be levied varies, the financial impact can certainly add up over time and result in strained relations between the organization and local authorities.
For those with in-house or contract guards, the need to reduce the number of nuisance alarms is also significant. The virtual firehose of data being generated by today's security systems has resulted in an increasing number of businesses leveraging video monitoring to reduce the response burden on security staff and avoid having to dispatch personnel to the outskirts of a facility or campus because an environmental factor triggered a perimeter intrusion sensor.
However, what if there was a way to leverage the benefits of traditional video monitoring and take them to another level through advanced technology? That's exactly what today's intelligent video analytics are bringing to the table with the advent of proactive video monitoring.
Proactive Video Monitoring: Not Your Grandfather's CCTV
The current crop of video analytics, which are powered by deep learning algorithms with the ability to "learn" and provide levels of object detection and recognition not previously seen in the industry — a new product category that has collectively come to be known as artificial intelligence (AI) analytics — are revolutionizing video surveillance capabilities.
No longer are cameras reduced to mere post-event forensic analysis tools, but rather solutions that can help organizations mitigate threats before they materialize. When you combine AI analytics with traditional video monitoring — adding a human-in-the-loop to provide a variety of near-instantaneous responses — you end up with an entirely new industry service paradigm known as proactive video monitoring.
For comparison, let's take a look at how a typical security incident is handled with traditional video monitoring versus this new proactive methodology. Historically, if an intruder were to breach a perimeter fence or an exterior door, an alert would be generated by a motion detector or a door contact sensor and sent to the console of a security operator, who then has to pull up the feeds of nearby cameras to determine if the alarm is genuine and proceed with the appropriate response protocols — calling the police, exporting a video clip of the crime, etc.
With proactive video monitoring, this same security operator in the above scenario would — through the use of AI — receive a prioritized alert from the system and immediately begin assessing and verifying the threat, allowing for the ability for intervention specialists to quickly and effectively intervene with live, personalized audio to notify the intruder that they are being monitored and that the authorities will be notified should they proceed any further.
The goal of security has and always will be to prevent the loss of life and property. Still, the limitations of traditional solutions have reduced the efforts of many businesses to pick up the pieces of an incident after the fact. Even the process of incident reporting, which is still required regardless of what monitoring solution you use, is streamlined with proactive video monitoring. Creating these reports, which can be both time and labor-intensive, can now be generated within a day using proactive video monitoring and distributed to the appropriate internal and external authorities.
Not Just an SMB Solution
Though many small- and mid-sized (SMB) businesses are currently taking advantage of proactive video monitoring for their after-hours security needs, the solution is not just for the SMB market. In fact, perhaps nowhere else is the technology more needed today than in the enterprise environment.
Having a distributed geographic footprint across cities, states, and even countries makes staying ahead of threats paramount. Many internal security teams simply don't have the technology or staffing to respond to every alarm on their watch, and it is a well-known fact that an ever-growing number of security personnel have become desensitized to alerts, given their pervasiveness today.
That makes having trained, dedicated video monitoring personnel that can respond to potential threats before they become full-blown acts of theft or violence critical in today's enterprises. Of course, not every facility within an organization's purview may need the full force that proactive video monitoring brings to bear, but it is certainly worth examining what properties may need the enhanced benefits of such an offering.
One recent example of how the service played a critical role for enterprises was at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses and their personnel vacated offices virtually overnight, the best way to check in on facilities became through remote video solutions.
With guards unable to physically man their posts, proactive video monitoring provided a way to still have a human presence, albeit remote, at facilities worldwide to ensure that thieves and other nefarious actors didn't take advantage of an already stressful situation.
Video surveillance technology has come a long way in recent years. The days of analytics overpromising and underdelivering are over. It's time to take the leap and see how proactive video monitoring can address your biggest security challenge.
This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.