Over the past 20 years, the security industry has evolved greatly; shifting away from proprietary, analog systems toward open, IP-based network solutions that have the power to harness analytics and machine learning. This has helped us become “smarter” about how we leverage systems to increase overall security and gather business intelligence.

Video analytics is not a new capability, but its value in today’s technologically-reliant society has become increasingly apparent. People are looking for cameras to analyze more situations in more environments, which means—you guessed it—more data is being collected and in need of processing and review.

Now, while managing data is one thing, analyzing it to gain meaningful insights (to take just as meaningful actions) is a very different ballgame. And that’s where analytics and machine learning help reduce the burden on human operators.

Analytics allow computers to carry out tasks normally done by humans, completing them in a more efficient way. For example, analytics can help network cameras automatically review large amounts of data and whittle it down to just the needed information—something that could take people hours.

We can take this concept one step further with machine learning by teaching a machine what to look for so it can refine the analytic to more accurately capture a type of event. Once this algorithm is refined, it simply behaves based on the new programming. As you’ll see later when we discuss AXIS Perimeter Defender, this can play a significant role in helping businesses better optimize say how they deploy security personnel.

Leveraging analytics to increase security

More people are looking for ways to add value to their surveillance system to help justify the costs of their security program as a whole. It’s not unusual for accountants to see it as only an expense center. By creating data and metrics, analytics can help change that mindset. The more information businesses have to proactively assess a situation in real-time, the better chance their personnel have to respond to an incident quickly, deter an intruder and increase overall security.

“Because of the power of analytics, staff can be alerted about an incident and immediately take action,” explained Steve Burdet, manager of Solutions Management for Axis Communications, Inc. “And that’s extremely helpful. Whereas, if they don’t have a system that allows them that luxury, they won’t notice the problem until somebody complains or the issue persists long enough that it’s made its presence inescapable. And by that time, the damage might already be done.”

Take, for example, a retail store. Analytics can be used with network cameras to analyze the amount of time someone lingers by a product or display—also known as “dwell time”—and alert security if that person loiters for too long. Personnel can then observe the situation in real time and decide whether they need to intervene. Being able to make proactive decisions can help stores reduce shoplifting and improve the bottom line.

Now, taking this one step further, if shoplifting is a recurring issue, network solutions can give personnel the information they need to propose ways to beef up security in certain areas of the store. This could come in the form of increased staff presence or moving high value items to a different location.

Going beyond retail, other industries can take advantage of analytics and machine learning to enhance security. For example, AXIS Perimeter Defender is a video analytics application that can be embedded in Axis network cameras or video encoders to automatically detect and respond to intruders trying to breach a property’s perimeter. It acts as a facility’s first line of defense.

The operator can tell AXIS Perimeter Defender to detect just people or vehicles or both. However, the application doesn’t just detect and respond. It also learns about the environment. In just a few days, it can understand the difference between day and night, and it uses this information to polish its performance, allowing it to perform optimally no matter the illumination. Furthermore, the application minimizes false alarms by disregarding other objects such as animals or moving vegetation.

Leveraging analytics to increase business intelligence

Outside of security, analytics, such as AXIS People Counter, can help retailers gain more insight into their customers’ in-store behavior. This software runs embedded in a ceiling-mounted network camera, which is installed directly above entranceways and passageways. It basically turns the camera into an advanced sensor which can help analyze the flow of traffic during certain times of the day. In turn, this could help stores better evaluate the impact of their advertising and promotions or enable them to make more informed decisions about how best to staff their floor.

“I believe network solutions that provide business intelligence—the data businesses are able to collect and how they’re able to use that information—can be really valuable to customers. With an application such as AXIS People Counter, businesses can gather deeper insights into their operations, which can help them function more efficiently and effectively,” noted Burdet.

And the kind of customers who can take advantage of this type of technology extend even outside of retail. Banks, for example, can use video analytics to capture customer behavior so they can improve their customers’ experience. Depending on their findings, this might come in the form of reducing queues or even playing ambient music in waiting areas to keep patrons comfortable.

As the world—and the needs of those within it—develop, it’ll be important to continue challenging conventions and looking for ways to re-imagine security and business optimization. One way to do so is by working with a manufacturer that not only offers network solutions based on sight, sound and analytics but a robust tool on which future analytics can be easily built on: AXIS Camera Application Platform (ACAP).

AXIS Camera Application Platform – living and evolving on the edge

AXIS Camera Application Platform (ACAP) version 4 is an open application platform that allows developers to build applications for Axis devices. With ACAP, it’s possible to write programs that utilize deep learning processing units on the edge, which can help reduce storage and network consumption, increase scalable deployments and decrease total cost of ownership for integrators and end customers as businesses don’t have to buy additional hardware or server space to run the analytics.

With ACAP, customers and integrators don’t have to worry about whether or not the manufacturer they work with develops the analytics they need—Axis Communications works with everyone to ensure their security or business challenges are always met. Axis offers one of the largest portfolios of video analytics in the industry and collaborates with an extensive application development partner ecosystem. 

“The most important thing for us,” Burdet said, “is to ensure our customers can accomplish what they want, whether that’s the integrator who already has a preferred analytic partner or a customer who is looking for something very specific. To do that we need to have the right tools and resources to work with various third parties; whoever they might be. And the dynamics of those needs are exactly why we built ACAP. We’re happy to be a part of a best-of-breed system.”

Trust. Scalability. Functionality. Ease of use. Security. These are all important things to consider with a network solution based on sight, sound and analytics. And it’s critical to work with a manufacturer that will not only work with you in the short term but well past installation.

So, where do I start?

It’s one thing to be wowed by all the bells and whistles that come along with analytics and machine learning. But it’s another to put analytics to work for you. Burdet noted it’s important to begin by thinking about your goals and end game.

“The best thing customers can do is to start thinking, ‘what do they want to have happen?’” he explained. “We know analytics can be proactive. We know they can help with business intelligence. So, what are they trying to accomplish?”

He also noted it’s important to look for ways to think outside the box to open the door to smarter solutions and new business opportunities—something that is fully possible with analytics and machine learning.

“There are so many people who haven’t thought about how to use analytics to solve their organization’s challenges” he said. “They just think surveillance and security. But analytics can also touch so many different facets of a company. It’s important to think beyond just putting up a camera and consider how that camera could add value to other departments within an organization.”

If you’re not sure whether you should begin by thinking about analytics first or the type of camera or audio options you need, know that either is an option. If you already have the network camera installed, work with a manufacturer, such as Axis Communications, or your integrator to add the right application. But if you’re just starting to think about how network solutions can help, also consider how analytics fits into the equation.

Analytics—they’re not the future, they’re now

While analytics are not new, what we are seeing is how advances in technology are making analytics more practical to use in security and beyond. We’re seeing analytics being applied within different industry segments, some of which we described above, and being used in surprisingly clever ways to add value throughout a company. As people become more familiar and comfortable with the technology, this usage will only continue to grow.

If you’re just beginning your foray into the exciting world of analytics, keep an open mind. Again, think outside the box. Work with a manufacturer, such as Axis Communications, that will help you understand what you need to consider before you begin and how to get the most out of your intelligent network solution.