Tag Archives: video analytics

St. Joseph’s Health Care: The Right Technology at the Right Time

St. Joseph's LogoThere are thousand of moving parts in a health care organization, which operates on a 24/7/365 schedule. A medical facility such as St. Joseph’s Health Care Londonin Ontario, Canada, requires a security system that provides around-the-clock monitoring and immediate access as events unfold, day or night.

The organization also knows that it can certainly benefit from the latest advancements in security technology, but the approach to adopting new systems has to come with a sound strategic plan in mind.

When St. Joseph’s recently underwent an upgrade in its security system to include IP video, among the key areas the security team wanted to address were video clarity, latency and breadth of coverage so it could better monitor and respond to the ongoing and potential incidents taking place inside and outside of the hospital.

IP CamerasTo achieve these goals, St. Joseph’s and its integrator, Integrated Video & Surveillance, added more than 45 IP cameras to supplement the hundreds of analog ones already in place, upgraded its video platform and tapped into the power of analytics.

Aided by the improved video quality of an IP-based system, with a video platform that allows security personnel to view images in real time, without playback interruption, means officers can follow a situation as it occurs, moving seamlessly from one camera view to another and at a resolution level so they can critical information clearly.

The addition of IP cameras with improved resolution and seamless recording and playback performance also provides St. Joseph’s with the ability to address myriad issues that are at the heart of running a successful medical facility — whether it is monitoring hallways and parking lots for potential accidents or checking out who is trying to access a restricted area, such as a pharmacy or psychiatric ward.

Security Center

Deploying analytics added another level of sophisticated functionality to the security system, allowing St. Joseph’s security staff to engage in people counting or set security perimeters in specific areas that will trigger alarms in the system.

Like any organization looking to update its systems, St. Joseph’s approached the project with goals and a budget in mind. There are many new systems available for improving security these days, so it takes careful planning and a strategic partnership with an integrator to settle on those areas that will bring the most benefit. Instead of swapping out everything that was in place, like the hundreds of analog cameras, St. Joseph’s strategically deployed technology that would take it to the next level.

And the organization is now poised to continue its updates, operating from a timetable and with a program that works within the parameters it has carefully set.

To read more on St. Joseph’s Healthcare and their transition to an IP video platform, click here to download the full case study.

A little planning goes a long way toward achieving analytics success

The odd impulse purchase aside, most people go into a buying decision with a good idea of what they want from their investment.

A couple that is expecting triplets, for instance, knows they can bypass the two-seater sports car or the pickup and look in the SUV or minivan category for a vehicle that will adequately and safely serve their family.

Similarly, a company that is putting in a new video analytics system should outline what it wants it to achieve before selecting, installing and operating it. Or at least that is what best practices would dictate.

Yet, too often the opposite happens. Eager customers and their systems integrators determine the number and styles of cameras camera, ip camera, securitythey want, maybe based on the newest technology or the best deals available, without first exploring exactly what they want to achieve in terms of analytics. So the end result is a system that is inadequate for the application and one that poorly reflects on the quality of the video analytics because it couldn’t perform the necessary functions properly.

Where and how cameras are placed is critical to achieving the most effective outcome with analytics. From camera mounts to the number and type of cameras, many factors can impact the success of video analytics.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone when it comes to planning. Working in conjunction with your systems integrator, or a manufacturer’s representative, take a hard look at what your expectations are for your analytics system: Are you looking to count people coming into your store, or is your goal to read license plates in a parking lot? If you want to count customers, do you also want to measure how long they look at a display? Every activity requires careful consideration regarding the type of camera used and where it is placed.

People counting is best done on a two-dimensional scale, so a camera mounted overhead works well here. If the camera were placed at eye level, and a crowd came into the store, you might not be able to see each person because some people likely would be blocked by those in front of them.

If the goal is to determine who is lingering in a particular spot, however, then a wide-angle camera is the proper choice. And if you want to do both of these things in the same space, you’ll need multiple cameras mounted appropriately.

Lighting is another key consideration when deploying analytics. If a scene goes in and out of shadows frequently, it will affect the accuracy of the information received. Trying to read license plates? Think about how headlights could play havoc with a camera if positioned incorrectly.

Before going ahead with an analytics program, it’s important to consider all of the factors that will impact video quality. From illumination to separating assets and people to dealing with obstructions and movement, all of these can make a great analytics system an ineffective one if not handled properly.

So sit down at that computer — or if you’re old school, get out that pen and paper — and list what you want your system to do. Then go through all the factors that could influence your outcome before making a final selection with the help of an integrator or supplier on cameras and mounts.

The success of your analytics system depends on it. Watch our videos below on victor and VideoEdge video intelligence and analytics.

 

Putting video to work in new ways

Tyco Security Products

A video surveillance system can be a multi-tasker, especially when deployed within a factory or production environment. From shipping and logistics, where it provides control support and documentation, to operations, where it can assist with deploying personnel, video has the ability to go well beyond its usual security and safety functions.

Companies can harness their video surveillance system to show current or potential clients how different processes work within their organization. If quality control within a distribution facility is the focus, video systems can be tapped to show the progress of an order from the time it is placed, through the automated or manual picking process and ending with the completed order. Without having to be in the room or on site, a customer can receive assurance about the integrity of the order fulfillment process just by viewing it live through the video surveillance system.

A CCTV system can also benefit the logistics operations of a manufacturer. Cameras can help dispatch personnel by determining which loading bay is empty and ready to receive a shipment for off-loading, or indicate the dock to which a truck can be sent to be loaded with product for distribution.

A manufacturershipping product to the United States, for example, needs to document the contents of each container or truck to meet the country’s anti-terrorism import measures, also known as C-TPAT. Having evidence of the packing and shipping operations on video can aid in compliance with these regulations, which ensures easier passage through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Additionally, the camera system provides visibility regarding the movement of pallets or goods throughout different areas of the warehouse, providing an additional layer of quality control for warehousing operations.

Cameras focused on conveyor systems for security purposes can also make important information on product flow available, especially when analytics are used to count product or monitor productivity. Identifying areas where bottlenecks occur can translate into money and time savings for the company.

Surveillance cameras have even helped car dealers show off their inventory to customers when conditions aren’t ideal, such as during a snowstorm or when it is raining. The same system that can identify potential thieves is also capable of offering virtual tours to eager buyers.

By thinking about video in new ways, users can build on their investment in surveillance and achieve new levels of functionality, efficiency and cost savings.

Why not think about how video can do double duty within your operations?

Data overload, or information you can use? | Enter Data Visualization

Security and video surveillance systems can tell us a lot about our business – when the highest number of employees come through the front door, which way they go after they enter the building, or how many times each day a specific door is opened.

The good news is that all of this information and much more – from access control and event reports, video surveillance footage, and associated analytics data – can be captured by various edge devicesand stored within the system. This wealth of data is ready to be analyzed and turned into actionable intelligence that can help to detect and prevent issues in operations, equipment, or policies.

The bad news is…well, it’s the same. Without a means to make sense of it all, this wealth of data can be overwhelming and unusable.

Retailers, for example, are now able to capture minute-by-minute video of people in their stores — moving through the aisles, standing in front of displays, and making purchases at the register. But all of this can just be more video in the recording system if it isn’t put to use.

A data visualization tool can take the vast pools of information — security’s Big Data, if you will — now at the disposal of security personnel and management and turn it into more comprehensible data such as graphs and charts that correspond to particular video clips or POS data.

Perhaps your goal as a security manager is to determine whether you need additional guard coverage within a medical facility. Even though you have a card-based access control system that tells you who is entering the building and when, you now want to look more closely at which areas of the building they are accessing so you can beef up patrols in the more highly trafficked areas.

By deploying people-counting analytics tied to your video system, you can target specific doors or hallways that are covered by cameras and record video each time someone uses that door or enters a hallway.

Data visualization can then take you to the next step, which is putting all those video clips into usable charts. You can sort the data by day, for instance, creating charts that show you days when the traffic patterns are the heaviest. But you can even drill down further, looking at the time of day when particular doors and hallways are most heavily used and chart that information as well. Once you have the data set you want, you can look at the corresponding videos to see the actual activity.

Data Visualization

The result may be that you see the area outside a newly relocated lab is generating a lot of traffic outside of regular business hours. That area may require additional checks by a security officer to monitor the activity.

Retail can definitely benefit from the conversion of information into data visualization. Not only can retailers monitor traffic, just as the security officer did in the previous scenario, but by adding in the POS data, store operators can look at how people movement corresponds with sales.

Using data visualizer technology, it’s possible to create a data set that shows how many people walk by a handbag display, how long they looked at the products, and then how many actually made a purchase. All this is possible just by dragging and dropping the results into the data visualization software — sales from POS, plus those who lingered at the display for more than 10 seconds. Based on the results, it may influence the store owner to add sales staff at certain times of day or maybe relocate a display to a more highly traveled section of the store.

Put simply, data visualization is all about recognizing patterns and trends. Once you’re able to start thinking about all that data in those terms, it is less overwhelming and much more useful. And that really is the good news.

 

Are you already using Data Visualization software with your security footage? If so, in what ways? If not, any thoughts on how it could benefit your business? Please leave your response in the comments section below.

Turning up the heat on video analytics

For the average person watching people come and go from a retail store, a sporting event or even a hotel lobby, the movements can seem random, with no apparent pattern behind them.

But for those who are deploying the latest in video analytics, those same travels within a defined space can be tracked and analyzed to allow store operators, arena owners and hoteliers to make key business decisions related to merchandising, personnel positioning and, of course, security.

Heat mapping — one of the newest analytic tools available — provides a visual interpretation of traffic patterns. The movements of those people who appear to be merely walking through the store are now captured and analyzed, and the resulting data can be looked at more closely.

video analytics heat mappingThis becomes important in a retail setting as stores look to maximize the effectiveness of their displays and increase overall store performance. A promotion may seem successful on paper, but if no one can find the display within the store, or they don’t stop to really look at it, then sales will suffer. Heat mapping can show retailers the traffic patterns within the store and help them determine where the items should be placed.

Beyond displays, stores and venues can also use heat mapping to help them determine where to place permanent items such as ATMs. It may seem logical to put the machine at the entrance, but if the goal is to get people into the building, and heat mapping shows that people use the machine but then turn away, it may be better to place it within the facility.

Closely aligned with heat mapping is another analytics tool that helps make sense of the traffic analytics. Once it’s established where and how people are moving within a retail venue, the next move is to see how long they dwell or linger within the area, checking out the products on display.

Looking at the retail example, once the display is in its optimal location, the goal is to get shoppers to look at the products being sold and make a purchase. Dwell data tells us how long someone is stationary; linger does the same, but the person is usually milling about, rather than standing in one spot.

By integrating dwell and linger information with Point Of Sale data, it is possible to determine how many people stopped in front of the display for several seconds, or moved within the general area, are converted to buyers.

Dwell and linger data can also be used to determine how to assign personnel within an area. If analytics show that people are milling in a specific spot within a store, it may be necessary to send over a salesperson to offer assistance or, in the case of hotel, an additional desk clerk. Analytics that show a group gathering for a pre-determined period of time could also be a sign that security needs to check out what is going on as it could indicate suspicious behavior, such as a shelf sweep.

Of course, all this information won’t be of much good if it isn’t easy for the system’s user to retrieve and analyze the data. While security personnel are familiar with analytics, it may be new to those on the operations side. But today’s analytics are tailored in such as way that the information is accessible to everyone, no matter their IT expertise and no matter the size of the operation.

 

Do you have any questions about Heat Mapping? Please ask in the comments section below.

Video ‘must haves’ for active surveillance

In the majority of surveillance situations, the end user is going to be using video forensically or sporadically, checking on situations that have occurred and using video to determine what happened or to help make a case against a perpetrator or tuning in to a specific incident that is under way.

Active Surveillance SecurityBut for some security officers, active, live video is the critical element. Casinos are users that are constantly monitoring surveillance cameras as the action unfolds in real time. So too with high-risk assets such as babies in the maternity ward or animals in a drug-testing facility: The more valuable the asset, the more intense the surveillance.

Fortunately, IP-based security systems have made many of the processes easier for those in active surveillance situations through the addition of analytics that can alert officers to potential situations; mobile and remote views of what is unfolding; cost savings, especially for large installations; and network-based redundancy.

Where IP-based surveillance has fallen short sometimes is with latency issues for cameras and monitors and network security. When viewing an ongoing incident, it’s critical that the cameras and monitors used have as low a latency issue as possible so those handling the surveillance can make the PTZ camera follow the action. When there is an active shooter or a kidnapping in progress, security personnel can’t afford to lose track of the person they are tracking.

As companies migrate to IP-based solutions, they are also finding that LED monitors have a higher latency issue than the old CRTs. Unfortunately, CRTs are being phased out, but it’s important to know that there can be latency problems created by the monitors when switching views among PTZs.

On the plus side, there are many advantages presented by the newest video management systemsthat improve performance during active surveillance situations and these should be on the “must have” list for anyone putting together a system designed for high-volume use. One of these issituational awareness through analytics, or getting alerts when activities out of the ordinary occur, such as someone entering through an exit.

In some scenarios, such as a shopping mall, there are plenty of open spaces or doorways that allow people to enter and exit, so deploying analytics for situational awareness may not be possible. In these cases, the IP system can provide another benefit through the use of multi-view, time-synched video.

Say, for example, there is an active shooter in the mall. Through the use of time-synched video, security can bring up the various camera views that show the shooting and then help create a timeline to show what happened from there — where the shooter started from, where the event occurred, where he is now, and so on. And this video can also be pushed to officers involved in tracking the shooter so they can see what is happening in real time, rather than relying on audio transmissions to tell them where to go and what to look for.

Because video in these instances is so important for forensic purposes, being able to “vault” the video — extract it from the recording — means it is saved for future viewing and you don’t run the risk of recording over it or losing it.

All of these factors are necessary for the proper design and execution of an IP video system aimed at addressing an active surveillance environment. So as you put together plans for a system, but sure to add these to your checklist.

 

For a more in-depth look at Active Surveillance and some solutions that address the “must have” features, please watch my recorded Webinar:

Recorded Webinar - Active Surveillance Environments

 

What challenges are you having with your active surveillance? Please leave me a comment below.

Network Video Tipping Point is Just Around the Corner

Much touted and highly anticipated, 2014 finally will be the year when network video can claim its dominance over analog, according to a recent report from IMS Research.  This “tipping point” –  whennetwork video revenues overtake those of analog systems — will occur  because, while analog cameras will still outsell network models on a per unit basis through 2017,  higher-priced IP video systems will become the revenue leader.

Already, the report tells us, the network surveillance equipment market grew by more than 10 percent from 2011 to 2012 and was anticipated to grow by more than 20 percent this year. In the world market, only China has increased analog sales; elsewhere growth is driven mainly by IP-based equipment.Video Security Network - Tyco Security Products - American Dynamics

Certainly those of us in the marketplace continue to see a growing acceptance of IP-based video security solutions because of the inherent flexibility, improved networking capabilities and enhanced functionality offered.

End users who invested in analog cameras are still able to begin the migration to IP because of the advent of hybrid NVRs that bring together existing analog units with new high-definition IP cameras on a single platform.  This means that network surveillance systems are no longer the exclusive domain of major enterprises; small and mid-size companies have started to invest in and build IP based  surveillance systems so they can make the shift to IP at their own pace.

Meanwhile, networks have gotten faster over the past 10 years — nearly 100 times in many instances — and solutions have been improved so everything from installation to streaming video to recording is no longer a strain on network infrastructure and a burden on the IT department. With IT buy in, security personnel can make their case for more network-based components.

Add to that the fact that competition from analog cameras continues to drive down the cost of network-based solutions. The truth is, we’ve finally gotten comfortable with IP technology in the security space because we’ve seen it work in our day-to-day lives. We have adopted some of the same technologies, such as megapixel cameras in our smart phones, so it only makes sense that these features should become more common and lower cost as they proliferate.

But one of the biggest factors for network solutions reaching the tipping point has to be the wide range of features these systems provide. IP-based systems with analytics that can interpret activities and behaviors and unified operations for database mining from video, access control, intrusion, fire and other systems offer a world of opportunity for today’s security director.

So here’s an early toast to 2014: The year of network video.

For more perspective on the tipping point from analog to video, read this recent coverage on the subject from Securityinfowatch. com.

Security Analytics Thwart Retail Theft, But Tell Us So Much More

For one department store, it seemed like business as usual as shoppers perused the racks of merchandise, picking out the latest fashions. But in the security office, the person on duty was alerted to an anomaly — on a merchandising display, an entire section of high-priced jeans had been removed quickly. Was this an overzealous shopper looking to try on multiple pairs, or someone from an organized retail theft ring sweeping up inventory?

In this specific scenario, an officer was made aware of this potential incident through the deployment of video analytics as part of the company’s overall surveillance plan and was able to respond quickly. The retailer had established a set of rules within the system’s software so an alert would be issued if more than half the inventory on that rack was removed in less than one minute —  a common scenario known as “shelf sweep” when shoplifters are at work.

The same analytics that are deployed for high-risk security settings, such as airports and government buildings, are equally at home in a retail setting. Security Analytics Retail: Tyco Security ProductsLike the shelf-sweep rule, similar guidelines can be created so a security officer can be alerted when someone enters a storeroom after hours or when an object, like a package, is left in one place for too long.

But what is equally exciting is that, because of the nature of analytics and its information-gathering abilities, its applications can go well beyond the security realm and become a boon to other store personnel.

Retailers who have included analytics in their security systems to both detect incidents as they happen and aid in forensic investigations of thefts, slip and falls and other activities, are expanding the reach of this investment and applying it to merchandising, marketing and operations.

After all, these cameras are operating 24/7 so why not take this database of information and look at it in the aggregate?

Let’s go back to that department store and see how analytics can help sell some handbags. Data supplied by the point-of-sale system will tell the store operator how many designer purses have sold, but not how many potential sales of those handbags there were on a given day.

By using the video system, the store can track how many people came through the doors (the total pool of potential buyers), and then break it down even further, using rules within the analytics to narrow down how many people walked down the aisle where the handbags were merchandised and then how many of those shoppers lingered for more than five minutes at the display. This information, teamed with the POS data, can now give that store’s manager a conversion rate on the sale of her designer handbags.

Armed with the knowledge of how many bags were sold vs. how many people stopped to look at them, it may mean that the purses are in a great spot or, if the conversion rate is poor, this is an indicator that the bags need to be displayed elsewhere or the signage improved or the price reduced. Analytics won’t read the minds of the shoppers, but the data can provide a good snapshot of what occurred within the store. Using analytics to determine traffic numbers and patterns can aid in where to locate merchandise and even help set the number of checkouts needed on a given day.

From a security standpoint, analytics in video surveillance is a necessary part of doing business, but by expanding the potential of its use, the entire retail operation can benefit — deploying the same equipment, but just tweaking the data to fit each users’ needs.  It can be win-win for both security and operations, and who doesn’t like that?

For more on the role of video analytics as part of a retail security solution, download our recent white paper on Video Analytics in Retail.


Download The Video Analytics White Paper

Live Video Monitoring or Recording?

Live Video MonitoringAs IP video continues to gain traction in security, the capabilities of the technology are challenging some established guidelines of when to record video and when to monitor live video. Along with the technology, these standards have evolved to encompass a host of different scenarios, satisfying the diverse needs of end users in a variety of applications – from casinos and hospitals to parking garages and sports stadiums, and more.

There is little argument that the decision to monitor live video vs. record for forensic purposes should be based on the value of the assets being protected. In casinos, for example, the high cash value of potential losses makes it an easy pick for live monitoring, whereas your average commercial office building generally relies on recorded video.

Depending on the specific needs of the application, another important factor to consider is the deployment of video analytics, which can add more sophisticated levels of efficiencies and automation.

As such, many employ video recorded on motion, which reduces bandwidth consumption and the high storage costs associated with storing hundreds of hours of continuous recording each week. In some scenarios, however, this could negatively affect your security operations.

Take this example of a large urban hospital. With about 1,600 cameras all set to record on motion, the video management system was logging in excess of one million events per day. The sheer number of alarms overwhelmed security staff, and became a waste of time to attempt to clear them all, rendering the information useless.

While it’s true that a scene with little activity will produce a very small amount of data, there are a lot of variables to take into consideration. Take the difference between a camera view of an empty asphalt parking lot vs. that same parking lot shaded with many surrounding trees. The empty scene, where changes from frame to frame would be minimal, would typically produce a camera stream of as little as 0.5Mbps. In contrast, moving objects, such as leaves blowing in the wind as in the tree-filled scene, as well as low-light or shadowy conditions even during daylight hours, can havesignificant ramifications on the use of motion detection, increasing the amount of data streamed to up to 10Mbps.

Lighting is a key consideration when employing video motion detection to save on storage costs. Modern mini-dome cameras, with their own onboard IR illuminators, are typically able to counteract low-light conditions. The additional cost for the IR functionality will be more than compensated by the savings in storage and potential equipment wear and tear that can be a consequence of inadequate lighting.

As in the hospital example, trying to manage and record such a significant flow of information, particularly from high-resolution cameras, can have serious ramifications on equipment health.Triggered by factors such as poor lighting or improperly configured equipment, these large and sporadic rushes of data sent to a recording device, known as thrashing, cause it to repeatedly start and stop writing, which can significantly shorten the hard drive’s life span. Over time, this weakens the recorder’s ability to function properly.

For the hospital, an analysis of the facility’s alarm activity showed the best solution would be a hybrid approach – using motion-based recording on a scheduled basis only during certain times of the day and only on certain cameras.

In areas where analytics are deployed, the same hybrid approach can also apply very successfully. A large sports stadium that sees more than 50,000 people enter its gates within a 12-18 hour window on game day can also be easily overwhelmed with event alarms from the video management system. Simply by identifying on which cameras it was necessary to continuously record as well as monitor and during what time periods, situations of excessive alarm events can be avoided and managed successfully.

Striking that balance between continuous and motion-based recording takes a little more setup on the front end but can save in the long run on hardware wear and tear – and, ultimately, lower your cost of ownership.

 

How are you utilizing your security equipment to lower your cost of ownership? Please leave me a comment below.