Successful video analytics deployment depends on two things: understanding when and why to use it and then deploying successfully. An in-depth understanding on how video surveillance will be used will directly impact how successful the deployment will be. Here are 10 questions to ask to ensure successful video analytics deployment:
1. What does the customer want from the system?
This is number 1 for a reason, understanding and managing customer expectations is the most important step to ensure that the final delivered system performs as expected. Reviewing and documenting customer expectations in terms of coverage area, detail capture and response protocols will help in the selection of proper cameras and equipment.
2. What types of rules will be used?
Simple rules, like detecting a person present in a given area offer lots of flexibility in terms of camera placement. More specific rules, like direction of travel, might restrict camera placement options. For example, movement of a person left to right in a field of view is going to be more visually apparent than a person walking directly to a camera’s field of view. Both deployment options are acceptable, but the camera positioned to see the object traveling left-to-right will tend to react faster or require less movement by the object in order for the rule to trigger.
3. What are the high-value assets and locations?
The return on investment of securing high-value property is immeasurable. In many cases protection can be established more cost effectively if there is flexibility in the storage location of particular assets. Grouping high-risk items in proximity to each other can potentially reduce the requirement to cover an entire property, making the system more cost effective or affordable. This also makes monitoring easier. Sometimes the best designs are a combination of technology and recommendations to make the physical site itself easier to secure.
4. What is the lighting performance?
Many times analytics are being used for perimeter protection and the risk of loss can be higher at night. Cameras see light and more light tends to make for a better image. It is important to know how the site’s lighting is set up and to make sure you’re getting good light coverage where you expect advanced analytics to perform. Some cameras may offer things like “sensitivity up,” or “moonlight mode,” which can lead you to believe an insufficient lighting arrangement can be made workable. However, these features often result in a tradeoff between a grainy image or a slow shutter speed, resulting in a video feed that cannot be accurately analyzed. Understand the illumination requirements of your equipment so that you can ensure on-site lighting meets these requirements.
5. What are weather conditions on site?
Extreme weather such as bright sunlight, glare, wind and rain/snow can impact the accuracy and reliability of surveillance systems. If customers have surveillance needs where extreme weather is common, it might make sense to position cameras closer to the target areas (reducing the chances of weather interference in the shot), add additional lighting or stabilize mounting poles to reduce camera sway or movement in high winds.
6. What are possible obstructions?
In order for analytics to “see” objects, they need to actually be able to see the object! Sometimes simple things like trees or bushes can block part of a shot, other times it’s vehicles parked at a car dealership, or piles of materials at a scrap metal recycling facility. A single camera can cover several hundred feet of perimeter, so it is important to make sure your coverage isn’t cut short by an obstruction. Camera placement for analytics deployments will take the entire site into consideration and sometimes require moving a camera location to get the best view.
7. How is the system calibrated and maintained?
Systems that require extensive manual calibration and setup will be more difficult and expensive to maintain over time. Many times users only realize their system needed additional calibration after a theft or event has occurred.
8. What are the camera placement restrictions?
Restrictions on camera placement locations can affect the design. Sometimes these restrictions are governed by other site safety criteria, as in refinery or electrical substation sites, other times they are simply a cost trade-off. It’s important to know beforehand if there are any site-specific criteria that will limit camera placement options.
9. What’s the Internet connectivity at the protected premises?
Video analytics are typically deployed in scenarios where there is some kind of live monitoring, either by a third party central station or end user. In order for events to reach the operators in a timely manner and for those operators to view video or interact via audio talk-down, you will need Internet connectivity at the site. Alarm sending and live video viewing rely on the upstream bandwidth (data going out of the site), which is usually lower than the downstream bandwidth and frequently glossed over in ISP specs. Ensure that the upstream bandwidth can sustain at least 500Kbps, and that the data usage contracts do not limit usage. A typical site will use about 4 to 8GB per month in data transfer, assuming six cameras and a moderate amount of activity and live viewing. Static IPs for the Internet connection are not strictly required, but will make life easier. Many ISPs offer a static IP option for around $10 or $20 per month; it’s a wise choice if that option is available.
10. What options are available to handle false alarms?
A good analytics system can do more than simply classify objects as “yes” or “no.” Ideally we strive for zero false alarms, but there are a wide variety of scenarios encountered and better/more accurate configuration options can help. You should have precise control over Regions of Interest (the actual part of the field of view where the analytics are applied), the ability to distinguish objects by type (person vs. vehicle) and the ability to have different rules and regions active based on the time of day or the day of the week. This will help ensure the system is not inadvertently triggered by nuisances like animals or by employees during normal working hours.
The writer Brian Karas is the director of Field Engineering for VideoIQ Inc.
Video Analytics hit its stride in 2012
Last year, we’ve seen a lot of growth in analytics in the retail sector,” said Steve Gorski, general manager, Americas, Mobotix. “We attribute that to the significant benefits and return on investment that an IP surveillance solution can provide. Also, retailers are finding that they can leverage IP cameras for uses beyond security and surveillance. With the incorporation of video analytics, video becomes a management tool to optimize business operations. For example, analytics are valuable to gauge staffing levels and measure the number of customers in the store at a given time, dwell times, traffic flow patterns and more. This intelligence enables the cost of a video surveillance system to be spread across multiple departments with a retail organization because now marketing and human resources can tap into the value of video.”
Analytics processing tool
Mobotix announced at its late-year 2012 Partner Conference that the Q24M-Sec hemispheric camera would feature analytics with an integrated MxAnalytics video analysis. MxAnalytics is a processing tool that allows small retail stores as well as public buildings such as museums or airports to receive important information that goes beyond traditional security. The video analytics tools are designed to enhance data processing inside the camera, offering new information sources for process optimization and even marketing purposes.
For example, MxAnalytics makes it possible to monitor people and objects and collect statistical data. Specifically, heat maps provide an analysis made of contour lines in the image, with the camera showing how often each line is passed over within a specified period. The most frequented areas are highlighted in color on a heat map, the results are saved in the camera and can be exported via various interfaces. Video motion analysis can be saved as daily, weekly or monthly reports in a table and exported via various interfaces. This can take place fully automatically and individually for any number of addressees.
More than security
Which shelves in the shop are attracting the most customers? Which products at the exhibition booth hold the attention of the visitors most? Which waiting areas in the departure hall are preferred on Mondays between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m.? Software such as this makes it possible to reliably capture and evaluate the movement of people or objects in the live image.
Using counting lines to count people and objects and generate observation data is another valuable tool. How many people pass by a specific entrance in an hour or a day? And what direction were they coming from?
“The retail market is relying more on video analytic applications than they have in the past,” Gorski said. “Hospitality is another vertical that also finds significant value through the use of video analytics. Casinos, hotels and restaurants can monitor customer traffic efficiently through the use of this technology.”
Intelligence at the edge
The addition of video analytics on surveillance cameras is a growing trend in the market and many manufacturers, including Mobotix, are looking to embed intelligence within their cameras. There are many benefits to incorporating analytics at the edge but most importantly this approach dramatically reduces bandwidth and storage requirements by eliminating the need to send video data across the network to a centralized server.
“With analytics, video becomes a management tool to optimize business operations. For example, analytics can be used to gauge staffing levels and measure the number of customers in the store at a given time, monitor dwell times and traffic flow patterns, and enhance customer service. Adding video analytics turns video data into business intelligence and therefore, this enables departments beyond security and loss prevention to benefit from a surveillance system. Taking that into account, the cost of a video surveillance system can then be divided across multiple departments within an organization because multiple stakeholders, such as marketing and human resources, for example, can tap into the value of video.”