The security week that was: 02/20/09

Chicago proves the integration concept

Chicago’s video surveillance system is always a system that other cities review when considering implementing municipal surveillance on their own streets. Being especially robust, with a high number of cameras, some active monitoring and a tie-in to the city and regional emergency operations center, it’s no wonder Chicago has become a role model for city surveillance. Now the city is taking it one step further and creating additional value.

On Thursday, Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley announced that the city had completed updates to its Computer Aided Dispatch systems; the CAD system is the one which coordinates dispatch for police, fire and EMS services when 911 calls come in. The upgrade involved the integration of the Chicago “Operation Virtual Shield” camera system into the 911 dispatch center. The move automates the system such that when a 911 call is received, it uses the Enhanced 911 location data to automatically bring up any city security camera that’s within 150 feet. The ability gives the dispatcher immediate information on the scenario unfolding around the 911 call, and allows that extra information obtained from viewing live video to be relayed to the first responders.

“Chicago is the first big city in the nation to have integrated its camera network into 911 operations, and it greatly enhances not only our Homeland Security strategy, but also our ability to fight crime,” said Daley in announcing the major CAD-OVS integration.

In the corporate/commercial side of the industry, we constantly here about vendor partnerships which allows access and alarm systems to directly interface with video from DVRs or a network camera system. This Chicago example is proof that it can work on an even more challenging and important level.

Video analytics: Being realistic
Plus a look at an upcoming conference on video content analysis

During the Milestone Systems “MIPS” conference (see my conference report) last week in Las Vegas, speaker Stan Schatt, vice president at ABI Research, gave a status report on video analytics. He said, “Analytics is not dead, but it almost killed itself because companies over-promised and under-delivered.” Fortunately, most of the players in the video analytics space are being realistic about what video content analytics can do these days, and they now have verifiable case studies that are proving the value of this technology. But sometimes, claims make it to the press that still fall into the “over-promising” category.

Take this story about a research project on analytics that was funded in the UK. The story sources the partners as saying the analytics could be able to track a person by unique elements of their T-shirt or spot the nervous people on a subway platform who are about to commit suicide. Do we really think we are even close to being able to tell who the potential suicides are? Or that we could track some guy because he’s wearing the Guinness beers logo on his shirt? As an industry advocate and journalist, it troubles me to here such claims get picked up in the wide press, because it shows that we have a long way to go until we can be realistic about the value of this technology -- and there is definitely value!

Speaking of video content analytics, I want to make everyone in our industry, including integrators and vendors, aware of the Video Content Analysis Conference - North America, which is coming up on March 10th and 11th in Miami, Fla. Brought to you by IMS Conferences (part of the same company that also has the IMS Research division – an insightful research group whose reports are worth paying attention to). The conference is setting out to provide realistic case study types of information, plus roundtable panels on how to fit analytics into your integration business and into your corporate/government security plan. I’m volunteering to chair a panel or two at this conference, and we’re going to get down to brass tacks. The overall content line-up looks very good. Please join us if your schedule permits.

In other news
Toledo low-voltage rule, Covert camera costs $2.75 million, Moog buys Videolarm, GE Security update

Doing work in Toledo, Ohio? Then you should learn about a proposal to require an additional permit/license for doing low-voltage work in that town. … Before you install your next covert camera, read this story about how a California town had to settle a lawsuit for $2.75 million because they installed a covert camera in a police locker room. … Videolarm, a surveillance camera and accessories manufacturer, has been acquired by Moog. … GE Security announced a revamp of some of their video surveillance product lines.

Finally, we close with a look at the most read stories of the week: