Analytics Driving Transition in Video

The future of video is now.

Flow Analysis. This tool learns typical flow patterns in a busy store, airport or other public area. It will recognize when the flow pattern is disrupted. For instance, it would record and store an event where someone is walking in the opposite direction of the traffic flow.

Other, more complex analytics are still being refined and perfected.

Facial Recognition. This software recognizes facial structures as an authentication mechanism in cooperative access control situations where an employee allows a match of his or her face with an existing photo. While facial recognition can be useful in non-cooperative or passive situations, such as scanning individuals passing through choke points, it is still being fully developed and polished.

Behavior Anomalies. Software that looks for behavior that is out of the norm is now being developed. For example, software is being developed to tell when someone is running, fighting or acting overly agitated.

These are just some of the available video analytics tools. Many more have been and are being developed. The value of these technologies is not just that the software learns to analyze situations and triggers the DVR to record them. It also describes the captured video and then distributes these descriptions (called metadata) for storage and analysis. In perimeter protection, for example, the software “sees” something cross the tripwire, records and compresses the video, and labels it with a description such as “car enters perimeter.” Using a protected Web site, these databases can be centralized and easily shared.

The advantages of gathering video using analytics are enormous. Analytics ensure that only relevant activities are recorded or forwarded. As a result, less video is transferred and stored. That requires less bandwidth and less disk space. And since the storage and handling of large amounts of video can be burdensome, analytics help keep the volume of recorded video to a minimum and can justify maintaining only “video of interest.”

Another major benefit of analytics is more efficient forensic processing. The retrieval of relevant video becomes much easier. It no longer takes a security officer hours to find the video clips of a car or cars passing through the tripwire over an extended period of time. With analytics, the video is already labeled in a data file and can be retrieved with ease. This is a huge time saver.

Analytics are at the forefront of a dramatic transition in video monitoring and in the security industry in general. The capabilities of analytics are rapidly changing. Over the next few years, changes will come even more quickly. New algorithms will produce more sophisticated software capable of learning patterns and distinguishing behaviors. Prices will fall as algorithms become embedded in more solutions. The sharing of video will become easier. Over the next three years, video will be used increasingly for applications other than security.

Businesses will outsource data analysis and storage to take advantage of highly specialized analytics on demand without incurring the total cost. Complex post analytics will be completed on existing video for specific analysis. All of this means that analytics will continue to push the explosion in video and the information we can gather. Video solutions will be smarter and more efficient. The business of security will look very different from five years ago. It will be based on business applications and will allow for more effective security solutions that are specific to each end user's needs.

Nicholas Samanich is director of strategic product planning for ADT Security Services Inc.