Video Image Analysis for Perimeter Protection
Once you have identified the vulnerabilities your company or facility faces, a system design that addresses the vulnerabilities is crucial. A key issue facing security managers today is the scalability of the security system. Not only does the system need to scale to address one or more facilities, it needs to do it in a way that does not require significant increases in staff. This is where machine vision automation can really help.
Thanks to vast progress in computer-processing horsepower, multiple CPUs can now be put into one computer, which allows for a significant amount of image analysis to take place — up to 16 times more than was available just a couple of years ago. This technological leap now makes it economically feasible to apply advanced image processing techniques for intrusion detection, recognition and tracking that only federal armed forces could afford less then a decade ago.
Video image processing or “video analytics” is an advanced tool used in some security systems to automatically analyze video feed for a number of characteristics and patterns. It combines a number of inputs from cameras, radars and fence-detection systems, automatically detecting, evaluating, ranking and reporting potential threats. This automation alleviates the security guard of an impossible (and unscalable) task of manually monitoring hundreds of cameras across many kilometers of fence line. Systems like this can help automate the process of threat assessment. A legitimate threat is one that has the capacity and intent to do harm.
Video analytic systems detect moving objects of significance while ignoring motion due to changes in light and weather. These systems also classify objects into a variety of groups, including people, cars, trucks, etc., and they are now combined with behavioral analytics, which go to the intent of the intruder by noting deviations from expected behavior. This provides a very effective way to monitor for specific types of events, and has great value in terms of reaction, giving your security team a chance to be proactive rather than simply reactive.
In addition to visible-light video streams, video analytics can typically detect and track objects using infrared and thermal camera video streams. These cameras can see in the dark without the use of lights, and can to some extent see through fog, which other cameras cannot.
But perhaps the biggest breakthrough in beyond-the-fence protection comes from the combination of video analytics with a Geological Information System (GIS). This design element helps security personnel to immediately assess how close the threat is, how fast it is moving and in what direction it is going. The military has been using this type of technology for many years, and cities and states have used GIS for surveying, but now it is economically feasible for use in security.
Thanks to the ability to locate objects and people geographically, the size and mass of the intruder may be determined. Something or someone approaching a camera straight on does not look like it is moving, and since most systems rely solely on motion, an intruder could easily slow or escape detection. Only a few companies are pursuing methods of locating both moving and non-moving objects, which increases the probability of detecting an approaching target at significant distances. Additionally, the ability to geo-locate threats is rare: virtually 90 percent of vendors do not have such capabilities.
If properly considered, a positioned, integrated, sensor system — which includes ground surveillance radar, video analytics and geo-spatial abilities — gives the security professional a viable chance to interdict and respond to a threat.
Larry Bowe is general manager of ICx Vision Systems, a business unit of ICx Technologies.