Intelligence and Convergence: Leading the way at ASIS

I ought to have been in Dallas for ASIS Sunday afternoon, but an ill wind grounded all flights out of Orlando and kept me away until Monday night. I showed up at the convention center yesterday morning ready to make up for lost time. One look at the show floor and I knew that would be impossible, unless I could jog from booth to booth and restrict my interviews to five yes or no questions apiece. I fully expected to have a disjointed show experience, rushing to view myriad different technologies with little relation to one another. So I was amazed when, after only a few appointments, I began to spot some trends at this year's show.

The first is a continued expansion of offerings in intelligent video surveillance. Some call it content analysis, some call it behavior detection-basically it encompasses software solutions that analyze video based on programmed rules and that alarm when those rules are violated. This isn't new on the floor; Cernium and Nice have been offering this capability for several years. But the presence of intelligent video technology is growing, due in good part to homeland security concerns.

Companies that have exhibited with this technology before all have news year. Cernium (Booth 2862) introduced a new version of its Perceptrak solution at the show this year. Perceptrak 3.0 incorporates behavior recognition into a video management suite, and it offers more advanced, user-defined rules than its predecessor. Nice (Booth 1927) announced that its solutions will now protect the Statue of Liberty. ObjectVideo (Booth 3542) unveiled a partnership with Texas Instruments by which ObjectVideo's content analysis will run directly on TI's DSP-based digital media processors.

And there is at least one newcomer into the field as well. Monday marked the official launch of Vidient, a spin-off of CA-based NEC labs. Vidient's SmartCatch software has been in use in beta form at several high-profile facilities including the San Francisco International Airport. Vidient already has preferred provider status with Sony, from whose booth they are displaying their product during the show.

The other trend I noticed early on had to do not with new technologies, but with new methodology. As I spoke with vendors and consultants at the show, the impact of convergence shone clear in every discussion. Among others, Bill Wayman of TVA Fire & Life Safety and Tom Doggett of SAFLINK stressed the importance not only of the convergence of divergent systems, but of the convergence of the management structures that oversee those systems. As technology and its interrelations become more complex, the need for careful planning, communication between departments and extensive knowledge of the facility and its needs becomes clearer. Even the technology-centric exhibit hall cannot escape the true management implications of convergence!