New Paradigm with Surveillance Getting More out of Cameras

San Diego airport among many turning to video analytics to use CCTV more efficiently

The software is part of a larger trend in which computers and networks are used in conjunction with physical security measures, such as fences and locks.

The first combination of physical security with computer networks emerged in the 1970s with the advent of video camera feeds from ATMs, said Steve Hunt, president of 4A International, a Chicago security research and consulting firm.

The U.S. defense industry had done some of the early work on making software that could recognize not just humans and vehicles, but their specific behavior.

It wasn't until the early 2000s that computer technology became powerful enough and affordable for video analytic software to become a security product within reach of smaller government agencies and private businesses.

Some of the systems being installed at government agencies are being paid for with grant monies.

The city of San Diego's Metropolitan Wastewater Department installed video analytics software at its major sewage pump station in 2005. The pump station, located among overgrown plants in a field, had been a target for vandals until the city installed Perceptrak, video analytics software made by St. Louis-based Cernium.

The wastewater department received a $142,000 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant to install new cameras and video analytics software at three other major pump stations, said department spokesman Michael Scahill. Much of the 180 million daily gallons of sewage in the region flows through these pump stations.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to install new video cameras, along with analytics software, at its trolley station near the Mexican border, said transit spokesman Luis Gonzalez. He said the project is expected to be completed this fall.

SeaWorld uses its video analytics software to monitor along the bay, said Reed, of Electro Specialty, who installed Cernium's Perceptrak system for the amusement park. Reed said San Diego State University has contracted with him to install the software on its campus. SeaWorld would not discuss its use of video analytics. SDSU said only that video analytics are not now in use on its campus.

Other institutions nationwide that are using video analytics software include ports, hospitals, banks, subways and railroads.

Brooks McChesney, president and chief executive of Vidient Systems, a Sunnyvale, Calif., company whose software is used at Lindbergh Field, said that in the future, video analytics software will be used with other digital security measures, such as card-key entry systems, for a more complete picture of breaches. The software could detect a second person sneaking in behind someone with an authorized card key and work with the card-key system to identify the badge holder. "What you can see starting to happen is the integration of various security devices," he said.

Halverson, at Frost and Sullivan, said the industry's prospects are driven by the need to improve security, the availability of higher quality digital cameras at lower costs and the promise of reducing labor costs by freeing security guards from constantly monitoring video.

"Video analytics is expected to experience strong growth as the demand for its capabilities drives the technology and makes it more common in everyday use," Halverson said.

Copyright 2006 Copley News Service

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