Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Intelligence at the edge

In today’s world it is almost impossible to speak with a security officer, installer or system integrator who is not familiar with the term “Intelligent Video”.

During the past years Intelligent Video has become an integral part of almost any security related system design. Security consultants, system integrators and end users have come to understand the limitations of the human factor, and are looking for a reliable and robust solution to perform automated human behavior tracking.

The data received from the vast number of security cameras and Digital Video Recorder (DVR) installations that needs to be recorded and investigated has become so impossibly complex, making efficient management and control unattainable. Today’s Intelligent Video solutions filter out irrelevant information, allowing the user to focus only on relevant events. A reliable decision making process based on relevancy has finally made its entry.

With today’s growing interest in Intelligent Video and its applications, serious players in the security market try to identify Intelligent Video companies for collaboration purposes. HSE spoke with Mr. Boris Bachman, Head of Product Management at MATE Intelligent Video to find out how the Intelligent Video solution target market needs.

HSE. So what is Intelligent Video actually?

BB. Intelligent Video (IV) is a technology that allows for the analysis of video information plus the tracking, detecting and classifying of specific events. Intelligent Video is used for security, safety, access control and retail applications.

In addition to solving various problems, Intelligent Video includes various vertical market applications that were not applicable previously. For example in the security segment Intelligent Video identifies potential threats and intrusions, and in access control Intelligent Video detects unauthorized personnel entering or tailgating into a restricted area. In the retail market Intelligent Video allows the user to analyze behavior pattern, resulting in increased revenues, plus Intelligent Video provides detailed counts for both people and cars.

HSE. Why is Intelligent Video so important?

BB. Intelligent Video, as opposed to the traditional CCTV system, allows the security personnel to not only record and then watch the crime or intrusion after it has taken place, but to accurately detect intrusions in real time, making video surveillance a pro-active tool instead of re-active one.

HSE. Can Intelligent Video replace a security guard?

BB. Intelligent Video does not come to replace the security staff but to ease the security personnel's work and increase their efficiency by providing them with investigative tools and assisting them to focus on events that require attention.

HSE. Is Intelligent Video really such a big change when compared to the classic Video Motion Detection (VMD) solutions?

BB. IV solutions’ performance is by far superior when compared to the traditional video motion detection. To name but one drawback of the classic VMD solution is its inability to recognize static objects that are added to the scene, objects that are removed from the scene, or slow-moving objects.

Another disadvantage of the traditional Video Motion Detection is its dependency on movement to perform its detection. Consequently the VMD solution is prone to false alarms caused by natural causes or events, i.e. the waving of a flag on its pole, or a bird flying through the security perimeter.

Intelligent Video utilizes motion-tracking methods that reduce irrelevant pixel changes in the video recording. Content analysis determines whether the monitored activity constitutes a threat. Via advanced algorithms the software identifies and catalogs objects and events with a precision that is unmatched in the past.

To come back to the original question, the intelligent video solution offers not only capabilities that outshine the classic VMD solution, but the utilization of IV will also impact positively the bottom line by saving time and related operational cost of human operators.

HSE. What types of solutions does Intelligent Video provide?

BB. Intelligent Video provides various solutions including loitering detection, tailgating prevention, object removal detection, and people and car counting. Intelligent Video can be used in a variety of markets enhancing the surveillance system of each facility according to its specific needs.

We at MATE recognize three main vertical markets, each with its typical specific needs: Homeland Security, Commercial and Retail. Our video analytics enable us to offer tailored solutions for each of these markets. For instance, for retailers the "people counting" solution would be used for providing business critical information helping them understand shopping patterns, at banks loitering detection would be used in ATM rooms for improved security, etc.

HSE. Do you have to replace the entire CCTV system and Install an intelligent one?

BB. Not necessarily. It depends of course on what Intelligent Video system one would choose. As a general rule, any surveillance system can be upgraded rather than replaced. In fact, not only can CCTV or DVR system be upgraded, but in actuality, any single analogue or IP camera can become an Intelligent Video device. MATE's solutions are designed to upgrade almost any existing CCTV or DVR system, adding MATE intelligence. Our solutions are easy to install and cost-effective.

HSE. What about a management system? Do you have to replace it?

BB. Of course not. One of MATE's main efforts was to develop an open platform. All MATE products and solutions can be easily integrated with 3rd party management systems.

In addition, MATE currently offers integrated solutions with major DVR vendors such as American Dynamics, Dedicated Micros, DVTel and others.

HSE. What does a company need to consider when choosing an Intelligent Video solution?

BB. If the company is looking to upgrade its surveillance system, I believe the main factor it should look at is the ease of use... i.e. how easy it would be to install the Intelligent Video system and integrate it within its current CCTV system.
An additional factor would be the functionality the Intelligent Video system offers. MATE offers dedicated solutions. A company that has a specific need does not have to purchase expensive, complicated Intelligent Video systems to answer its specific need. For example we provide the iSense product which is a flow counting sophisticated edge device instead of providing a complex Intelligent Video combiner. This allows us to create a much more flexible solution for our customers tailored to their needs.

HSE. We hear a lot about "moving intelligence to the edge". What does this mean and why is it important?

BB. Moving intelligence to the edge refers to putting the video content analysis capabilities near where the video is generated or at the edge of the IP video network. This can be inside of the camera itself or within a video detection unit that is installed close to the camera. The main benefits for moving intelligence to the edge is a reduction in hardware components and the ability to reduce or eliminate the transmission of video until an alarm has been generated. The greatest impact can be seen in applications like people counting and tailgating detection. For people counting it is really unnecessary to transmit the video, it is the counting data that is important. For tailgating, the relevant video is created at the point of the tailgating event. Thus by using analytics at the edge for counting and tailgating detection you eliminate the unnecessary transmission and storage of video which has no security relevance. Of course, "edge" technologies come with the normal distance limitations of the network which is 100m for Ethernet.

HSE. Looking forward, what kind of untapped potential do you see?

BB. Nobody has a looking glass, but everything points to the fact that Intelligent Video will lead the video surveillance market. Adding millions of new cameras and DVRs will create a serious problem for security personnel who would face the need to analyze an enormous amount of video feeds. Using Intelligent Video and thus filtering irrelevant events out and focusing on data that requires attention only will make processing the flood of data possible. Since the need is huge and the solution is reliable it will make the migration to Intelligent Video a priority for anybody concerned about security. Companies such as MATE who offer integrated Intelligent Video solutions will mostly benefit from that.