Security as a service: How video analytics is changing the industry

With security becoming an ever more important consideration for many organizations, there is a growing trend for outsourcing security and guarding responsibilities to third party providers. This is not only true for large enterprises and critical infrastructure facilities; schools, smaller factories, offices and construction sites are all examples of customers who are increasingly enlisting the help of security services specialists to keep their premises safe instead of relying on traditional burglar alarms.

For the security providers, this means they are looking after a growing customer base – and they need to do so efficiently and reliably, while keeping their own staff safe, too.

When thinking of a video surveillance center, large rooms with dozens of monitors spring to mind. How can a handful of human operators possibly keep an eye on all the parallel video streams at the same time, and not miss a single important event?

The answer is that many security centers are now turning to video analytics to help them do their job. Video analytics can provide human-caliber observational reach across as many cameras as there are installed at any given site, and across multiple sites simultaneously. This efficiency not only reduces staff requirements but improves accuracy and enables real-time surveillance in a virtually unlimited way. Today, there are video analytics tools to monitor a wide range of specific activities – they include tools for intrusion detection, facial recognition, license plate recognition, and people counting. Analytics tools can also improve forensic search with object classification for people, animals, and vehicles. These advanced algorithms can quickly identify and interpret scenes, often faster and certainly on a greater scale than a human.

One of the largest guarding companies in the world is already using video analytics to support its operators and as a backup for patrolling guards. Some smaller, specialized companies are even using the technology as the foundation for their entire business of providing security and remote guarding as a service.

With the help of strategically placed network video cameras and advanced video analytics, fewer operators can monitor more and larger installations 24/7, and they can react more quickly and adequately to incidents. Automatic alerts flag suspicious events in real time, including a person moving in or near restricted areas, loitering, or someone trying to tamper with property, including the video cameras themselves.

Once the video analytics application has alerted an operator about an incident, the operator can verify the alarm before sending a security guard. This way the number of false alarms and unnecessary emergency responses is kept down, and the guards can focus on the areas where they are needed most.

Sometimes, the only response to an incident that is required is to deter the intruder by letting him know he is being watched and recorded on camera. Connected horn speakers allow the operator to address the intruder, while the cameras transmit the intruder’s reaction. Not having to send out a guard in these instances can saves hundreds of dollars – a saving that is ultimately passed on to the end customer.

Video analytics applications are developing fast, and they are changing the way the security industry works. They are not going to replace security guards entirely, though – ultimately, it is always up to the operator to validate any alarms raised, and make the right decision on how to react.