Video analytics - benefits explained 
 Are we about to see the first true
breakthrough for video analytics

Daniel Wan, Channel Marketing Leader UK at Honeywell Security Group, assesses the development of video analytics from a perceived premium add-on to a cost-effective and key component in video surveillance and several other security applications. Its proven benefits in perimeter protection, increasing the efficiency of manned guarding services and the ROI it delivers, particularly in preventive security, shows that video analytics is indeed a technology whose time has finally come.

False dawns with mass acceptance of video analytics

Since the very first so-called "video analytics" systems were introduced, the technology has experienced a number of false dawns in terms of its acceptance as a reliable and cost-effective addition to traditional video surveillance tools.  Although predicted as a significant growth area in the security industry for many years, the wide adoption of analytics has not materialised for a number of reasons. 

Early manufacturers made impressive claims for their solutions, often over-promising on what systems were able to deliver and causing customer dissatisfaction in the process. These solutions were usually created by start-up companies and were focused only on delivering video analytics. As a consequence, they were incapable of being effectively integrated with other components or disciplines in real-world security applications. This also resulted in many early systems being installed on a trial-only basis, with customers often unwilling to pay a premium for the new technology.

Benefit of video analytics in transport applications

The use of video analytics in the transport sector has evolved beyond fulfilling basic security needs to include advanced features such as traffic monitoring functions and detection of left-behind luggage within transport hubs.

On a basic level, the ability of video analytics to identify the movement and speed of vehicles (and people), as opposed to other spurious objects, lends the technology to monitoring of perimeters and suspicious behaviour within defined areas. Clearly, there is a requirement for security alerts where there is a danger of cars or pedestrians entering hazardous or restricted zones, such as railway tracks.

 Honeywell lost luggage
 Even a lone bag can become a significant
threat if left unattended at an

Unclaimed/ orphaned luggage poses a significant security threat in airports and railway stations and, as such, has become an area of increasing interest for transport operators and governments. Again, the Home Office's Imagery Library for Intelligent Detection Systems (i-LIDS) certification contains a specific scenario relating to detection and tracking of objects. Video analytics can alert transport operators to packages left within a scene, which otherwise may go undetected in the midst of multiple CCTV screens. Similarly, the software can highlight instances of theft, where objects have been removed from a scene.

 Growth of video analytics in the CCTV market

Recently, a number of factors have contributed to an increase in interest and demand, enabling video analytics to be reconsidered as a viable video surveillance option. The growing transition from analogue to networked CCTV surveillance has seen a wider acceptance of digital solutions, including analytics, leading to further benefits in terms of being able to monitor and manage systems from remote locations. 

More importantly, end users and security system integrators were historically unable to refer to a standard, or accreditation, for analytics systems in order to judge their effectiveness before purchase. This was the case until the introduction of the Home Office's i-LIDS certification.

i-LIDS is the UK government's benchmark standard for video analytics technology and is awarded to security products judged to have met the stringent criteria specified by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) in the development of video-based detection systems for government use.

Manufacturers meeting the highest level of performance classification receive the i-LIDS accreditation, which is the first real independent measure of the quality and functionality of a video analytics system.

Improving efficacy and efficiency of manned guarding services 

 Honeywell solution
 The time has come to view video
analytics as a
way of improving the
performance of your security staff

When the costs of manned guarding and operators are considered, it's tempting when assessing video analytics to assume that the number of security staff can be immediately reduced by introducing the technology. Perhaps it's more appropriate to view video analytics as a way to improve the efficiency of operators and security guards. 

It has been proven that CCTV operators begin to miss significant events after monitoring video footage for more than twenty to thirty minutes. This effect is multiplied by the large number of screens that operators are now required to monitor in a control room environment. Analytics can be used to assist in highlighting notable events, thereby allowing operators to do what they do best: deciding whether an incident is suspicious or not. Security functions can therefore handle more CCTV cameras more effectively with their existing staff. The job of monitoring is also made more stimulating, removing the need to constantly survey a wall of video screens for long periods.

In replacing security guards with yet more cameras, the net effect is to create more footage and screens for the operators to monitor. Supporting the guards with analytics provides the ability to switch guards to mobile patrols based on analytics incidents, thus covering a larger area more effectively and responding to real incidents more quickly, rather than just following a routine guard tour. Above all, video analytics also enables security teams to highlight potential risk situations that are taking place and have patrols pre-empt and prevent incidents rather than just respond after an incident has occurred.

Perimeter protection, video analytics' core competency

There are numerous video analytics packages available in the market today, all offering a multitude of capabilities, and not always linked to security. However, the majority of installed systems have focused on one of video analytics' core competencies: perimeter protection.

Above all, video analytics also enables security teams to highlight potential risk situations that are taking place and have patrols pre-empt and prevent incidents

Perimeter protection systems can supplement fences, or replace external PIRs, seismic detectors, etc., allowing the user to identify specific areas where intruders will be identified. Potentially this includes virtual ‘fence' lines that will trigger an alarm when an intruder climbs over it (rather than when a guard patrols along it), tripwires that trigger when crossed in specific directions, and alert areas, such as nearby roads, which will trigger if a car-sized object dwells in them for too long. Combining these rules ensures that only suspicious behaviours trigger the security alarms and not spurious objects such as the local wildlife or weather related effects.

Eliminating such false security alarms in a sterile zone is a primary test in the HOSDB's evaluation of video analytics systems. This specific scenario continues to be a much demanded i-LIDS accreditation as increasing numbers of end users and integrators realise the performance and cost benefits of video analytics in perimeter detection type applications.

Return on investment on video analytics

Although attracted by the benefits of video analytics, security managers have always faced challenges in justifying the investment in what has been perceived as a premium technology. One method of providing a clear return on investment (ROI) is to look at the existing costs for a business, or its losses.

Prevention is almost always cheaper than cure. Analytics' ability to highlight suspicious behaviour and let operators react to and prevent them from turning into incidents rather than just reviewing video to help catch suspects after the event, can provide quick returns in avoiding loss and damage.

 Honeywell logo Daniel Wan
Channel Marketing Leader UK
Honeywell Security Group
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