Many organisations use hundreds and even thousands of surveillance cameras on their premises. They are used for crime or loss prevention, to have supporting evidence after the fact, to reduce liability, and to protect their reputation.

The public generally expects that surveillance footage will be available after an incident and therefore it is almost a must to have a camera system. The US alone has over 200 million security cameras already installed with substantial growth anticipated over coming years.

Most expensive camera

A simple answer to this problem would just be to check every camera at least once a day, every day

At any time and without warning, it is possible for problems to arise that affect the view of a camera. Examples include a branch of a tree growing in front of a camera’s view, bugs creating a nest inside a camera dome, condensation accumulating on and around the lens, wind knocking a camera off its axis, malicious tampering with the camera, dirt or mud sticking to the camera, among many others.

When that happens, even the highest quality and most expensive camera will not capture the desired field of view and crucial evidence will be missing. Our survey effort of over 100,000 cameras indicates that at least 50% of cameras in a camera system will have a view problem each year. Theoretically at least, a simple answer to this problem would just be to check every camera at least once a day, every day.

Artificial intelligence software

But for an institution with hundreds or even thousands of cameras, this task is laborious and subject to human error. That’s where Ai-RGUS comes in. Named after the all-seeing giant from Greek mythology, Argus, Ai-RGUS is artificial intelligence software that monitors security cameras and makes sure that they are all working according to a reference image. The ‘i’ in Ai-RGUS is silent, and it indicates that the technology uses AI.

Because the CIO of Duke couldn’t find any software on the market that would solve the problem

It was designed by CEO Daniël Reichman, PhD, and is the continuation of a project that Duke University requested to be developed from Daniël’s lab at Duke while he was completing his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at Duke, in order to help the university keep its then-1,100 cameras in working order. They requested it from their own lab, because the CIO of Duke couldn’t find any software on the market that would solve the problem of verifying the camera views.

Consistent level of verification

Although Duke was conducting regular manual inspections of their cameras, this process was onerous, costly and time-consuming for the team members. Furthermore, it was very burdensome to verify and audit manual inspections to ensure that both a consistent level of verification and to be sure it was regularly done.

The goal was to avoid the situation of finding out a camera was not aimed right or was not recording until they went to access the video for evidentiary purposes… exactly the time you don’t want to find that out! “It’s a huge investment to put up 1,100 cameras,” Daniël Reichman, Ph.D., said, “so they want to make sure that once they have them, they can actually count on having the images from the cameras.”

Camera inspection results

Thanks in part to Ai-RGUS, Duke was able to nearly double its camera system in 2 years

Since 2017, the software is operating successfully at Duke University. Thanks in part to Ai-RGUS, Duke was able to nearly double its camera system in 2 years. Duke’s Office of Information Technology reports that “We spend on average 5 minutes a day to inspect 2,000+ cameras thanks to Ai-RGUS.”

A company spun out of this effort, called Ai-RGUS, with the University as a stakeholder. Ai-RGUS comes with a web dashboard that will allow you to see camera inspection results as well as historical analytics about your cameras system. It has an easy and automated install process and is agnostic to camera system size. It also comes with an API to integrate with your ticketing system. Ai-RGUS keeps security cameras in check by first requiring users to take a reference image that the software will use as the basis for comparison to the current image it sees.

Identifying faulty cameras

Potential problems that Ai-RGUS could identify in an image are blur, tilt, tamper, obstruction, glare, low light and a blank/black screen or feed down. If Ai-RGUS identifies a problem in a camera it will mark it as ‘unwell,’ so its owner can fix it. Ai-RGUS also keeps track of when cameras are habitually ‘unwell’ to help owners to identify faulty cameras for potential replacement.

For security camera owners, it was such a headache to install the cameras"

It’s the kind of thing where you can set it and forget it,” Daniël said. “Ai-RGUS sends you emails when it needs to, it also has an API that can connect to an already existing ticketing system. Otherwise, don’t bother looking at the camera views. The surveillance camera hardware and software space is so complicated and fractured, we’re trying to make it as simple as possible. For security camera owners, it was such a headache to install the cameras. Now we want to make sure the system works as intended.”

Video management software

Ai-RGUS started its commercial efforts in May 2019 and have gained much traction since. The headquarters are still located in Durham, NC, and commercialisation efforts are done from Las Vegas, NV. Among the many partners who signed up and utilise Ai-RGUS are Duke University, the City of Las Vegas, Thomas and Mack, Green Valley Grocery, Temple Beth Sholom, among others; to show that Ai-RGUS is suitable for deployment in many vertical markets.

Now, Ai-RGUS is focusing more on further discussing partnerships with system integrators, distributors, and camera installation services, along with Video Management Software companies, which can include Ai-RGUS at the time of installation or for legacy systems to existing clients as a bonus service.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Managing security during unprecedented times of home working
Managing security during unprecedented times of home working

Companies are following government guidance and getting as many people as possible working from home. Some companies will have resisted home working in the past, but I’m certain that the sceptics will find that people can be productive with the right tools no matter where they are. A temporary solution will become permanent. But getting it right means managing risk. Access is king In a typical office with an on-premise data centre, the IT department has complete control over network access, internal networks, data, and applications. The remote worker, on the other hand, is mobile. He or she can work from anywhere using a VPN. Until just recently this will have been from somewhere like a local coffee shop, possibly using a wireless network to access the company network and essential applications. CV-19 means that huge numbers of people are getting access to the same desktop and files, and collaborative communication toolsBut as we know, CV-19 means that huge numbers of people are getting access to the same desktop and files, applications and collaborative communication tools that they do on a regular basis from the office or on the train. Indeed, the new generation of video conferencing technologies come very close to providing an “almost there” feeling. Hackers lie in wait Hackers are waiting for a wrong move amongst the panic, and they will look for ways to compromise critical servers. Less than a month ago, we emerged from a period of chaos. For months hackers had been exploiting a vulnerability in VPN products from Pulse Secure, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, and Citrix. Patches were provided by vendors, and either companies applied the patch or withdrew remote access. As a result, the problem of attacks died back.  But as companies race to get people working from home, they must ensure special care is taken to ensure the patches are done before switching VPNs on. That’s because remote desktop protocol (RDP) has been for the most part of 2019, and continues to be, the most important attack vector for ransomware. Managing a ransomware attack on top of everything else would certainly give you sleepless nights. As companies race to get people working from home, they must ensure special care is taken to ensure the patches are done before switching VPNs on Hackers are waiting for a wrong move amongst the panic, and they will look for ways to compromise critical serversExposing new services makes them also susceptible to denial of service attacks. Such attacks create large volumes of fake traffic to saturate the available capacity of the internet connection. They can also be used to attack the intricacies of the VPN protocol. A flow as little as 1Mbps can perturbate the VPN service and knock it offline. CIOs, therefore, need to acknowledge that introducing or extending home working broadens the attack surface. So now more than ever it’s vital to adapt risk models. You can’t roll out new services with an emphasis on access and usability and not consider security. You simply won’t survive otherwise. Social engineering Aside from securing VPNs, what else should CIO and CTOs be doing to ensure security? The first thing to do is to look at employee behaviour, starting with passwords. It’s highly recommended that strong password hygiene or some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is imposed. Best practice would be to get all employees to reset their passwords as they connect remotely and force them to choose a new password that complies with strong password complexity guidelines.  As we know, people have a habit of reusing their passwords for one or more online services – services that might have fallen victim to a breach. Hackers will happily It’s highly recommended that strong password hygiene or some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is imposedleverage these breaches because it is such easy and rich pickings. Secondly, the inherent fear of the virus makes for perfect conditions for hackers. Sadly, a lot of phishing campaigns are already luring people in with the promise of important or breaking information on COVID-19. In the UK alone, coronavirus scams cost victims over £800,000 in February 2020. A staggering number that can only go up. That’s why CIOs need to remind everyone in the company of the risks of clickbait and comment spamming - the most popular and obvious bot techniques for infiltrating a network. Notorious hacking attempts And as any security specialist will tell you, some people have no ethics and will exploit the horrendous repercussions of CV-19. In January we saw just how unscrupulous hackers are when they started leveraging public fear of the virus to spread the notorious Emotet malware. Emotet, first detected in 2014, is a banking trojan that primarily spreads through ‘malspam’ and attempts to sneak into computers to steal sensitive and private information. In addition, in early February the Maze ransomware crippled more than 230 workstations of the New Jersey Medical Diagnostics Lab and when they refused to pay, the vicious attackers leaked 9.5GB or research data in an attempt to force negotiations. And in March, an elite hacking group tried to breach the World Health Organization (WHO). It was just one of the many attempts on WHO and healthcare organisations in general since the pandemic broke. We’ll see lots more opportunist attacks like this in the coming months.   More speed less haste In March, an elite hacking group tried to breach the World Health Organization (WHO). It was just one of the many attempts on WHOFinally, we also have bots to contend with. We’ve yet to see reports of fake news content generated by machines, but we know there’s a high probability it will happen. Spambots are already creating pharmaceutical spam campaigns thriving on the buying behaviour of people in times of fear from infection. Using comment spamming – where comments are tactically placed in the comments following an update or news story - the bots take advantage of the popularity of the Google search term ‘Coronavirus’ to increase the visibility and ranking of sites and products in search results. There is clearly much for CIOs to think about, but it is possible to secure a network by applying some well thought through tactics. I believe it comes down to having a ‘more speed, less haste’ approach to rolling out, scaling up and integrating technologies for home working, but above all, it should be mixed with an employee education programme. As in reality, great technology and a coherent security strategy will never work if it is undermined by the poor practices of employees.

How does audio enhance security system performance?
How does audio enhance security system performance?

Video is widely embraced as an essential element of physical security systems. However, surveillance footage is often recorded without sound, even though many cameras are capable of capturing audio as well as video. Beyond the capabilities of cameras, there is a range of other audio products on the market that can improve system performance and/or expand capabilities (e.g., gunshot detection.) We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How does audio enhance the performance of security and/or video systems? 

How have standards changed the security market?
How have standards changed the security market?

A standard is a document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes, and/or practices. Standards surround every aspect of our business. For example, the physical security marketplace is impacted by industry standards, national and international standards, quality standards, building codes and even environmental standards, to name just a few. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How have standards changed the security market as we know it?