Articles by Cale Dowell
How do you get all of your various vendors, services, resources, manpower, and technology to integrate and work together? Creating an efficient operating environment in physical security is no small feat - especially when the organisation undertaking such an endeavour has a nationwide presence. How do you get all of your various vendors, services, resources, manpower, and technology to integrate and work together? How do you aggregate all of the data being recorded into information that can be acted upon? These questions, among others, are the current challenges faced by industry leaders on both the security provider and end user side of the equation. Since the security requirements for organisations vary according to the size, it is important to have a proper objective in place before implementation. Solid operational process One common theme in the industry is a push is to consolidate vendor services. The "one-hand- to-shake" model is a value- add to many organisations. It often streamlines communication, creates cost efficiency and also promotes strategic collaboration. But simply signing a contract with a one-stop-shop won't enhance your operations, in much the same manner using the term "big data" doesn't mean you are instantly tech savvy. So be mindful that your one- stop- shop doesn't turn into a "one size fits all." Even more important than choosing the right vendor is the process by which an organisation implements a strategic security design. The process to implement an effective physical security design is crucial. Because not every potential security need is equal. And instead of simply signing a new contract in the hope of obtaining a better provider, having a solid operational process will be more beneficial in building efficiency on a large scale. Here are three steps to follow: Step 1: Identify your key objectives At this point, the only goal should be to formalise what it is that you're trying to accomplish. In other words, what is the problem or perceived risk? Is it protecting a fixed asset and securing a perimeter? Is it securing workspace and personnel safety? A combination of both? Is it ensuring appropriate data is recorded when shipments enter and exit a facility? It may sound elementary, but until you identify what you need and why you need it, you can't begin to rethink operational flow. Diagnosing the present operations will aid in illuminating the pathway to achieve your key security objective Step 2: Diagnose the present Now that the objectives have been identified, what are you doing today that is working or not working to meet them? What are the bottlenecks that are severely limiting the ability to succeed? Remember, we're not talking about revenue producing operations. We're talking about security operations, which in many ways is revenue preservation. But isn't it interesting that the same supply chain methodology that applies to widget production or service can also be used to thoughtfully consider a holistic, managed security operation? Diagnosing the present operations will aid in illuminating the pathway to achieve your key security objectives. Step 3: Focus on convergence Once the pathway is illuminated, you'll have a much better understanding of what you need to build a strategic and operationally efficient security design. The convergence of different technologies, services, and manpower will facilitate improved performance and response time, often in addition to cost reduction. To be clear, this does put a burden on the end user (or their CSO) to stay educated about innovative improvements that can augment or replace existing services. But it also promotes a continuing spotlight on efficient security operations. Which, interestingly enough, seems to be the prevailing complaint of executive teams when asked about their physical security design. In an industry like security that is rapidly shifting from single service applications to more comprehensive designs, it’s imperative that both vendor and end user employ a simple, yet effective process to enhance operational efficiency. And, ultimately, the beauty of the process is that it builds trust and communication by design, which also develops loyalty with your customers. I'd call that a win, win, win.
Security professionals and end users are eager to define video analytics In the era where “I” is king, video analytics have become a topic of excitement, confusion, and deliberation. All one needs to do is take a stroll through the latest security expo to recognise how popular the space is, and how difficult it is to find an adequate explanation of what they are and how they work. So what are video analytics? This is the question both end users and security professionals are eager to define, yet depending on who they talk to, they may get different answers. But the bigger question being asked is how can video analytics improve my security? Cale Dowell, Regional Director of Business Development for THRIVE Intelligence™, explains that the key issue here is not just a definition, but also an explanation of where video analytics can make an impact and how they can be applied. Video analytics – Sorting through the ambiguity Interesting to note is that video analytics are not as new as they seem. They’ve been in the marketplace for several years, primarily overseas, and are more commonly known as Video Content Analysis (VCA). You might be surprised to know that your child has an application of video content analysis in his or her Xbox Kinect. Other industries have used components of video analytics to help with supply chain management. But in the security industry, there seems to be some confusion as to how they work. You may have heard definitions such as motion detection, pixilation change, intelligent sensors, processors, or even (my personal favourite) “magical” cameras. The reality? It has nothing to do with magic. Real video analytics focus on analysis and classification of a live video stream. It is not a simple motion detection camera. Good analytics will utilise more than pixilation change as part of the classification process. Generally speaking, real video analytics operate in three general ways. First, we start with the camera. Any security camera is designed to act like a human eye: It captures images in real time as a data stream. The first thing real video content analysis accomplishes is learning the field of view, or the normal data that is transmitted. We’ll call this the background. Once the background is established and separated (background modelling), any new information (objects) in the field of view are identified immediately. At its most basic core this is how video content analysis works. It learns the background data so it can distinguish new information that may interrupt the learned space. Second, video analytics analyse the new information and compare it to pre-classified objects based on a variety of metrics depending on the sophistication of the analytics. Good analytics will utilise metrics such as size, shape, speed and trajectory within the field of view of the camera, in addition to pixilation patterns. The data is analysed by processing the information in much the same manner as a computer processes information. Real-time perimeter detection is one of the key uses of video analytics Lastly, good video analytics will provide the ability to create zones, lines and triggers within the field of view of the camera. This allows for a custom-tailored approach to creating protocols for when/why/how to be notified. To summarise, true video analytics are not simple motion detection cameras. They are more intelligent and operate in a manner that also analyses information as opposed to simply detecting motion or pixel change. This permits a higher level of customization and a more significant reduction of false alarms than previous technologies. The value is largely focused on receiving real-time alerts when the analytics are triggered, and eliminating as many false alarms and false positives as possible through proper setup. Value proposition The true value of video analytics rests primarily in their ability to significantly reduce false alarms and increase real time response. Where security cameras have been used for decades as reactive tools, this new technology is shifting the industry towards real time intervention. By pairing real-time analytics with boots on the ground personnel, an end user gains maximum efficiency in monitoring and responding to events as they occur in addition to increasing the capabilities of personnel and site intelligence. The key fundamental uses of video analytics are: Real-time perimeter detection Force multiplication of on-site guard force Augmenting manned security labour Creating metadata based on image sampling End users are beginning to compare the value of spending high dollars for manned live monitoring versus the ability to leverage video analytics to eliminate or repurpose the stationed monitoring guard altogether. Increasing coverage and monitoring is much more scalable and cost effective than simply using manpower alone. Many end users are realising significant cost savings by applying hybrid solutions (manned security in conjunction with real time monitoring using analytics) across their regional and national footprints. Understand the ROI Make vendors work for you by requiring a customised, consultative approach that delivers their full solution based on your needs, vulnerabilities, threats, and daily operations early in the vetting process. Disregard vendors that operate in a “one size fits all” mentality As with any investment, end users shouldn’t let the excitement overrule due diligence. With video analytics on the rise in a rapid way, they should be wary of companies offering substandard solutions for top dollar. Thus, it is imperative to understand the capabilities and solutions being offered in addition to drilling down to the bottom line of how it might save you money. And the reality is, in some cases it won’t save you money. In these scenarios, sometimes the cost will be well worth it, and sometimes it won’t. As an end user, here are some practical questions to ask and consider through the vetting process: What are the costs and ease of use? What can your analytics accomplish for the security of my facility? Can I see a live demonstration of your analytics? How do your analytics work? Note: if the answer is simply motion detection or pixilation change, they are not true analytics. Where is your monitoring centre and can I take a tour? Note: any good monitoring company should always give you a tour if you ask. What is being outsourced and what do you manufacturer and design yourselves? The Complete Package The real value of analytics is applied through real-time monitoring. Big players in the industry are edging to prove their value by demonstrating end-to-end solutions pairing remote video monitoring utilising analytics with other traditional services such as access control, intrusion alarm monitoring, and conventional guard services. This hybrid solution is the future of physical security. This type of scenario can maximise capabilities, increase response time, and improve cost control. Make vendors work for you by requiring a customised, consultative approach that delivers their full solution based on your needs, vulnerabilities, threats, and daily operations early in the vetting process. Disregard vendors that operate in a “one size fits all” mentality. Remote video monitoring that deploys true analytics is the catalyst for overwhelming change within the industry. But the true value is found by leveraging a meeting of the minds that is flexible to adapt, change, and grow with technological advancements. Remote video monitoring can seem like a frightening undertaking, especially for large corporate users. However, there is significant value to be gained by offloading, augmenting, and supplementing your security needs through qualified third parties that are specifically tailored to meet your needs. Most CEOs are determined that they did not start their business to also run a security company. As a result, big box businesses are looking for viable solutions that can improve capabilities and reduce cost now more than ever. True analytics are simply the current linchpin that is allowing that desire to become a real actuality.