Surveillance with Smarts

Get on board with video intelligence

Closed-circuit television surveillance is an integral part of the protected premises. In commercial applications, it operates over the existing Ethernet or other network with ease, dispelling concerns over using coveted space on the network. Cameras adeptly use the Internet for on-the-fly and instant remote monitoring. Manufacturers have been making products that compress video signals to take up less bandwidth, while still capturing images that are very high resolution and aid in physical identification.

Proactive security

The biggest news in CCTV is the advent and continued development of smart detection in the form of video analytics, situational awareness, motion detection, behavior recognition and other forms of intelligence. Cameras have become intuitive devices that can be preprogrammed through software parameters to alert guards and security personnel to a potentially dangerous situation before it becomes a real threat. Pan-tilt-zoom functions automatically zero in on and track the scene and aid in identifying a hazardous situation. Best of all for the installer, video analytics and similar intuitive solutions are easier to install and use.

“In the past, video analytics was extremely complicated to deploy,” said Garry Clark, president of ioimage Americas, Denton, Texas. “You had to have people who understood how to implement a video analytics system because each channel was powered by a PC. Now, by taking analytics to the edge, you have the power in the DSP [digital signal processing] chip itself. The result is an edge device with the analytics built inside that’s better, easier to install, use and maintain.”

Clark added, for electrical contractors or security systems installers, video analytics is now a solution they can purchase off the shelf, properly install and deploy without prior expertise.

“What once took days to implement can now occur in a matter of minutes, without the need of on-site technical support from a manufacturer because video analytics is now available in edge devices, such as encoders and IP cameras,” he said.

Video analytics also is accessible to the middle security market, whereas previously it was more often exclusive to Homeland Security and government agencies.

“Facilities such as universities, industrial sites and large open car lots are turning to video analytics to provide a proactive surveillance solution that can detect and track threats before an incident happens,” Clark said.

This type of function turns cameras into mini-computers and provides additional flexibility for many applications.

“Pushing intelligence to the camera dramatically reduces overall system complexity and maintenance, improves performance and lowers implementation and lifecycle costs as no back servers are required,” said Greg Bell, vice president, business development, Lumenera Corp., Ottawa, Ontario.  

Super Bowl XLI in Miami featured an intelligent video surveillance system. SYColeman, Arlington, Va., a division of L-3 Communications, implemented the Praetorian video analytics system to monitor and secure events leading up to the Super Bowl as well as the game itself. In conjunction with the Miami-Dade police and fire departments, Praetorian’s Hawk, an advanced video analytics and alert system, provided early warning perimeter protection, giving operators the ability to detect a breach or unauthorized motion in critical event areas. Cameras deployed in specific areas provided detection of loitering, left-behind objects and aberrant crowd behavior.

“One of the system’s greatest values is its ability to increase situational awareness and surveillance capability,” said retired Lt. General Jared Bates, U.S. Army, president, SYColeman. “The system supports in-the-field personnel and is capable of mitigating security risks and concerns at large venues.” In the stadium example, cameras alert personnel of too many people in the area, too much activity or too much going on at once.

Arteco Vision Systems, St. Louis, which specializes in the healthcare vertical market, uses its software- and hardware-based system to identify patients who have gotten out of bed or may be roaming a medical facility or hospital. It also can alert personnel that a suspicious person is leaving the building, which can perhaps thwart an infant abduction.

Now that CCTV is becoming smarter, it can be integrated into even more areas of the facility. It can be used in control applications to warn plant supervisors before a manufacturing or other process runs into trouble and costs the location thousands of dollars or more.

This newfound intelligence will continue to evolve with integration, providing a well-rounded approach to facility security and safety. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or

Stay Informed Join our Newsletter

Having trouble finding time to sit down with the latest issue of
ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR? Don't worry, we'll come to you.