Picking up on a much discussed topic of late, there is no doubt that 2020’s Coronavirus Pandemic has fast forwarded our interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Video Analytics (VA), not only within the security industry but across all walks of life.
There’s a lot of confusing, complicated information out there on the topic of AI, so to sum up why it’s leapt into view now is to say this: it is about optimising resources and all the benefits for businesses this encompasses.
The pandemic has been a truly polarising ‘experience’ for UK industry. Nevertheless, in those industries that continue to generate revenue, there’s been a tangible recognition that we must review our existing ways of doing business and take this opportunity to improve or risk being left behind by our competitors.
And what could be of more interest right now than understanding how you might maximise income opportunities (or indeed generate them!) and use video analytics to drive growth from better business intelligence.
This is where AI and video analytics can take how you operate to the next level and you can bet that it’s being used by a competitor near you already.
In a nutshell, security solutions that are equipped with video analytics and artificial intelligence not only enhance protection, but also enable staff to work smarter and systems to work harder.
Let’s take a look at the background to understand why AI is causing such a stir in the security industry.
What does AI mean?
According to BBC Newsround: “AI is technology that enables a computer to think or act in a more ‘human’ way. It does this by taking in information from its surroundings, and deciding its response based on what it learns or senses “.
Some have raised concerns about the risks of AI – will the ‘robots’ become smarter than humans and cause problems if we teach them too much? And will machines be able to do some of the jobs humans do and leave people unemployed?
In fact, in the security world, AI and video analytics provide opportunity because experienced operators will always be required to make key decisions and analyse results. Machine learning – or deep learning to use a current buzz phrase – is only ever as good as the coding written for it by the programmer and the strength of the information libraries the machine’s coding is set up to reference to. Set up correctly, the machine becomes more intuitive rather than being able to think for itself.
As you’ll see further on in this article, what’s really exciting is that the information available within a truly artificially intelligent surveillance system propels security specialists to centre stage in business strategy. Imagine receiving commercial data from your video surveillance system. Imagine no more!
What can AI and Video Analytics do that normal analytics can’t?
Essentially, AI means that security solutions can go from reactive to proactive, in real time. And then they can go that bit further again by providing detailed analysis to increase effective business strategy.
The initial way in which AI was introduced into the security industry back in the early 2000s was in the form of ‘motion detection’ and, in its day, was a huge leap forward from the reliance on security staff watching, perhaps, a huge bank of cameras trying not to go ‘screen blind’ before an incident occurred.
These new motion detection systems worked on cause and effect – e.g. alarmed door opens, alarm goes off; or system knows a person shouldn’t be in that area, alarm goes off.
The real power of modern-day AI comes from ‘machine learning’. The system can assimilate information about how we are using it – i.e. which events we are interested in – learn from this and present information back to us based on our usage. E.g. you’re not interested in that person (that’s the MD), but you are interested if it’s not that person (no one besides the MD should have access to that office).
Intelligent Video Analytics also allows the outcomes to be set up dependent on different triggers. For example, if someone enters a secure area from another secure area, this might just be bookmarked in the system and logged. But if someone enters a secure area from a non-secure area, this will trigger both video recording to commence and an alarm to be triggered. However, if someone entering from a non-secure area is met by someone from a secure area, this might just be bookmarked and logged.
An interesting example of AI, combined with ANPR (automatic number plate recognition), has been tested in Hong Kong. The system can match the number plate to the exact car model & colour, producing an instant alert where there is a discrepancy.
A similar use of this technology is now operational in the UK and is being used to reduce theft at petrol stations – known as ‘take & drive away’. Suspect car registrations can be flagged as soon as they enter a station forecourt. This can be advanced further by using facial recognition to flag known individuals rather than just the vehicle or number plate.
What does it mean for the security industry?
There are three key benefits of artificial intelligence and video analytics for the security sector.
1.Provide highly accurate post-event search capabilities
Currently, most CCTV systems are ill-equipped to assist security managers in carrying out an effective examination of past events in a quick and timely manner. Organisations, however, are beginning to expect more from their surveillance systems. The more specific search criteria that’s available with these technologies allows for more effective post-event analysis, with deeper reports generated.
2.Recognise unusual behaviour, alert security staff, and prevent an incident from progressing
This mean that a video surveillance system can actually be taught what a potential threat looks like in advance using behavioural analytics – for example, what a human is and how it behaves.
The system can be configured beforehand with a set of criteria. Where it gets really smart is that it can then build on this information by learning as it goes along. The system learns from our responses to it and further increases the accuracy with which it raises an alarm, helping to drive down the number of false alarms. The advances in the speed of coding with faster microprocessors and more powerful graphic cards, along with smarter referencing libraries provides a transformational level of security.
Reducing false alarms is hugely attractive to those responsible for security, of course – the less time spent dealing with incidents that aren’t of interest, the less danger of alarm fatigue (remember the tale of The Boy who cried Wolf). Unproductive hours can be reduced. This will enable businesses to use their surveillance staff more efficiently at the same time as increasing a premises’ protection.
3.Provide precious insights for organisations
This allows them to make more cognisant decisions, and this is what truly allows a business to maximise the return on investment of its security arrangements.
What opportunities does Artificial Intelligence present for security integrators and installers?
In truth, the applications of artificial intelligence are myriad and ever growing. This is where COVID-19 has actually presented a wealth of opportunities for security integrators who can now offer solutions to their customers that provide both short term benefits – like getting staff safely back in the office or checking temperatures at hospitals – and longer term benefits such as occupancy monitoring coupled with behavioural analytics.
AI analytics produce exceptional facial, object and event recognition capabilities. This affords a business proactive and real time protection, providing significant benefits in the fight against crime.
However, the benefits go far beyond this. The capabilities of such solutions really allow you to ask your customer “What problems are you facing today?” and then develop a solution specifically tailored to those problems. Then, as things change and threats evolve, the business can change and evolve without having to make costly hardware changes. You can talk to them about so much more than just security because these systems cover the wider issues of Health & Safety, Occupancy Management and so on.
This means that you can offer real value for money on a project. At the same time, you’ll benefit from reduced time spent on site and a system that is configured to be remotely managed.
You’ll be able to save your customers money by reducing staff needed to monitor video footage or deal with false alarms.
And you’ll be able to offer a solution that doesn’t just help the business prevent crimes; there is a tangible opportunity for the business to use these systems to generate commercial data.
Take the example of a retail outlet or shopping centre: a properly installed CCTV network will ensure that the security team don’t miss a thing at the same time as providing the management team with customer insights. These systems can provide age and gender data, movement of people information, heat mapping and facial recognition.
This allows management to understand visitor demographics in detail and market to their customers more effectively. It gives them the opportunity to resolve bottlenecks, to product place more effectively, to maximise usage of space and even to sell space based on potential revenue.
Management can even sell on the demographic visitor data to tenants for their own marketing purposes.
Back in the security control centre, the security manager will be able to make real inroads into crime reduction, both by customers and employees. Installation of the latest cameras will be able to cover more with fewer units. They will provide 360-degree views and avoid previous blind spots, acting as a deterrent and allowing far better footage capture to be viewed retrospectively in the event of an incident
Suddenly, the security system becomes the provider of crucial data driving business success.
With many security systems still viewed as a grudge purchase, the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and Video Analytics becomes a real value add and helps to address challenges beyond surveillance. There is an Increasing number of business operators looking for multifunctional systems which can also support their Health & Safety challenges, Occupancy Management and key services, a system that develops with changing business objectives and demonstrates a tangible return on investment.
What AI and VA does is truly allow the security integrator/installer to show how a strong surveillance system can be a fundamental component of any organisation’s strategic decisions. And a trusted, reliable security partner will be key to this – in helping the organisation establish the right balance between technology and humans.
The three fundamental ways this is achieved as a result of AI intelligence and Video Analytics in the security industry:
Norbain SD partners with some of the market leaders in AI and VA innovations for the security industry who can provide cutting edge solutions for you and your customers.
Norbain’s experienced and knowledgeable security team can offer advice and support on what solutions are available to suit most business’ needs. We also understand that every business is unique, and some solutions can’t be delivered in a box. That’s why we have Solutions Specialists to provide you with ongoing support as your key technology partner, help define project roadmaps and work with you in optimising technology investments.
Get in touch with us to discuss your requirements.