Do Video Analytics Work?

By: John Honovich, Published on Sep 01, 2008

Manufacturers say video analytics work.  Customers and integrators often say they do not.  Are manufacturers simply lying? Are customers simply uninformed? Who is right and why does this gap exist?

Key Points

  • What works is always relative to what one wants to do
  • For some applications, some video analytics work well
  • In general, most manufacturers overestimate how well analytics work relative to what customers require
  • This results in low customer referrals and repeat business
  • Market projections and expectations fail to be met

At the heart of this matter lies a deep truth that underlines and impacts the introduction of new technologies.

Manufacturers generally have a significantly lower standard for determining what works than customers or integrators.  This is not an accident yet it is generally not an issue of malice.  Most manufactures, especially at the senior management level, possess little domain knowledge, resulting in routine underestimation of the needs of their customers.

So when the question of "Does it work?" arise, manufacturers are generally willing to answer affirmitively if a product can withstand basic demonstrations and tests.  To the contrary, a security manager, with very detailed and specific circumstances to address, generally demands far higher and more particular standards.

Take for example, perimeter violation.  A manufacturer might assess the analytic to work if a person crosses the perimeter and an alarm is generated.  However, a security manager may demand that the analytic generate no more than 3 false alarms per day even if 10 cameras are being used.  The security manager may also demand if face a variety of weather and lighting conditions.

This contrast struck me as I interviewed more than 100 industry professionals over the last 3 months, including a dozen video analytic manufacturers.  The consistent theme I heard from the manufacturers were that their analytics did work (many went so far as to say their analytics required no configuration - a claim that rarely is achievable in the field).  The question then arose to me, "Am I being lied to or do these people truly believe this?"

I believe that most truly believed what they were saying but that their positions reflect a lack of experience in real world security operations.  The average manufacturer comes from a background in promotion (i.e., marketing) or development (i.e., CS or EE).  I rarely talked to individuals with any experience in security integration or security management.  Most companies do have people with security background but they are usually in field sales or services roles and have minor influence in product design decisions.

ASIS is soon and we will inevitably be faced with the question of "What video analytics do work?"  Bosch has already announced that it will again run its misleading video analytics demo that I critiqued a few months ago (true challenge for video analytics). Unfortunately, it seems that the show will encourage shallow and risky portrayals of what makes video analytics work.

Nonetheless, I am encouraged by an increasing number of public case studies of video analytics (including Phoenix IVS for public schools and ioimage's for the Israel legislature). If your analytics work, prove it with public case studies that security managers can verify.  This is a far healthier and better way for the industry to evolve than to continue to rely on shallow demos. Feel free to reference other case studies available online in the comments.

[premium_content]

1 report cite this report:

City Wide Mesh Wireless and Analytic Claims Examined on Nov 02, 2009
At a recent ISC West panel discussion, presenters discussed the strength of video analytics technology being able to mimic the self forming, self...

Related Reports

Directory of 55 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Repositionable Multi-Imager Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Vivotek on Jun 19, 2019
Repositionable multi-imager cameras are one of the fastest growing segments in video surveillance, with a slew of new offerings being recently...
Startup Vaion Launching End-to-End AI Solution Backed with $20 Million Funding on Jun 17, 2019
An EU / USA video surveillance startup, Vaion, founded by ex-Cisco Senior Directors is launching an end-to-end VSaaS platform with $20 million in...
Sighthound Transforms Into Enterprise AI Provider Profile on Jun 14, 2019
Sighthound is now rapidly expanding its R&D team, building an enterprise AI service. This may come as a surprise given their origins 6 years...
Embattled $400 Million China Funded Philippines Surveillance System Proceeds on Jun 13, 2019
An embattled 12,000 camera surveillance system project that will cost ~$400 million will proceed.  The project contract was awarded, had its...
Carnegie Mellon AI Startup Zensors Profile on Jun 11, 2019
Zensors is a startup formed by Carnegie Mellon graduates from a Carnegie Mellon research project, offering customized models per camera that they...
Directory of 30+ VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Jun 07, 2019
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers to help you see and research what options are available. 2019 State...
Hikvision DeepinMind 2019 Test on Jun 06, 2019
In 2018, Hikvision's DeepinMind AI NVR performed terribly, recognizing vehicles, animals, and other objects as humans, misclassifying demographics,...
Startup Rhombus Systems Says Twice the Features, Half the Price of Verkada on Jun 04, 2019
Closed cloud systems may be the fastest growing segment of video surveillance with Meraki and Verkada. Now another California company is joining...
OWAL Startup Profile - Ex-Googler Cloud AI Video Platform on May 29, 2019
OWAL, a NYC-based startup developing AI video analytics, is aiming to "improve the quality of life" within high-rise apartments, and commercial...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Security Dealer 'Social Media Contractor' Program on Jun 25, 2019
A $20,000 video surveillance system can be yours for free if you are willing to post on social media about the security dealer. Good deal, bad...
Axis Live Privacy Shield Analytics Tested on Jun 25, 2019
Privacy is becoming a bigger factor in video surveillance, driven both by increased public awareness and by GDPR. Now, Axis has released Live...
Directory of 55 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Hikvision ColorVu Camera Tested on Jun 24, 2019
Hikvision says their new ColorVu line captures "vivid chromatic images in darkness", with unconventional white light illuminations whereas most...
China Subway Facial Recognition System Examined on Jun 24, 2019
A China city of 6+ million people has installed facial recognition-enabled gates in subways, allowing commuters to enter stations by simply showing...
HID Mobile Tested on Jun 21, 2019
HID Global is one of the largest access brands, but their mobile access has had challenges. Indeed, the company has already restructured their...
Genetec Beats Milestone For IHS #1 on Jun 21, 2019
For years, Milestone has touted that they are the #1 VMS. Now, Genetec has beaten them in IHS rankings. But what is this? Even other manufacturers...
Risk of Amazon Alexa Guard: No Battery Or Cell Backup on Jun 20, 2019
Amazon positions its Alexa Guard Service as a "smart home security system" and says it can help you "keep your home safe". However, the...
Exacq Remote Cloud Access Tested on Jun 20, 2019
Remote cloud access has been missing from most VMSes (including Exacq and Milestone). Now, Exacq, after releasing Cloud Drive Storage earlier in...
Briefcam Buys Frost Award* on Jun 20, 2019
Frost 'awards' are well-known and widely disrespected. Now Briefcam is touting their win. The way it has worked for many years is that Frost...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact