On-Site Optimization Key to Quality Video Analytic Systems

Author: IPVM, Published on Oct 20, 2008

There are very good analytic software packages on the market because they have excellent engineers and technicians setting them up; great analytic software needs great people to select and set the proper algorithms. Complex problems can not always be simplified. But, once the software understands what it is to detect, it is not asking much for the user interface to be easy to understand.

Please note, I engineer solutions based on a need. I do not represent any video analytic companies.

Recently I was looking for analytic software for a very unique situation. During my search I talked to many companies and many customers of the companies. Most customers were satisfied with their software's capabilities and only one software package was deemed difficult at the user side by more than one company. All of the companies were complemented for their customer service and continued assistance after the systems were installed. All of these applications were outside, low light conditions with shadows, moving trees and sometimes water; none of my customers are in retail facilities.

In situations where the tasks are complex video analytics should be teamed with other detection devices. Train yards and ports are best served when combining the analytics with ground based and marine radar. High security facilities should combine their fencing perimeter detection with fixed cameras to detect and PTZ for tracking intruders. The strength of each component complements the weakness of the other.

As a designer it is important for me to educate my customers of how the system components work together and what to expect. This is important because complex analytic systems need to interface with other software and in many situations send out notices via the internet or PDAs. I talked with one security director of a port who had such a system. He was frustrated with the complex procedure he had to go through to access his video remotely; he was replacing the entire system (all of it); the RFP was already on the street. My questions were:

  • Do you have many false alarms? Answer: no. 
  • Does the system track as you asked it to be designed? Answer: yes.
  • What is your main complaint of your system? Answer: There was a storm that caused many of the cameras to fill with water and it is difficult to retrieve video remotely.

The point here is his analytic software was working, his radar was working, but everything was being replaced and given a bad reputation because of poor installation workmanship, the wrong selection of camera housings and a poor backbone design.

Video analytic systems are not plug and play. Each setting has unique characteristics that the system needs to learn. During my conversations many customers told me their systems did not work immediately, and they were impressed with the engineer's ability to tweak the algorithms over weeks, sometimes months depending on the frequency of situations encountered.

Analytic software that receives high marks from their customers’ from my research were: 

  • ICX - in ports, water treatment facilities combined with other detection components and behavior recognitions and objection left behind in pubic terminal areas.
  • Doustech - Ability to detect people peaking from behind trees, even in rain and snow, and ability to detect anomalies on and around train cars even when moving.
  • DreamBox – Water treatment facilities perimeter protect over came false alarms caused by blowing trees, weeds and snow at water treatment facilities. They are also commissioned in ports were water conditions were over come.
  • Obstek – Port management software is combined with video analytics. Port side cameras pick up and track anomalies detected by radar. What makes this software unique is that when ships enter into the monitored zone (sometimes more than 25 miles off the coast) a perimeter is established around all boats to detect any movement towards or way from the ship and notifies the onshore observation center. The frontend is very user friendly.

There are many new software companies on the market and many will promise the world; but will they be around on three to five years? When attrition has caused drastic staff changes or construction requires more cameras and programming; is that company going be there to provide the needed training or assistance in programming? Select your products well to provide what you need today and in the future.

Donna Whiteside is a Security Systems Engineer at AECOM.

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