Swing toward proactive technology fueled by software advancements

The latest advancements in intelligent software are putting the industry in a more dynamic mode
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Saturday, March 1, 2003

As the demand for and use of video surveillance grows, so has the need for intelligent software to drive and refine these systems. Security companies, software manufacturers and others are increasingly jumping into the fray with software that not only expands the scope of how images are captured, but then processes the resulting information for optimal results.

Calling the events of Sept. 11 the catalyst for new security technology, Deepak Shetty, industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan, said the latest advancements in intelligent software are putting the industry in a more dynamic mode.

“The software has moved it to a new level,” Shetty noted. “We’ve had reactive (security) technology, and the software makes it more proactive.”

Video into info

After Sept. 11, Shetty said, interest in surveillance spiked. But with the increased focus on collecting information 24/7 came the corresponding need for intelligent data management.

Historically physical security is about people watching monitors, said Alan Lipton, chief technology officer and director of research and development for ObjectVideo. “Now we have software that can do that…and turn video into information that can be acted on.”

Much of the focus among software producers is on taking the primary surveillance function out of the hands of guards and others, and putting the emphasis on software to determine what are the significant activities for personnel to watch.

Craig Heartwell, chief strategy officer at ObjectVideo, called this knowledge-based security “the up and coming way to do things.”

Heartwell noted the crossover of physical security with the IT world allows the integration of multiple systems, ranging from security-oriented access control and biometrics to human resources and other corporate data.

This correlation, he explained, “gives you a context in which you can evaluate data” and, ultimately, reduce the incidences of nuisance alarms.

The advent of digital technology within the past three to five years has advanced the cause of intelligent software, noted Larry Bowe, director-product management and alliance development for Loronix. Bowe called software “the significant element that is changing how security systems work these days.”

With improved software, Bowe said, intelligent queries, data review in real time and post-event time, and the fusing of information from multiple systems is now the norm.

IT beginnings

While the commercial security market is producing much of the software on the market, its beginnings can be traced to several groups, including IT software companies and the manufacturing sector.

Shetty noted some of the software coming onto the general market also is linked to early governmental use.

Indeed, John Montelione, founder of Guardian Solutions, said changes in how the Defense Department approached surveillance has impacted software.

He said widespread usage of the Geographical Information Systems database is being used for a coordinated response to threats. “We’re building a system that takes all the information and converts it into real-world coordinates,” he said.

As a result, he said, a software-driven system can produce specific latitudinal and longitudinal data “to zone in on the target.” The information is then sent to responders, be they governmental agencies or corporate ones.

Key to such a system, Montelione said, are a common database and web-enabled technology. Compliance with both emerging and current standards is also important, he noted.

Along these same lines, systems integration has been noted as an important step in advancing the role of intelligent software.

Hank Goldberg, sales executive for Monitoring Automation Systems, cited enterprise management - specifically the automation of business and customer functions - and integration as key. “Everything that you see (in a central station) needs to plug together,” he said.

Data management is also critical, Goldberg said, and software is driving the ability to not only capture data, but distribute it in real time over the web, to handle accounts or test systems.

Heartwell agreed systems become easier to integrate “if they work in a web-based mode. Everything we do can be plug-and-play on the network.”

“There is a synergy between products,” explained Rod Clark, marketing project coordinator for GE Interlogix-Kalatel division. “As digital recording technology develops and the Ethernet develops,” he said, “software will work in concert to bring out new features.”

Some new features today provide access to live or recorded remote video from a security workstation as well as from non-traditional locations.

“The integration of LAN and WAN into companies has really made it a powerful tool for us,” Clark said. “It lets anyone be a security guard in the company.”

Loronix’s Bowe agreed the Internet is one factor that has aided software developers, allowing them to deliver information in both a wired and wireless fashion “to anyone who wants to view it in the form they want.”

“With the broad advances in the Internet, browsers and wireless technology,” he said, “we can deliver information to the right place at the right time.”