Is video analytics ready to go ‘mainstream’?

TechSec experts weigh in on the technology’s future
 - 
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—Video analytics is clawing its way back from a bad reputation caused by early cases of overpromising and under-delivering and one manufacturer predicted the technology would go “mainstream” within two years. Those were some of the views on video analytics shared by experts during a panel discussing the topic at this year’s TechSec conference.

Panel moderator Jayson Swope, senior director of engineering for G4S Technology, began the conversation by asking panelists if there’s any truth in claims that video analytics is “dead.” Speaking from a manufacturer’s viewpoint, Holly Tsourides for VideoIQ channeled Mark Twain. “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” she said.

On the contrary, Tsourides expects 2012 to be the year video analytics “goes mainstream.” Taking it a step further, she said, “we’re 18 months away from rules-based analytics becoming a commodity.”

The key, panelists agreed, is to continue educating end users on video analytics and its potential applications. But manufacturers should do their part by being honest about what analytics can and cannot do. It’s the integrators who should be doing the educating, Tsourides said. “The tipping point will come when integrators take the lead role at customer sites and share experiences and use cases among their customers,” she said. “The linchpin is the integrators.”

Education of the end user is paramount, said John Lineweaver, security systems specialist for Florida Power & Light Co. and a VideoIQ customer. For example, Lineweaver mentioned a prior analytics deployment where his staff was getting 70,000 false alarms a day. His answer was to turn the system off, which creates an uncomfortable conversation with management about why an expensive system is not being used. It turned out that the large amount of false alarms was caused by a software upgrade that had wiped the system’s established rules and reset its default settings. His conclusion: Integrators need to take the time to educate the end user.

Jerry Cordasco, VP of integrated services for G4S, said video analytics is changing how video is monitored. “The days of looking at 100 monitors and trying to pick the bad from the good [with the human eye] is changing,” he said.

End users, he said, need something that allows them to focus on what’s critical. In his mind, that’s analytics. And while he doesn’t think zero false alarms is a realistic goal, he said the technology has gotten to a point where end users can approach a very small number of false alarms by educating themselves, putting cameras in environments best suited for analytics and using the tools available.

When asked where analytics should be avoided, Tsourides said the technology struggles with indoor applications where it is very crowded. She pointed out that 80 percent of VideoIQ’s deployments are classic, outdoor perimeter protection scenarios.

When asked what to expect in the future, Cordasco said he’d like to see more-focused algorithms for specific applications. Tsourides said she’d like to see analytics being more tightly integrated with VMS partners and other systems. As an end user “in the trenches,” Lineweaver said he looks forward to the value-added products that manufacturers will be coming up with.