Archive for the ‘ solution perspective ’ Category

Monday, March 8th, 2010

by Paul Brewer

If you ask security directors how they go back into the video archives to search for something abnormal or for a specific event, the answer is almost always, “I don’t.”  Unless they know which camera feed to watch, and have a fairly good idea of the when to start searching in the video, this manual task is just too daunting. 

Video analytics has brought some much needed automation to this problem.  Now if you know where the event of interest occurred and can create a tripwire or other event rule, then all you have to do is to scroll through the alert logs and jump to that point in the video feed.

That’s great as far as it goes, but it’s still pretty limited.

What do users really want?  Based on direct user feedback, they want to be able to search for specific people, vehicles or events across the enterprise video system.  They want to use what they learn from one search to refine the next.  They want to search by example—designating a specific vehicle or person of interest to flag in a database search that might be narrowed by a specific geographic region or time period.  They want to create searches and visualize search results on an intuitive geo-interface.  And, they don’t want to just be limited to the video archives.  Forensic search results need to then become the parameters for real-time rules to find exactly where that white cargo van of interest is right now. 

This is the future of video search and it is what we are demonstrating right now for our sponsors in the Department of Defense.  A recent field exercise allowed ObjectVideo to showcase the ability to visually “fingerprint” cars that were flagged by HUMINT (human intelligence) and pick them out of the video feeds to present ultra high resolution snapshots to the “Battle Captain.” 

This was not a carefully controlled lab experiment with rigidly scripted scenarios with a small set of total vehicles.  This was a real needle-in-the-haystack exercise with a very small number of “opposition” vehicles operating on crowded public streets.  These vehicles were controlled by an opposition commander with purposes known only to him.

Besides being a great chance to show off what we can currently do with this technology, it was a priceless opportunity to learn from users and hone some new interface and workflow ideas.  When it comes to video search, the best days are still ahead, and possibly not as far off as you might think.

Friday, February 19th, 2010

by David McGuinness


                    brave souls weather DC                                   FL: calm & balm

As I look out my window at the snow pack of Washington DC, I think longingly of balmy South Florida and the TechSec conference held earlier this month. For those of you who haven’t attended TechSec Solutions in the past, it is wholly dedicated to IP and network based security and it attracts manufacturers, integrators and consultants alike.  

There is a heavy focus on educational presentations and panels which is both necessary and important to help drive the transition to an IP world within the security and surveillance market.  Could 2010 be the year that IP solutions start to pick-up the pace of adoption?  Amongst a savvy group of attendees, the expectation is “yes” due to new (and imminent) product releases, lessons learned and standards initiatives.

So why is this important to ObjectVideo?  We understand that a technology shift to IP has been a gating factor to embracing new technology (i.e. video analytics) in the space.  That’s been the case dating back to 2003 when I started at ObjectVideo, and it’s still true.  But we’re starting to see a shift in technology adoption rates due to innovation, improvements and benefits afforded by IP offerings throughout the video ecosystem, and that’s laying the groundwork for an interesting 2010.

Improved performance + compelling new capabilities + lowered TCO = a persuasive argument for IP and advanced technology adoption.

Friday, February 12th, 2010

by Bob Cutting

Maybe it’s just me but I’m tired of hearing that analytics are “still not ready for prime time.”  In fact, on a weekly basis we see and hear about partners selling and deploying successful solutions using our analytics.  We don’t see the same downgraded projection for market adoption and, frankly, business is looking good, especially in the business intelligence arena.

But I get it – adoption has been slower than expected and hurdles still exist to deploy analytics successfully on a broader scale.  My objection is that the blame for this is often (sometimes correctly) assigned to the analytics companies.  But there are other factors contributing to this.  And, it’s easy to point the finger at the SI community, claiming they need to be “better trained and equipped,” but that’s a tired argument.  My biggest disappointment stems from video analytics not being accepted due to an organization’s inability to support technological change.  This can come from regulatory agencies, standards initiatives and the customers themselves not being functionally ready to incorporate new technology into their business practices.  Is it due to dated acceptance processes and/or antiquated corporate governance?  Whatever the cause, this techno-aversion can derail an organization’s efforts to improve efficiencies and be more competitive.

ObjectVideo experienced this during a recent pilot at a major casino.  As many state gaming commissions require casinos to pay a headcount tax, they often require casinos to have reliable primary and backup systems to report those counts.  It’s no surprise the casinos don’t want to pay excessively for a counting system that exists only to support another cost.  Compared to costly, bulky, manual alternatives, a video-based system is a perfect fit since it involves cameras (pulling those out of inventory and mounting them is a daily practice) and inexpensive analytics software that resides on those cameras or on a COTS back-end server.

 The expectations were high.  Our OEM partner was told up front the requirement was 98% accuracy, which is pushing the performance envelope in such a busy environment.  Turns out we had no problem achieving that, plus we had a great technology partner involved and a supportive end customer who was motivated to make it all work.

But there was one problem.  This particular state had loss limit laws, which have since been lifted, that required casinos to report head counts in 2-hour intervals at the same expected accuracy level of 98%.  Although it no longer has any validity with the loss limit legislation lifted, the 2-hour requirement is still in place.  Essentially, it’s a remnant from an old law, but something the gaming commission continues to require.

ObjectVideo’s results were consistently above the 98% mark during the ‘round-the-clock trial but every now and then we strayed out of the +/-2% band for one of these 2-hour increments.  Unfortunately for everyone, that became a NO GO.  Consistent 98.7% accuracy counting people in a busy casino with a standard deviation of only +/-1% didn’t meet the spec!

Cynics will argue that analytics failed in this case.  Not at all.  Our partner brought an excellent technology solution to their customer in their role as trusted advisor for video and surveillance systems.  The casino was extremely happy with the results and the effort everyone put in, so we now have an ally who can lead us to some of their other portfolio properties

In the end, the casino lost because of the antiquated legislation.  Instead of a video-based system that would have cost only a few thousand dollars all-in, they were forced to invest in a more expensive manual system – something they didn’t want not only based on the high cost and disruptions during installation, but also because the physical system would lower overall aesthetics and tend to make patrons uncomfortable.

Technology innovation is all around us.  Yes, there are times when technology doesn’t deliver on its claims and the technology companies become their own worst enemy.  But there are just as many times when new technology proves to be a clear winner that can save money and make sense for an entire industry.

This time the house lost.  But in due time the gaming industry, as well as a host of others, will win big.