Firas Jadalla, Regional Director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META), Genetec, explains how the company’s solution helps to provide security benefits and drives accuracy in data aggregation.
Why is a well-structured and managed surveillance infrastructure so important?
Selecting an IP surveillance solution is about more than just picking a camera and a VMS. To manage all your security needs, you need a unified tool that can offer a comprehensive single platform for video, access control, communications, alarms, analytics and other emerging physical security technologies. Authorities are looking for solutions that will address not only their immediate security concerns, but also intelligence and operations. Consider how the choice of a VMS today will impact what you will be able to achieve as your environment and technology requirements evolve over time. Scalability, deep integration of the latest IP cameras, readiness to support the computational needs of HD and 4K video, and adaptability to complex network topologies and new storage solutions are all becoming important demands when choosing a modern security platform.
Video surveillance solutions are also getting smarter and are providing more than just live video feeds or recorded clips. A unified platform that is integrated with state-of-the-art security devices collects an incredible amount of data that can be turned into actionable intelligence to help you move beyond visual security into understanding your whole environment. Cybersecurity is one of the most important considerations when deploying a video surveillance solution. A poorly secured camera, unencrypted communications between a server and client application, or out-of-date firmware can all be exploited by cybercriminals. It’s critical to have a unified platform that employs a security strategy which protects your system against both physical and cyberthreats with multiple layers of defence including encryption, multi-factor authentication and authorisation.
What challenges do these solve when it comes to ensuring public safety and security?
Smart Cities in particular are almost entirely powered with digital technology to become more vibrant, more efficient, more resilient to unplanned events and overall, safer for residents, visitors and businesses. When city officials, police, businesses, community groups and residents come together, they have the foundation for a successful Smart City implementation. This is done by investing in technology that breaks down silos and facilitates information sharing between all stakeholders.
For example, when a private business invests in an IP video surveillance system and then allows law enforcement to access video in case of emergencies, the city is able to expand coverage with minimal financial investment. Communities, businesses and police officers are safer because law enforcement can see what’s happening and respond appropriately. Finally, law enforcement can save time collecting and sharing video evidence during an investigation. Similarly, with the help of a unified software, a set of cameras can give the user a holistic view to track any potential triggers. This means that you can clearly see developing situations and take action before they become a problem. It’s important that the unified software has a strong reporting platform that can help data-controllers monitor the state of their systems. This platform could also help users conduct research around who had access to and/or downloaded information from their systems.
Can you tell us about your Citigraf solution and how it helps end-users?
Machine Learning can help cities and law enforcement deploy their physical resources more efficiently based on predicted trends in crime. For example, Citigraph, crime prediction and resource deployment Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) utilises an unsupervised Machine Learning algorithm to estimate how the occurrence of different types of crime can influence the risk of other crimes occurring in the future. In these cases, there are no ‘ground truths’ in the original problem and the answers are learned from the data. With its correlation engine, Citigraf Command identifies possible relationships between data points, including events. It works in real-time to associates data and help law enforcement and other public safety personnel build a complete picture of an incident. So, while machines are in no way ready to take over the planet, they’re certainly becoming more important in driving accuracy in data aggregation and predictive incident management. For our part, we are committed to supporting research in data science that has the potential to provide benefits for people the world over.
Can you discuss some use cases for your technology?
Organisations can use IP surveillance and VMS to visualise their data to optimise resources and to make better business decisions. Currently, there are several major vertical sectors where video analytics is already having a huge impact, including retail, airports and traffic.
Retail: Understanding your customer
One of the main contributing factors to the incredible success that online companies like Amazon have achieved is their ability to collect, analyse and use the vast amounts of data their customers produce. When a store knows its consumer, it can tailor every shopping experience to suit their needs. Brick and mortar stores are now questioning how they can possibly compete. The answer is video analytics. Offline retailers see video analytics as a key tool for gathering information about how many people come into their stores, what they do while there and which products they are looking at. Using this information displayed in heat maps or in people counting applications, they can analyse merchandising browsing behaviours and calculate conversion rates: how many people go into their stores vs. how many people actually buy products. Then, with greater understanding of their customers’ behaviour, they can make informed business decisions, including item placement and staff optimisation, to better serve shoppers.
Airports: Improve passenger flow
Airports are also looking to make better business decisions that will improve customer traffic and increase revenue. In particular, they are looking for ways to optimise the flow of people through their spaces to make the process of boarding and disembarking as efficient as possible. Video analytics is a great tool for understanding how long people stand in security lines, where roadblocks occur and where people gather. With this information, airports can optimise their staffing, reduce known congestion sites and inform passengers where they should go and how long they can expect to wait in security lines. This will allow people to move through lines and checkpoints as quickly as possible, which can result in a direct increase in the revenue generated by duty-free shopping.
Traffic: Keep everything moving
We are seeing a big push in Smart Cities to measure traffic in a reliable and flexible way. The data collected and understood through video analytics can provide cities with valuable information about what’s happening on their roads, how many cars are on a given street or how many cars are going through a specific intersection. This data can be invaluable for city planning, particularly when it comes to traffic coordination. City planners and traffic engineers can use this information, for example, to re-route traffic through alternative routes during rush hour to avoid congestion and to optimise the flow of vehicles through their streets. This would not only make commuters happy but could also reduce car emissions as vehicles would travel at a more consistent speed.
Are there any future trends organisations should be aware of?
We are sure to see even more unification of systems in 2020. Organisations are already experiencing the benefits of unifying access control systems with video surveillance and this will continue. What will also increase is the ability to employ analytics tools to leverage the vast amounts of data that physical security systems and other devices are already collecting. When organisations are able to understand and leverage their data, they can use it to improve any number of business functions. The challenges here will arise around sharing information between stakeholders, particularly in terms of maintaining individual privacy and control over sensitive data. But we’ll see solutions that will allow for disparate organisations to collaborate effectively to achieve even greater understanding.