The switch to remote guarding

June 2010 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Technology using intelligent video is removing the barriers to remote guarding in South Africa.

We are now living in an era where monitoring companies are installing intelligent video guards to remotely protect people and assets effectively, reducing our dependency on traditional monitoring. Control rooms can now literally see alarms on remote sites, verify them, speak to the site live and even control access, all from a smart camera and without special networks or bandwidth.

The failures of CCTV for remote monitoring

Along came CCTV as an application for monitoring, and it came with its problems too. Until now no-one has come up with the right answers:

* How to get constant video signal from many cameras to a remote monitoring room?

* How to do this with any sort of reasonable picture quality?

* How to monitor hundreds of cameras from hundreds of sites and detect a single incident?

* How to do anything more proactive than record crime? And most important of all,

* How to use video systems to detect intruders or incidents with no false alarms.

The death of video walls

It is estimated that less than 5% of all surveillance cameras are monitored, making them reactive tools rather than pro-active methods for preventing crime. Research has shown that it is humanly impossible to monitor multiple screens of live video footage and effectively guard a site. The human brain is not designed to do this, we quickly slip into a different cerebral frequency that actually numbs us to all of the stimuli and makes it prone to error. Also the cost of having one operator per 15 or so cameras makes for a labour intensive model that is expensive and unsustainable.

Imagine if my armed response company was alerted via a live bit of video footage with an alarm that showed exactly what was happening on my perimeter before the criminals got to my window. Just that video, nothing else? They would know that it was an authentic alarm; they could respond and even anticipate the crime. Enter edge-based intelligent video surveillance.

Intelligent edge devices

It has always been crazy to consider monitoring with video, the way CCTV works, it has been a nightmare to add video as a viable media in the monitoring business. But it is not all doom and gloom because of this new era of edge-based technology. Simply put, this really means that all the intelligence, processing, input and output is done in situ rather than in the control room, similar to the way PCs work on the Internet.

When working at a PC all intelligence and storage is done locally. When you need something from the Internet you get that data online. Edge devices combine a camera, DVR, analytics software and rules toolbox into one unit. Installed on site they will do all of the processing and monitoring for you, so 99,9% of the time no signal leaves the site, therefore there is no streaming at all.

A factor that has a massive impact on the effectiveness of edge devices is their ability to detect. Today many companies are selling software that does advanced motion detection (AMD). Here the software sends any video to the control room that has pattern changes in it. The problem here is a huge increase in false alarms from things such as pets, birds, trees in the wind, headlights and reflections on water or rain and hail. There are only a handful of companies world-wide today that do true video analytics. This means being able to distinguish between a human and a dog.

What is right for your business

Make sure that when sourcing a system you get a demonstration showing that the analytics can ignore those realities of our world like flying ants, guinea fowl, monkeys and Highveld downpours so that you do not have to face a remote monitoring nightmare of 97% false alarms. Also, smart storage on-site is key so that you do not have to pay for the costs of streaming over the Internet or storing hours of useless video. Choose a system that can manage how your storage is done and even store non-event footage in lower quality to avoid unnecessary terabytes of irrelevant video. You can always archive locally or remotely when it makes sense.

For more information contact Andrew Page Wood, VideoIQ AFRICA, +27 (0)82 789 2010,,

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