Who is watching Big Brother?

December 2001 Surveillance

Following the daring night-time raid by the GLF (Gnome Liberation Front), Big Brother organisers were forced to review security around the now-famous Big Brother house in Randburg.

Whilst the initial breach was the work of a wiley prankster, devoted to the emancipation of the garden gnomes across Johannesburg, it did nonetheless highlight the shortcomings in the existing security system. The safety of the contestants had been compromised and measures would have to be taken to ensure that there could be no repeat of this incident.

Intervid, a South African-based company, was called in to assist. Intervid Technologies, with its proprietary software, provided the artificial intelligence on a digital platform to turn 'images' to 'intelligence'. Customised, application-specific algorithms provide realtime processing, detection, storage and rules-based decision support systems of pre-configured events, with the added advantage of being able to artificially interrogate the recorded database. In essence, these products automate security, process and inspections within an operation, reducing manpower and the inherent human failure.

Smart video motion detection (SVMD)

SVMD is an advanced motion detection software module which allows not just for detection of movement within an image, but the intelligent utilisation of the information. As ambient lighting conditions change from dusk to dawn the image captured by a camera, particularly in the outdoor environment, will also change. SVMD adapts on an ongoing basis. Trees swaying in the breeze and general ambient movement are masked and burnt into the image to prevent false alarms. As ambient movement subsides the mask decays accordingly. Once SVMD has learned the patterns of ambient movement, within each perimeter camera's field of view, unusual events will trigger alarms and dome cameras will automatically zoom-in to the specific zone of interest.

Although SVMD operates on small sites with as few as four cameras (Big Brother house), it has thrived on some of the world's largest CCTV installations, particularly for the South African mining industry. In these applications, large analog video walls allow users to view dozens of monitors scanning hundreds of cameras. As systems scale, it becomes critical to employ automation in order to route video coverage of events to spotter monitors placed before the operator or supervisor. Motion-triggered video coverage of the fixed perimeter cameras is routed to a spotter monitor. As the dome cameras zoom into the scan zone, relevant footage is routed to a second monitor. In this way, while digital video footage is recorded for evidence and subsequent inspection, the live event is highlighted, and presented, so as to attract the immediate attention of the supervisor. This 'now-casting' of critical events facilitates proactive, as opposed to reactive, response.

This visual management facility can be extended beyond detecting intrusion at a perimeter. The system can actually track movement throughout an entire site. Typically, intruders breaking a line of sight will trigger events where SVMD can follow the individual, or multiple persons, around a site. Alarms will be raised internally and at remote monitoring stations while digitally recording all movement in realtime. Other applications for Intervid's visual technology include production line monitoring, quality control and environmental monitoring. In each instance realtime reporting of only 'relevant' information empowers management and saves companies both time and money.

For further details contact Intervid on tel: (031) 764 9700.

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