EXCLUSIVE: Data-driven insights: a game-changer for VMS

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Video security systems have become universal across all sectors, but traditional standalone systems have limitations, says Jason Tyre, Business Development Manager, Cities, Milestone Systems.

Video technology has become an indispensable tool in modern society to ensure the safety and security of people, property and assets. The use of video has become widespread in many settings, such as with city management, healthcare, hospitality, education and retail, to name a few.

The ability to monitor and record events provides security personnel with the necessary tools and situational awareness to respond to incidents promptly and appropriately. However, relying solely on video alone limits the operator’s ability to manage and analyze the vast amount of metadata contained within the video itself.

Today’s video management software (VMS) must be a highly integrated open platform which can take full advantage of complementary best-of-breed hardware and software solutions. Transforming traditional video into a data-driven solution will allow users to make informed decisions proactively, becoming more effective and efficient.

What is an open platform VMS?

Open platform VMS allows users to manage and monitor their video security system in a very customizable and flexible way. An application program interface (API) for an open platform VMS allows users to integrate third-party applications and devices, such as cameras, access control systems, analytics tools and a wide range of edge devices into the platform. Developers can use the API and its software development kits (SDKs) and other tools to create custom applications that can interact with the VMS, allowing for highly flexible and customizable video security solutions.

Open platform solutions allow users to choose the hardware and software that best fits their needs without being locked into a specific vendor or platform. With an open platform VMS, users can enhance their security operations, increase situational awareness, and achieve better outcomes through data-driven insights.

A highly effective use of an open platform includes the incorporation of advanced analytics which enable organizations to identify and respond to incidents proactively. The ability to identify patterns and trends in real-time video data can help identify potential threats before they materialize. Analytics can also help identify operational inefficiencies and optimize processes, leading to better decision-making and resource allocation for applications beyond security.

Video analytics explained

Unlike traditional video systems, data-driven video technology with analytics leverages algorithms and machine learning to automatically analyze live and recorded video streams. These systems can detect anomalies and even make predictions based on the analyzed data, giving security personnel a significant advantage over traditional video data management methods. Video analytics and metadata are the powerhouses providing insights and context into video, making it easier for security personnel to focus their efforts on the important events that need their attention rather than being overwhelmed by vast amounts of video data.

Video analytics specifically refers to the automated analysis of video and other sensor content using algorithms and machine learning techniques to extract useful information, patterns and insights from the data. Metadata, on the other hand, is the descriptive data that provides context to the video content, such as the time, location and event type. Together, video analytics and metadata provide numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved video searchability: video analytics and metadata make it very easy to locate and retrieve specific video information very quickly. Rapid-review-type analytics can search through thousands of live and recorded video streams to find relevant data in a matter of minutes. What previously may have taken operators days or even weeks to search and compile can be done with analytics in a fraction of the time
  • Enhanced security: video analytics can identify potential security threats in real time, such as unattended bags, suspicious behaviors or unauthorized access, allowing security personnel to take appropriate action
  • Business intelligence: analytic software can provide insights into customer behavior, traffic patterns and other operational data to help businesses improve their operations and customer experience

What this all means

A data-driven VMS usually incorporates video analytic software and other security technologies, including smart cameras, audio detection, air quality sensors and other smart edge devices. An open platform enables device integration as well as the integration of a facility’s existing safety systems – such as access control, lighting and intercom systems – into the video system, creating a comprehensive and user-friendly safety and security solution.

In simple terms, modern data-driven VMS can “watch and listen” for unusual actions or sounds. Integrated analytic software allows cameras to learn a scene and detect atypical events like a crowd gathering, someone moving against the standard traffic flow or a car entering a restricted area. Cameras can even identify open gates, abandoned objects or someone lying on the ground. Additionally, audio sensors can pick up noise above certain thresholds, like arguing, gunshots or shouting, while air quality sensors can detect smoking, carbon monoxide and other hazardous gases, making them an essential part of the VMS’s overall safety and security effectiveness.

Data-driven video technology with analytics can quickly ingest and process vast amounts of data. This allows security personnel to monitor events in real-time, make decisions and act as they occur, reducing response times and improving overall safety. The VMS platform can present all of this information to users through visualizations within the VMS as dashboards, maps or charts, providing a clear and intuitive way to understand the data.

VMS cloud services

Over the last several years, significant investment has been made to upgrade US national, state and local data infrastructure, making cloud VMS solutions both possible and more cost effective than ever before. Hybrid on-premises/cloud approaches to video management can provide affordable off-site video storage, easy internal and external video sharing and access to cloud-based video analytic software on an as-needed basis. A hybrid strategy enables organizations of all sizes and types to move at their own pace by integrating the cloud with existing on-premises systems as capital allows.

A hybrid VMS approach involves using both on-premises and cloud-based services. This approach can offer the benefits of both worlds, with the added flexibility of being able to move between the two depending on the organization’s needs. In contrast, an in-the-cloud VMS approach involves all aspects of the VMS being hosted in the cloud, providing easy remote access to footage and reducing the need for on-premises hardware and maintenance. VMS-in-the-cloud solutions are available today, ranging from very easy/manageable 50-channel or fewer packages to complete enterprise-level solutions.

Cloud-based VMS technology is particularly well-suited to meeting cloud-first city initiatives, which aim to move city services and infrastructure to the cloud. Cloud technology offers remote access, storage and improved scalability, making it ideal for organizations with multiple locations or remote teams – such as multiple sites within a city working together (i.e., school, airport, hotels, city hall and responders sharing information). By using cloud-based VMS technology, cities can improve their security capabilities while also reducing their reliance on on-premises hardware and infrastructure.

A single pane of glass

The goal of any video management system is to enable organizations to do more with less. To achieve this, today’s video systems must leverage the latest technologies, such as AI, machine learning and metadata tools, to maximize real-time alerting and predictive forecasting of events. An open platform VMS is the key to ingesting and analyzing vast amounts of data and presenting it to users in a helpful, understandable way.

Organizations must transition from standalone, reactive video systems to proactive real-time systems that can provide actionable insights to improve operational efficiency and security. The open platform ecosystem of development partners and cloud services come together in a complementary way, offering organizations an effective solution for their unique video management needs.

A successful security strategy brings together all physical components of the system, including cameras, access control systems and lighting, to ensure the safety of all involved. Combining strategies and technologies can mitigate risks and reduce damage with quick and informed responses. While not every event can be predicted, effective strategies can significantly improve the lives of patients, employees, customers and the public. Open platform video management and data-driven analytic tools are crucial, game-changing components of modern security strategies.

This article was originally published in the April edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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