How to Unlock the Value in Large-Scale Surveillance Systems

05 April 2018
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As Head of Security, you've no doubt found yourself in a scenario where your company’s board members and chief executives raise security as their top concern, all the while pushing you to cut costs as you go.

It is a tricky situation to be in and it’s even more unfortunate that many don't realise that being able to achieve high-level security while cutting costs as much as possible are contradictory and extremely difficult to accomplish.

One of the major security challenges that go beyond creating the safest environment possible involves being able to illustrate and quantify real and actual results every day. Security is a costly operation but then again, it probably should be when the stakes are so high. Surveillance, in particular, has a low return on investment (at least on paper) because it involves a great deal of expensive equipment and may lead to additional costs when you need to hire extra employees to constantly monitor security camera feeds.

But luckily, there is a way to do more with less. You can opt to extract as much value as possible out of your existing large-scale surveillance system, quantifying results in a very easy-to-digest way, and helping create the safest possible environment at the exact same time. All that is required is for you to keep a few key things in mind.

 

The Power of a Video Management Solution

One of the most critical ways to unlock as much value as possible from a large-scale surveillance system comes by way of a video monitoring system. 

The beauty of a true video management solution is that it brings all of your security cameras and other visual assets together and combines them as one. A good VMS is a heavily customisable, scalable, and straightforward way to enable live viewing of video feeds from any device with an active Internet connection. The beauty of this is that it can evolve and grow as your organisation and environment does the same.

You can find specific recordings using an intuitive and easy-to-use graphical user interface, can quickly locate cameras relevant to a particular investigation with an interactive map, and can even make sure that you're only recording the most relevant video possible with a built-in motion detection feature.

Every VMS solution has different capabilities, but the underlying goal is always the same — they're a way to allow your surveillance systems to act as more than just a series of loosely-connected cameras. It actually brings everything together to form a fully-integrated and capable whole that rises up to meet your company’s security objectives.

 

The Endless Possibilities of AI-Assisted Video Monitoring

Another essential way to unlock the maximum amount of value in a large-scale surveillance system involves employing an AI-assisted video monitoring solution to do most of the work for you. The solutions offered by iCetana and other providers help fill in a lot of the gaps created by more traditional or rule-based solutions, acting as a more holistic and proactive approach to security.

With a traditional ‘rule-based’ solution, for example, your surveillance software is really only looking for certain conditions based on a set of rules pre-programed by your security personnel. Essentially, you tell it what to look for and it will only look out for anything that meets those conditions. This approach is certainly effective in some ways, but it also fails regularly in others primarily because it's limited to what humans can predict about what might occur.

If you're the Head of Security for an airport, for example, you might be able to anticipate that your software should look for people who leave behind suspicious bags and other items. If you're employed at a shopping mall or other large facility, however, this may not be a condition that you've trained yourself or your software to look out for. You wouldn't realise that this is a precursor event to something far more dangerous until it's already happened, but by that point, it's too late to really do anything.

AI-assisted video monitoring, on the other hand, recognises what is normal and what is abnormal regardless of the scenario. Using machine learning and other sophisticated techniques, it actually analyses footage to better identify what normal actually looks like so it can identify ones that fall outside of those boundaries as they're happening.

Not only does this give you a real-time look into your entire environment, but it also allows you to respond to events as they're actually happening — thus reducing their overall impact. AI-assisted video monitoring puts you in an excellent position to identify events you would have totally missed otherwise. At the same time, these systems are built to scale, so regardless of whether you have 100 cameras or 10,000, the system will instantly alert human employees to events that they need to know about so that they can take action as soon as possible.

Even when security events aren't taking place, these types of systems also give you a much better understanding of patterns and causes. All of these can be invaluable towards creating a more proactive model of security across an entire organisation.

 

Incident Reporting for the 21st Century

Finally, we arrive at incident reporting tools like those available. As a security professional, one of the most important assets that you have access to on a daily basis is data. After all, more of it has been created in the last two years alone than at any other point in human history.

Where incident reporting tools truly shine is in their ability to collect invaluable data from your surveillance system in a way that provides true insight into security performance and common incident patterns. Essentially, think of it like the security version of a business analytics tool. 

Businesses use these tools to learn more about their customers, what they need, what they respond to, etc. — all in an effort to make sure that they're making the right move for the right situation at exactly the right time. Incident reporting tools allow you to do the exact same thing, albeit from a security-driven perspective.

It's a way to take the massive volumes of data that are being created to cut through the noise, extracting as much actionable, valuable insight as possible for you to use to make better decisions moving forward.

 

In the End

The battle between effective security and cutting costs is one that isn't likely to end anytime soon, but as Head of Security or as a security professional, it also isn't one that you have to concede to your corporate overlords either.

Not only do video management solutions, AI-assisted video monitoring options like those available from iCetana and incident reporting tools allow you to extract as much value as possible from your large-scale surveillance systems, they also come together to form something far more meaningful than any one of them could on their own.

They allow you to shift the focus of your entire enterprise away from a reactive, post-incident review process to a more proactive approach to site security. Not only will you be able to work smarter, not harder in terms of site security, but you'll genuinely be in a better position to stop problems before they have a chance to become much larger, more expensive, and more dangerous ones down the road.

This alone should be enough to get every one on board with your security plan at all costs— from board members to the Head of Surveillance, and everyone else in between.

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