-- Motion Detection --
Almost all IPVS systems provide recording based on time scheduling or motion detection. The trouble is that a camera lens does not have the intelligence to tell if a girl in its scope of view has moved or the wind is blowing the leaves. We use software algorithm to compare the pixels of two consecutive shots and decide if a change (also interpreted as a motion) has taken place or not based on the number of pixel state changes (0 or 1). Many IP cameras and most video management software packages have this level of intelligence if not more. The trouble is that they detect a lot of movement at all times and raise a lot of false alarms at the same time.
An example of good applications is to take a smaller area out of the camera view scope for monitoring, or several areas. This measure ignores areas and objects such as trees and leaves which would move in the wind and focuses on the main path to the house where humans and pets would be the only moving objects. We can further eliminate pets on the ground by having the area of monitoring defined above the ground level.
-- Artificial Intelligence --
Software in the server can do more in the form of artificial intelligence. For example, the server can learn about the scene monitored by a camera. The server could use continuous statistical analysis of movements in various areas within the view scope of a camera and learn if a movement in a specific area is normal or not normal. If we consider swaying trees in the background as normal, we will not set any alarm triggering to leaf movements.
-- Infra Red Radiation --
The above examples have certainly achieved a level of intrusion or access monitoring. Let us go one step further for more accurate and imminent information. Human bodies have a temperature of 36.8 degree C and emit radiation of a wavelength that correlates with the temperature. If our camera can detect radiation of this wavelength, the camera will tell if a human is detected and if a human motion is taking place. Are there cameras that detect human radiation? Yes there are but we need to clarify the concept here as this subject may lead to confusion.
The radiation we talk about is in the range called Infra Red (IR). Many cameras are equipped with IR LED or IR vision enabled. These features do not necessarily mean the cameras are capable of detecting human radiation specifically. LED refers to illuminating the background so that objects in darkness can be seen at an IR level. This situation is similar to visible light. If the sun is out, we can use a torch to see. If the IR intensity of a background is low, we can use an IR torch to see. The IR LED installed in some cameras is such an IR torch.
Infra Red covers a range of wavelengths including the one corresponding to human body temperature. Any IR sensors installed in the camera have to be fine tuned so that they detect human body temperature only if they want to ignore non-human radiation. This is a special effort and is not a give-in. Camera vendors should make this point clear in their product specifications.
-- Detection by Physical Measure --
The above scenario has improved the quality of information but does not extend the function of the camera to beyond motion detection. Let us consider a camera equipped with Digital Input (DI) and Digital Output (DO) capabilities. Digital Input refers to the capability of a camera to receive a voltage signal which is associated with a set of pre-defined events. That is, the signal has meaning. For example, a latch installed on a window will send an Open signal (0) when the window changes from the state of Closed (1). A simple and standalone window or door latch does not send any voltage, but a latch connected to a circuit encompassing a camera equipped with DI capability does. Similarly, DO is a voltage signal sent by the camera to an external device such as a ceiling light switch to turn it from the Off state (1) to the On state (0). The uses of 0 and 1 here are arbitrary but good implementations use 1 for non-alarm state and 0 for alarm state for an important technical reason.
A professional burglar is very capable of opening a closed window of a house from outside and he would have a better chance of getting away in the dark. Cameras that cannot see in the dark will not detect this burglar. Cameras capable of detecting human radiation will see him. Cameras with DI can tell that the window latch has been opened. Cameras with DO can turn on the ceiling light and allow the cameras to take very clear videos of the burglar. We can also connect a Siren to the DO circuit to wake everyone up or scare the burglar off.
-- Video Analytics --
How do we filter out people who come in the door through a proper path such as the main entrance instead of unlatching a window? We will apply pattern recognition to grab faces from a camera and rely on a database of authorized faces in the server. Faces are continuously recognized in real time and compared to the database. Faces pre-defined in the database for authorized people do not raise any alarm but faces not matching will. We can further introduce the categories of good faces and bad faces. Bad faces are people we have to be very aware of if they enter through the main door. The video surveillance server will issue alarms to people concerned to take immediate action. Faces that are not good or bad can be followed into the building by other cameras in the video surveillance system. The use of colors such as white, black and grey may be more effective to convey the 3 situations but this may be misread as racist.
The above scenario does not link to any door lock
or access card use, but in fact linking is preferred. There are two reasons. The first is a huge reduction of the computational workload on the server. The second is a huge improvement of accuracy. For example, the server does not need to do anything (and reserves its computing resources to other imminent or important tasks) if nobody is using an access card for entry or opening the door lock.
-- Access Control and Door Locks --
So far we have read about developments of IP based video surveillance that rely on various levels of artificial intelligence. We have also learned that integrating physical access control devices in the surveillance system is desirable for a higher fitness for purpose. The industry is indeed moving in this prescribed direction. Vendors of access control and door lock devices are in the process of changing the connection interface from analogue or proprietary to IP based gradually. In the interim, some vendors supply media decoders to convert analogue or proprietary devices to IP signals. This will allow all signals to be processed in one single IP based server system, and all information including camera videos, door lock states, and access flows to be conveyed to a building security supervisor through a single display system.
-- The Promise --
An industry consortium called Physical Security Interoperability Alliance was formed in February 2008 for the goal of prescribing open and standard interfaces. It is still in its early days as of March 2011 when this article was written but the future is promising. The fundamental promise was actually firmly laid in concrete by the advent of Internet Protocol (IP) technology. IP will be everything as an earlier paper prescribed.
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