An Intelligent Platform for Intelligent CCTV Solutions

July 2019

Interest has accelerated recently in Smart Homes, Smart Cities and the internet of things together with an expectation that technology should give us more control over our personal and working lives.  In the monitoring and surveillance sector, Artificial Intelligence based solutions such as Intelligent Video Analytics (IVA), are entering the mainstream as they reach levels of refinement, usability and affordability.  Product manufacturers and software developers have responded with a diverse range of solutions which reflect the competitive drivers and creative resources in our sector.         

For security technology users, the more, the choice, the better.  IVA not only delivers targeted detection but can  also anticipate events as behaviour patterns are identified and evaluated.  Significant cost savings can be achieved by automating event and subject searches, reducing the number of active video displays in the control room, managing false alerts and optimising operator resources.  The new technologies can have a transformational effect and the pace of innovation seems set to continue.       

Most control rooms, however, do not perform just a single function.  Even in a facility which only monitors remote, event activated CCTV, it will generally need to be able to handle signals and video from different manufacturers’ products.  Many of these products are supplied with free management software designed for those specific products.  It makes sense to use these proprietary software programs if there are only a few different products, not too many sites, too much activity or complexity.  However, these benefits quickly disappear when the control room becomes gridlocked with different applications running on various operating systems and hardware, with the operators becoming confused about which product, or indeed site, they are trying to handle during an alarm event.

This is the point at which the purported cost saving of using manufacturers’ free software is wiped out - when the speed of alarm response suffers and managing multiple applications and hardware becomes difficult.  In our experience, this is the time when those running a monitoring control room start to review the options for migrating to a monitoring platform.  Unlike a PSIM-based system, a well designed monitoring platform does not replace product functionality with its own operating features.  Nor should any third party components be required to integrate, for example, alarms and CCTV.   

High Level Integration

The monitoring platform should be capable of receiving and communicating data, video and audio from all the various products and systems, which should be fully integrated – ie, can all be handled at a single screen.  Interoperability, for example, associating a zone reported by an alarm panel with an image from a CCTV system should all be managed by configuring the user ‘account’ accordingly.

Gathering the right information for the correct response is recognised as an essential task, and IVA does this extremely well.  But, when it forms part of an integrated system, what you do with that data when the operator who may handling several different types of systems is equally important.  While the IVA, whether edge or server based, provides the source data of the remote event, generally it will not interact with other detection devices without the intervention of third party processing. 

Some CCTV and IVA systems are more suited to specific tasks than others.  It is therefore important to select the right combination of solutions rather than taking a one-size fits all approach.  In this instance, the most effective method for executing standard response tasks and applying priorities is to handle all devices and systems within the platform.  And if the platform is continuously developed and enhanced, this will also allow the user to adopt new technology as it becomes available while retaining the investment in legacy systems.       

Different Skill Levels

The more sophisticated systems also require a different level of installation skills and experience to get the best from the products.  All monitoring control rooms are aware that the quality of installations vary, which can lead to serious issues, notably among them very high false alarms with the risk of missing genuine activations.  While the priority should always be to resolve such issues as quickly as possible, it is important that in the meantime the control room is able to continue operating without overall disruption.  The platform can  provide the operator with tools to manage these kind of problems while waiting for issues to be rectified.  And in the many control rooms where operators have to perform multiple tasks - conventional alarm handling, asset tracking and general surveillance duties – having an overall means of control is even more vital.      

For both the commercial remote video receiving centre, striving to deliver a high quality but efficient service, and the private control room serving the specific needs of its parent organisation, there should be a common platform to bring it all together.  New technology continues to provide enhanced security and safety protection, with IVA starting to consign some detection technologies to history.  Users may reflect that, to maximise the benefits of such technologies, the most effective approach is to manage them with an intelligent monitoring platform.