Physical Security: A Strategic Imperative to Business
Shrikant Shitole, VP, Transfromation Business, Cisco India
For most businesses, knowing what goes on at all times can make a big difference in a company's physical and financial security. Maintaining safe buildings and grounds while securing the network is critical for businesses. This is why safety and security solutions are gaining importance - they give businesses access to the necessary tools and resources that enhance physical campus security, track assets, protect the network, and prevent unauthorized network access. IP-based applications converge voice, data, and physical security systems onto a single, pre-integrated solution, allowing intelligent decisions to be made more quickly.
Video surveillance has demonstrated its value and benefits by providing real-time monitoring of a facility's environment, people, and assets and by recording events for subsequent investigation and proof of compliance/auditing purposes. As security risks increase, the need to visually monitor and record events in an organization's environment has become even more important. Moreover, the value of video surveillance has grown significantly with the introduction of motion, heat and sound detection sensors, as well as sophisticated video analytics.
As a result, many sectors have also found value in video monitoring and recording. In transportation, video surveillance systems monitor traffic congestion. In retail, video can be helpful in identifying customer movement throughout a store, or serve to alert management when the number of checkout lines should be changed. Some video analytics packages even offer the ability to identify a liquid spill and generate an alert, enabling faster response by custodial services, thus avoiding a slip-and-fall situation. Product and package shipment operations can use recorded video to help track and validate the movement of cargo and locate lost packages. Additionally, video surveillance can be integrated with access control policies, providing video corroboration of access credentials.
Analog systems relied on human operators to identify events and determine what actions should be taken. Digital systems proved to be more interesting and promising because of the abilities of computer processing and video analytics. By using a set of computer algorithms that scrutinize a change in the digital image at the pixel level, via frame or image comparisons, computers can identify movement, recognize objects or people as a grouping of related pixels, and determine the size of an object. As a result, computers can alert operators or generate alarms based on specific events, such as people entering the field of view, the direction of an object, or the removal of an item from the field of view.
Operators can use analytics to trigger automated alarms and other responses. For example, surveillance systems at an airport or train station can "see" a bag left in its field of view, and page security staff immediately. Casinos can monitor crowds around gaming tables and, if needed, alert the floor staff to quickly open another table. Retailers can monitor checkout areas to detect delays as well as understand customer movement for optimized product placement. Analyzing video can even help freight companies validate the movement of cargo and help locate lost packages. Thus, analytics can transform video surveillance into a tool that improves the productivity or sales growth of a business or organization.
Aside from these features, video analytics are also used for a wide range of other applications - not just to alert, but also to highlight common patterns such as traffic flow of people or cars. Video analytics can create new opportunities for users in other parts of an organization, such as marketing in the retail industry or manufacturing and production control.
However, as video analytics continue to evolve, false alarms do occur. For some uses, such as facial recognition, algorithms are fairly nascent and do not deliver acceptable accuracy. Technological enhancements continue to address these issues.
Smart business owners will invest in cost-effective, modular physical security solutions that are interoperable. Physical security products that support a company's vision of a single, unified security product suite can help integrate all security operations within the IP network, with many non-security applications as well. Using the network as an open, scalable platform for integrating security provides businesses with several benefits, such as operational flexibility, greater protection capabilities, lower cost of ownership, and reduced risk.
The primary purpose of safety and security is to protect lives, property and information. To achieve this, it is critical to connect information with people and organizations that are closest to and may have answers to a given problem or risk, such as first responders, police or others. When the right people have the right information at the right time, they are better able to anticipate risks and solve problems.