The Past, Present & Future of Video Analytics


By Dr. Rustom Kanga.

The initial research on iOmniscient’s Video Analytics technology began in 1994 and it is therefore seen as the pioneer in this field. It continues to demonstrate its technological lead winning the Global Security Challenge for Crowded Places in 2010 and the IFSEC Award for the Best CCTV Technology in 2011 and having a growing number of implementations in most major countries around the world.

A large number of the innovations that we see in the technology today were pioneered by iOmniscient. Here Dr Rustom Kanga, Founder and CEO of iOmniscient and author of the first comprehensive book on video analytics, provides insights into where this technology is heading.

New technologies for the 21st Century

Right to the turn of the century the focus was on recording and video based surveillance systems were only ever used in retrospect to  understand the past – to review events after they had occurred. To be preventive and to be able to react in real time, the security system needed intelligence – intelligence to understand what was happening in the video itself so that the security officer could be notified of a threat/ incident as soon as it happened.

Beyond adding eyes and memory to the system, the addition of intelligence added the ability to “think.” It informed the Security Officer about adverse or suspicious events such as, for example, a bag had that been abandoned in view of Camera 65 or a crowd that had gathered suddenly on Camera 220 allowing the Security Officer to focus on events as they occurred and to take immediate remedial action.

This can be viewed as the Fifth Generation in Security Technology – the Generation of Video Analytics. Video Analytics provides the ability to respond pre-emptively or at least in real time to events.

At the start of the new millennium, several companies had introduced some basic video analysis. Virtually all of this initial video analysis (and this is still the case today) was based on Motion Detection. Motion detection involves the comparison of two sequential images to determine if anything has changed.

Such technology and all its variations can be made to work reasonably in an empty scene. Today, motion detection technology is very common. It is easily available in the public domain and companies often give it away to sell their products. However, technology is also fraught with false alarms because everything that moves (which includes shadows, trees, water and other things) is not necessarily of interest.

iOmniscient decided to embark on a different journey. We decided that to survive in a competitive world we had to do things differently. We developed technology focused on coping with complex, crowded scenes and on minimising false alarms. One design goal was that all our software had to be computing light. To achieve this we had to develop alternative ways of analysing video using artificial intelligence, several of which have been patented.

Developing technology that helped to minimise false alarms was one of the highest priorities as we were of the firm belief that the key to make technology useful was to reduce the number of what are euphemistically known in the industry as nuisance alarms. And everything we did was focused on coping with crowds as our stipulation was that the most critical security situations occur in crowds.

So while others could find an abandoned bag in an empty scene, iOmniscient’s patented non-motion detection could do that in a busy crowd where a thousand people walked in front of it obscuring it for long periods of time. While others could count individuals going through a door we could count the number of people in dense crowds.

And finally we set ourselves the design goal of providing an end to end solution incorporating a comprehensive VMS system as the foundation of the video analytics system making it unnecessary for the user to worry about integrating with a DVR or NVR.

This approach did reap dividends. When iOmniscient launched its first product in 2004 it won the IFSEC Award in the UK for the best new technology. Today it continues to be hailed as the best technology in the industry having just won the Best CCTV Technology Award at IFSEC yet again.

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