How IP-based video systems are helping businesses quickly achieve efficiency gains

Posted May 04th, 2016 by Frank Crouwel

Example of IP video analytics - heat mapAs any technology matures and becomes more sophisticated, the scope for its applications widens. We’re seeing this with IP video technology which is being used increasingly across a diverse range of sectors in three key areas:

  • Distributing live (and recorded) video
  • Leveraging video analytics for business intelligence
  • Visualising processes to identify potential problems

These three applications represent powerful business management and reporting tools that are far beyond IP video’s traditional remit of security. The technology has advanced to the point where these sorts of solutions are possible right now – let’s take a closer look at some real examples of how IP video is being deployed in these three key areas.

Maximise collaboration and devolve decision making through video distribution

Traditionally, video surveillance monitoring is highly centralised and reactive but the distribution of images in real-time can empower front-line staff and allow a more proactive approach. Take the scenario of the rail station manager and his team of platform managers.

Central control room staff collect, analyse and distribute security incident reports and images after the actual events have taken place. If however, platform staff are given rapid access to relevant video when a high risk incident is unfolding on a platform (a fight close to a platform edge for example), this will help them make better decisions to diffuse a potential hazardous situation more rapidly – keeping passengers safe, rail infrastructure secure and train services running on time.

The ability to easily distribute video means that collaborative working doesn’t have to be hindered by distance and this collaboration unlocks efficiencies.

Several zoos today are sending video recordings to remote experts and veterinary consultants when they are concerned about the health or behaviour of the animals they are looking after. One of the largest construction firms in the world has, for example, created a visual control system to remotely support the operators of large tower cranes used in the City of London.

Adding a new dimension to business intelligence

Video analytics is enhancing business intelligence and two examples where this is particularly prevalent is Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and the use of heat maps for analysing dwell-time.

When ANPR software is used with an IP camera, the number plate can be extracted from the image of a vehicle in real-time. This technology is being used increasingly at barriers so approaching vehicles can be checked against a database of authorised vehicles. When integrated with the barrier control system, authorised vehicles can be automatically let into a restricted area such as a manufacturing plant, distribution centre or school.

You can see this in action at the entrance to the Eurotunnel in Folkestone today. Because you have to pre-register your vehicle to confirm the train booking for your car, the interface at the barrier immediately recognises who you are, based on your number plate captured by ANPR-enabled cameras. The verification process and allocation of your vehicle to a specific train is done at the gate in under a minute, generally without any staff intervention whatsoever.

Retailers are integrating dwell-time analytics software into the IP video systems today to help analyse which aisles and displays are working best to attract and retain shoppers. Heat maps determine areas of most activity and highest footfall in the store and can be cross-referenced with till receipt data to confirm the effectiveness of new store layouts.

Specialist analytics software in IP video systems can also be used to generate real-time alerts when queues exceed pre-defined thresholds. These alerts might trigger management decisions to open additional tills and accelerate stock replenishment cycles.

Problem determination through visualisation

For most of us, the best way to understand a complex problem is to sketch it out. In our line of work, building and configuring IP video-based solutions, we often make diagrams of how systems or processes fit together, thereby showing customers how different elements of a system need to interact.

If we need to understand why a mechanism isn’t working as it should, most of us prefer to go and have a look at it. IP video systems increasingly provide those views, enabling real-time and recorded HD quality resolution video to be distributed to all decision-makers rapidly so that more timely, and better informed decisions, can be taken to perhaps carry out preventative maintenance, alter or reinforce health & safety procedures, or take other action based on a solid understanding of where risks, faults or inefficiencies lie.


IP video today has the capability to significantly improve collaboration between people within and beyond the organisation. By empowering front-line operational staff with access to live and recorded video whilst on the move, organisations can make full use of the latest technology for more than just security.

It’s a good time for businesses to look again at what can be achieved using the next generation of IP video solutions.

In doing so, they may be pleasantly surprised how much efficiency can be unlocked and how quickly their investments pay off.

Read the full article at IFSEC Global.

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