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How IP Cameras and Video Analytics Make Cities Smarter

Posted by Tom Dodrill | Mar 23, 2017 3:01:45 PM

Today there is consistent pressure on law enforcement and other security personnel to decrease threats from crime and terrorism while providing a higher quality of life for citizens, particularly in large urban environments.

One important factor that helps effectively reach these objectives is to share video and other data in a rapid and orderly manner. IP cameras are helping to make this happen.

Industry wide, technical advances in network video cameras, as well as sharply dropping prices, have driven the move away from older analog technology. Capabilities such 1080P and higher resolution, wider field of view, 60 FPS, low light operation, and extremely low latency are all important technical drivers for tailoring the camera capabilities to the application needs. The fact that the improved images from these newer cameras can be easily and inexpensively shared between agencies makes network cameras the obvious choice over lower resolution analog cameras. Wide area surveillance and intersection management using panoramic cameras, which increase situational awareness and lowers costs, are only possible using IP cameras.   

Smart cities that are looking for a complete solution also need to ensure their cameras integrate with video analytics. Fortunately, enhanced IP cameras are available today that feature built in Video Analytics (VA), Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and License Plate Recognition (LPR) capability, and Red Light intersection technology. Camera video analytics are available in both fixed and PTZ camera models. ANPR and LPR cameras identify and capture license plates and compare these against lists of known entities such as criminals, VIPs, or people who owe fines.

While this is not a new concept, video analytics have steadily improved and are better than ever. City surveillance managers can now monitor crime areas, traffic flow, intersections, and gathering points all from a single system without the need for an operator to sit and watch a monitor. The video analytics will monitor the video feeds without an operator, notifying them only if a trigger event, such as a license plate on one of the watchlists, is detected.

Because video analytics are now an integral part of many IP cameras it is difficult to put a number on the adoption rate of video analytics. The increase in efficiency acts as a force multiplier allowing a single operator to effectively cover more video feeds than with direct visual monitoring, and with lower fatigue.

Some of the video analytics available today include “directional movement” to identify vehicles moving in the wrong direction or where it is not safe, “motion detection” to identify interlopers in areas where there should be no motion, and “loitering detection” which has been effectively deployed near ATMs and other sensitive locations. New analytic capabilities such as “object left behind” help identify potential security risks and prioritize the attention of field officers. Cameras with Red Light capability are also making it easier for cities to enforce traffic laws without having police present, by capturing the plates of drivers who run red lights.

As people move to the cities for better jobs, access to cultural activities and better overall quality of life, city surveillance is more crucial than ever. Cities are now faced with the challenge of helping people get from place to place as quickly and safely as possible, so traffic operation management is a critical part of any smart city initiative.

Here too IP surveillance cameras with analytics can make a difference. Traffic operation management analytics can help city planners perform market studies by learning which areas are frequented most often, allowing for the quick modification of mass transit schedules. Loitering analytics at bus or train stations can quickly determine growing queues and alert managers to send additional busses or reschedule train routes. Smart phone apps allow users to view city traffic cameras to identify specific problems within congested areas so that they can plan alternate routes.

The benefits of a large interconnected city video surveillance system are giving cities a greater capability to respond to growth, crime, terrorism and improve the overall quality of life.  

The future for surveillance and video analytics is expanding. As the biggest cities evolve their surveillance platforms, they will set the example for smaller cities and towns to incorporate, helping to grow the network of connected cities using surveillance and analytics to keep citizens safe.

Evolution of Safe Cities

Topics: Safe City

Written by Tom Dodrill