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Intelligent video can help protect perimeters and outdoor areas

John Romanowich

Intelligent video can be an excellent tool for protecting large perimeters and outdoor areas. With the innovation of cameras with substantially more on-board image processing, intelligent video systems now available can accurately detect the presence of unauthorized persons over site perimeters and outdoor areas, day and night, 24/7. 

These smart cameras are capable of filtering the effects of environmental elements, minimizing nuisance alerts and providing early detection over large areas, regardless of wind, weather or the movement of small animals, trees or blowing trash. Such a system yields the necessary security awareness around a facility’s perimeter to meet critical security needs.

To be effective, intelligent video solutions used for perimeter applications must be designed from the ground up to contend with difficult outdoor environments. With the right planning and product selection, intelligent video systems can provide a number of perimeter security benefits: 

High probability of detection outdoors. Intelligent video cameras that employ a higher degree of on-board (in-camera) image processing can accurately discriminate legitimate targets from extraneous surrounding motion and clutter. For example, a higher amount of processing power within the camera can be used to stabilize images electronically, before video content analysis takes place. This approach removes camera motion as a source of nuisance alarms. In-camera processing of a sufficient degree can also filter small movements from trees, leaves, small animals, trash blowing across the ground and other non-threatening movement from causing alerts, thus sending alarms only when human intruders enter secure areas. With a system that minimizes nuisance alarms, operators come to trust the system when an alert occurs, providing systemic accountability across the security team. 

Detect intruders that human operators would miss. Spending hours watching video monitors is exhausting. Human operators cannot remain vigilant for very long. Intelligent video systems never tire and can see smaller objects over larger areas that the human eye would miss. When alerted to take action by a reliable intelligent video system, security teams can make appropriate response decisions, day and night.

Provide precise information about the nature of an intrusion. Speed is paramount when thwarting an intruder who seeks to compromise operations. The most effective security plans call for creating sufficient time between detection of an intrusion and preventing danger. In this model, early and accurate detection is critical to maintaining a high level of vigilance. Various technologies exist that can provide early detection around a perimeter, but knowing the size, location and nature of an event as it unfolds is key to mobilizing an effective response.

Of all the automated detection technologies (fence sensors, fiber optics, seismic sensors, radar, etc.) only video provides the intrinsic detail to display and record the “what and where” of an alert, without the need for additional verification systems. Intelligent video -- when designed for the outdoors -- can detect and evaluate the presence of unauthorized persons over large perimeters to provide early warning and actionable data.   

Accurately pinpoint the location of an intrusion. Intelligent video cameras can be geo-registered to global positioning satellite (GPS) coordinates, which allow them to make very accurate determinations regarding the target’s location, size, bearing and speed. This information allows the intelligent video camera to prevent small objects from triggering alerts. Cameras that are geo-registered accurately can measure the true size of an object, not just how large it appears, because it can take into account how far away an object is from the camera. This can be used to create very accurate size filters to ensure that small animals, blowing trash along the ground or other environmental variables will be ignored.

Geo-registration provides several other benefits for protecting site perimeters. Such information can be used by the intelligent camera to superimpose the location of detected targets onto a site map of the facility -- information that becomes critical when protecting large outdoor areas, and enabling a real-time, coordinated response. The same geo-registration can be used automatically to steer PTZ cameras to zoom and follow detected intruders for close-up identification, while recording video for post-event analysis and evidence.

Lower costs and improve ROI. The same image processing that gives intelligent cameras their accurate detection also enables them to cover larger areas -- as much as three to five times the distance -- reducing the number of cameras and associated infrastructure costs (camera poles, trenching, wiring, cabling, storage, etc.) by up to 50 percent. While outdoor cameras may have a higher cost per unit, their extended range makes possible an overall reduction in a project’s costs. End-user operations need fundamentally stable and scalable subsystems upon which to build an effective security function. The key to doing so in the outdoors is to pre-integrate all of the components into a reliable system that eliminates the need for “tuning,” which has typically occurred at a customer’s site, where it is most costly. 

Designing and implementing an effective perimeter security system, with high probability of detection and low nuisance alerts, requires systems designed for the uncontrolled outdoor environments. Detection accuracy is the cornerstone of both better security and lower costs. 


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