Is 3-D for Security?
Alyssa Fann | Date:
Currently, 3-D technology is used in the security industry to create virtual 3-D environments — 3-D mapping — which is then integrated with a number of third party security systems, such as video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection and fire safety into a PSIM platform. Most of the companies currently providing this solution have partnered with a number of manufacturers in the security industry for the integration of hardware and software in order to exploit the benefits of 3-D. Fortem, for example, has listed its integration partners on its website.
Termed as a tool to gain situational awareness, 3-D can be beneficial in helping to mitigate false alarms, improve detection, reduce training time, increase speed of competency and finally, reduce search times in case of an event. Currently, it is mostly utilized in large facilities such as universities, airports or city surveillance projects. According to Debjit Das, VP of Global Marketing for Video Intelligence Solutions at Verint Systems, a 3-D model is created in PSIM using a layered approach. "The first layer is created using publicly available images and information about the areas, such as satellite images. Next, CAD drawings of floor plans and structures for the facilities are incorporated into the 3-D model."
At the same time, Rémi Bréval, Associate Director of Product Technologies at Genetec, pointed out that the “implementation of 3-D in security environments is leading, and in some cases bleeding edge technology that requires specialized knowledge and 3-D modeling expertise that may not exist in-house with integrators and end users. This is largely due to requirement for specialized knowledge of modeling and visualization tools and complex work involved in development of high fidelity 3-D environments."
“This expertise is not something common to the security industry, although there may be cases in which an integrator has nurtured in-house capabilities to support delivery of this functionality to its customers. In all cases, maintenance and updating of the 3-D environment will be an ongoing requirement that organizations need to factor into their implementation plan,” added Bréval.
2-D versus 3-D
What are the major differences between 2-D and 3-D when it comes to surveillance? Starting with the designing process, 3-D technology can maximize security budgets and provide what Cynthia Woo, Marketing Coordinator at Fortem, called “unparalleled situation awareness” that enables you to “see things that a 2-D design might have missed.” Woo provided the example of Fortem's 3-D simulation tool that allows users to try out camera and lens type on a 3-D simulated virtual map to visualize what the camera will see and at what resolution. Ultimately, Woo said, “prior to the purchase or installation of any camera, a 3-D map will allow you to effectively plan out your security design, reduce costs and meet all design requirements.” Similarly, Das agreed, “We offer 3-D to improve planning and response, ensure that the appropriate coverage of a facility is achieved. A 3-D model in PSIM provides better visualization and heightened situational awareness compared to a 2-D model, and in the planning and response process, it allows you to increase the effectiveness of your security operations."
Next, when it comes to the actual surveillance, 3-D technology promises to transform the experience. Accordingly, Woo said, “The major difference between 2-D and 3-D is the visualization aspect. With 3-D you are able to distinguish height and depth of a given area.” Similarly, Das summarized, “3-D provides better planning, easier visualization and hence a higher level of situational awareness for more effective response.”
A number of 3-D technology providers have partnered with PSIM service providers to provide an enhanced integrated security model. Accordingly, Ted Ingalsbe, CTO at Bridgeborn, said, “The 3-D environment is becoming the center piece of PSIM software. It provides the mashed up view of all the security system information integrated into PSIM software so an operator is provided better situational awareness.”
Benoit Georis, Analytics Expert at Digital Barriers, listed four benefits of 3-D technology in PSIM security platforms. First, 3-D technology provides consistency checks by removing false alarms that might arise from a lack of perspective management present in 2-D technology, such as showing that a person cannot jump over a high wall. Second, in what Gerois termed as “redeployable cameras,” a 3-D system is parameterized with real world 3-D parameters so that camera locations can be changed without the need to readjust settings, unlike a 2-D system which requires re-parameterizing. Third, industry experts all agree that 3-D technology can be integrated seamlessly with existing systems. Finally, a 3-D enabled security system can locate a suspicious person on a 3-D map of a site or building through information of the X, Y, Z location. In other words and as Woo said, “simply click on the 3-D map and you will be redirected to the appropriate video feeds, saving valuable time in critical situations.” For example, a 3-D PSIM platform such as Fortem's central command enables security staff to instantly view the site of concern when an alarm is triggered, alongside the corresponding video feeds. Next, as third party security systems can easily be integrated into the 3-D PSIM, security staff can easily “fly over an entire city or area for a full visualization of the surroundings” and alter the settings of third party security systems as required, such as unlocking or locking a door from an access control system that is connected to the PSIM. Furthermore, Woo added, “an investigator will be able to visualize possible routes that a suspect may have taken.”
Static and Immersive
Before getting into the nicks and crooks of investing in a 3-D PSIM system, it is necessary to differentiate between static and immersive 3-D technology. Keith Bloodworth, CEO of CNL Software, explained, “Static 3-D visualization is where a company is contracted to render a 3-D image, which is displayed within the PSIM software to which camera locations and fire points are added.” For example, an old CCTV system with multiple DVRs and a NVR can be modernized into 3-D by placing it upon a Google Map or SketchUp in a 3-D representation of the exterior/interior. While the improvement in quality will not be drastic, the integration of it into a PSIM system can be vastly beneficial to management and operation.
On the other hand, Bloodworth said, “immersive 3-D interacts with hardware to render the virtual environment and process the user input to provide a real sense of walking through a building. When cameras are overlaid on this, it creates a much richer user experience, allowing them to see more contextual information. The 3-D rendering is very process heavy, so requires lots of processor power. This adds significant costs to any deployment.” Hence, security budgets should be a factor in the process of adopting a 3-D PSIM system.