Painting a 3-D Picture in Security
Alyssa Fann | Date:
Hardware and Software Requirements
Regardless of the type of 3-D technology, there are inevitably certain hardware and software requirements. Ultimately, “when it comes to 3-D technology, the question comes down to processing power and the ability to visualize 3-D content in a timely manner. In the context of a security environment, this becomes especially important as you need to ensure real-time access to data and do not want to be in a position of overloading the system,” said Rémi Bréval, Associate Director of Product Technologies at Genetec.
Furthermore, “consideration should be given to which 3-D technology is required,” said Keith Bloodworth, CEO of CNL Software. For example, a static 3-D would be less likely to strain security budgets. While some upfront investment to upgrade the existing system to a 3-D representation may be required, both Debjit Das, VP of Global Marketing for Video Intelligence Solutions, Verint Systems and Bloodworth agreed that it will cost no more to maintain than a standard 2-D system. Furthermore, “this 3-D element integrates seamlessly with existing systems: you don't need special cameras nor anything else,” said Benoit Georis, Analytics Expert at Digital Barriers, of integrating 3-D technology into an existing security system.
However, immersive 3-D systems can be a different story. Bloodworth cautioned, “those going down the immersive 3-D road should ensure they have a substantial budget for asset and mapping maintenance as it is often only the supplying manufacturer who can maintain the systems.” This is because extra software, hardware and operations are required, in addition to maintenance. Hence, Bloodworth found that while many of the customers are interested in the capabilities of immersive 3-D systems and request it at the early stages of a project, most tend to be put off by the high investment and maintenance costs. Nevertheless, there are some police forces and ministries of interior (MoI) projects with significantly larger budgets that employ immersive 3-D technology to increase situational awareness. This is because “to operate true immersive 3-D could involve as much as one server per camera, which in turn will mean massive server farmers for large scale solutions such as police or MoI projects,” said Bloodworth.
Similarly, Bréval reminded those interested in implementing 3-D technology to be aware of the extra investments that will be involved. “It is important to note that CPU and GPU requirements of 3-D technology can be very intensive. This translates into a need for powerful hardware which can fully support the technology. In many cases, these hardware requirements are beyond those of the organization's existing infrastructure.”
Next, the amount of training should be factored in when considering total costs. According to Bloodworth, “the [3-D] systems do tend to be larger than a standard 2-D deployment so some training is nearly always involved but a good PSIM solution will ‘guide' the operators around the process and as such, additional training should be minimal.” End users would be pleased to know that it may even be possible for operations to be tailored to match the previous operations of the security staff in some cases, thereby providing a seamless upgrade. In other cases, Bloodworth said, “Minimal training is required over and above a normal VMS with mapping if adding a PSIM capability. In fact a PSIM can provide operators with simplified controls, so in many cases it is easier to use than the multiple subsystems it may be managing.”
Leap of Faith
When the decision has been made to upgrade to a 3-D PSIM, there are several tips that one could keep in mind when searching for the most suitable 3-D provider. While it may not be possible to have an on-site full scale trial due to time and costs considerations, Bloodworth assured that proof of concepts can be set up to demonstrate the integration and operation on the clients' site. With regards to providers, Woo recommended looking at the company's experience within the 3-D industry and the accompanying 3-D solution offered. For example, technology developers such as Fortem have developed 3-D graphic solutions and offered R&D services in the geospatial, simulation and gaming industries for clients that include Google, Adobe and the Canadian Space Agency, while Digital Barriers owns a patent that allows certified partners and resellers to calibrate any camera from a single 2-D view at installation time, activating 3-D in a matter of one to two minutes.
In terms of the 3-D solutions, Benoit recommended searching for “a true 3-D capability.” According to him, some solutions are only 2.5-D where the 3-D model is extrapolated but not compute for each pixel. However, this may not be immediately obvious to the novice shopper, but the following example provided by Benoit may illustrate this difference to end users. A system with true 3-D capability should be able to illustrate that moving an object, such as a car for example, reduces in size on the user interface to account for the distance and perspective, when moved to a further location. In contrast, a 2-D system will not illustrate this, while a partial 3-D system may just relocate the car from the bottom to the top of the screen without any adjustment to distance and perspective. Hence, Benoit recommended a system that is able to process a video stream with 3-D plans and information at each stage.
Finally, Bréval added that it is important to factor in maintenance requirements of 3-D technology. “Ongoing maintenance and update of 3-D environments for use in security settings is key to success. Time and resources therefore need to be made available to ensure this work is regularly scheduled and that operators of systems have a true, up to date view of their environment.”