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INSIGHTS

Top video analytic features for robust school security

Top video analytic features for robust school security
Although most schools have traditional security solutions in place, they are not enough to stop the threat of gun violence.
The year 2022 has seen 611 mass shootings in the US, making it the second-worst year for gun violence in the eight years since the Gun Violence Archive, the nation’s most all-inclusive tracker of mass shootings. School shooting incidents have been some of the most horrific among them, stressing the need for better security in this vertical.
 
Although most schools have traditional security solutions in place, they are not enough to stop the threat of gun violence. According to Lizzi Goldmeier, Director of Marketing at BriefCam, leveraging AI-enabled video analytics is crucial to ensuring protection on school premises.
 
“From K-12 schools to university campuses, student safety and wellbeing are major priorities for educational institutions,” Goldmeier said. “Complementing existing surveillance resources, video analytic solutions increase a school’s situational awareness for proactively responding in real-time and investigating security incidents post-event.”
 
Video analytics technology extracts data from video surveillance so it can be searched, alerted on, and visualized, as well as correlated with other data sources, for enhancing security coverage, deriving operational insights, and assessing and responding to threats based on configured alert settings.
 
Real-time alerting and long-term data visualization are key capabilities for tracking traffic on campus, understanding visitor demographics and activity trends, and making decisions based on quantifiable data. While video analytic features are numerous and continuously growing, four among them would suit schools in particular.

Also read: School shooting incidents don't stop. What needs to be done? 

Tracking and preventing loitering

One important metric of situational awareness is identifying unexpected loitering. Extended lingering can indicate potential issues such as a suspicious person or vehicle on campus or, alternatively, a medical emergency.
 
“Video content analytics can be leveraged to configure alerts that notify surveillance operators and security personnel to proactively investigate a potential incident and formulate a response, as well as aggregate dwell trends over time to understand physical security vulnerabilities,” Goldmeier said.

Mitigating security threats 

Campuses frequently play host to political protests, major gatherings and sporting events, and – sometimes – even crimes. Features like license plate recognition become helpful here to identify and authenticate vehicles and avoid security incidents.
 
“Security can generate awareness around the arrival of past agitators, closely monitor unrecognized vehicles in sensitive areas, and proactively prevent security breaches or incidents by leveraging analytics such as appearance similarity and license plate recognition,” Goldmeier explained. “Real-time alerting and intelligent watchlist management can increase personnel efficiency by drawing attention to the most relevant and critical details when time is of the essence.”

Enhancing traffic flow on campus

Crowd management is a problem that any place has to deal with. On campuses, it is important to ensure that there are no areas where people find it difficult to move without hindrance. This can become a major concern, especially when the number of people is more than usual, particularly on days when there are specific events or gatherings. Analytics can help in ensuring the smooth movement of people.
 
“By leveraging video analysis to proactively detect overcrowding in and around facilities, universities and schools can reduce congestion, prevent bottlenecks, and ensure a pleasant and welcoming experience on campus,” said Goldmeier. “Whether in real-time or over time, increased awareness about traffic trends and actively contributes to a welcoming and inviting campus environment.”  

Facial recognition for proactive security   

Over the years, facial recognition technology has become increasingly accurate. For schools, identifying known perpetrators when they enter a campus is crucial to prevent a threat from escalating. According to Dean Nicolls, CMO of Oosto, this feature works even if someone tries to conceal their identity with masks.
 
“From a video analytics perspective, facial recognition and watchlist alerting need to be a primary pillar of a school’s video surveillance system,” Nicolls said. “The ability to identify known threats (or potential threats) in real-time is vitally important. This technology has been well tested and can identify known bad actors even if the individual is wearing a mask.”

Not all features mature

Other types of video analytics offer promise, but many are not quite ready for prime time.  For example, behavioral analytics, which dissects video footage in real-time and looks for behavior anomalies, has potential but is not mature enough to use without significant false alarms. 
 
“This could mean someone who has fallen down, groups of people running, people climbing a fence, or a student dropping into a crouch position may all suggest potential danger,” Nicolls pointed out. “Unfortunately, at schools, these types of behavior are often pretty normal for children at play, especially at recess. This would presumably trigger a high number of false alarms, which could result in a high number of unnecessary lockdowns.” 

Features like weapon detection also have potential, especially when a gun is visible and carried in a provocative manner. But it's significantly more challenging when the weapon is concealed. While these might become useful at some point, we will have to rely on proven features at the moment.

Conclusion

While school and campus security continue to remain under the scanner for shooting-related incidents, effort on the ground toward solving the problems has been inadequate. The sheer number of incidents proves this. The unfortunate truth is that more incidents are just waiting to happen if we don’t take more proactive steps now.
 
Video analytics is becoming absolutely essential to security now, especially as new algorithms continuously offer faster and more accurate results. Schools should no longer consider traditional physical security systems that are useful only for investigative purposes and switch to making better use of video analytics that offers real-time protection.
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