Video surveillance has been used for jobsite monitoring for decades but rarely has met its full potential as a deterrent, loss prevention tool, criminal evidence, safety system or supervisory tool. While resolution improved dramatically with the introduction of digital cameras, the age old problem of intelligently capturing relevant content continues.
The principal purpose of video surveillance is to capture "people activity." Obviously a property owner is going to be interested in "people activity" in a space where nobody is supposed to be. Spaces within a facility that are restricted to authorized personnel are also areas where "people activity" is of interest. Of course open storage areas like car lots or equipment lots pose special vulnerabilities being outside the protection of four walls and a lock.
But hours, days or even months can pass before any legitimate "people activity" of interest occurs. The challenge has always been identifying the activity of interest and then, and only then, recording it.
There's motion and then there's motion of interest
While there are a variety of standalone motion detector sensors that are used to trigger events, the most common method used in surveillance camera systems is the analysis of pixel patterns. When something moves in a digital image it will change the pixel pattern and signal motion.
Most systems will allow the user to define areas in an image that they want to target for motion detection. For example if a camera is covering a loading dock with a public street in the background, motion on the street should be ignored and only motion detected on the dock recorded. Users can literally "draw" the boundaries of the area they want to cover and this accomplishes two things.
First it eliminates recording of extraneous movement (traffic on the road) which in turn minimizes "false alarms." Secondly, by reducing the area on the image that is to be analyzed by establishing boundaries the analysis can be accomplished faster and more accurately.
Tracking pixels can be problematic
For the last few years this has been the basis for detecting motion via surveillance cameras. There is however, a problem. The pattern of the pixels within the boundaries of the target area can be changed by other than "people activity" or motion of interest.
For exterior cameras the environment can create "false alarms" simply by raining. Windblown debris can enter the target area and change the pattern. If there is landscaping within the target area like trees or shrubs their movement in the wind can also be picked up as movement. Interior cameras face similar challenges particularly when there is a change in the color of the background (a light turned on or off).
The net result can be a high incidence of "false alarms" which, depending on the events that are triggered by the recording, could lead to false alarms being sent to monitoring services, security, the property owner or even the police.
Sorting the wheat from the chaff
MOBOTIX a leading manufacturer of surveillance systems recently rolled out a software update for its MOBOTIX cameras that takes motion detection to a new level and greatly increases the efficiency and reliability of jobsite monitoring.
The update which is called MXActivitySensor can discern between a human and an object but more importantly between motion of interest and extraneous motion. It's triggered by movement across the image or movement towards or away from the camera.
The real breakthrough is the sensor's ability to ignore minor "stationary" movement. For example if a person is sitting at his or her desk and reaches for the phone or stands up the motion is ignored. If however s/he started to walk away or towards the camera the motion would be recorded. The same holds true for machinery that may have moving parts like an oil drill but does not move left or right or forwards or backwards. And unless your landscaping comes from the Enchanted Forest it is unlikely that they will take their swaying boughs and start marching across the image.
Eliminating the minor stationary movement greatly enhances the reliability of the system and will result in far fewer "false alarms."
This new sensor really is a breakthrough particularly for large outdoor jobsites. If you would like to learn more about the technology and its application or if you have MOBOTIX cameras but have not received the free MXActivitySensor upgrade pick up the phone and give us a call at 866-373-1999 today.