Toolbox: Video Analytics Can Improve Your Organization’s Security

With all the talk of increasing crime seeming to dominate the news, it’s not surprising that business owners and property managers are taking another look at their security systems to protect their properties. 

Cameras are seemingly everywhere. Chances are good, unless you work from home or are a recluse, that you’ll be captured on video many times per day, every day.  Even doorbell cameras on private homes have helped to solve crimes. But, do cameras have the deterrent factor they once did? 

It could be argued that cameras have become so commonplace that criminals and bad actors, like the rest of us, barely notice them anymore.  

Businesses have traditionally installed cameras for a variety of reasons. And, if the deterrence factor has been lost or diminished, there is still a big advantage for cameras, in that they provide data which allows for the ability to investigate incidents after they have occurred.

Suppose that a laptop computer is missing from the office. Was it taken by the copier repair person? An employee? Or did a stranger just walk in while everyone was distracted doing something else?

Consider another hypothetical scenario. Someone claims they slipped and fell on your property due to a slippery sidewalk or a pothole. In either of these scenarios, or countless others, the business owner’s first reaction is usually to check the video recording.  

There is much more that cameras can do, beyond providing after-the-incident evidence, and advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be  a game-changer in this area. Imagine if a camera could alert you that a crime is about to be committed, or a crime is in progress. With the use of artificial intelligence or video analytics, we are getting closer to this becoming a reality every day. 

If your apartment complex has a locked entrance at the main lobby, visitors are typically “buzzed” in by a resident. But that level of security is easily defeated by someone hanging out near the entrance and waiting for an individual to exit and catching the door before it closes. However, what if the camera covering this area was programmed to send an alert whenever it detected anyone loitering within 20 feet of the entrance?  The alert could go to a security guard or to any staff person with a smartphone. Even if the property doesn’t have someone readily available to respond, the video system can capture the image of the loiterer and then “follow them” as they move about the property.  

With this technology, someone doesn’t need to spend hours and hours viewing video from multiple cameras to determine where the intruder went. The system automatically strings together images from multiple cameras and provides a timeline of video images for as long as the person in question remains within view of any camera on your property. 

Systems can easily be programmed to send text or email alerts when:

  • Someone is loitering in a specific area
  • A certain number of people stay in one general area for more than a period of time (can be programmed)
  • A pedestrian walks into a garage through an open door meant only for vehicles
  • Someone leaves a package and walks away
  • Someone enters through a door meant for exit only
  • Someone walking in a parking lot follows a pattern indicating they are trying car doors, looking for an unlocked vehicle
  • A person falls and doesn’t get back up in over 60 seconds

Video analytics will benefit almost every situation – even properties with security guards whose duties include monitoring cameras. Guards can sometimes get distracted and become bored watching video. Cameras using analytics are much more likely to “see” something in real time and alert someone who can react appropriately. Depending on the manufacturer and the age of your video system, you may be able to turn your passive cameras into active members of your security team. Members who don’t call in sick, work 24/7 without a coffee break and don’t play video games when they should be watching your property can be extremely valuable when it comes to securing your property.  

We’ve also seen cameras that keep track of the number of people inside your building at any given time. This can be helpful for marketing purposes as well as for safety concerns.  

With the advancements that have been made in video cameras, plus the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), true, state-of-the-art surveillance can be within the reach of any business owner or property manager.

Dave Sawyer is president of Safer Places, Inc., a background screening and security consulting company headquartered in Lakeville, with locations in Worcester, New Hampshire and Maine. More information at