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This is not your father’s video

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
By Mike Matta
Co-founder and CEO of Solink

Is video surveillance an underdeveloped asset in the world of Big Data analytics and security system management?

That is the question many security industry executives and managers are beginning to ask themselves as new technologies prove an expanded role for video content in the day-to-day operations of any competitive business environment.

For years, video surveillance has been thought as nothing more than an expensive insurance policy that protects the organization from theft, accident fraud and employee misconduct. Video has been a defensive tool in protecting assets, employees and customers, and continues to serve that limited function in millions of businesses today.

However, recently introduced software applications and technological advances have begun to move video surveillance from a reactive tool to a proactive role in developing data-driven strategies and in providing contextual video content for resolving a variety of timely business challenges.

Surveillance video has become both the blessing and a curse of the 21st century. We produce over 413 petabytes of recorded video data on a daily basis and have invested billions in recording and storage devices that house all of this information. For the past decade, the security industry has continued to create new and innovative ways to record and store video, but has not addressed the question of how to make the best use of video content produced by that expensive investment.

Until recently, the timely accessibility of this wealth of information has been challenging at best. More manual than automated, it was almost impossible to find a reliable way to correlate video with other types of recorded business data to take action or predict future behavior.

The challenge has always been that recorded surveillance video and traditional business computerized data is stored in different parts of the enterprise network and have not been considered a collaborative business tool across the enterprise.  Other than time stamps and some programmed event trigger alarms, there were not too many reliable ways to use one in cooperation with the other.

With the introduction of simple exception-based reporting systems, video can now be proactively programmed to become part of any marketing, operations or investigation activity by linking it directly with the corresponding transactional or business data. This approach provides a more contextual understanding of any questionable activity or business opportunity. 

Recorded and live video provides the ultimate form of contextual insight to know exactly what happened at any given date or time.

The applications for this new asset are obvious in the areas of proactive theft and fraud detection and prevention. The alignment of video and other recorded business data can also have a positive impact on employee training, inventory control, retail promotions and sales, and other areas of the business where predicting employee or customer behavior can lend itself to building a more competitive business strategy.

The emergence of IP video has made a lot of these new solutions possible. Digitizing live and recorded video has made it accessible to and compatible with other applications and video solutions available today. Business executives and managers are currently searching for new ways to democratize the data stored in their existing security and enterprise network equipment without investing in additional expensive hardware fixes.

There seems to be an inevitable convergence of video data with other forms recorded information that will connect customer actions and transactional events to one another. The ability to pull targeted bits of information from the collective data stream already exists with other forms of data. Retail, financial, entertainment, transportation and medical are all industries that are driving the demand for the context found in recorded and live video to improve their business operations.

Video surveillance is quickly emerging as a critical part of all future data-driven applications and activities. For better or worse, it has become an essential component in the information mix that is pushing data-driven content into all aspects of our lives and the corporate boardrooms. Video analytics platforms and other decision-support systems are in the market and can easily connect with any web-enabled device, such as, a smart phone, tablet or laptop computer. 

The market acceptance of the trend to manage video and data content as a whole will drive the next round of video surveillance tools and applications, from a device that simply records events to a converged enterprise platform that enable actionable and timely business intelligence.

Mike Matta is co-founder and CEO of Solink in Ottawa, Canada. Matta has a long history in the creation and implementation of date analytical products and services.


Intel invests $15m in Prism SkyLabs


Prism Skylabs, a two-year-old startup founded by Ron Palmieri and 3VR’s Steve Russell has announced a $15 million Series B funding round led by Intel Capital, Intel Corporations’ investment and M&A business.

Florida doctor shot and killed by patient. Are hospitals safe enough?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The open-door policy that exists in hospitals makes it difficult to protect patients and staff. The murder last week of Dr. Dmitriy Nikitin, who was shot by a disgruntled patient as he walked from Florida Hospital's downtown building into the parking garage, is yet another example of violence in hospitals. After shooting the doctor that allegedly performed a life-saving transplant, Nelson Flecha shot and killed himself. According to an Orlando Sentinel article, the hospital is stepping up security in the wake of the incident, but doesn't specify how.

What can hospitals do to protect against this kind of senseless violence? The incident was apparently caught on video surveillance, but security didn't notice the shooter lurking in the parking garage. Also, because he didn't enter the facility, a visitor badge system coupled with an instant background check system wouldn't have helped either. Certainly, more security officers could be a deterrent, but this man was obviously disgruntled and on a mission. It's hard to stop that kind of person.

Violence is becoming more prevalent in hospitals. According to the article:

Last year, the Joint Commission — a nonprofit organization that accredits U.S. hospitals — reported that since 1995, there have been 256 assaults, rapes or homicides at hospitals and health-care facilities. Of those, 110 have occurred since 2007.

Some hospitals are taking unique and high-tech approaches to security. Earlier this year, I wrote this story about Atlantic Health, a large healthcare provider serving northern New Jersey and metropolitan New York and how they're relying on technology to help mitigate threats to staff and patients. For example, the hospital has deployed facial recognition technology in its emergency department to identify people within the hospital’s database who are considered high risk. The hospital also pays a monthly subscription fee in order to access several national databases, which determines in real-time if an individual has a criminal history, such as the National Crime Information Center, the federal Terrorist Screening Center watch list as well as all 50 state’s Department of Motor Vehicle databases.

Similarly, I wrote about Pacific Hospital of Long Beach is largely concerned about not allowing dangerous or unstable individuals into its facilities, and they focus on properly training their security officers. Supervisors are also given Android smartphones that they use to monitor video cameras in the hospitals instead of having to contact or visit the control room.

Are there other security measures hospitals should be taking? Are all hospitals considered high-risk because of their open-door policy?

Hospital security: Pandemics to shooters

Monday, October 20, 2008

On Friday I attended The International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety's 2008 Security Training Conference in Lewiston, Maine. I love going to these local events and getting some quality face time with some of the security professionals in the region. It's so much better than meeting people at big trade shows - neither of you are nearly as overwhelmed by people or products.

I'll admit I was surprised by the turnout. I'm guesstimating there were about 60- to 70-people in attendance and a good mix of people ranging from security officers (calling them "guards" is apparently a huge faux pas these days) to security director's of Boston's larger and smaller hospitals.

There were three primary educational sessions over the course of the day-long conference. The first session presented by Dora Mills, director of Maine Center for Disease Control, was about the importance of security personnel being prepared to deal with a pandemic flu outbreak. The primary message was that security leaders need to have an emergency plan in place (and know it!). What will your department do when there is an outbreak and sick people start overwhelming hospital facilities? What is your procedure for turning away sick people in an emergency? How are you going to deal with an understaffed department when security personnel start getting sick? All questions worth asking and her certainty of a pandemic flu outbreak certainly made me start washing my hands obsessively.

The second session was about what to do in the case of an active shooter in a hospital setting. I thought it was interesting to hear what police have learned from Columbine and how they've changed their tactics to dealing with an active shooter. They call it "move to contact" which basically means they'll do anything and everything necessary to stop the shooter. Don't wait for backup, don't wait for the SWAT team to show up, don't stop to help the injured, find the shooter and stop him/her. If the shooter barricades him or herself in, that's fine. The shooting has stopped and the police have time to evaluate the situation. The message to security and hospital administration was the need to provide police officers with clear and concise information about location and the current situation, since police are often entering these situations completely blind. (For the full story search "In wake of security officer shooting, healthcare professionals learn about active shooter" at Security Director News).

The last session was about bomb detection and response. I learned you can make a bomb out of just about anything. The part that scared me the most was discussion about the power and freedom of lithium batteries and the reality that someone can drop a pipe bomb in a building under construction and it won't go off for 10 years. Yikes. That should certainly motivate the installation of analytic cameras on construction sites to watch for that kind of event.

All of this discussion about hospital security came in the wake of the Sept. 7 fatal shooting of a security officer at Mercy Hospital in Portland, Maine (and, consequentially just a few blocks from my apartment, which freaks me out). Several officers and administrators from Mercy were in attendance and you could tell the tragedy was still very fresh. It was certainly a reminder of just how important these discussions are.