02 November 2009
With the opening ceremony of 2010 now just a handful of months away, projects are being completed and ticked off the priority lists of everyone involved in what promises to be the world’s biggest sporting event. Throughout South Africa, gleaming, newly-built and upgraded host stadiums are fuelling excitement, work on the Gautrain is speeding along, and roads, airports and stations are being improved in preparation for the hundreds of thousands of visitors, both local and international, who will be attending the matches during the mega event, says Jack Edery, CEO of Elvey Security Technologies.
In all, according to the official FIFA-endorsed South African website sa2010.gov.za, some R11.7 billion is being invested in the country’s transport system to ensure that it can handle the throng of commuters expected to make use of it during June and July next year. Additionally, the website reports that R665 million has been allocated to the procurement of security equipment as part of the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety of South Africa’s citizens and visitors. To this end, the focus will be on border security at all land, sea and air ports as well as on route security, specifically those leading from airports into the cities.
Those at the rock face of security trends say that the security requirements around the event have created intense interest in an emerging technology known as Video Analytics. Explains Mr Edery: “Video analytics makes it possible to transcend the limitations of traditional CCTV (closed circuit television). Through the use of software and algorithms, computers are now able to analyse real-time CCTV footage and alert operators to threats and changes within a monitored environment. As a result, the technology has a huge role to play in applications such as traffic control, highway management, number plate recognition and people counting.”
Says Kenny Chiu, marketing manager for Elvey: “The success of 2010 hinges largely around the management and control of related environments, not only the stadiums but also the parking areas, public transport systems and even the highways. There must be effective control over a range of issues including illegal parking, traffic flow, the identification of suspicious vehicles, people or behaviour in and around sports complexes, banks, embassies and the like. Still in its relative infancy, video analytics has already proved its worth in the fields of perimeter violation, license plate recognition and people and vehicle counting, hence its growing take-up in a diverse range of sectors from government and security to transport and retail.”
Rory Webber is the National Sales Manager of Elvey, one of the leading video analytics equipment suppliers and distributor of the acclaimed VisionPrime VPA, an analytic solution that despite its advanced feature offerings is affordable, easy to set up and use.
Key attributes of new-age video analytic technology, he says, include the ability to operate with indoor and outdoor PTZ and multiplexed switched video cameras and to detect a wide range of surveillance situations involving people, vehicles and other objects. In his books, a good system comprises a comprehensive range of detection filters. These make it possible to discriminate the object behaviours appropriate to each surveillance scene so that classification is always accurate.
Further to this is the system’s ability to automatically adjust to changing conditions such as lighting and weather. This, he says, “contrasts greatly with alternative software setups, which can have as many as 100 algorithm setup parameters just to adjust filters and adjust to lighting conditions.” .
Today’s cutting-edge video analytic technology employs what he refers to as “multiple overlapping detection zones and lines” which allows for the configuration of the system in such a way that no sight goes unseen. The ultimate end result is a system capable of simultaneously automating the monitoring and analysis of CCTV images, improving security staff efficiency and allowing for the cost-effective capture of statistics relating to customer behaviour.
Video analytics is successfully being employed in a wide – and increasing – range of applications. These, according to Mr Webber, include intrusion detection, vehicle and traffic monitoring, people counting, loitering detection and object removal. Further, it has evolved to the point where it is able to detect camera tampering and failure.
“Parking and traffic regulations become much easier to enforce with the application of video analytics, saving valuable staff time and avoiding disruption or dangerous situations due to speeding or illegal parking,” he says. “No-parking zones can be identified allowing for the operator to be alerted whenever a vehicle has stopped in this area for longer than the defined period. A compatible Video Management System can use the indexing information generated by the video analytics software to immediately display video of the car stopping, allowing the driver to be identified and appropriate action to be taken swiftly. This technology can support the enforcement of parking regulations such as no-parking zones, drop-off zones, pedestrian crossings and bus lanes.”
The technology is also proving its worth when it comes to dangerous driving. “Incidents can be rapidly dealt with, thus making it possible to avoid potential accidents and injuries. One-way systems can be monitored for ‘wrong way’ traffic and security staff alerted immediately if a vehicle is reversing or driving the wrong way. Additionally, a speed limit can be set and alarms sent when a vehicle breaks this limit,” he explains.
Another plus is the technology’s ability to count vehicles, which he says makes it possible to monitor traffic levels throughout the day. This capability allows for the measurement of vehicle or customer numbers as well as speed and even traffic bottlenecks.
The issue of false alarms still plagues the security industry and in particular law enforcement agencies that have “almost given up on providing a rapid or even timely response to most alarms in the certain knowledge that the majority are false”, says Mr Webber. “This is particularly the case on external or perimeter protection. Products such as VisionPrime VPA, however, deliver a reliable and accurate solution, able to distinguish between an intruder and many causes of false alarms such as tree movement, litter, animals and even cloud conditions. In addition, the zone is established via a remote, electronic means providing a “virtual defence” which cannot be detected nor compromised at site.”
“Many concerns have been raised over the potential security issues surrounding 2010 for players, officials and in particular supporters,” notes Mr Webber. “With hundreds of thousands of fans expected, it is essential that all possible means are taken to ensure their safety. South Africa has some of the most advanced electronic security measures in the world at its disposal and systems such as VPA will play a major part in making 2010 a memorable event for all the right reasons. I therefore believe that SA is ready and that this will be the most advanced security-managed sporting event ever seen in Africa.”