Keeping track with AI
19.03.2021 - Uri Guterman, Head of Product & Marketing for Hanwha Techwin Europe, explains how busy control room operators are now able to take advantage of AI technology to help them more effectively keep track of anyone they suspect may be involved in anti-social, criminal or terrorist activity
Keeping track with AI
The ability to monitor and manually track moving objects has been possible ever since the introduction of PTZ cameras several decades ago. Using a joystick, mouse or a keyboard, operators have been able to control the cameras’ pan, tilt and zoom functionality to observe close-up detail of any activity.
A pre-set ‘tours’ feature has added to the value of PTZ cameras, as it meant they could be programmed to scan around a field of view and to some extent, this has minimised the amount of time an operator had to concentrate on monitoring a site.
A significant improvement in how large open areas could be efficiently monitored was achieved in 2008 when Hanwha Techwin was among the first manufacturers to introduce a PTZ dome camera with auto-tracking functionality, which could be manually activated by operators, as well as triggered by video analytics or by alarm events.
AI based auto-tracking
However, a recent giant leap in technology has taken the effectiveness and efficiency of auto-tracking to a new level. When triggered by an alarm event, the latest generation of video surveillance cameras equipped with highly accurate Deep Learning AI based video analytics, lock onto people or vehicles potentially involved in criminal activity as they move around a camera’s field of view. No operator involvement is needed as the analytics enable a camera to operate completely autonomously, although an operator can manually take control at any time.
AI based auto-tracking offers a very high level of accuracy because it is not distracted by video noise, waving trees, moving clouds or animals. In simple terms, it ignores these common causes of false alarms because it is only looking for people or vehicles. This makes it an extremely powerful hands-free tool to help operators monitor activity occurring in open environments such as airports, car parks, industrial estates, stadia and city centres.
Wisenet X PTZ PLUS Cameras
AI based auto-tracking and an innovative hand-over feature have been incorporated into Wisenet X PTZ PLUS cameras which have Hanwha Techwin’s ground-breaking Wisenet7 chipset at their heart. This makes them an ideal video surveillance solution for large open areas and perimeter protection applications.
Unique to PTZ cameras manufactured by Hanwha Techwin, hand-over moves adjacent cameras to pre-set positions so that they can continue to auto-track a target person or vehicle as they move out of the field of view of the first camera. Once again, this occurs autonomously without the need for operators to be involved, thus making control rooms more efficient whilst minimising the risk that criminal activity will occur unseen and unrecorded.
The 2MP, 6MP and 4K cameras also feature precise manual PTZ control, improved pre-set accuracy and an extended tilt range of up to 110⁰ which allows any objects positioned above the cameras to be seen. In addition, with the help of adaptive IR technology, built-in IR LEDs automatically focus on objects, enabling the cameras to capture high quality images of objects up to a distance of 200 metres, regardless of the lighting conditions.
It should be emphasised that AI auto-tracking is designed to complement, and not replace, the expertise of control room operators who manually use PTZ cameras to proactively track what they believe may be suspicious activity and, if necessary, zoom in to see close up detail to verify what is occurring. It is also not intended to replace standard PTZ camera functionality, such as continuous pan and pre-set positioning. Both functions play an important role in deterring crime by creating a strong impression to would be offenders that they are being watched, even if the images captured by the cameras are not being monitored in real-time.
However, AI auto-tracking significantly adds to the ability of operators to multi-task without the danger of missing an emerging or ongoing incident. With research indicating it is difficult for anyone to focus for more than 20 minutes or so on scenes where there is little activity, the innovative technology can also help ensure operators do not fail to respond effectively to an incident because of a momentary loss of concentration.