January 4, 2022
By Nik Gagvani
No matter how efficient a company’s camera system might be – and no matter how wide an area it covers – all manually-monitored systems suffer the same weak point: The person keeping an eye on those camera feeds.
Even the most observant person suffers from a phenomenon known as change blindness – where variations in visual stimulus occur, but the observer fails to notice them. Artificial intelligence, though, takes change blindness out of the security equation, while keeping human analysis at the center of it.
When exposed to the continual visual stimulus from camera feeds, people eventually tune out. AI can be reliably programed to notice specific changes, such as when a person, vehicle or bike enter a specific perimeter in the camera’s frame, then alert the person monitoring those feeds.
That human component is critical, because while AI can be the unblinking eye, its situational insight is limited. Once the AI notices activity and alerts a guard, that person can then assess the situation and determine if there’s a legitimate security threat or if it’s something as benign as a passerby or an employee who worked late walking to their vehicle. That cuts down on false alarms and lets guards identify and anticipate new threats and risks.
The benefits of AI surveillance extend far beyond the world of security, however. This technology can also be used for a variety of other functions that both give businesses operational insights and help them develop customer relationships.
Properties, for instance, that have a large number of feeds can track foot traffic in a business, then compile that data for managers or data scientists. That has tremendous value potential, allowing the company to pinpoint areas of specific interest among prospective clients. For instance, if people in a car lot tend to gravitate more toward a newer model pick-up, it could be a sign to increase inventory of that vehicle. Or if potential renters touring a luxury apartment building linger in the onsite gym, it could signal marketers to highlight that area in their materials.
See a customer wandering around your store, making several switchbacks as they walk? They might be having trouble finding what they want. AI can identify this behavior so an employee can be dispatched to assist.
AI video surveillance is also useful when dealing with vendors or contractors, alerting the appropriate personnel when workers arrive on site. Some property managers have also found it to be a useful way to monitor the work remotely (i.e., if contractors are looking for a problem in the wrong area, the PM can guide them to the proper spot via phone, rather than sending out an employee in-person).
The capacity of this monitoring is really only limited by the imagination. One of Kastle’s industrial clients found a unique way to use AI video surveillance to assist their safety protocols. Previously, certain parameters on gauges had to be monitored manually. When they hit a certain mark, the observer would dispatch a worker to tend to them. By positioning a camera on those gauges, though, and setting a dispatch alert when the needle reached the appropriate level, they were able to re-task those human monitors to different roles. Another particularly inventive company used AI surveillance to determine when it needed to request trash pickup, by monitoring the fullness of its dumpster.
Beyond its security and other use cases, the technology can also present considerable economic benefits, reducing security costs by as much as 70% in some cases. Rather than having a dedicated guard or guards at each property, companies can use communal personnel, monitoring a larger area.
We’re at the very tip of the iceberg in terms of what AI video surveillance can do. The technology has made great strides in learning to identify objects and analyze scenes and movements. And the components are in place for it to make even bigger advances in the years to come – including, perhaps, the ability to spot aberrant behavior and alert monitors before a problem occurs, whether that’s a bad actor or a problem in the laundry room.
As for today, the insights offered by AI video surveillance make it a powerful security tool that helps proactively alert property managers and guards to potential threats before an incident occurs. It bolsters onsite security without creating a need for more staff and offers operational benefits, keeping PMs informed and alert to on-property activity from any location at any time. And its cost savings presents the opportunity to invest in other areas that will ultimately increase a building’s occupancy.