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Camera Corner: The evolution of video monitoring

November 23, 2022  By  Colin Bodbyl

Surveillance cameras that are not monitored typically serve only one purpose: evidence collection.

To get the most value out of a camera, users can leverage real-time monitoring to alert them of activity on their property. The monitoring of these cameras is referred to as video monitoring, but not all video monitoring is the same.

Video verification is the simplest form of video monitoring. It starts with an external device which is not the camera alerting operators of an event or activity. The external device could be a door contact or motion detector inside a car dealership, or it could be a radar or fence detection sensor alerting an operator of unwanted activity on the perimeter of a property.

With video verification, the camera is used to verify the alarm and determine if further action is needed. This type of video monitoring can even be performed by the end user directly rather than a professional monitoring centre. One example of end-user video verification would be a video doorbell, where the user receives an alert from the button being pressed, and then uses the video to verify who is at the door.


Event-based monitoring relies on the camera itself to alert the operator of an issue. These cameras use video analytics or AI to analyze the video before sending it to the operator, and filters can be applied to refine the conditions in which an alarm is generated. Event-based monitoring is very effective in areas where the analytic filters can reduce the number of nuisance alarms.

If we use the example of a car dealership again, event-based monitoring is an ideal tool for monitoring vehicle storage lots. These lots have defined hours of operation, and outside of those hours no person should be within it. Cameras with video analytics can be used in these areas to only trigger when a person is detected outside of operating hours. Alarm activity is low, and operators can easily identify and deter unwanted activity.

Live-video monitoring is a lesser known and far more challenging category. Event triggers like analytics or AI are still used, but live video monitoring is leveraged to monitor areas with a high level of non-malicious activity like shopping centres or apartment complexes.

In these applications, pedestrian traffic is not only allowed but encouraged. This creates two challenges for monitoring centres, the first being alarm volumes. To process the volume of alarms coming from active sites requires operators to leverage more of a traditional guard style monitoring process, where multiple cameras or alarms are viewed either simultaneously or in quick succession. The second challenge is operator interpretations. When a site allows activity, operators need to carefully monitor that activity and watch for unwanted behaviour only.

Using the car dealership example one more time, most dealerships leave a few cars on the front lot, and do not mind if customers come by to look at them after hours, but they do not want the vehicles damaged or stolen. Operators using live-video monitoring techniques will watch all users who visit the front lot for the duration of their visit and only deter those individuals or dispatch authorities if they recognize unwanted activity. Unlike video verification or event-based monitoring, live video monitoring requires a degree of judgment from the operator. Extensive training and knowledge of each site is required to make these operators successful.

Advancements in AI and surveillance technology continue to create new applications for video monitoring. Without innovation, it is unlikely video monitoring would have ever gone beyond simple verification. Today, AI can limit alarms to only trigger on certain objects or unusual behaviour.

In the future, it is expected that AI will also be able to identify specific behaviours, ignoring innocent activity and only triggering when objects exhibit unwanted behaviour, like breaking a window, or crawling under a car to steal a catalytic converter. In the short term, different forms of video monitoring can meet most users’ security needs, but as new technologies emerge, the possibilities for video monitoring and how it can be used become endless.

Colin Bodbyl is the chief technology officer of Stealth Monitoring (www.stealthmonitoring.com).

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