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Tuesday, 03 August 2010 18:34

Swinburne University security camera rollout continues - video analytics being deployed


The number of surveillance cameras at Swinburne University will almost double over the next nine months, and the use of video analytics is likely to increase.

Around a year ago, iTWire reported on a major deployment of IP surveillance cameras at Swinburne University in Melbourne. At that stage, around 300 cameras had been installed.

While that number has only increased by around 25, another 150 are set to be deployed by the end of the year. IT security officer Chris Goetze told iTWire they will be installed at the Lilydale, Wantirna and Croydon campuses as the rollout at Hawthorn and Prahran had been completed.

That said, an additional 140 cameras will go into two new buildings during the first half of 2011, and after that the pace will slow.

Last year, we reported that the video system had led to a decrease in major crime on campus. There has been a continued decline in security incidents at Hawthorn and Prahran, and the same is expected at the remaining campuses when the cameras are rolled out there.

The university has upgraded the Milestone Systems XProtect software from the Enterprise to the Corporate edition to take advantage of its ability to manage cameras across multiple sites. The Smart Wall option has also been added to automatically change the view presented in the security office according to the time of day.

The video analytics software is being introduced - see page 2.

Swinburne has also been installing Axis P3343 cameras rather than the previously selected 216 and 225 models. This allows the use of a single model for inside and outside deployment, and delivers higher resolution images.

Security staff find that they can now recognise an individual around 20m from the camera, which is at least twice the distance with the older models. Furthermore, the night mode also gives clearer images form the P3343s, and "they seem to hold their colour much longer before the infra-red filter cuts in," Goetze said.

Another advantage is that as long as the cable is already in place, the P3343 can be installed in as little as one or two minutes. That's because focus and zoom adjustments can be carried out remotely.

According to Goetze, the older cameras probably won't be replaced for another two years - normal practice at Swinburne is to replace this type of equipment as its warranty expires.

The university is investigating the use of video analytics. Goetze said there was always an intention to use the cameras for more than security purposes, for example to count the number of people in particular buildings. Several applications were tried and found wanting until Melbourne-based SenSen Networks' People Video Analytics was tested.

The big advantage of this software is that it doesn't require specific camera placement. This means Swinburne is able to count the number of people entering and leaving the library by using a camera 50m from the door and two stories above the ground.

Additional cameras located in the stairs on each level of the library allow the software to calculate how many people are on each floor at various times of day. The library was especially keen to gain this information to get more insight into demand patterns.

Other applications are under consideration - please read on.

The SenSen software went live in the library in early June, and will be useful elsewhere on campus, Goetze said. For example, later this year wireless cameras may be temporarily deployed in teaching rooms to check their utilisation, as an alternative to sending people around the buildings to count heads.

Other applications under consideration include smoke/fire detection and abandoned package detection. Such software "can be quite expensive" said Goetze, so it is a question of balancing the cost against the need.

Face recognition is also on the agenda as a way of helping to spot individuals who have been blacklisted from the campus. "It's not a huge issue," he said, but it could contribute to staff and student safety in cases where restraining orders have been issued. Goetze expects face recognition will be affordable and practical within two years.

"I think [video analytics] will take off in the next year or two" as smaller cameras become available and people become comfortable with the idea.

Wai King Wong, Australia and New Zealand country manager at Axis Communications said Swinburne is one of the company's largest Australian university customers. Other major deployments include around 10,000 cameras on NSW trains, some 1800 at Sydney Airport, and around 300 at Adelaide University.

Axis also supplies security cameras to the Melbourne Cricket Club.


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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