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August 4, 2021


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Video analytics

93% of firms reporting excess of CCTV false alarms linked to poor installation or maintenance

According to a new report from NW Systems Group, more than 9 out of 10 medium and large-sized businesses in England are reporting too many false alerts in CCTV systems with video analytics capabilities, said to be linked to poor installation, maintenance or configuration.

For example, 27% of all system decision-makers reported an excess of false alerts being generated by their CCTV systems because of incorrectly specified or configured video analytics software.

These were some of the stark findings of a new market study of 152 video security system decision makers focused on video analytics usage in video security systems, which security tech firm NW Security commissioned in May 2021.

There is also evidence that video analytics vendors are sometimes guilty of over-promising and confusing the market with the language that is used in their sales and marketing literature:

  • 33% of system owners found the language vendors use in sales and marketing literature (such as AI Analytics, Deep Learning, Analytics+ and Smart Motion Detection) confusing
  • 28% went further to declare vendors’ literature ‘misleading’ and containing ‘too much over-promising’.

However more positively, 30% of firms believe that the video analytics software they use does help reduce false alarms in their systems – rendering systems more accurate.

Frank Crouwel, Managing Director of NW Security, commented: “There are some realities to video security system installations today which are often overlooked at install or during configuration. For example, day/night cameras with built-in infrared (IR) lighting can be a problem at night because the light and heat from these cameras attracts insects, which can then obscure the field of view and set off false alarms.

“Far better to site lights away from the cameras so they provide the right level of lighting for the coverage area but no insects are drawn close to the camera.”

41% of video system decision-makers reported obstructions on their CCTV cameras such as dirt or insects causing false alerts – the single most widespread cause of false alarms.

Video analytics such as ANPR depends heavily on camera location. The ANPR camera must be installed at the right height, the correct angle and distance from the vehicle, considering the speed of the vehicle when the plate is to be captured. You also need to consider environmental conditions such as rain or snow, and camera imaging performance itself, in order to cope with bright head lights and potential; reflection from nearby objects.

“For example, we have found problems with number plate reading accuracy where rain puddles build up between the ANPR camera and the vehicle whose number plate the camera needs to read. If the camera is not positioned, specified, and lit correctly, your ANPR camera might pick up a distorted reflection of number plates in that puddle instead of the direct view of the plate on the front of the vehicle – creating an alarm as the number plate logged by the system does not match the pre-authorised vehicles,” Crouwel added.

Nearly a third of respondents declared that they were not investing in video analytics or were unsure of the status of the video analytics software in their CCTV systems.

Of this group of video analytics sceptics, the main reasons for not investing right now were linked to lack of resources: 31% did not have the budget to invest in video analytics this year; while 29% were conscious that they needed to hire an expert integrator or security consultancy to help them with video analytics selection and configuration but had not yet done so. 18% had other, higher priority video security system improvements to complete this year.

Only firms who were using video analytics at present were invited to answer the full survey. Those who were not answered separate questions not based on video analytics.

Check out the guidance NW Systems Group has produced on making the most of new video analytics software.

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Discover the latest developments in the rapidly-evolving video surveillance sector by downloading the 2023 Video Surveillance Report. Over 500 responses to our survey, which come from integrators to consultants and heads of security, inform our analysis of the latest trends including AI, the state of the video surveillance market, uptake of the cloud, and the wider economic and geopolitical events impacting the sector!

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Catherine Seddon
Catherine Seddon
August 10, 2021 11:43 am

Great article and as a security product distributor we often hear stories about poor installations. I also agree that spiders nesting in the camera housing is one of the main causes of false alarms. Technical advice and support is imperative as so many mistakes are made when the initial spec for the job is wrong and just won’t cut it.