Improved Security Slipping Through the Video Vortex

March 18, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor
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Collected data must be analyzed and shared.


More than 50 percent of the video surveillance data the federal government collects is not being analyzed. This fact may not be surprising since cameras appear to be everywhere these days, and the amount of data they gather is so huge it’s unwieldy. But MeriTalk, the public-private partnership that conducted a survey of 151 federal decision makers, likens this situation to government agencies seeing only half a movie: They would have challenges following the plot and leveraging the information to achieve the goal—improved security.

An overwhelming 99 percent of survey participants said video surveillance technology would play a significant role in their ability to prevent crime, theft and terrorism over the next five years. With the quantity of video data exploding, the potential for enhanced situational awareness and better intelligence is massive, but only if it is analyzed, they agreed.

Survey respondents identified the most common applications for video surveillance: 57 percent utilize the data to monitor suspicious behavior; 49 percent use it to monitor traffic; and 38 percent harness it for anomaly detection. Looking to the future, the federal leaders see vast potential in increased integration of video and big data analytics, including instant event search, facial recognition and inter-agency real-time surveillance. 

But as in other intelligence realms, maximizing insights that videos provide requires improvement in one key area: collaboration. Once captured, video must be made available as an enterprise data asset across agencies, which is where physical security and information technology need to get on the same screen, survey participants said. As a result, 79 percent believe their agency needs to improve collaboration between physical security and information technology to be successful. 

“The Video Vortex” report is based on an online survey of 151 U.S. federal information technology and physical security decision makers conducted in January 2015. Download the full study online.

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