New surveillance tech can spot human activity, prevent false alarms

3 May 2012

Niall Dorr, innovation manager, Netwatch, and Prof Noel O'Connor, a principal investigator in CLARITY

Global security provider Netwatch and a team of researchers from the CLARITY Centre at DCU have developed an advanced surveillance technology which can distinguish whether an alarm has been triggered by human activity and reduce the thousands of false alarm calls received by police every year.

The technology, developed under the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership Programme, uses applied imaging technologies to decipher the alarm images received at the Netwatch Communications Hub.  

It analyses the images for human characteristics such as shape, size and movement, ensuring that when an alarm is triggered, intervention specialists can be sure it is an intruder and not a wild cat or urban fox which has triggered the alarm.

“The Netwatch System allows us to conduct a remote site inspection, be sure it is intruders which have triggered the alarm and only then call the gardaí and the keyholder. It will not only reduce the number of false alarms but it will also enable Netwatch intervention specialists to respond more aggressively when an alarm is triggered, as we will be able to quickly determine when human activity has triggered the alarm,” he said.

Preventing crimes before they take place

Prof Noel O’Connor, a principal investigator in CLARITY, based in Dublin City University, said the system uses sophisticated video analytics coupled with machine learning to provide a new layer of information to Netwatch’s intervention specialists.

“It’s an example of how the research expertise in our universities can be leveraged to help solve real world problems being faced by key players in Ireland’s knowledge economy, such as Netwatch.”

Netwatch launched the Netwatch System on the Irish market 10 years ago and was the first company to launch a security technology which provided real-time remote visual monitoring. The company focused on preventing crimes taking place, rather than intervening after the fact.  

As an intruder is trying to gain access to the premises, intervention specialists at the Netwatch Communications Hub intervene immediately to tell the intruder they are under observation and that they should leave the site. In the majority of cases the intruder leaves and no crime takes place.  

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years