A Campus Challenge

A Campus Challenge

Bringing intelligence to roadways, parking areas with video

Like cities and towns everywhere, campuses today face tremendous challenges when it comes to managing traffic and transportation. Between fluctuating traffic levels, busy intersections, incidents that cause delays, population growth and more, these challenges will only multiply without some sort of plan to alleviate the stress on roads and parking. Any plan must be based on data and intelligence, which is readily available but not always accessible.

Intelligent Systems

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) encompass mobility and traffic management, helping drivers, overseeing the flow of vehicles, and more. these solutions are used in traffic lights, parking lots, toll booths, roads, bridges and more to establish an interconnected system capable of controlling traffic so it runs smoothly and efficiently. In addition to helping campuses function more productively, these systems can also improve services and safety by identifying incidents, monitoring weather conditions, communicating detours and coordinating responses faster.

While the traffic data these systems generate on its own is helpful, there are many additional data sources that can significantly improve its effectiveness, such as IP surveillance cameras. However, as the number of networked devices and sensors continues to grow exponentially, the need to manage and secure those devices becomes more and more urgent.

With billions of sensors already installed globally, the capabilities of IP-based systems are constantly evolving, with technology providers and end users continually seeking new ways to leverage the power, flexibility and intelligence all this interconnectivity provides. the individual capabilities of devices and systems are outstanding, but the true power lies in these systems’ abilities to work together and share data to solve challenges or provide valuable insight.

The effectiveness of ITS relies on connected devices and systems that work together and can deliver an integrated solution that capitalizes on the combined strengths of every connected device, including vehicles, to solve specific challenges and deliver value.

Managing all of the data associated with traffic management requires a solution capable of integrating disparate systems, analyzing that data, providing control of a variety of technologies and delivering valuable insight that can lead to informed decisions in both the short and long term.

For years, camera and video solutions providers have worked to integrate their products with access control, point of sale and many other security and non-security systems and devices. This has all been done with the goal of collecting widely dispersed data from disparate sources to provide a more complete view of security and operations. For this reason, the video system is ideally suited to serve as the foundation for a larger network of sensors like those used in the ITS environment. these integrations offer the potential to share useful information between connected devices and systems for monitoring and providing a more complete picture of a situation across multiple locations than any single system could possibly deliver on its own.

Why Video?

When it comes to the question of why traffic management systems should be built on video systems, it’s important to consider the maturity of IP-based camera technology, which has been around for many years. these cameras have matured significantly to the point where they have become powerful computers equipped with lenses. As a result, video systems have grown incredibly robust and can support a wide range of integrated solutions.

Considering the advanced capabilities and connectivity surveillance cameras offer, it makes sense that the video system serve as the foundation of a larger network of devices, sensors and systems. Additionally, the footage these cameras capture is incredibly valuable for analysis to generate intelligence to improve operational performance.

Another reason the video system is well-suited for traffic management can be seen in the sheer number of cameras currently deployed and in use around the world. Each of these cameras offers the ability to deliver more value than simply recording what is happening in its field of view, allowing end users to get even greater return on their investment. As previously mentioned, the technology is mature enough and a wide variety of vendors are open to working together to ensure their technologies can be integrated. As a result, integrations between video and non-video devices and systems is much more common – and more achievable – than ever before, which is helpful in advancing traffic management.

Data and Analytics

The data generated by integrated, interconnected systems can be collected, collated and analyzed to provide intelligence that can certainly improve safety and security but certainly has value beyond these basic functions. Serving as the “brains” behind the traffic management network, analytics offer the ability to combine multiple sources of data to create a broader, more predictive view of scenarios, situations and more, thanks in large part to the open platforms that enable third-party integrations.

In a video system, the camera is the ultimate sensor, incorporating analytics in an open platform that is capable of working with any VMS or advanced traffic management system (ATMS). As processing power continues to evolve, the camera can support even more applications beyond traditional analytics, including the avalanche of emerging artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning technologies. For example, cameras may be deployed across a campus to provide a safe and secure environment. Because of the video system’s openness, it can be integrated with other purpose-built systems that are monitoring traffic, such as ATMS.

The actionable intelligence gleaned from analyzing traffic data delivers valuable insight into how facilities and roads are used, which enables informed decisions regarding planning. Data about intersections of interest, traffic flow and volume, the types of vehicles entering and exiting campus, parking use and more can help identify potential problem spots where traffic issues can be alleviated. However, intelligence is only as good as the data it’s based on, and much of this is contributed to by the high-quality images cameras today deliver in a wide range of lighting conditions.

For example, video data and analytics could identify areas where drivers or pedestrians are ignoring traffic lights, allowing campus security to determine how best to address these unsafe situations. From a more long-term perspective, this information allows planners to determine and prioritize next steps, which could simply be to increase enforcement efforts, update existing traffic infrastructure or even improve roads themselves.

Bringing It All Together

Integrating disparate devices and systems offers seemingly unlimited benefits, but doing so requires the ability to easily manage, monitor and in many cases control these technologies. The most effective and efficient way to do this is by pooling all of this information into a common platform that can facilitate communication between multiple systems to streamline the overall management and effectiveness of a sensor network.

VMS, ATMS and other similar platforms offer this type of centralized approach to integration, as many solutions are equipped with capability to manage and gather data from both camera and non-camera sources. For managing traffic and other sensor networks, these platforms become an important tool that can facilitate communication and integration between the range of IP-based devices and systems that are connected to the same network. Easy integration between the camera, software solutions and other systems makes it possible to scale and customize systems for specific needs or to accommodate future growth or other changes.

As a single point of control and management, these software platforms allow operators to share video, sign control and other traffic management information with other agencies and departments while maintaining complete control over their system.

While traffic, transportation and parking will continue to pose challenges, campuses can look to advancements in ITS to help solve those problems, particularly when video is added to these solutions to improve the ability to monitor traffic, pedestrians, weather, accidents and many other factors. By integrating ITS, video, analytics and other devices and systems into a single platform, a video system can empower campuses to become more efficient and dynamic.

This article originally appeared in the May June 2020 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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