Use AI Heatmaps to Generate Business Insights using Security Cameras

In today’s world, we hear about Artificial Intelligence a lot. While it has become somewhat of a buzzword, it has many exciting uses. If you’re familiar with our products you may have some experience with our current Intelligent Vision Systems and Smart Motion Detection features, they’re quite powerful. There are some lesser-known, but equally exciting features I’d like to showcase today. Heat Map, People Counting, and Queue Management. 


What is a Heat Map, and why would you use it?


Heat Map is an amazing feature that can quantify something that up until now can only be determined by gut feel through direct observation. Simply put, a heat map is an image with varying intensities based on some parameter; in our case, that would be activity or movement. Heat Map allows an individual or organization to track movement trends and patterns autonomously, without needing a direct observer. Heat Map has two functions, the first function is simply ‘Number of People’ which is exactly what it sounds like - it allows the user to view densities of people over a given period. The second is called ‘Average Strand Time’, a combined metric that indicates the exact locations where people tend to linger, how many people linger at said location, and for how long.


Heat Maps are phenomenal for businesses such as retail shops, gas stations, and other establishments. It allows the business to view the movement patterns of customers: where people tend to congregate, what paths and locations have the most activity, and what things tend to catch people’s attention. Insights from this data can indicate where one might place a high-profit item, for example. Heat Map is featured on our fisheye camera, the MTF12360-AI, but is available on several Montavue cameras. 

What sets apart an AI Heat Map vs. a traditional Heat Map?


Generating a simple heat map from a video feed isn’t a completely new feature, what sets apart our new AI Heat Map functionality is the AI component. As anyone who has experience with traditional ‘dumb’ motion detection knows, you often get false positives from a tree blowing, sunbeams, or shadows. The real differentiating factor here is identifying if an object/movement is a person in real-time before a heat map is generated. This allows our Heat Map to be much more accurate to the movements of people throughout the day. 

People Counting, and how you can use it to observe flows of traffic


The next feature we’ll discuss today is People Counting, which is available on quite a few of our cameras - with more to come in the future. People Counting is a related AI feature that can help businesses in a multitude of ways. This uses advanced algorithms combined with AI object detection to count the number of people in an area or who have crossed a certain threshold. 

The interface for People Counting also allows for directionality, similar to Montavue's tripwires. This can be used to assess the flow of traffic through a corridor or entrance. One interesting implementation of this function we’ve seen is the ability to know how many people are in a building. By counting the total number of entrances and then subtracting the number of exits through the threshold at the entrance of a building, we can get an accurate count of the number of individuals in the building. It’s satisfying to view this over the course of a day. At an office you’ll begin to see many entrances as work begins, then some fluctuations throughout the day during lunch and break periods, then more and more exits as the work day comes to an end. Due to the astounding accuracy of modern object detection and computer vision algorithms, this count is consistently accurate - even at the end of the day!

The data collected from the People Counting feature can be exported to generate reports based on week, month, or year. This can be used to help understand trends and patterns that would otherwise be arduous or impossible to quantify. 


Using People Counting to Trigger Notifications and Events


With highly customizable and easy-to-configure events, the data gathered from People Counting can also be used to trigger various processes. This can be used to send push notifications to your smartphone. It can also be used to send emails that have the relevant clip and event attached, this is useful for documentation purposes.

Safety is another way in which People Counting can come into play. Often times buildings, areas, and structures have limited capacity due to fire codes or structural reasons. Any camera with People Counting will be able to record once a certain threshold is met, which can record a potentially dangerous event. Additionally, most cameras have the option to connect periphery alarms, and many of our cameras have speakers or Active Deterrence features. With proper configuration, it is possible to play an alarm or audio file letting individuals in the area know they are beyond what is considered safe. Without People Counting, the only way to do this would be to have an actual person watching and counting themselves!


What is Queue Management?


Queue Management takes advantage of AI detection algorithms to automate queue (line) tracking. With parameters such as the number of people in a predefined area or Average Strand Time, we can trigger a camera event that can indicate that a particular queue is full or movement is stagnating, for example. This feature is made particularly useful due to its ability to use user-defined polygons to create distinct regions within the field of view. Similar to the People Counting events, it is possible to configure Queue Management to automate otherwise laborious processes.

Looking in to the Future


Heat Map, People Counting, and Queue Management are unprecedented features for information gathering and are only available on the most advanced cameras on the market. We are excited to have cameras with these features and look forward to seeing more implementations as people and businesses learn about the amazing developments in the smart security world.