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5 ways video analytics can improve correctional facility security

Through the provision of efficient, detailed, real-time data, video analytics give correctional facilities the tools to identify threats and enhance safety


Analytics will be able to identify facial expression of aggression and agitation.

Photo/Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center


Editor’s note: Video technology is impacting every facet of modern-day life, shaping the delivery of education and training, transforming how we communicate with each other, and advancing surveillance and security. This special coverage series, Video in Corrections: How Technology is Transforming Prison & Jail Operations, takes an in-depth look at how correctional facilities can use video to improve both operational efficiency and officer and inmate health and safety.

Correctional facility administrators must not hesitate to utilize available technology to assure the safety and security of inmates and correctional staff. Unfortunately, due to correctional budget shortages, many facilities are forced to operate with analog, black and white non-archiving video systems.

Today there are several video surveillance options available that offer custom video analytic configurations to meet the needs of each institution, which can prove to save both lives and costs in the long run.

Intelligent video transforming surveillance

Today’s video systems are not the same as they were just a few years ago.

With the advent of intelligent video, surveillance systems offer more utility than ever before. Video analytic software – which is capable of tracking a moving target and searching for specific objects – can be embedded into a video system or on a computer. The analytics are capable of counting human beings and even identifying a geographical location.

Intelligent video analytics can provide some vital tools for correctional officers. The benefits of video analytics are numerous, especially with ever-present challenges to correctional administration such as officer staffing shortages and inmate overcrowding. Video analytic systems can also provide the following benefits:

1. Enhanced visual abilities

Due to the expansive design of some correctional facilities, having a video surveillance system that can provide continuous coverage is necessary. Officers cannot be in all places at all times, but the cameras can. Video analytics can also provide specific inmate facial recognition capabilities. Spending countless overtime hours searching footage for a particular inmate suspect is now a thing of the past, as the software will do the work in a matter of minutes.

2. Suspicious activity notification

Video analytic software can be programmed to detect specific activity and activate an alarm or alert system when the activity is occurring. Systems can also be programmed to alert to specific scene content and trigger an audible alarm or simply delineate the scene for review at a later time.

3. Video summarization

Video analytics can provide a condensed clip of all motion within a particular time frame. The data is continuously generated and stored for review. A summary can be provided for the selected time and is condensed for more efficient review. The summary can provide counts of objects like people and vehicles.

4. Video heat mapping

In real-time imaging, human movement can be detected through-out camera scenes for a specific duration of time. This could be useful for monitoring security in areas of facilities which are secured from any entry.

5. Mobile capability

Just as other technologies are available on a handheld or laptop device, so are video analytic reports. The data can be made available and accessible through portable devices where videos analytics can be reviewed through secure log in by users. Necessary operational decisions can be made in an emergency by administrators while away from the facility.

Tracking emotions

The future of video analytics includes technology that can identify human emotion through facial emotion recognition. Specifically, analytics will be able to identify facial expression of aggression and agitation. This type of detection analytics is expected to run in real time.

Intelligent video analytics can provide correctional facilities with an increase in officer productivity and efficiency. Ultimately, video analytics could provide a reduction in aggressive and undesired inmate behavior.

Through the provision of efficient, detailed, real-time data, video analytics can give correctional administration and staff the tools to identify threats and enhance the safety and security of correctional facilities by providing actionable evidence in any situation.

Melissa Mann is recently retired from the field of law enforcement. Her experience spanned 18 years which included assignments in Corrections, Community Policing, Dispatch Communications and Search and Rescue. Melissa holds a BS in Criminal Justice and MA in Psychology with an emphasis on studies on the psychological process of law enforcement officers. She holds a deep passion for researching and writing about the lifestyle of police and corrections work and the far-reaching psychological effects on the officer and their world.