Security tech through facility lockdowns still proves worth


Perth-based video analytics company icetana Limited is helping Canada’s Mount Royal University keep tabs on campus security throughout the COVID-19 shutdown.

The company’s unique technology, which uses self-learning artificial intelligence, monitors camera security systems and alerts staff about motion anomalies.

For Mount Royal University’s Calgary campus, the system monitors more than 200 cameras and provides real-time notifications to the security control room if unusual events are detected.

Mount Royal Director of Security Services Peter Davison said while the campus had used icetana software for more than a year, it proved particularly valuable in the way it quickly adapted to deal with the changes in movement around the campus when COVID-19 struck.

“When our campus access was restricted for COVID-19 safety reasons, we found the self-learning system readily adapted to the reduced movement of students and staff,” Mr Davison said.

“This automated learning meant that we quickly started to see pretty much all the interesting movement taking place on a relatively quiet campus.”

Mr Davison said it was not just human-related security incidents in which the system proved its worth.

“Without the usual eyes and ears of staff and students who might otherwise report problems, asset protection and maintenance issues were among some of the more interesting use-cases for the icetana software,” he said.

“The control room discovered that icetana was reporting a relatively empty corridor in one of our residential buildings as an anomaly but the reasons were not immediately apparent.

“When we looked more closely at the scene, we noticed a dark patch expanding on the otherwise lightly patterned carpet and sent a guard to investigate.

“The patch turned out to be a fairly major water leak running down a wall and we were able to contain the leak before damage escalated beyond the wall and carpeted floor areas.

“There were no people in that part of the university at the time and the damage would have been extensive without icetana’s notification.”

Mr Davison said since implementing the WA-created technology, every week an average of four actionable events had been identified and responded to by the university’s security team.

“The icetana system lets us know when vehicles are entering the campus via walkways, has identified a spontaneous glass shatter incident and has allowed us to de-escalate potentially volatile situations by getting a guard to the right location in the shortest possible time,” he said.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, the icetana solution learns and filters out routine motion, showing only anomalous or unusual behaviour.

According to icetana CEO Matt Macfarlane, the unique technology analyses pixels in real-time video footage and creates alerts for any events that seem to be out of the ordinary.

“The system overcomes the issue of discrimination based on human training bias and alleviates the need to have staff monitoring every camera all of the time,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Alerts are provided for all detected anomalies so that staff can then determine whether unusual activity requires a response.

“University and college campuses represent a significant proportion of our installed customer base.

“The system’s rapid self-learning capabilities proved particularly successful when COVID-19 restrictions happened as there was a sudden change in the movement recorded on campuses.

“It is the same for holiday periods or after-hours security monitoring where peaks and ebbs in movement occur.”

Mr Davison said all significant events that icetana identified at Mount Royal University were recorded and provided ideal training opportunities for security operations staff.

“The icetana system has helped us enhance the skills of our security operations room staff and provided stronger and more immediate links to guard services in the field,” he said



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