Traditional thinking about the role of video surveillance in modern applications often focuses solely on security. Whilst there is no doubt that the technology increasingly offers a valuable tool for such a role, the true benefits of surveillance are constantly expanding. Video on demand means that many applications can enjoy additional functionality and flexibility from their systems. Where the provision of training and support is a requirement, the technology can deliver real benefits. Benchmark looks at the impact of one such application.
If you talk to professionals in the training and support sector, they will tell you that an important stage of any training and support scheme is an assessment of those participating, and one of the pivotal elements of this stage is observation. One of the negatives of observation of individuals, when you are trying to accurately assess their current performance, is that few people will act naturally whilst being watched. If someone is standing over them, it can create false results.
Additionally, the time and resources required for individual assessors to shadow each participant makes the process less than effective, especially where budgetary constraints exist.
The use of video in training and support schemes is not new. For many years the opportunity to show procedures and processes, rather than explain them verbally or in written form, has proved to be a success. Typically, the emphasis has been upon using video – either live or recorded – as a teaching aid, effectively delivering information to those being trained or supported.
Where video is used as a proactive element in assessing the actions of those receiving the help, it is often recorded and reviewed afterwards. When used as a live feed, it can therefore be somewhat limited in regards of how those carrying out the assessments can interact with it.
The wider use of networked video has changed the potential on offer for such applications. The more flexible approach offered by VMS solutions allows a higher degree of control, the sharing of video across a wide range of platforms and devices, and a depth of flexibility which allows the video to be used in different ways.
This means that assessors can have access to more individuals, and can prioritise events, all without making a significant investment in a hardware-specific system. Video can be shared via standard PCs at the desktop, or via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Elements of the video can be archived and given to those involved in the training and support schemes, allowing a deeper level of self assessment.
From a cost-efficiency aspect, simple solutions can be operated from existing IT devices such as laptops, which can also store the data. When training or assessments are not taking place, these devices can be used for everyday working. As and when needs change, the cameras can simply be relocated, allowing a great deal of flexibility to be achieved, without a need for constant reinvestment.
Conversely, where dedicated facilities are established, a complete system can be built around the requirements of the establishment in question.
Because such systems do not face the demands for continuity of service, redundancy and long-term archiving that security solutions do, the opportunity to build a cost-effective but highly flexible solution exists. The added benefit is that because such a system is based upon security platforms, it will naturally deliver robust high quality performance, and can link footage and other data with ‘events’. These need not be security alarm events, but could be created by the trainer, or even the trainee, to ‘bookmark’ issues which need clarification or additional assessment.
The advanced reporting which is inherent in security solutions can be exploited for a wide range of eventualities, and because of the nature of advanced VMS packages, much of the required functionality will already be built into the system.
Video systems from the AV sector, or simple video streaming packages from the IT sector, will require a high degree of integration with additional software to implement reporting, bookmarking and even sharing across multiple devices with selected users.
Because of its inherent functionality, a surveillance system will already have this functionality included, and is both secure and robust.
Add basic video analytics, privacy masking, I/O triggering and two-way audio – all of which are typically implemented in even a basic VMS – and the argument for using surveillance technology in such applications becomes overwhelming!
A case in point
A hospital in Joensuu, Finland, has implemented a VMS-based video surveillance solution which has been designed to improve difficult care-related challenges. The system plays a pivotal role in an innovative scheme which implements parent-child training.
North Karelia Central Hospital offers specialised medical care and special needs services for the inhabitants of its 14 member municipalities. Annually, around 60,000 people use the establishment’s services. One of the hospital’s care-related schemes is designed to assist parents who face challenges with babies and young children, with regard to problems associated with sleeping and feeding.
In order to better assist and train those parents struggling with difficulties in these areas, the medical team investigated the potential of using video as a part of clinical interventions when treating problems in child-parent relationships. It was considered as a particularly effective tool when dealing with issues relating to newborn babies.
The authorities at the hospital decided to implement a VMS solution from Milestone, and the video surveillance system is used to help train families with regard to better parent-child interactions.
The system was designed and implemented by Milestone Gold Partner Hällström. The solution is based upon the Milestone XProtect Professional video software package. Hardware devices used include network cameras from Axis Communications and Shure Professional microphones.
Hospital staff can interact with the video system by using XProtect Smart Client with a Finnish language interface. This client software can run on typical desktop devices, thereby eliminating the need for dedicated workstations. Because the video can be delivered to the desks of the relevant staff, this significantly enhances day-to-day operations for the staff.
Marianna Savio, Child Psychiatrist and Clinical Director at the hospital, emphasises that the video solution is an important tool in helping families with problems they cannot solve by themselves. The parents are placed in a room with their child while the staff observe via the system, review interactions between the parents and the child, and evaluate these.
The system has proven to be a useful tool for doctors, nurses and therapists, and as a result several other hospitals have now expressed an interest in a similar solution. Meanwhile, North Karelia Central Hospital is planning a system expansion!