Skills for Video in Operations

Security video systems are promising tools to investigate value-added business processes and operations. The technology is mature and the potential benefits are manifest. However, it requires a new skills ecosystem that most organizations currently don’t have. This article lists six key areas of needed expertise.In previous articles, here, here and here, I described the sort of video for operations system illustrated in this diagram.

Operations (not security) video systems are still fairly rare, but we expect them to be far more common in the next 5 years. The required technology is not lacking, so the current rarity is presumably due to other factors.

  • We suspect that one factor is the sheer scope of system technology improvement in the past 3 to 5 years. Deep price drops are combined with huge performance improvements. The operations profession likely hasn’t had time to grasp, understand, deploy and popularize the opportunities.
  • It takes a challenging mix of skills to build these systems and make them productive. The mix of skills won’t be found in a single university program, industry job description, or software product line. At DeeperPoint, we have the skills … but almost an accident of history. It is why we write blog articles … to help other people see what seems so obvious to us.

Skills in the Operational Video Ecosystem

The various skills and knowledge areas connect and interact with one another. Since each industrial application is different, some capabilities won’t be needed in every situation, but most applications will demand at least four or five of these skills and a comprehensive organizational solution will require solid capabilities in all areas. The following sections examine each skill area in turn:

Process Knowledge

Understand value-added production systems:

  • What do I want to watch and why?
    • What process model describes system operation and performance?
    • Which areas and behaviors are important to the model.
  • How will the target behave?
    • Anticipate how the industrial process will act.
    • An activity may be dispersed and require multiple cameras to catch all the action.

Specific process knowledge of the process owner or engineer.

System Selection, Placement and Installation

Security video technology is well understood, but how do we use it to observe operations:

  • What can the camera see?– Cameras are amazing (e.g., a 4K camera + zoom). How well do they see at distance or up close?
  • How much storage? – Digital storage costs are falling, but storage volumes for high res video are growing.
  • Special camera housings or extras?– Security systems are designed against vandalism and low light. An operations video system is simpler unless it faces cleaning agents or needs explosion-proof housings.

DeeperPoint can work with process owners and security system vendors to set it up right.

Training

A video operations system will be new to most people. Training on the system and its uses will challenge early adopters.

  • Train Personnel to Use Operational Video System– Staff must understand how operations video will “see” the operation … and how to use it.
  • Use Operational Video for Process Training– The archives will contain many real-world examples to feed more realistic process training.

DeeperPoint knows how to use process video to enhance industrial training.

Video Meta-tagging and Archiving

The most intimidating aspect of the operations video system idea is the sheer volume of video content that it will create. How can a busy staff member find the time to go back through all of those hours of footage? The answer is that all camera video feeds are on one synchronized timeline. If you know when it happened, you can find it.

  • Process experts can anticipate how to make the video more useful:
    • Build Tools and Criteria to Filter the Video Streams– Security video software can use intelligent analytics and inputs from sensors to insert markers.
    • Planning for Practical Search Criteria– Filtered video streams make it easier to export key segments to a robust video repository like Dartfish.tv. This high-value video can be tagged, analyzed and retained for future reuse.

DeeperPoint can help you set up the filter protocols and train staff to use them.

Video Editing

Videos benefit greatly from effective editing.

  • Annotations? – Most video editing tools can add text, graphics and images on the video.
  • Cropping and Zoom?– Recent model security cameras can capture vast images: 4K or more. The video archiving system needs to find and export key sub-areas of the larger image.
  • Blending, Merging and other Stuff?– Software editors can combine feeds to build complex views.
  • Playlists and Media Books? – If video segments are tagged, you can search and publish sets of clips on specific topics.
  • Non-destructive Editing– You can edit by cutting and pasting (destructive), or by assembling virtual references to pieces of the intact originals (non-destructive). Non-destructive editing is more suitable for industrial use, but requires the right editing software.

DeeperPoint has used these techniques for years. You don’t need to meet “Hollywood” standards to use videos effectively in industry.

Statistics and Analysis

Videos contain vast amounts of information … if it is extracted as data. Extraction is mostly manual, but automated extraction is a future hope. Good tools and pre-tagging can make manual extraction MUCH easier.

  • Describing? Classifying? Counting? Measuring?– A system with fixed cameras makes it easier to make quantitative measurements.
  • Time Series?– Video is fixed to a timeline so time is a possible variable for every analysis.
  • Spatial Analysis?– With fixed cameras, the visible area is a “map” of activities. A tool like Dartfish can link behaviors to visible locations.
  • Integration with Data from Other Sources?– Most industrial data have time stamps that can link the data to the recorded video streams.
  • Data Visualization?– The video system can enhance data visualization … put dynamic data on the movie or link movie segments to the graphics.

DeeperPoint is active in all of these areas, so we can help you to explore the opportunities.

The Staffing Challenge and (a possible) Strategy

Once they recognize the benefits, most companies will have enough pieces to get quick value from an operational video system, but some activities will take time to master. DeeperPoint can help companies find or grow the talent to fill the areas where they have holes.

For example, DeeperPoint works extensively with the global freelancing marketplace. We know there are qualified freelance professionals in the required skill areas. Individuals may need some orientation, but there are lot of people that can be brought up to speed. That would allow organizations to explore the more advanced opportunities without having to hire or reassign permanent headcount. Later, they can decide whether to persist with external talent or grow the skills in-house.

Summary

When companies discover the potential of operations video, a world of new process understanding will be opened. However, the new methods will require a lot of learning and adaptation, so the transition probably won’t be instant. DeeperPoint can help companies navigate through the process.

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