In the Picture on Video Smoke Detection

Tim Compston from SecurityNewsDesk takes a closer look at why demand is heating up for video smoke detection. This is particularly suited to applications like aircraft hangars and road tunnels

Posted in Fire Protection

What is video smoke detection?
Video smoke detection applies video analytics to identify the patterns of smoke – and in some cases flame – by analysing CCTV images.

Tim Compston from SecurityNewsDesk takes a closer look at one approach to video analytics - or video content analysis - where take-up is expected to heat up over the coming year, especially across the Middle East region. 

Video smoke detection, its proponents reckon, is particularly beneficial for applications such as aircraft hangars, where due to their sheer size and volume the potential to detect smoke and flames before a large-scale fire takes hold may prove problematic using conventional methods. In fact structures with high ceilings, atrium areas – like ‘the Gherkin’ in London, given the influence of factors such as stratification and temperature layering, or dusty and humid environments are reckoned to be good locations for such solutions. Road tunnels too are very much in the frame for video smoke and fire detection where, due to their confined conditions, time is of the essence. This was starkly illustrated by the Mount Blanc Tunnel tragedy back in 1999 which sadly claimed the lives of 39 people.
Intelligent image processing 
Looking in more detail at the anatomy of video smoke detection, whose origins can be traced back several decades to power station turbine halls, essentially this approach works by utilizing standard CCTV images in real-time which are then analysed by intelligent image processing software. By programming the software to look for anticipated motion patterns of smoke – and for some solutions flames as well - over a specified area within a camera image, and analysing pixel changes, there is the potential to deliver an exceptionally fast response.
While in the early days of video smoke detection it, typically, worked with analogue cameras and processing took place outside of the camera, now with the expanded footprint of IP cameras - and greater process in power through System-on-a-Chip (SoC) capabilities - the trend now is very much towards having this take place at the edge, in the camera itself.    
New solution
Homing in on some of the solutions being brought to market, for its part Bosch Security Systems recently introduced AVIOTEC. Building upon Bosch camera technology and Bosch's Intelligent Video Analysis (IVA), according to the company, AVIOTEC video-based fire detection supplements other fire detection technologies and enables early detection of smoke and flames in locations where more traditional solutions struggle to offer satisfactory reaction times. A key benefit of AVIOTEC,

Bosch reckons, is the way that it can employ intelligent algorithms in CCTV cameras to identify smoke and flames as soon as they are in range of the camera, instead of having to wait for smoke to migrate to smoke detectors. By detecting fires at the source rather than the ceiling, Bosch flags up the potential for cameras to issue an alarm within seconds against that of point detectors where it can take minutes to detect an alarm condition. 
Middle East deployments
Another approach which has already made its mark is FireVu from AD Network Video which is also able to understand the behaviour of smoke and flames. Previous iterations of FireVu have a strong presence in the Middle East for high value asset protection, counting prestigious projects, like the Palm Jumeirah tunnel and the voluminous Royal Airwing Hangar complex at Dubai International Airport, amongst the installed base. With the next generation of FireVu a wide range of property and oil and gas installations are very much in the technology's sights. 
Simon Jenkins, Product Manager for FireVu, believes that the latest Multi Detector version represents a real step-change in capability: "It does everything that the existing FireVu camera offers with dual layer smoke detection and an intensity-based flame algorithm but, significantly, now features a thermopile as well to detect radiated heat." 
Early warning
To conclude, while regulations may still require more traditional solutions to be deployed, for those who want an early warning of smoke – and in some cases flame – in scenarios where other options may fail to deliver it is surely time to think again about what video smoke detection has to offer.
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