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What is Anomaly Detection in Video Data?

January 17, 2024
Fire in Metro

Anomaly Detection in Video Analytics is a function to identify abnormal situations or patterns in a video stream.

Video analytics allows to extract valuable insights from video footage, enabling efficient monitoring, threat detection, and crime prevention. Anomaly detection, a key component of video analytics, plays a vital role in identifying unusual or suspicious events that deviate from the expected patterns within a video stream. In this article, we explore the significance of anomaly detection in video analytics and its potential applications across various industries.

What is Anomaly Detection?

Anomaly detection involves the identification of events, behaviors, or objects that deviate significantly from the norm or expected patterns. In the context of video analytics, it aims to identify abnormal activities or events captured by security cameras, enabling timely response and intervention.

Traditional approaches to anomaly detection relied heavily on human operators continuously monitoring video feeds, which often proved to be ineffective due to human limitations. However, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have empowered video analytics systems with automated anomaly detection capabilities, providing a more efficient and reliable solution.

Typical Anomaly Scenarios in Video Footage

Anomalies in Video Footage
Anomalies in Video Footage: Fire, Violence, Injuries, Accidents, Overcrowding, Service outage
  1. Fire: Video Analytics can be used to detect fire
  2. Violence: By analyzing motion patterns, video analytics can be leveraged to detect violent actions, such as fights or quarrels. Moreover indicators such as running can be recognized.
  3. Human Accidents and Injuries: People falling down or being insured can be detected by video analytics. A scenario which is common in hospitals.
  4. Overcrowding: Overcrowding scenarios can occur in events or transport systems.
  5. Car Accidents or failures: Broken cars or accidents can be detected with video analytics
  6. Service outage or interruption: Processing customers timely is important in any service business. Video analytics automatically detect service interruptions when dwell times go up or queues grow.

Some anomalies such fire can be detected directly in the video. Others such as service outage might require temporal analysis of collected metrics. The below images shows an unexpected high number of shoppers. To identify such anomalies the new data is compared with historical data.

High number of shoppers
Anomaly based on time series

Benefits of Anomaly Detection in Video Analytics:

  1. Enhanced Security: Anomaly detection helps improve security by automatically identifying potential threats or suspicious activities in real-time. It enables the identification of unusual behavior, such as unauthorized access, perimeter breaches, or loitering, triggering immediate alerts to security personnel. 
  2. Crime Prevention: Video analytics with anomaly detection is a valuable tool for crime prevention. By continuously monitoring video feeds, it can detect activities indicative of criminal behavior, such as vandalism, theft, or violence, allowing security personnel to intervene before any harm occurs.
  3. Operational Efficiency: Anomaly detection in video analytics reduces the burden on human operators by automating the process of monitoring and analyzing video feeds. It enables security personnel to focus on critical tasks while relying on the system to identify and flag anomalies, ensuring more efficient and accurate surveillance.
  4. Proactive Maintenance: Anomaly detection is not limited to security applications. It can also be applied to monitor industrial processes and infrastructure, detecting abnormalities that may indicate equipment malfunction or potential hazards. By identifying anomalies early, preventive maintenance measures can be implemented, reducing downtime and enhancing operational efficiency.

Applications of Anomaly Detection in Video Analytics

  1. Transportation: Anomaly detection systems can monitor traffic flow, identifying incidents such as accidents, traffic congestion, or vehicles moving in the wrong direction. This information can help authorities respond promptly, manage traffic effectively, and prevent potential hazards.
  2. Retail and Loss Prevention: In retail environments, anomaly detection can identify suspicious activities, such as shoplifting, point-of-sale fraud, or unusual behavior in high-value areas. This enables timely intervention, reducing losses and enhancing overall store security.
  3. Critical Infrastructure Protection: Anomaly detection plays a vital role in safeguarding critical infrastructure such as power plants, airports, and government facilities. It can identify abnormal behavior or security breaches, allowing for immediate response and preventing potential threats to public safety.
  4. Healthcare: Video analytics with anomaly detection can be utilized in healthcare settings to monitor patient activity, detecting instances of wandering, falls, or unauthorized access to restricted areas. This improves patient safety and enables prompt response in case of emergencies.


Anomaly detection in video analytics has emerged as a powerful tool in enhancing security, surveillance, and operational efficiency across various industries. By leveraging AI and ML techniques, video analytics systems can automatically detect and alert for abnormal events or behaviors, reducing the reliance on human operators and providing real-time threat detection capabilities. As technology continues to evolve, the potential applications of anomaly detection in video analytics are likely to expand, contributing to a safer and more secure environment for individuals and organizations alike.

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