Detecting events of interest from video sequences, and searching and retrieving events from video databases are important and challenging problems. Event of interest is a very general term, since events of interest can vary significantly among different applications and users. A system that can only detect and/or retrieve a finite set of predefined events will find limited use. Thus, the event detection and retrieval problems introduce additional challenges including providing the user with flexibility to specify customized events with varying complexity, and communicating user-defined events to a system in a generic way. This paper presents a spatio-temporal event detection system that lets users specify semantically high-level and composite events, and then detects their occurrences automatically. Events can be defined on a single camera view or across multiple camera views. In addition to extracting information from videos, detecting customized events, and generating real-time alerts, the proposed system uses the extracted information in the search, retrieval, data management and investigation context. Generated event meta-data is mapped into tables in a relational database against which queries may be launched. It is therefore possible to retrieve events based on various attributes. Moreover, a variety of statistics can be computed on the event data. Thus, the presented system provides capabilities of a fully integrated smart system. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.