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Video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) from an integrator and user perspective
Video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) from an integrator and user perspective

Technology based on the cloud has become a popular trend. Most IT systems now operate within the cloud or offer cloud capabilities, and video surveillance is no exception: virtually every major hardware and software vendor offers cloud-based services. Users benefit from the cloud due to its numerous advantages, such as ease of implementation, scalability, low maintenance costs, etc. Video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) offers many choices, so there is an optimal solution for each user. However, what about integrators? For them, VSaaS is also a game-changer. Integrators are now incentivised to think about how they can maintain their markets and take advantage of the new business opportunities that the cloud model provides.   Hosted video surveillance The cloud service model has drastically changed the role of an integrator. Traditionally, integrators provided a variety of services including system installation, support, and maintenance, as well as served as a bridge between vendors and end-users. In contrast, hosted video surveillance as a service requires a security system installer to simply install cameras and connect them to the network, while the provider is in direct contact with each end-user. The cloud service model has drastically changed the role of an integrator There is no end to on-premises systems. However, the percentage of systems where the integrator’s role is eliminated or considerably reduced will continue to increase. How can integrators sustain their markets and stay profitable? A prospective business model might be to become a provider of VSaaS (‘cloud integrator’) in partnership with software platform vendors. Cloud-based surveillance Some VMS vendors offer software VSaaS platforms that form the basis for cloud-based surveillance systems. Using these solutions, a data centre operator, integrator, or telecom service provider can design a public VSaaS or VSaaS in a private cloud to service a large customer. The infrastructure can be built on any generic cloud platform or data centre, as well as resources owned by the provider or client. So, VSaaS providers have the choice between renting infrastructure from a public cloud service like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud or using their own or clients’ computing infrastructure (virtual machines or physical servers). Gaining competitive advantage When integrators purchase commitment use contracts for several years, they can achieve significant savings As an example, a telecom carrier could deploy VSaaS on their own infrastructure to expand their service offering for clients, gaining a competitive advantage and enhancing profits per user. Using a public cloud, a smaller integrator can host the computing infrastructure immediately, without incurring up-front costs and with no need to maintain the system. These cloud services provide scalability, security, and reliability with zero initial investment. When integrators purchase commitment use contracts for several years, they can achieve significant savings. Next, let’s examine VSaaS options available in the market from an end-users point of view. With hosted (or cloud-first, or true-cloud) VSaaS solutions, all the video feeds are transmitted directly from cameras to the cloud. Optionally, video can be buffered to SD cards installed on cameras to prevent data losses in case of Internet connection failures. Dedicated hardware bridges There are many providers of such services that offer their own brand cameras. Connecting these devices to the cloud should only take a few clicks. Firmware updates are usually centralised, so users don’t have to worry about security breaches. Service providers may offer dedicated hardware bridges for buffering video footage and secure connections to the cloud for their branded and third-party cameras. Service providers may offer dedicated hardware bridges for buffering video footage Typical bridges are inexpensive, basic NVRs that receive video feeds from cameras, record on HDD, and send video streams to the cloud. The most feature-rich bridges include those with video analytics, data encryption, etc. Introducing a bridge or NVR makes the system hybrid, with videos stored both locally and in the cloud. At the other end of the spectrum relative to hosted VSaaS, there are cloud-managed systems. Video management software In this case, video is stored on-site on DVRs, NVRs, video management software servers, or even locally on cameras, with an option of storing short portions of footage (like alarm videos) in the cloud for quick access. A cloud service can be used for remote viewing live video feeds and recorded footage, as well as for system configuration and health monitoring. Cloud management services often come bundled with security cameras, NVRs, and video management software, whereas other VSaaS generally require subscriptions. Keep in mind that the system, in this case, remains on-premises, and the advantages of the cloud are limited to remote monitoring and configuring. It’s a good choice for businesses that are spread across several locations or branches, especially if they have systems in place at each site. On-site infrastructure All that needs to be changed is the NVRs or VMS with a cloud-compatible model or version All locations and devices can be remotely monitored using the cloud while keeping most of the existing on-site infrastructure. All that needs to be changed is the NVRs or VMS with a cloud-compatible model or version. Other methods are more costly and/or require more resources to implement. Hosted VSaaS helps leverage the cloud for the highest number of benefits in terms of cost and technological advantages. In this case, the on-site infrastructure consists of only IP cameras and network equipment. This reduces maintenance costs substantially and also sets the foundation for another advantage of VSaaS: extreme and rapid scalability. At the same time, the outgoing connection at each site is critical for hosted VSaaS. Video quality and the number of cameras directly depend on bandwidth. Broadband-connected locations Because the system does not work offline, a stable connection is required to stream videos. In addition, cloud storage can be expensive when many cameras are involved, or when video archives are retained for an extended period. The hosted VSaaS is a great choice for a small broadband-connected location The hosted VSaaS is a great choice for small broadband-connected locations and is also the most efficient way to centralise video surveillance for multiple sites of the same type, provided they do not have a legacy system. Since it is easy to implement and maintain, this cloud technology is especially popular in countries with high labour costs. Using different software and hardware platforms, integrators can implement various types of VSaaS solutions. Quick remote access For those who adhere to the classic on-premises approach, adding a cloud-based monitoring service can grow their value proposition for clients with out-of-the-box capabilities of quick remote access to multiple widely dispersed sites and devices. For small true-cloud setups, there is a possibility to rent a virtual machine and storage capacity in a public cloud (such as Amazon, Google, or Microsoft) and deploy the cloud-based VMS server that can handle dozens of cameras. In terms of features, such a system may include anything from plain video monitoring via a web interface to GPU-accelerated AI video analytics and smart search in recorded footage, depending on the particular software platform. Optimising internet connection Hybrid VSaaS is the most flexible approach that enables tailoring the system to the users’ needs High-scale installations, such as VSaaS for public use or large private systems for major clients, involve multiple parts like a virtual VMS server cluster, web portal, report subsystem, etc. Such systems can also utilise either own or rented infrastructure. Some vendors offer software for complex installations of this kind, though there are not as many options as for cloud-managed systems. Finally, hybrid VSaaS is the most flexible approach that enables tailoring the system to the users’ unique needs while optimising internet connection bandwidth, cloud storage costs, and infrastructure complexity. It’s high time for integrators to gain experience, choose the right hardware and software, and explore different ways of building systems that will suit evolving customer demands in the future.

Changing the landscape of event security with Martyn’s Law
Changing the landscape of event security with Martyn’s Law

Martyn’s Law (also known as ‘Protect Duty’) could forever change the landscape of event security if changes to legislation are passed. Some would argue it already has. In 2017, just as concertgoers were leaving the Manchester Arena, a terrorist detonated an improvised explosive device in a suicide attack killing 22 and injuring more than 250. The mother of one of the victims, Martyn Hett, has tirelessly campaigned for tighter security and a duty of care to be placed upon venues to protect their patrons. As a result, Martyn’s Law (‘Protect Duty’) has been proposed in UK legislation to protect the public from terrorism. At the same time, other global trends have indicated the need for action on this front. Labour-intensive task The Global Terrorism Index 2020, for instance, reported a steep increase in far-right attacks in North America, Western Europe, and Oceania, stating a 250% rise since 2014, with a 709% increase in deaths over the same period. But, how do we implement the measures proposed by Martyn’s law without intruding on our lives through mass surveillance? The Global Terrorism Index 2020, reported a steep increase in far-right attacks in North America Traditionally, cameras and CCTV have been the go-to solution for monitoring. However, maintaining a comprehensive view of locations with complex layouts or venues that host large crowds and gatherings can be a challenging and labour-intensive task for operatives. Camera outputs have been designed to be interpreted by people, which, in turn, requires a significant human resource that’s liable to inconsistent levels of accuracy in complex environments where getting things wrong can have a catastrophic impact. Highly accurate insights Fortunately, technology is evolving. AI-based perception strategies are being developed alongside advancements in 3D data capture technologies – including lidar, radar, and ToF cameras - that are capable of transforming surveillance with enhanced layers of autonomy and intelligence. As a result, smart, automated systems will be able to work alongside the security workforce to provide an always-on, omniscient view of the environment, delivering highly accurate insights and actionable data. And, with the right approach, this can be achieved without undue impact on our rights as private citizens. While much of this innovation isn’t new, it has been held back from at-scale adoption due to the gaps that remain between the data that’s captured and the machine’s ability to process it into an actionable insight. High traffic environments It’s crucial that they are able to detect all individuals and track their behaviour as they interact In security, for example, this gap is most present when it comes to addressing occlusion (in other words, recognising objects that move in and out of view of the sensors scanning a space). For security systems to provide the high levels of accuracy required in high traffic environments, such as concert venues, it’s crucial that they are able to detect all individuals and track their behaviour as they interact with a space and those within it. This, of course, is possible using multiple sensor modes. However, without the right perception platform to interpret the data being captured, the risk of missing crucial events as a result of the machine misinterpreting a partially concealed individual as an inanimate object, for instance, is significant. Identifiable personal data This gap is narrowing, and thanks to the first wave of sensor innovators, this shift in dependence from video read by people to 3D data point clouds read by machines have meant that we are now able to capture much richer information and data sets that can precisely detect and classify objects and behaviours – without capturing biometric and identifiable personal data. But what we need to fully close the gap are perception strategies and approaches that can adapt to the ever-changing nature of real-world environments. This gap is narrowing, and thanks to the first wave of sensor innovators Until now, this has been a lengthy and costly process requiring those implementing or developing solutions to start from scratch in developing software, algorithms, and training data every time the context or sensor mode is changed. But, by combining proven 3D sensor technologies like lidar with the deep learning first approach, this needed to be the case. Edge processing platform That’s why we are developing an adaptive edge processing platform for lidar that’s capable of understanding the past and present behaviour of people and objects within a given area. Through deep learning, it can predict the near-future behaviour of each object with some degree of certainty, thereby accurately and consistently generating real-time data and tracking the movement of people in the secured environment at scale. This approach has value beyond security. Facilities teams, for example, can extract a wealth of information beyond the primary function of security to support other priorities such as cleaning (tracking facility usage so that schedules can be adjusted), while retailers can optimise advertising and display efforts by identifying areas of high footfall. Likewise, health and safety teams can gather much deeper insights into the way spaces are used to enhance processes and measures to protect their users. Programming limitless scenarios Martyn’s Law will leave them with no option but to rethink their approach to security and safety As we’ve explained, perception is reaching new levels of sophistication through deep learning. By continually programming limitless scenarios, our approach can provide consistently accurate and rich data that users can trust. This will ultimately change the way we manage environments at a time when liability comes with ever-increasing consequences. For venue providers, Martyn’s Law will leave them with no option but to rethink their approach to security and safety. But, with new, smarter, more accurate tools at their disposal that will enable them to predict and protect, rather than just react, risks – both human and commercial – can be addressed. Meanwhile, the public can take comfort in knowing that measures to keep them safe needn’t mean sacrificing their privacy.

What changes has COVID-19 bought to the installation of VA/PA Systems?
What changes has COVID-19 bought to the installation of VA/PA Systems?

TOA Corporation (UK) Ltd discuss what changes COVID-19 has bought to the installation of VA/PA Systems and how the integration of IP has impacted on that. With a year and a half of global uncertainty, we have seen huge changes in what VA/PA systems will need to deliver in order to provide safe and robust solutions with advanced zone and directional messaging. The impact of COVID has pushed installers to re-think what end-users need long-term to manage any future changes in guidelines especially for large events and complex applications such as travel hubs and how the integration of IP will assist with installing safe systems in the future. Providing public announcements PA/VA has been one of the few parts of our industry that has remained consistent and buoyant during the lockdown. It has been the ideal time for public buildings to upgrade as restrictions did not apply to the construction industry and many installations were actually fast-tracked in the hope that when restrictions lifted commercial properties could open as quickly as possible. PA/VA has been one of the few parts of our industry that has remained consistent This was coupled with the knowledge that changes would have to be made to address the increased demand in providing public announcements outside the standard evacuation messages that most VA/PA have been traditionally used for and enable the impact of having to be flexible to deliver multiple messages. Flexible system management So what is changing? Leading in VA/PA is the availability of IP which enables more flexible system management. It allows installation/solution management engineers to offer remote access to complex systems from a central control room meaning that they can maintain and control systems from one hub and operate for multiple areas on large complex sites such as an airport or stadiums. This provides not only a better level of technical coverage across a whole site but also allows an engineer to monitor and fault find without the delay of waiting to being able to access a specific area. This is especially important for vulnerable applications such as schools and health facilities as it enables them to control and reduce the amount of interaction with engineers they need to give physical access to – therefore reducing risk. Potentially less maintenance This makes it more financially viable for both the end-user and the maintenance provider Long-term, IP also makes these systems much more cost-effective. For example, one engineer can manage a hub of multiple locations with potentially less maintenance call-out costs. This makes it more financially viable for both the end-user and the maintenance provider to justify the initial investment. With these systems being paramount to people’s safety remote intervention allows for swift fault finding and problem resolution in a more effective response time and cost-effective way. To enable this the biggest development has been the integration between product manufacturers and software developers. They have been able to collaborate greatly to get products such a horn speakers to connect via industrial standard network protocols giving much greater flexibility in remote system management. Multi-rack systems The technology involved in VA/PA, especially integrating with IP, has seen huge growth recently and we are involved in projects that involve multi-rack systems to enable controlled zone management and evacuation options with greater collaboration between integrators to get the systems to work effectively. VA/PA systems must be at the forefront of long term solutions and sustainability As more people are allowed to gather in larger numbers public-facing buildings need to address their evacuation and voice announcement procedures in order to be compliant. They need to be able to deliver clear and effective messages to their visitors in order to remain open whenever guidelines change. VA/PA systems must be at the forefront of long-term solutions and sustainability. The other area of VA/PA that has changed immensely in the last 18 months is the vast difference in messaging requirements that organisations need. Public safety announcements Systems that have been used infrequently for emergency situations only are now delivering daily messages with public safety announcements. In reality, although we all hope that we will never go back to the peak of lockdown, installations must be robust to cope with any situation in the future. Many smaller spaces that wouldn’t have thought they would need a PA system at all now understand that they too have an obligation to deliver public information and guidance and on a regular daily basis and this will lead to system designs being scaled up and down to meet the broadening array of applications that require VA/PA and how this is managed in the event that new protocols have to be introduced. Detailed technical plans Systems should be certified on the European Standard EN 54-16 and should be expertly designed Design and planning should be key when sourcing the right solution. Systems should be certified on the European Standard EN 54-16 and should be expertly designed to specification with detailed technical plans and tailor-made to the requirements of the end-user. With people’s safety in your hands, you cannot get these systems wrong so it is important that installers are able to draw on the expert technical team resources that we, as a manufacturer, offer in adhering to this standard and for us to be able to provide a commissioning service to sign off on these important safety systems. Compared with traditional lights and sounders systems we believe the future of evacuation will be voice-based. In our ever-increasing culturally diverse world we have to embrace systems that need to be multi-lingual or be able to dedicate a message to a specific target audience and be able to be drilled down to zones and give much more directional information. Multi-zoned academies As office buildings get taller, health facilities become super hospitals or schools upgrade into multi-zoned academies we have to be able to evacuate or hold back evacuation to enable safe crowd control. In order to facilitate this VA will have to replace traditional systems or work in tandem with them. We must point out that in residential high-rise properties the primary method of evacuation, to comply to BS 8629, would still be traditional lights and sounders even if you install a separate VA system. Voice Alarm and Public Address is a long-term investment, especially as the global situation may take many years to recover, and as manufacturers working with our integrators and software developers we must continue to lead in the development of the best systems to ensure we can keep everyone safe.

Latest Stortech Electronics Limited news

Pecan CCTV launches new vandal resistant dome in the security market
Pecan CCTV launches new vandal resistant dome in the security market

Pecan CCTV has announced the launch of the VRD146 Series a fully featured easy to install vandal-resistant True Day/Night (TDN) dome with On Screen Display (OSD) technology. This new high specification 600TVL 1/3" Sony Super HAD II CCD colour/mono dome is fitted with a 2.8-11mm F1.4 DC auto iris lens in a durable IP66 rated weather-resistant vandal-resistant housing.  Features include Digital Noise Reduction (2DNR), Digital Wide Dynamic Range (DWDR), Backlight and Highlight Compensation (BLC/HLC), 8-zone Privacy function and 4-zone Motion Detection. An IR LED option (VRD146L) provides accurate night time viewing coverage of up to 15 metres.However the key benefit to installers is the versatility offered by the VRD146 Series' alternative cabling arrangements. Recognising that every installation is different Pecan have designed their new dome so it can be surface-mounted, with cable entry at the bottom or the side or using existing cables terminating inside the camera itself. A wall mounting bracket is also available if required.As well as being easy to install the dual voltage (12v DC/24v AC) VRD146 Series is also simple to set up thanks to the 3-axis camera gimble and OSD joystick controls. Pecan is the trade name of the CCTV Division of Stortech Electronics Ltd who manufacture and distribute a comprehensive range of CCD camera systems and components. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Acal plc who are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Pecan CCTV website sheds its old skin to sport a new look and feel
Pecan CCTV website sheds its old skin to sport a new look and feel

Pecan CCTV is an innovator in developing and supplying products for a wide variety of applicationsPecan CCTV has announced the launch of its new website pecancctv.com which features a fresh modern design with improved navigation and a wealth of information about the firm's extensive range of quality surveillance equipment.The new site allows visitors to search easily by equipment type or product code and download datasheets with the technical information they need to make the right choice. New products are now included on the home page and access to technical support is easily available via enquiries to a dedicated email address. Other new features include a special offers section for selected items, answers to frequently asked questions about CCTV, plus news of all the latest product and service developments. Pecan CCTV is an innovator in developing and supplying products for a wide variety of applications. During the past twelve months the firm has invested in a major re-branding exercise to bring the look and feel of the company in line with its growth and position within the CCTV market. In addition to commissioning an entirely new website this activity has seen Pecan update their logo and revise the layout and design of their technical information to make it easier for their customers to find the information they need. The new site will act as a one-stop-shop for companies looking to make informed procurement decisions for all their CCTV requirementsDirector, Jess Johns said: "Pecan CCTV has evolved over the last few years and we felt that the previous logo and branding didn't give a true reflection of the business today. Similarly we wanted to bring a fresh new look and feel to the website in terms of the design, accessibility and navigation.""Customers benefit from our extensive experience which enables us to develop products with the latest technology featuring everything from entry level internal domes to vandal-resistant cameras and state-of-the-art micro domes.""The new website still has all the useful information and tools to help our customers find the information they need but with a much easier to use format designed to raise awareness of, and interest in, the comprehensive range of products and technical support Pecan can provide.""We hope that the new site will act as a one-stop-shop for companies looking to make informed procurement decisions for all their CCTV requirements supported by the knowledge and expertise we provide to help them identify the best solution for every application."Pecan is the trade name of the CCTV Division of Stortech Electronics Ltd who manufactures and distributes a comprehensive range of CCD camera systems and components. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of ACAL plc who are listed on the London Stock Exchange. To find out more about Pecan CCTV's innovative products and benefit from their extensive technical expertise call 01279 419913 or email them.

Pecan expands Southern Area Sales team with new Sales Manager
Pecan expands Southern Area Sales team with new Sales Manager

 Wendy Ficken, Southern Area Sales Manager at Pecan CCTVPecan CCTV recently promoted Wendy Ficken to Southern Area Sales Manager. Although she may not have been a familiar face to Pecan's customers in the past her voice certainly will be as the twenty-six year old has been with the company since 2004 working in the internal sales office. Wendy, who is clearly enjoying her move from Internal Sales to External Sales, told us: Over the past four years I'd developed great working relationships over the phone so when the opportunity came for me to meet our customers ‘face-to-face' I jumped at the chance."Before joining Pecan CCTV's parent company, Stortech Electronics Ltd., Wendy completed a Business Studies course at APU University, and this combined with her extensive product knowledge is proving a real benefit to Pecan's customers, especially when a bespoke security solution is required.Wendy continued: "Listening to what our customers want is really important and being able to offer them the expertise and knowledge to develop a specific solution is very rewarding - especially when it results in us introducing a new product into the range.""I enjoy working for Pecan because of the amount of support you get. Having ‘been there and done that' I recognise just how important it is for the external sales team to have good working relationships with the staff in the office. It's great to be part of a company where everyone works together as a team to ensure we all do everything we can to give our customers the best possible service."Although she may not have been a familiar ‘face' to Pecan's customers in the past, her voice certainly will be Pecan CCTV Sales Director, Jess Johns said: "Wendy's well-earned promotion is proof of our ongoing commitment to train and develop our staff to achieve their full potential. We also believe our flexibility and willingness to respond to the changing needs of our customers is crucial to our success which is why we will continue to invest in strengthening our sales capability throughout the UK."Pecan is the trade name of the CCTV Division of Stortech Electronics Ltd who manufacture and distribute a comprehensive range of CCD camera systems and components. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Acal plc who are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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