CCTV software - Expert commentary

Can CCTV become a more effective tool?
Can CCTV become a more effective tool?

We all know that having CCTV around your home can help to protect you and your family. Without CCTV, you could end up in danger and an intruder could get away with breaking into your house, hurting your loved ones and stealing your possessions. Similarly, without CCTV in the office, you’ll be leaving yourself open to all kinds of damage and could lose a lot of equipment in the process. In short, making sure you have CCTV is important for both home and business security. However, it can be improved to become a more effective system so that you’re better protected, and can even deter a potential intruder without having to panic. In our world of ever-changing technology, we’re able to upgrade and enhance our CCTV systems so they can become a monitored system. Remote CCTV monitoring is an ideal way to protect everyone and everything whether you’re at home or at a workplace. What is remote CCTV monitoring? For a long time, CCTV was one of the best ways to keep your home, the office and people safe. But people started to notice that it would only deter people so much of the time and often the cameras were ignored by intruders. They would just cover their faces and hope for the best as they steal from a home, office or any other premises. Remote CCTV monitoring is a system that can loop into your existing CCTV, or come preinstalled with a new system. This technology sends a feed to a control room full of trained operators that are on call 24/7. Within this control room, operators are able to respond to any sort of distress call or unauthorised movement on the property line.  How does it work? Remote CCTV monitoring works by attaching to a live feed of your CCTV system, existing or new, so that the signal and images can be passed to a team of operators. These operators are on hand 24/7 so that if there is a problem, you know that you're safe in the hands of a specialist team. The specialist team has been trained to mitigate the chances of somebody breaking into your home when the system is triggered; similarly they call the local authorities instantly so that the potential intruder has less time to flee the scene. This is especially important if an intruder is already inside your property because they have less time to steal your items and leave. Without CCTV in the office, you’ll be leaving yourself open to all kinds of damage and could lose a lot of equipment in the process One of the biggest questions that revolve around remote CCTV monitoring is the idea of operators watching the CCTV at all times. Luckily most remote CCTV monitoring systems will incorporate a motion detection system to accompany your CCTV. Motion detection offers the ability to alert a control room if there is an unauthorised entry to the property line. These motion detection systems are state-of-the-art and so, depending on the system that you choose, they can watch over your property from a number of angles. Once the motion detection system has been triggered and the alert has been sent to the control room, then and only then will the operators get involved. This means that until the motion detection system has been triggered, nobody will watch your live CCTV feed. After one of the systems has been triggered, one of the specialist operators will instantly jump into action. This means that they can take different measures to deter any potential intruder and make sure that they do everything in their power to stop any damage or theft from the premises. In addition to the motion detection system and CCTV, you are able to opt for a public address (PA) system too. This means that an operator is able to shout commands through the PA system and potentially scare away any intruder. The intruder will also be warned about the fact that local authorities have already been called to the location.  Remote monitoring versus traditional CCTV Motion detection offers the ability to alert a control room if there is an unauthorised entry to the property line Having a monitored CCTV system means that you're able to better protect yourself, your business, employees and even your loved ones. Whether you're at home or in the office, having someone looking over your shoulder protecting your every move is something that can be appreciated by everybody. The biggest problem with just having traditional CCTV, is that it is a reactive system. This means that rather than stopping crime, a CCTV system just records it. While the thought is that having a CCTV camera visible can deter some intruders, there's no real evidence to suggest that it stops anybody; anyone can simply cover their face and carry on breaking into your home, office or even your car. As mentioned, remote CCTV monitoring is going to tackle that problem and make sure that someone is on hand to protect you at all times.

Thermal cameras and smart cities: Preventing COVID-19 in public places
Thermal cameras and smart cities: Preventing COVID-19 in public places

With the pandemic still in full swing and no certainty as to when exactly it will come to an end, the world has been battling anxiety for months now. And with each day, circumstances change quickly and almost make it impossible to predict what will happen next, how events will unfold, and what actions to take in light of a new situation. But one thing is certain: the world has been shut down and paralysed for way too long, and the eventual reopening is unavoidable – in fact, it’s well under way. In this situation, what is possible to control is how the world will continue reopening – and specifically, how to ensure the safest possible reopening that will ensure the return of some degree of normalcy to people’s lives and business operations, while also managing the risk of COVID’s spread in the most efficient way. Our highly digitised, technologically advanced world This is when the power of technology comes to rescue the day: what truly sets the global crisis we face today apart from other calamities that humanity has encountered over year is the fact that it has developed in a highly digitised, technologically advanced world where each day brings about innovations with a sole purpose to make daily life and operations easier and more streamlined. And among these, the star of the past decade has been artificial intelligence. The world has been shut down and paralysed for way too long, and the eventual reopening is unavoidable – in fact, it’s well under way While AI has many avenues of introducing efficiency and fast problem-solving, there is one specific application that will further fuel the reopening of the world and successfully keep the spread of the virus abate. This “collaborative security” application includes a synthesis of smart video analytics, facial recognition, object identification/detection, and thermal cameras that can support the reopening of businesses globally when installed within those facilities frequented by customers. With such a level of sophistication that can ensure uninterrupted monitoring and analysis of large public spaces, these AI technologies can ideally operate best as cloud solutions to ensure a collaborative network with maximum scalability and widespread implementation. As these technologies increase in ubiquity and find their way into daily operations of businesses globally, the cost of the smart solutions will decrease proportionally to the growth of their reach. There are some highly specific ways to create this collaborative network of interconnected safety tools in the current climate. Here are some applications that have been successful to date and will increase in usability in the foreseeable future, creating “smart cities” working together towards a safer, more secure world. Maintaining social distancing practices The most important step everyone around the world has taken to contribute to the effort of slowing the spread of the virus has been social distancing. A six-foot-distance has become a new social norm that has quickly been adopted globally and become a habit to people who are naturally used to being close to others and socialising without giving distance a second thought. The star of the past decade has been artificial intelligence So, it is natural that such distancing measures take time to get accustomed to – and it is also natural that individuals may forget about them from time to time. To help maintain the six-foot distance between people at all times and give them slight nudges to keep the rule top of their minds, AI video technology can be trained to estimate the distance between individuals in public and commercial areas and identify the cases in which people get too close to each other. By notifying local merchants or authorities about such cases, the system can help ensure the safety of everyone in the area at all times while positively reinforcing the public to gradually get more accustomed to maintaining the distance and thus helping stop the spread of the virus. Detecting the virus through facial recognition Perhaps the straightforward application of such high-level technology is using video surveillance to identify persons of interest who have tested positive for the virus. Modern AI has the ability to identify facial features and characteristics with a unique level of granularity, making it possible to identify individuals whose records show they have antibodies from those who can be potential carriers of the virus. After the initial differentiation and identification, the system can then notify the employers and employees of the facility about the results of the conducted analysis and the pursuant results, allowing them to be more vigilant and take action where necessary to ensure a safe experience for everyone. PPE reinforcement Wearing a mask or some sort of face coverage in public spaces and especially within facilities (such as stores, for instance) has been - and will continue to be - a requirement for maintaining a safe and healthy environment for people to continue with their day-to-day lives and businesses to resume regular operations. To this extent, the object detection and identification abilities of smart cameras can further reinforce this requirement and ensure that the absence of protective equipment doesn’t go unnoticed.  Essentially, these cameras can easily identify if an individual has coverage at any given point of time or not, notifying the local authorities about any risks immediately and helping them maintain necessary safety measures without having to interrupt their workflow or worry about missing a visitor without a mask. Detecting high temperature One of the key (and the most widespread) symptoms of COVID-19 is a high fever - a certain indicator of whether an individual may have been infected with the virus or not. While identifying fever with a regular human eye is nearly impossible, AI can do so at a fraction of time by quickly scanning body temperatures of any incoming individuals and determine whether it’s above CDC’s recommended temperature of 100.4F in order to determine the risk factor and notify the local authorities to take action. Modern AI has the ability to identify facial features and characteristics with a unique level of granularity This technology is a good tactic to objectively assess potential risks that come with elevated temperatures - and sometimes, the people themselves might not realise they might (unconsciously) be carriers of the virus and thus endanger the safety of others in their vicinity. The technology is yet another step towards ensuring a safer reopening of the global economy and a more streamlined way of getting back on track while minimising the risk of spreading the virus further. It’s not all about the theory  We have tested the described approaches in our own R&D campus in Europe. The latest release of the IREX cloud enables remote fever detection and monitoring of social isolation and mask policies with AI. We have integrated thermal cameras to detect people with elevated temperature and CCTV cameras for identification and notifying those who potentially ill. In case of any health threat, the venue manager gets an instant message with a picture and exact location. These preventive steps helped our employees return to the office months earlier than it's happening in other countries. Moreover, personnel coming back to the office by their own wish as now they feel a virus-free environment in the campus - even safer than in their own homes. Now we are launching a pilot project for a well-known pharmacy chain in Florida, USA. With the help of a Computer Vision platform, staff will be able to divide customer traffic into those with normal body temperature and those who come in with elevated temperatures, as well as effectively monitor social distance norms. The goal of our potential client is to maximise the safety of customers in the post-pandemic period. Also, IREX is already deployed across hundreds of locations in the UK and will add health monitoring capability soon.

The role of building systems to ensure safety as employees return to work
The role of building systems to ensure safety as employees return to work

Returning to work after the global pandemic will not be business as usual, and security systems are an important asset when it comes to helping to keep occupants and buildings safe. For example, video analytics can provide insight into how spaces have previously been used and can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other or congregate. These foot-traffic patterns can inform settings for a variety of devices – like ventilation and temperature controls – and even help owners create social distancing plans and monitor personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance. “While the ‘new normal’ is still being defined, we believe there will be a greater focus on creating healthier environments while also complying with new regulations,” says Marcus Logan, Global Offering Leader, Honeywell Commercial Security. “Temperature, humidity, energy efficiency, security, safety, comfort, productivity, and demonstrating compliance with regulations are all a part of a healthy building.” For example, social distancing is a new concept for the workplace. How do you make that happen in an open work setting, in breakrooms, elevator lobbies and meeting spaces? Optimised systems create healthier environments Anxious employees will need reassurance about returning to the workplace Building owners will need to look at how they can optimise their systems – or deploy new ones – to create a healthier environment. Building technologies, like those provided by Honeywell's Healthy Buildings solutions, provide building owners with more control over critical factors to encourage sustained compliance with changing building standards, safety guidelines, government-issued regulations, and a company's risk management policies. These solutions also provide transparency for occupants into a building's status, says Logan. Hygiene will be a critical issue: People will want to know that the spaces are ready for their return. Increased cleaning procedures and schedules will evolve, and a way will be needed to demonstrate the procedures are effective and that they have been strictly adhered to. Identifying ways to measure effectiveness of sanitisation and track compliance to the procedures will be a key challenge to solve. This is a space that will evolve significantly in the coming months and years, says Logan. Access control and video analytics Contact tracing is a new requirement in some businesses, and security technology – like access control and video analytics with advanced reporting – can help. Access control technology integrated with video analytics can be used to trace occupant movements within a facility. These technologies capture data that can be used with advanced reporting to provide a digital footprint of where a person has been within a facility and if they may have been exposed to someone identified as being infected with a contagious virus. Building owners can then proactively notify exposed individuals evolve to self-quarantine and minimise further spread of an infection. Video analytics can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other Anxious employees will need reassurance about returning to the workplace. They will not only seek confidence that the building is optimised for a healthier environment but also that processes are in place to quickly identify and respond to potential issues. Transparency and visibility into how the building works and the health of the environment will help to reassure occupants returning to the workplace. “One way to do this is to share building analytics with occupants – to help them understand factors about the indoor air quality or occupancy density,” says Logan. Controlled health, safety and security Honeywell’s solutions provide building owners with more control over critical health, safety and security factors to encourage sustained compliance with changing building standards, safety guidelines, government-issued regulations and a company’s risk management policies, Logan adds. Visibility into how the building works and the health of the environment will help to reassure occupants returning to the workplace Every day there is new information coming from the medical and scientific community about COVID-19, and the building industry is just starting to learn what it all means. Logan warns that there is no single solution that will keep every environment healthy and safe. A good strategy features deploying a combination of solutions, optimising systems and being vigilant to make sure that companies are sustaining compliance to new and changing regulations, says Logan. “Today more than ever we must be mindful of the changing culture of how buildings are managed by making apparent the need to be mindful of health and well-being in all aspects of our lives,” says Logan. Honeywell has developed outcome-based solutions that allow building owners to transparently address building quality factors while supporting their business continuity needs in the uncertain environment. “We’re giving them the data they need to confidently reassure their employees to accelerate their business operations,” he adds.

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Malmö schools: A case study
Malmö schools: A case study

Vandalism and arson attacks at schools have been on the rise in the Swedish city of Malmö since 2001. In the five years between 2001-2006, school property damage cost the city more than 60 million Swedish Krona (SEK), the equivalent of nearly $6.5 million USD. In addition to parents not feeling safe about sending their children to school, academic performance also dropped, as many students found it difficult to concentrate with so much disruption.The municipality of Malmö realized that something had to be done to increase security at its schools. The cost in damages was intolerable and the children's safety was a key issue. With a new state-of-the-art security solution, including an advanced video analytics system from VideoIQ, Malmö was able to achieve significant cost savings while offering students and faculty a new level of proactive security protection. The challengeAside from arson attacks providing a constant source of worry, one of the biggest problems in Malmö was vandals breaking windows and panes of glass. On one occasion in particular, 600 panes of glass were smashed at a school which cost 1.2 million SEK. Some students contributed to the archaic atmosphere at the schools by regularly pulling fire alarms, causing everyone in the school to immediately evacuate while the fire department surveyed the scene, only to determine there wasn't a threat. With each incident, feelings of anxiety and concern grew while time spent learning in the classroom was diminished. With no security system or mechanism in place, the school had to find a way to protect the staff and students and identify the culprits. To meet that need, Malmö municipality contacted systems integrator TAC Säkerhet to discuss the purchase and installation of a state-of-the-art surveillance system. Mårcus Djerf, business area manager at TAC Säkerhet, said: "The city of Malmö believed that the amount of money being spent to repair property damage caused by arson and vandalism could be far better spent on things like new computers and technology for the students, or on field trips. They sought something that would help prevent crime while allowing them to save considerable money."The solutionWith no security system or mechanism in place, the school had to find a way to protect the staff and students and identify the culprits The right solution for the schools came in the form of video surveillance cameras mounted at strategic, highly trafficked places across five schools. It was critical, however, that the solution didn't just consist of "dumb" cameras that passively record events while acts of crime go undetected. Said Djerf: "While recording events could help provide forensic evidence after an incident had taken place, Malmo wanted to be proactive and address potential security issues before they happened. We looked for an intelligent analytics system that would serve as the ‘front line' for the schools since they did not have any security guards on-site."TAC recommended the use of VideoIQ's HD Intelligent Video Analytics Engine, which acts as a digital guard, providing instant alerts and security protection across nearly any environment or condition, including bad weather and at night. The technology is in use at hundreds of customer sites around the world and is recognized for its ability to transform passive video surveillance into a dynamic, real-time and proactive system for early warning and security protection.Djerf said: "The VideoIQ HD system continuously watches for security threats across all of the cameras at all of the schools. Just one HD can simultaneously analyze eight video streams from eight different cameras. When an intruder comes onto the property, the system instantly captures a video clip and sends it to our remote guards and security personnel at the Malmö City Alarm Center who can then contact the police, fire department or other emergency responders.""The combination of VideoIQ's next-generation analytics and remote guards is the ideal approach to minimize costs while maximizing security protection," said Scott Schnell, president and CEO of VideoIQ. "Our technology works accurately and reliably in any weather, is simple to install and has been in use for years at schools, chemical sites, water facilities, border crossings, and many other kinds of businesses that want to keep their most prized assets safe."The VideoIQ HD system continuously watches for security threats across all of the cameras at all of the schoolsTAC also chose the VideoIQ HD Analyzer for its self-learning capabilities which enable it to learn and get smarter with each incident detected. The analyzer watches and learns its environment, as well as patterns of motion, so that it can instantly distinguish between a person, automobile, cat, tree, or any other object. Additionally, the system responds to rules established by the user, enabling a high level of customization and specificity to minimize false alarms and increase accuracy."VideoIQ's self-learning technology is a huge asset because the system recognizes viable threats instantly and accurately, which reduces the number of false alarms generated. This enables security personnel to respond only when needed, saving the city of Malmö considerable time, energy and money," said Djerf.The self-learning capabilities were not the only user-friendly feature that the VideoIQ HD Analyzer offered.  VideoIQ is the only video analytics technology without required calibration and TAC found the system to be extremely easy and fast to install, without any lengthy testing or set-up time required.  Said Djerf: "VideoIQ's plug-and-play approach saved us considerable effort, while ensuring very reliable protection." Another reason TAC chose the VideoIQ HD Analyzer is because it can work with any type of stationary analog PTZ or other video camera - whether color, black and white, thermal or ones that use infrared illumination. The ability to support a heterogeneous camera environment was essential since the cameras used by the Malmö schools come from a variety of camera manufacturers and vendors.The right solution for the schools came in the form of video surveillance cameras mounted at strategic, highly trafficked places across five schoolsThe resultAfter just one year of having the security system in place, the municipality of Malmö reduced costs by an astounding 90 percent and the city saved 3 million SEK on a reduction in smashed panes and broken glass alone. Djerf said: "Malmö's expenses were improved within a very short space of time. They now have more money which can be used to make other needed improvements at the schools. The security system is seen as an investment and one that will help reduce crime for years to come."Additionally, the number of false alarms has been reduced dramatically and both school personnel and students feel safer. Several of the teachers have reported an improved school environment and that the children find it easier to concentrate on their studies. "TAC's goal is to offer our customers effective solutions that improve security while increasing profitability. VideoIQ's intelligent security products are an important part of this equation and we are proud to provide the city of Malmö with a reliable, effective and easy-to-manage security system," said Djerf.

Chiron’s IRIS alarms-over-IP employed in Danish education projects
Chiron’s IRIS alarms-over-IP employed in Danish education projects

  Chiron’s IRIS alarms-over-IP used in Danish education projects International building systems integrator TAC has utilised the operational benefits of Chiron Security Communications' IRIS alarms-over-IP monitoring solution to help protect a large educational institution in Denmark. As part of TAC's ongoing contract to install integrated access control and intruder alarm systems at a large number of on-site university buildings, Chiron's IRIS 840 IP dialler is being installed at each location.TAC's Project Manager - Technical support, Henrik Olsen, explains that his client required security coverage for up to 150 separate buildings within its large, distributed campus area, all of which will be linked to a common management system at a centralised control room. "We opted to use Chiron's IRIS system at every one of the locations because it's simple to install and engineer, as well as being reliable in operation in our experience," he says.So far, some 10 buildings have been completed in this ongoing project and the Chiron systems are transmitting alarm signal information via IP links to a third party alarm receiving centre, Rednings-Ringen, Lemvig A/S. Mr Olsen adds that the university employs some 5-10,000 staff and has around 30,000 students. Once fully installed, he adds, the IRIS system may be expanded to include visual verification of alarm alerts.Meanwhile, in another important move, TAC has also selected Chiron's latest IRIS Touch system for use with its powerful I/NET Seven integrated building control solution. Offering a comprehensive package for end users such as telecoms providers, manufacturing plants, military bases and government institutions, I/NET Seven's distributed architecture incorporates HVAC, digital video, lighting and access control. "We opted for IRIS Touch because it offers the most usable and user-friendly system available on the market and as such complements the I/NET Seven system perfectly," Mr Olsen comments."We opted to use Chiron's IRIS system because it's simple to install and engineer, as well as being reliable in operation in our experience"Chiron's Corporate Account Manager, Vikram Datar, adds that the advantages of IRIS and IRIS Touch alarm transmission and monitoring systems include faster alerting, cheaper line monitoring, a range of value-added services such as building management system monitoring, plus improved network resilience. IRIS Touch is a recent major update to the IRIS range that provides a variety of extra user-friendly features as well as a fresh new design and operating interface, which makes life much easier for end users and installers alike. It now boasts independent, Europe-wide VdS verification and accreditation - the benchmark standard most widely recognised across Europe."IRIS is now supported by around 100 monitoring centres across Europe and being used by businesses including Travelex, the largest retail foreign exchange specialist in the world, High St retailers such as Halfords, Toys ‘R' Us and Topps Tiles, leading financial institutions, as well as schools, petrol station operators, chemist chains and a variety of other companies," Mr Datar notes.Many alarm panel manufacturers are also now offering IRIS technology embedded within their panels, while an increasing number of insurers are backing the system too. IRIS offers the reassurance of secure primary and back-up communications routes between a monitored site and alarm receiving centre, while providing the ability to make tangible operating cost savings and significantly adding value to a company's existing IT network.

Day Automation integrates security with building controls
Day Automation integrates security with building controls

 Day Automation, a TAC partner integrates security with building controls Day Automation Systems, headquartered in Victor, N.Y., experienced an 85 percent increase in product sales in 2008 from the previous year. Day Automation is the volume-leading partner for TAC, the building management, energy services and security solutions business of Schneider Electric. Day Automation attributes its strong showing to its dedication to expanding from building controls into the security market. With four office locations, Day Automation represents TAC for heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) control, security and door access control, and digital video surveillance systems in Central and Eastern New York State.Day Automation, a TAC partner since 1978, began selling security the mid-90s, believing that it had the potential to be a major growth engine for its business. Success did not come easy or happen overnight; rather, it took a major commitment from management along with dedicated resources."We've recommended integrating security into building management systems for years, and I think the marketplace is becoming receptive to the advantages of this approach," said Eric Orban, president of Day Automation. "Integrated systems provide a tremendous amount of value, and our customers see the difference that Day Automation brings to the table. Our focus on quality is demonstrated by the fact that most of our business is generated by word of mouth from end-user customers to consulting engineers. As a result, we've been able to expand our security business through existing HVAC customers."In 2003, after observing other control integrators adding security to their portfolios and analyzing the security market, the Day Automation management team committed to making security a major part of its business and began to grow the offering. The company added resources to focus solely on security and to build out the expertise in-house by investing in the right people and putting a dedicated sales force in place.Day Automation, a TAC partner, attributes its strong showing to its dedication to expanding from building controls into the security market. "At that time, the marketplace saw us only as an HVAC systems integrator," observed Orban. "We anticipated that there would be a perception that we lacked security expertise and experience, so we made it our mission to attract and retain knowledgeable and dedicated people on staff. It's critical to be viewed in the marketplace as competent and capable - and this starts with building your knowledge base one person at time."This meant hiring a dedicated security sales professional from the industry as well as hiring students out of college and providing them with extensive on-the-job training and mentoring. Once the expertise and a sales force were in place, the next step for the partner was to carefully analyze the marketplace to determine the type of customers that would most benefit from its solutions. Then the Day Automation sales team began tapping into its existing customer base, which consisted mainly of HVAC customers."Our strategy today is that when we lead with BAS, we follow up introducing security. And when we lead with security, we introduce our BAS solutions," explained Orban. "We always make sure to bring all of our expertise to the table in order to maximize on the total opportunity."

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