CCTV software - Expert commentary

Reopening doors: What steps should be taken to ensure safety and security?
Reopening doors: What steps should be taken to ensure safety and security?

A total of £1.6 billion worth of goods are reported as ‘lost’ to in-store theft in supermarkets each year, with figures increasing steadily. The presence of self-checkout systems have increased in supermarkets, as well as other industry retailers. By 2021, we’re globally on track to have 468,000 self-checkout machines in operation, nearly double the 240,000 in existence since 2016. While this increase comes with such benefits as reduced wait times for customers and staff costs, it also comes with a risk of retail theft at self-checkouts. With the circumstances the world now finds itself in i.e. mass unemployment, financial uncertainty, the retail industry has seen an influx in these types of petty crimes, hitting retailers during an already turbulent period. While retailers are taking precautions to protect themselves and their patrons in this new era of in-person shopping, it’s important to ensure the business itself is protected. A popular method to combat these fears is to employ on-site security personnel, however, as we continue to adapt to new operating guidelines, retailers must begin thinking past the immediate future, and begin implementing long-term security solutions to prepare for life after lockdown such as strong CCTV systems with remote access. How has the security industry adapted its services to a post-lockdown world? Technological innovations like thermal recognition are key to adapting security systems for a post-lockdown world. Businesses which previously relied on facial recognition now must update their methods to account for shoppers wearing masks on-site and in-store. By 2021, we’re globally on track to have 468,000 self-checkout machines in operation, nearly double the 240,000 in existence since 2016 Biometric systems are now able to identify people with face masks, and thermal recognition such ADT’s Thermi-Scan system which can track human body temperature without the need for contact. Implementing these safe protocol procedures protect both employees and customers against virus outbreaks such as COVID-19. The need for these advances in video surveillance will reportedly increase the biometric facial recognition market by 14 per cent by 2027. Artificial intelligence has been hailed recently as the way forward for remote security needs, and whilst business-owners continue to navigate procedures of returning to work post-lockdown, having remote access to real-time security monitoring is essential now more than ever. What are the main measures stores can take to prevent or reduce theft? Strategically placing a multi-camera surveillance system to ensure clarity, eliminate blind spots, and deter thieves should be top priority. It’s equally essential to invest in a system which has an efficient playback programme, particularly in situations where reviewing important footage efficiently can offer vital information to the police force. Advances in video surveillance will reportedly increase the biometric facial recognition market by 14 per cent by 2027 As business-owners continue operating at reduced hours and with limited on-site staff, being able to access camera footage quickly and remotely is a key factor to consider. Whether owners opt to receive an alert on a mobile device allowing them to review notifications, or if their system is monitored by a remote security centre, it’s important to be able to access footage quickly for added efficiency and ease. Facial recognition and AI have been popular points of discussion in relation to security cameras and CCTV. While careful considerations must be taken prior to utilising any sort of facial recognition technology, including conducting a Privacy Impact Assessment, the benefits include being provided with real-time tracking of repeat offenders which immensely helps the prevention of in-store theft. Here are some key points to consider when choosing in-store surveillance: Assess your needs – To get the best out of your security system, it is essential to analyse what your requirements are for your business as they might have changed to adapt to a post-lockdown world Camera setup – With store layouts shifting to accommodate social distancing guidelines, it’s important to re-evaluate the current set-up of any security cameras. Depending on any layout updates, it might be important to consider operating multiple cameras in one area to ensure a peripheral view and eliminate any blind spots Camera positioning – For optimal performance, check that light sources are not obstructing your view such as glare from the sun. It is also worth considering the height at which cameras are installed to maximise surveillance Check the focus – It is worth testing camera lenses bi-monthly to ensure that lighting or weather hasn’t affected the focus of the lens, resulting in a blurry visual Remote access – As guidelines continue to evolve, ensure you’re able to access any necessary camera footage quickly and safely in case of emergency Will we begin to see a reduction of theft as new technology is implemented? We’re beginning to see incidents of shoplifting and theft being taken more seriously by law enforcement. In the coming months, for the first time in Britain nearly twenty shoplifters who were either caught red-handed or identified on CCTV will be appearing before magistrates. While currently these court cases are being pursued by a private police force, these actions come after a Government plea to high-level police to prosecute shoplifters stealing under £200. Retailers have long voiced concerns that forces have abandoned low-level thefts and these steps are small but show that businesses are being heard. As innovations in surveillance security continue, we’ll be seeing a move away from human involvement which will create a more reliable and efficient system able to rely on machine learning and analytics. While there have been wider strides made in utilising AI for surveillance, these are largely being used currently by local governments to alert police forces to threats of criminal activity. It’s not unreasonable to think that in the near future, these types of smart technology will be employed by private businesses to analyse suspicious behaviour or possible theft. However, as we see an increase in the advancement of security technology, we anticipate that those inclined to commit in-store theft will adapt their methods, therefore retailers should look to regularly evaluate their security needs to keep risks at bay.

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.

Latest Qognify news

Qognify announces Cayuga R15 video management system to faster identify, locate and evaluate an event
Qognify announces Cayuga R15 video management system to faster identify, locate and evaluate an event

Qognify - the trusted advisor and technology solution provider for physical security and enterprise incident management - announced the launch of Cayuga R15. The new release of Qognify’s video management system (VMS) for multi-site corporate and enterprise projects focuses on enhanced usability and connectivity, improved maintainability and intelligent analytics. Help security personnel One of the main goals while developing Cayuga R15 was to help security personnel quickly identify, locate and evaluate an event. This can present a real challenge when operating large systems with widely distributed locations and a large number of cameras. Cayuga R15 solves this problem by supporting the use of the powerful Esri ArcGIS mapping platform, enabling cameras to be positioned on a map and available globally - depending on access rights. Multiple views or areas of interest within one map source as well as the clustering of icons depending on the zoom level make it easy to keep the overview on the map at any time. View live streams The new Qognify Mobile Client is another powerful tool added in Cayuga R15 that improves the ability to respond to an event. Retail sector often need to export video in a way that does not infringe privacy rights The Mobile Client is the result of Qognify’s cross-product initiative, to combine the benefits of technological assets within its VMS portfolio. It can connect to Cayuga and Ocularis installations using a smartphone or tablet, enabling security personnel to view live streams as well as to browse and playback recorded footage remotely in a totally revamped, intuitive design. It is available for iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded from the App Store or from Google Play at no additional costs. Exporting video For organisations, such as those in the retail sector, that often need to export video in a way that does not infringe privacy rights, Cayuga R15 adds a new Export Designer. This software module enables the editing (blurring and/or masking of moving objects and static areas) of video sequences to be exported. This new functionality is complemented by an optional Export Validation Tool - provided on the Qognify website - that can be used to easily check that exported footage supplied for the purpose of evidence has not been tampered with. Mitigating false alarms IT systems to create new levels of information to optimise business processes Many other changes, big and small made it into the release. For enterprise customers there is a new time management feature that enables the use of multiple distinguished holiday calendars within one organisation. Active directory management has been further improved and now offers even deeper integration for setting user rights directly in Windows. And finally, for customers relying on video analytics as part of their security regiment, Cayuga R15 now uses deep learning-based AI to deliver optimised object classification. This helps to set up video analysis faster and mitigates false alarms caused by common occurrences such as insects and headlights. Business Video Intelligence Carsten Eckstein, Head of Product Management for Cayuga at Qognify is proud of what his team achieved for this latest version of the product: “The additions and enhancements in Cayuga R15 are in direct response to the feedback from our partners and customers. This is the first release, where Qognify’s new development philosophy, to look beyond one specific product, has been put to practice. I can’t wait for Cayuga customers to start using R15 but it is equally nice to know that also those users who rely on other Qognify products will profit from the work we have accomplished here in their Qognify system of choice.” Cayuga R15 is compatible with Qognify’s innovative Umbrella web-based platform that can be used to configure, manage and monitor all connected Cayuga systems centrally. It also integrates with its Business Video Intelligence (BVI) software, which combines video footage from Cayuga with transaction data from business-related IT systems to create new levels of information to optimise business processes. Cayuga R15 is part of Qognify’s comprehensive video management portfolio that includes VisionHub, Ocularis and NiceVision. It is available now in 15 languages and is SIRA (Security Industry Regulatory Agency) compliant, enabling it to be used in public projects in Dubai and the wider Gulf region.

Broome County upgrades video surveillance infrastructure with networked Axis cameras and Qognify’s Ocularis VMS integration
Broome County upgrades video surveillance infrastructure with networked Axis cameras and Qognify’s Ocularis VMS integration

When Broome County, in the US State of New York, took the decision to upgrade its public safety radio network, it required the highest quality video surveillance system to safeguard its US$ 23 million investment in critical infrastructure. New radio network Working with Integrated Systems, a solution combining networked Axis cameras, illuminators and radar motion detectors, with Qognify’s Ocularis video management system (VMS) was installed, to deter, detect and respond to unauthorised activity, at each of its nine new radio towers. The new radio network replaces a system that was in place since the 1970’s and improves communications for police, fire, along with other emergency services and public works departments for the municipalities across the county. 24/7 security monitoring Each of the radio tower sites required a combination of networked PTZ and fixed cameras" Such mission critical infrastructure requires reliable round-the-clock security monitoring, so Integrated Systems was approached, for its reputation in the delivery of technology solutions to government and industry, to specify and install a new video surveillance system. President of Integrated Systems, Mark Hamilton, explains, “Each of the radio tower sites required a combination of networked PTZ and fixed cameras, as well as radar motion detection to provide comprehensive coverage that would ensure any unauthorised activity would be swiftly detected, automatically recorded and alerts triggered, to initiate a timely and appropriate response.”  Axis camera and radar detection technology Axis camera and radar detection technology was chosen for interior and exterior use at each radio tower site and the award-winning Ocularis to provide the all-important integration. Hamilton adds, “Early in our engagement with Broome County we urged them to migrate from their disparate video surveillance architecture, whereby VMS, NVR and DVR systems were all being managed individually across the county.” He further said, “Our recommended solution was a single unified, IP-based system that was county-wide sanctioned. To achieve this, we specified the Ocularis VMS from Qognify.” Ocularis video management system Ocluaris is a VMS that is ideal for large-scale projects such as Broome County, with an emphasis on tactical real-time operations and live visualisation, it is supported by full system redundancy and 24/7 availability. Integrated Systems were impressed by Ocluaris’s rich feature set, intuitive user interface (including visually mapping of the entire camera estate) and impressive scalability. What’s more with Axis as a Qognify Technology Partner it instilled the confidence Broome County needed to switch to a more unified approach to video surveillance. PTZ and fixed cameras installed All surveillance camera footage is recorded and centrally archived at the County Data Centre Using Ocularis, authorised personnel at the Central Security Building and Emergency Management Services Centre have 24/7, 365-days access to live and archived footage from every camera at each of the nine sites. The PTZ cameras installed give a 360-degree view of each radio tower site, whilst fixed cameras monitor the tower yards main gates and shelter doors. Meanwhile, the radar motion detection system guards the perimeter. All surveillance camera footage is recorded and centrally archived at the County Data Centre via the county’s microwave data network. “If any suspicious activity is detected an operator can rapidly view, review and replay all relevant footage through Ocularis,” explains Hamilton. Use of video analytics and visual maps To aid the speed of response, the operator also benefits from the use of visual maps to rapidly determine what cameras are available across each site, as well as video analytics to minimise time required to trawl through footage to identify activities of interest. Broome County has been impressed with the Axis and Qognify solution, which has also been integrated with its existing county-wide video network that includes street cameras, buildings and mobile video command systems. The success of the project has been recognised with a prestigious Security Solutions Award. Hamilton concludes by saying, “Qognify’s Ocularis is now the lead VMS that Integrated Systems specifies whenever embarking on a new video surveillance project.”

Qognify Situator helps handle security Operations for Siete24 with enterprise incident management system
Qognify Situator helps handle security Operations for Siete24 with enterprise incident management system

In 2014, when Siete24 began working with the bank, it was operating 800 branches, 27 offices and 3200 ATMs, all requiring round-the-clock protection. Their security infrastructure included more than 90,000 sensors, 15,000 surveillance cameras, 3,000 DVRs and 1,500 access points. To manage this expansive enterprise the bank was operating five independent systems, using legacy software and was heavily reliant on the knowledge of its operators. Julio highlights the scale of the challenge: “In 2014 the bank was receiving two-million alerts per month, which was far more than it could effectively handle.” With the bank planning major expansion, they needed a solution that would not only deliver immediate benefits but have the ability to scale significantly. The solution that met this need was the enterprise incident management system - Qognify Situator from Qognify. Reduction in false alarms The fact that Situator was already tried, tested and proven in the banking sector was an important consideration in selecting the system. Having been in use by Millennium BCP in Portugal since 2011, Situator was able to reduce false alarms from more than 20,000 to 1,200 per annum. Since Siete24 began its work with the bank six years ago, the scope of the project has grown. The number of sites being monitored has doubled and the volume of sensors has increased by 50%. “Today, Situator is handling up to 18 million alerts per month, of which 71,200 are verified and 109 confirmed as incident, each managed using best practice procedures we have defined in the system,” explains Julio. “Despite this dramatic increase in the size of the project, our average response time to critical events has fallen from five minutes in 2016 to just 50-seconds in 2020. We have found that the more alerts we process the more efficient and effective we become.” Qognify Situator has created a positive impact on operational performance, that the bank has recently extended its contract with Siete24 for a further three-years. Julio concludes: “The bank requires that we have 99.9% availability, and we are financially accountable for any losses. Situator has enabled us to not only meet our service level obligations, but has given the bank far more than it anticipated.”

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