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James Twigg is the Managing Director of Total Integrated Solutions (TIS), an independent life safety, security and communication systems integrator, specialising in design & consultancy, technology and regulatory compliance. Total Integrated Solutions work primarily with retirement villages, helping to ensure the safety of residents in numerous retirement villages across the country. In this opinion piece, James shares how smart technology is helping security teams and care staff alike in ensuring the safety and security of their spaces, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Impact of smart technology Smart technology is having an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives Smart technology is having an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives. From how we travel, to how we work, to how we run our homes. It’s not unusual to have Alexa waking us up and ordering our groceries or Nest to be regulating the temperature and energy in our homes. And while there’s a popular misconception that people in their later years are allergic to technology, retirement villages and care homes are experiencing significant innovation too. And the result is not only improved quality of life for residents, but also improved safety and security systems for management teams. Switching to converged IP systems I’ve been working in the life safety and security industry for over fifteen years. When I first joined TIS, much of the sector was still very analogue, in terms of the technology being installed and maintained. Slowly but surely, we’ve been consulting and advising customers on how to design, install and maintain converged IP systems that all talk to each other and work in tandem. I'm excited to say retirement villages are some of the top spaces leading the way, in terms of technological advancement. Improving the quality of life for residents A move into a retirement village can be daunting and one of the key concerns that we hear about is the loss of independence. No one wants to feel like they are being monitored or to have someone constantly hovering over them. One of the ways we’ve used smart technology to maintain residents' independence is through devices, such as health monitors and motion sensors. For example, instead of having a member of staff check-in on residents every morning, to ensure they are well, sensors and analytics can automatically detect changes in routine and alert staff to possible problems. Similarly, wearable tech, such as smart watches give residents a chance to let staff know they are okay, without having to tell them face-to-face. As our retirement village customers have told us, a simple ‘I’m okay’ command can be the difference between someone feeling independent versus someone feeling monitored. Simplifying and improving security systems Smart technology gives care staff and security oversight of the needs of residents For the teams responsible for the safety of the people, places and spaces within retirement villages, smart technology is helping to improve and simplify their jobs. Smart technology gives care staff and security oversight of the needs of residents, and ensures rapid response if notified by an emergency alert, ensuring they know the exact location of the resident in need. And without the need to go and physically check-in on every resident, staff and management can ensure staff time is being used effectively. Resources can be distributed where they are needed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those residents who need extra consideration. 24/7 surveillance When planning the safety and security for retirement villages, and other residential spaces, it’s no use having traditional systems that only work effectively for 12 hours a day or need to update during the evening. Surveillance needs to be 24/7 and smart technology allows that without the physical intrusion into people’s spaces and daily lives. Smart technology ensures that systems speak to each other and are easily and effectively managed on one integrated system. This includes video surveillance, which has also become much more effective as a result of advanced video analytics, which automatically warn staff of suspicious behaviour. Securing spaces amid COVID-19 This year has, of course, brought new challenges for safety. COVID-19 hit the retirement and residential care sectors hard, first with the initial wave of infections in mid-2020 and then, with the subsequent loneliness caused by the necessary separation of families. As essential workers, we worked closely with our customers to make sure they had everything they needed As essential workers, we worked closely with our customers to make sure they had everything they needed during this time, equipping residents with tablet devices to ensure they could stay connected with their families and friends. It allowed residents to keep in touch without risking transferring the virus. Thermal cameras and mask detection And now that we’re emerging out of COVID-19 restrictions and most residents can see their families again, we’re installing systems like thermal cameras and mask detection, so as to ensure that security will be alerted to anyone in the space experiencing a high temperature or not wearing proper PPE. Such steps give staff and families alike, the peace-of-mind that operational teams will be alerted at the earliest possible moment, should a COVID-19 risk appear. Thinking ahead to the next fifteen years, I’m excited at the prospect of further technological advancements in this space. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about how complex your security system is or how you compete in the industry. It’s about helping teams to protect the people, spaces and places that matter. I see smart technology playing a huge role in that for years to come.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes and sporting venues open-up to full capacity, a new disturbing trend has hit the headlines - poor fan behaviour. Five NBA teams have issued indefinite bans on fans, who crossed the line of unacceptable behaviour, during the NBA playoffs. Major League Baseball stadiums have a recurring problem with divisive political banners being strewn over walls, as part of an organised campaign, requiring fan ejections. There was a brawl between Clippers and Suns fans after Game 1 of their playoff series. And, the U.S. vs. Mexico Nations League soccer game over the Fourth of July weekend had to be halted, due to fans throwing objects at players and screaming offensive chants. Cracking down on poor fan behaviour Security directors are consistently reporting a disturbing uptick in poor fan attitude and behaviour With players across all major sports leagues commanding more power than ever before, they are demanding that sports venues crack down on poor fan behaviour, particularly when they are the targets of that behaviour. Whether it’s an extension of the social-media divisiveness that’s gripped society, or people unleashing pent up negative energy, following 15 months of social isolation, during the COVID-19 global pandemic, security directors are consistently reporting a disturbing uptick in poor fan attitude and behaviour. They’re also reporting a chronic security guard shortage, like many businesses that rely on relatively low-cost labour, finding candidates to fill open positions has been incredibly difficult. Low police morale To add the third component to this perfect storm, many police departments are struggling with morale issues and officers are less likely to put themselves into positions, where they could wind up in a viral video. According to the Police Executive Research Forum, police officer retirements in the U.S. were up 45% in the April 2020 - April 2021 period, when compared to the previous year. Resignations were up 18%. In this environment, officers may be less likely to undertake fan intervention unless it’s absolutely necessary. This can seem like the worst of times for venue security directors, as they need more staff to handle increasingly unruly patrons, but that staff simply isn’t available. And, because the security guard staffing industry is a commoditised business, companies compete almost solely on price, which requires that they keep salaries as low as possible, which perpetuates the lack of interest in people participating in the profession. Digital Transformation There is only one way out of this conundrum and that is to make security personnel more efficient and effective. Other industries have solved similar staffing and cost challenges through digital transformation. For example, only a small percentage of the total population of restaurants in the U.S. used to offer home delivery, due to cost and staffing challenges of hiring dedicated delivery personnel. Advent of digital efficiency tools But with the advent of digital efficiency tools, now virtually all restaurants can offer delivery But with the advent of digital efficiency tools, such as UberEATS and DoorDash, now virtually all restaurants can offer delivery. Likewise, field-service personnel are digitally connected, so when new jobs arise, they can be notified and routed to the location. Compare this to the old paper-based days, when they wouldn’t know about any new jobs until they picked up their work schedule at the office, the next day and you can see how digital transformation makes each worker significantly more efficient. Security guards and manned guarding The security guard business has never undergone this kind of digital transformation. The state-of-the-art ‘technology’ has never changed - human eyes and ears. Yes, there are video cameras all over stadiums and other venues, but behind the scenes is a guard staring at a bunch of monitors, hoping to identify incidents that need attention. Meanwhile, there are other guards stationed around the stadium, spending most of their time watching people who are doing nothing wrong. Think about all the wasted time involved with these activities – not to mention the relentless boredom and ‘alert fatigue’ from false-positive incident reporting and you understand the fundamental inefficiencies of this labour-based approach to security. Now think about a world where there’s ubiquitous video surveillance and guards are automatically and pre-emptively notified and briefed, when situations arise. The fundamental nature of the security guards profession changes. Instead of being low paid ‘watchers’, they instead become digitally-empowered preventers. AI-based screening and monitoring technology This world is happening today, through Artificial Intelligence-based screening and monitoring technology. AI-powered weapons-detection gateways inform guards, when a patron entering the venue is carrying a gun, knife or other forbidden item. Instead of patting down every patron with metal in their pockets, which has been the standard practice since walk-through metal detectors were mandated by sports leagues following 9/11, guards can now target only those who are carrying these specific items. Video surveillance and AI-based analytics integration Combining surveillance video with AI-based advanced analytics can automatically identify fan disturbances Combining surveillance video with AI-based advanced analytics can automatically identify fan disturbances or other operational issues, and notify guards in real time, eliminating the need to have large numbers of guards monitoring video feeds and patrons. The business benefits of digitally transformed guards are compelling. A National Hockey League security director says he used to have 300 guards manning 100 walk-through metal detectors. By moving to AI solutions, he can significantly reduce the number of scanning portals and guards, and most importantly redeploy and gain further operational efficiencies with his overall operational strategy. Changing staffing strategy This changes the staffing strategy significantly and elevates the roles of guards. Suddenly, a US$ 20-per-hour ‘job’ becomes a US$ 40-per-hour profession, with guards transformed into digital knowledge workers delivering better outcomes with digitally enabled staffs. Beyond that, these digitally transformed guards can spend a much higher percentage of their time focused on tasks that impact the fan experience – whether it’s keeping weapons out of the building, pro-actively dealing with unruly fans before a broader disruption occurs, or managing business operations that positively impact fan patron experience. Digitally transforming security guards Perhaps most important, digitally transforming security guards elevates the profession to a more strategic level, which means better pay for the guards, better service for clients of guard services, and an overall better experience for fans. That’s a perfect storm of goodness for everyone.
Prices and delivery times for essential components in CCTV systems are being driven up as demand soars from other industries. Secure Logiq’s Robin Hughes explains the current state of the market. Challenges Component shortages and supply chain challenges are a hot topic in just about every industry based on semi-conductors and silicon chips right now, and security is no exception. It’s common knowledge that the global Covid lockdown caused a shutdown in the mining of silicon and spherites as large industries such as motor manufacturing cancelled or postponed their chip orders – this has caused a supply gap that every industry is feeling. However, there is a second challenge that is hitting the security sector particularly hard, and it may not be one you are expecting – cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies and security When people discuss cryptocurrencies and security, thoughts often turn to cybersecurity and ransomware payment tracking. But the issue for the majority of the security industry comes from crypto mining. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, GPUs are intrinsic for ‘proof of work’ mining GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) are a key component in CCTV, they decode images and display them onto screens. With the increase of video analytics, these have also become key to running the complicated algorithms required for creating the metadata and presenting it in a meaningful way for end-users. However, when it comes to cryptocurrencies, GPUs are intrinsic for ‘proof of work’ mining. Demand for GPUs When Bitcoin prices were relatively low, it was hard to justify the cost of a GPU and the associated power consumption for Bitcoin mining applications. But as the price of Bitcoin has increased exponentially, demand for GPUs to do the number-crunching has grown dramatically causing a major shortage and huge price hikes. This rise in prices is not correlated with an increase in technological performance on the new GPUs, it is entirely a case of demand outstripping supply and a resulting bidding war. To put this in context, cards are currently going new for around twice the original price and manufacturers simply cannot keep up with the demand. Chia On top of this, there is a new cryptocurrency creating a new threat to a different part of the CCTV industry. A new ‘environmental’ cryptocurrency called Chia has dispensed with the processing power and electricity demands of traditional GPU mining, instead of utilising the spare storage space on hard drives (HDD) to verify blockchain transactions (‘proof of space’). The demand for this particular cryptocurrency has to date called on 30 Exabytes of storage since May this year – that’s 30 Billion Gigabytes of data, and it’s not just HDDs, high-capacity SSDs are also in demand. This is causing massive hard drive supply issues globally, thus rocketing prices for those that are available. HDD consumption The security industry sits comfortably in the ‘Big data’ category and with storage retention times running from 30 days to 6 months Of course, this has a particularly large knock-on for the CCTV market. There is nothing more data-intensive than video, other than multiple streams of HD video. With this in mind, the security industry sits comfortably in the ‘Big data’ category and with storage retention times running from 30 days typically up to 6 months and longer in some regions/applications, the CCTV market consumes more HDDs than many other markets. Growth of data centres While you would think that this would make security an important area for HDD manufacturers, our market is a relatively small player. IT vendors will always focus on their core customers, and the rise of the gaming market, as well as the growth of data centres due to remote working in the pandemic, has created a more important sector to serve – and these customers will always come first. Imagine the daily storage space required if 5 Billion people uploaded just one image a day to ‘the cloud’! Component manufacturers These factors combined with the lack of raw materials leading to longer lead times for component manufacturers mean that the prices for hard drives and GPUs are likely to remain inflated well into 2022 while factories play catch up on the backlog. The market for IT hardware is currently strong enough to continue even with the increase in component prices and the extended lead times for products. If you can get your hands on any HDDs, the delivery times from most distributors are around 6-8 weeks. Increased delivery times All of this has had a serious impact on the security industry. CCTV projects are now facing the combined issue of increased delivery times and higher costs. Many manufacturers, integrators, and distributors are doing their best to absorb the price increases where they can, but this is unsustainable over the long term. So what can be done? Second-hand applications Some people are getting more creative by purchasing from the second-hand market Some people are getting more creative by purchasing from the second-hand market. However, it is unlikely that commercial applications will be willing to risk potential downtime or data losses by using second-hand components that have been pushed hard for months on end mining cryptocurrencies. Making early purchases While I can’t comment on what other manufacturers have done, at Secure Logiq we have been watching this market trend closely. We always try to keep a close eye on anything that has the potential to significantly impact our manufacturing capabilities and try to offset any potential challenges with early purchases before the impact is fully felt. As such, we have been able to secure enough products to continue manufacturing as normal for more than six months. Increased demand as a challenge While we have this existing stock to meet current and anticipated orders, we continue to scour the market for any available stock to make sure we are at the top of the list when any fresh products come on the market. This has meant that throughout our 10-year history we have never failed to deliver a customer order within 7-10 working days. The delays with component manufacture and the ongoing increased demand will continue to present a huge challenge to the CCTV and wider security industry. However, good planning and intelligent design will allow projects to remain on track. Security technology manufacturers are not alone in this challenge, but the dual-threat is perhaps unique. It will take a while for this threat to be overcome, but with robust planning and by paying close attention to the market forward-thinking CCTV manufacturers can still deliver projects for their clients.
The newly established Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA or 'the Alliance'), a non-profit, non-stock corporation formed to outline specifications for a common standardised platform for security and safety solutions, announced that since its formation in Fall 2018, the organisation has grown by 50% and initiatives are in full-swing. The Alliance is quickly attracting players ranging from device manufacturers, software developers and system integrators to distributors and system on a chip (SoC) companies. “We’re extremely pleased OSSA is drawing strong support from progressive companies across various sectors, as our purpose is to all start from a common platform business model to spur innovation and add real value for customers and users as they manage and monitor property, people and surrounding circumstances,” said Johan Jubbega, President, Open Security & Safety Alliance. “Each new member brings diverse insight and expertise to the bigger picture we’re working to bring into focus for stakeholders in the security, safety, building automation solutions and associated industries.” OSSA member roster The Open Security & Safety Alliance’s five founding companies – Bosch Building Technologies, Hanwha Techwin, Milestone Systems, Pelco by Schneider Electric and VIVOTEK Inc. – today are working alongside 15 inventive international players that currently comprise the OSSA member roster: OSSA Member Business Focus Aitek Management Software Provider Ambarella Inc. SoC Manufacturer AndroVideo Inc. Video Surveillance Device Manufacturer Anixter Inc. Distributor HiSilicon Technologies Co., LTD SoC Manufacturer Hunt Electronic Video Surveillance Device Manufacturer Kings Secure Technologies Installation/Commissioning Services NetApp Inc. Recording/Storage Device Manufacturer QUALCOMM Incorporated SoC Manufacturer Security & Safety Things GmbH (SAST) Service Provider SOCIONEXT Inc. Video Surveillance Device Manufacturer Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. Imaging Products & Solutions Topview Optronics Corp. Video Surveillance Device Manufacturer Wavestore Global Ltd Management Software Provider United Technologies Access Control Device Manufacturer Differentiating security and safety use cases Workgroups have been instrumental in launching key programs throughout the past six months. To support the Alliance’s mission to drive the development of differentiating security and safety use cases – including those utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning – members have already achieved valuable outputs including: Specification of a common Technology Stack to cater to innovation and reduce market fragmentation Definition of a common and vendor-agnostic operating system (OS) that together with the Technology Stack will fuel the development of value-added solutions for customers and users Description of a common market approach to data security and privacy Establishment of an ecosystem of like-minded companies Keynote speeches at Milestone’s Integration Platform Symposium and VIP customer events in the U.S., EMEA and Asia-Pacific region First prototype cameras based on the commonly defined Technology Stack and OS have been realized and will be showcased at ISC West 2019 Benefits of joining OSSA The Alliance is designed to include everyone and offers membership levels to meet the needs of companies big or small. Benefits of joining OSSA include access to the Alliance framework and the ability to connect, discuss, influence and collaborate with other Alliance members to steer change for the betterment of the industry. Together, OSSA members are providing standards and specifications for common components including an operating system, IoT infrastructure, collective approach for data security and privacy, and a drive for improved levels of performance across products, solutions and services. Visitors for ISC West are invited to hear first-hand about the benefits of OSSA membership. Many members will be exhibiting at the event.
EtherWAN will setup Ethernet Switches for the live demonstration as well as provide technical support on site EtherWAN Systems, Inc., a global Ethernet connectivity solution provider, announced its consecutive 5th year of sponsorship to the Secutech Excellence Awards in Secutech International during 28-30 April, 2015. EtherWAN will setup Ethernet Switches for the live demonstration as well as provide technical support on site. The switches will connect with 7 NVRs and 47 IP cameras, including those with ultra HD, IR bullet, and panorama features. The audience will see the live performance results of the surveillance equipment from each contestant. Secutech’s official network topology to utilise EtherWAN’s Ethernet Switches EtherWAN’s PoE Solution products have been tested compliant with world-leading IP camera manufacturers such as Axis, BOSCH, Brickcom, Dahua, EverFocus, Hikvision, Hunt, Merit LILIN, Raylios, Sunell, TVT Digital, Tyco, Ingrasys, Shany, Panasonic, Sony and Vivotek etc. with smooth transmission result. Other than the sponsorship in the IP camera award, EtherWAN’s Ethernet Switches also support the NVR award site, which is co-located to Secutech Award, with approximate 10 different NVR brands in the contest to display the best storage performance. The official network topology for this event will utilise EtherWAN’s 8-port and 16-port PoE Managed Ethernet Switch with dual Gigabit uplink ports connecting to another 24-port full Gigabit Managed Ethernet Switch to shape the best network traffic. EtherWAN’s equipment will be running non-stop together with all devices from each contestant. “We are very much pleased to be once again appointed as the Ethernet equipment sponsorship to this event. It is also the 1st time that Secutech International highlights the subject of Network Transmission being technically-exclusive of other exhibition categories. With almost two decades' experiences in Ethernet technology, we are confident that our support can make the event another success, just like all we did in previous years.” said Maggie Chao, VP of Sales & Marketing in EtherWAN Systems. Case-proven product quality in indoor and outdoor environments EtherWAN has proven its technology know-how in network solutions and case-proven product quality in both indoor and outdoor environments. EtherWAN will continue to serve a sound role in the industry of network, especially when connectivity is crucial.
Local surveillance companies often struggle when deciding between distributing third-party brands or selling their own branded surveillance products, especially when the company has already achieved some level of recognition among their customers and/or other key players. Distributing a famous third-party brand is a way to “play it safe” in an environment where there is little budget to spend on marketing, public relationships and other expenses related to product placement. Someone else has already made those investments. Nevertheless, when talking about identity, owning a brand eases the way for customers to associate the local company with the type of products/services it offers. A local company seeking more prestige can create its own “additional value” for clients, rather than simply merchandising and trading. By the time a local surveillance company decides to sell its own branded products, another decision needs to be made: whether to manufacture products or to find OEM/ODM manufacturing sources. Understanding the differences between the approaches related to project development and budget planning will provide guidance to any local company. The keys for setting a production line Self-manufacturing represents tremendous challenges of time management and investment. The local company needs to be absolutely sure there is enough time to assemble the qualified human resources who are capable of developing the required hardware and software resources to create surveillance products that can evolve and overcome challenges in a competitive market. After gathering the right professionals, the next challenge is time management. Every team at any organisation, regardless of size, needs time for training and consolidation. For this reason, the local company has to estimate a buffer time for this learning process, when mistakes are allowed in order to achieve a very stable product. Another aspect to take into account is infrastructure. The company will need to own adequate space and required equipment for the manufacturing processes. Obviously, the required investment is enormous, and the ROI gain might be slower than expected if the wrong decisions are made. Currently OEM/ODM manufacturing sources are located in China and Taiwan Therefore, finding an OEM/ODM manufacturer eases the way to enable any local company to achieve a unique identity; especially when creating strategic surveillance solutions that require customised technology. The benefits of working with OEM/ODM manufacturing In the medium-long term, working with OEM/ODM sources does not require a big investment, and the ROI is faster. The local company can focus resources on marketing and new business development – not have to spend resources on manufacturing and fixed assets such as plants, facilities, and operators. All the complexity of manufacturing processes and investments is taken care of by the OEM/ ODM manufacturing source. It is important to mention that an existing product line can be expanded faster by using one or more OEM/ODM sources. Products with similar characteristics might only require new features to increase the competitive value inside the whole chain of distributors, sellers and resellers. After identifying the advantages of the OEM/ODM approach, the next important step is to find the right OEM/ODM source; otherwise, the maximum value might not be achieved, and the business direction would get blurred. Points for choosing an OEM/ODM source Providing an acceptable lead time is not the only parameter to determine a good OEM/ODM manufacturing source. To find the right OEM/ODM partner, an exhaustive analysis of the factory must be performed in areas as Scale, Human Resources, Quality and Operations. For example, a scale analysis offers a good reference to estimate project development. Also, it helps to evaluate the general performance of the factory and its ability to meet client demands. Some other criteria for evaluating scale are monthly capacity production, amount of production lines and workers. "It is important that an OEM/ODM manufacturing source be willing to hear about developing new designs and concepts from the branding company" In the human resources area, analysis requires more than taking a quick look at how many workers and experts are committed to the job; rather, consider the factory organization and its employee development programs. Does the factory fulfil the whole design and manufacturing process, or just a part of it? Not providing the whole service might lead to gradual cost increases, since other sources need to be contacted to fill all the manufacturing gaps. Furthermore, experts should strive for developing new technologies, being one step ahead and not behind. Also, it is important that an OEM/ODM manufacturing source be willing to hear about developing new designs and concepts from the branding company. Any branded company needs to take advantage of this expertise from manufacturers, meaning that serious employee development programs would be held internally for training and developing knowledge. A manufacturer company with high employee turnover could put the smoothness of the project development at risk; the company might spend too much time constantly training employees, and the acquired knowledge might consequently be leaked. Also, the factory requires implementing high control standards, including packaging for overseas shipment. For product improvements, it is important to evaluate the return merchandise authorisation (RMA) process and how feedback flows from the customer. All of this will help to evaluate quality that should be complemented with the best infrastructure. Finally, analysing operations cannot be overlooked. It is preferable that the business model of the manufacturer source be pure OEM/ODM-based; in this case, the roles of both actors (buyer and factory) are clearly established, and there will not be any risk that the factory decides to approach the buyer’s client. "In the medium-long term, working with OEM/ODM sources does not require a big investment, and the ROI is faster" Public companies offer more complete and precise information about their financial states; obviously, healthy finances represent a more stable operation and provide more security for the money invested in merchandise. Conclusion Currently OEM/ODM manufacturing sources are located in China and Taiwan. There is no doubt that China offers very attractive prices and lead time, but Chinese manufacturers still face unpredictable situations of quality control, sometimes undermining credibility related to IP surveillance in some regions of the world. Although Taiwan manufacturers cannot compete against the Chinese in price, they offer high quality and a balanced solution, making them highly trustworthy for any IP surveillance business.
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