CCTV software - Expert commentary

The intrinsic role of lighting for video surveillance clarity and performance
The intrinsic role of lighting for video surveillance clarity and performance

The sound of sirens in the distance is commonplace, nowadays. Whether related to a medical emergency or everyday crimes, such as theft, property crimes, and so on, we’re all accustomed to hearing these sirens by now. It is worth noting that many incidents that police respond to take place at night. According to a recent report by the Sleep Judge, more than half of murders, manslaughter, sexual assaults, robberies, aggravated assaults and motor vehicle thefts happen long after the sun has set. To anyone looking to address the round-the-clock security challenge, deploying the most comprehensive surveillance solution is a must, and this means, looking at the instrumental role illumination plays in video capture. Limitations of traditional video surveillance For surveillance cameras relying on video analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver functionalities such as facial recognition, license plate reading and motion detection, nighttime crimes can pose something of a problem. Without adequate illumination, images from video cameras are grainy and unusable.If surveillance cameras can’t be used to prevent, detect and/or resolve crimes that occur in these areas, the entire security operation is obsolete Without proper lighting, potential criminals and moving objects essentially become indistinguishable, at night, thereby inhibiting even the most advanced security technologies. This limitation of traditional surveillance technology not only hinders immediate police response, but it also stops crime investigations dead in their tracks. Often, without video evidence that is clear and discernible, conviction in a court of law is next to impossible. A common response to this issue is to place security cameras near streetlights or well-lit areas. After all, according to NPR, street lights are effective in deterring crime,  as “there are people such as neighbors, pedestrians, or police, to actually see suspicious activity.” However, even if streetside and primary entrances are well lit, the areas that still need most to be surveilled are rear or side doorways shrouded by darkness, unlit back alleys, and so on. If surveillance cameras can’t be used to prevent, detect and resolve crimes that occur in these areas, the entire security operation is obsolete. Best-in-class security solutions must be able to see everything, day and night. A purpose-designed illumination solution Addressing this issue is easier than you might think. Much like a human eye needs some sort of light to “see,” so does video surveillance technology. Integrating external illuminators into a security solution can optimise camera performance exponentially, expanding a camera’s video capture and coverage abilities and ensuring the operation of video analytics, day and night. Opting for an external illuminator allows system integrators to select a device that matches the exact emission range of a camera’s field of view (FOV). The result is an evenly lit visual field, where captured images are clear and effective for security purposes. The two most common options available to integrators include infrared (IR) and white light illuminators. Each technology is built to optimise particular deployments, depending on their needs. Infrared versus white light IR illuminators emit IR light, which is invisible to the human eye and perfect for covert surveillance operations. When cameras need to be able to detect potential threats over long distances, IR illuminators are perfect for the job as they typically have longer emission ranges. IR illuminators are optimal for surveillance operations in license plate recognition, border patrol, safe cities, theme park, and medical sleep lab applications.Cameras deployed without proper illumination are rendered blind, especially at night If an end user needs to implement full-color video analytics for identification purposes, such as facial, object and license plate recognition, white light illuminators are undoubtedly an integrator’s best bet. IR illumination and traditional thermal security cameras, after all, are only able to provide black-and-white images, whereas object recognition software often identifies objects based on their color. White light illuminators installed alongside AI-powered surveillance cameras enable enhanced video image clarity, which, optimises video analytics performance. When customers want to physically deter suspicious activity, deploying white light illuminators is effective. A recent study out of Crime Labs New York found that businesses that deployed visible lights to deter crime “experienced crime rates that were significantly lower,” which “led to a 36 percent reduction in ‘index crimes’”. On top of all this, LED based white lights operate at low running costs and typically have long lifespans, saving end users thousands of dollars a year in energy costs without having to sacrifice surveillance optimisation. External versus built-in illumination Security customers looking to use lighting to deter crime and improve the performance of video surveillance may consider “all-in-one" solutions, as some cameras have LEDs (light emitting diodes) built into them. These LEDs typically encircle the lens and therefore shed light in whatever direction the camera is pointed. However convenient these may seem, built-in illumination can cause problems. First, LEDs built into cameras and next to other electronic components often cause heat to build up, which attracts insects that can trigger motion detection and obstruct a camera’s view. This heat buildup also shortens the LED lights lifespan. Built-in LEDs also tend to create “hot spots” with glare and reflection back into the camera, often because these lights only cover a 30-degree field of view (FOV), even though the average camera’s FOV is 90 degrees. This issue can severely limit a camera’s visibility, essentially rendering those remaining 60 degrees dark and unusable. All in all, when integrating lighting solutions into your security deployment, a cost-effective solution that enhances a camera’s video capture and coverage abilities, are external illuminators because they offer flexible choices of field of view and distances. Best-in-class security solution When it comes to criminal conviction in a court of law, “seeing really is believing.” Cameras deployed without proper illumination are rendered blind, especially at night, just as any security officer would be when patrolling the same unlit area. To guarantee end users the most reliable and highest performing security solution, consider integrating best-in-class illumination into your offerings.

Safety in smart cities: How video surveillance keeps security front and centre
Safety in smart cities: How video surveillance keeps security front and centre

Urban populations are expanding rapidly around the globe, with an expected growth of 1.56 billion by 2040. As the number of people living and working in cities continues to grow, the ability to keep everyone safe is an increasing challenge. However, technology companies are developing products and solutions with these futuristic cities in mind, as the reality is closer than you may think. Solutions that can help to watch over public places and share data insights with city workers and officials are increasingly enabling smart cities to improve the experience and safety of the people who reside there. Rising scope of 5G, AI, IoT and the Cloud The main foundations that underpin smart cities are 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Cloud. Each is equally important, and together, these technologies enable city officials to gather and analyse more detailed insights than ever before. For public safety in particular, having IoT and cloud systems in place will be one of the biggest factors to improving the quality of life for citizens. Smart cities have come a long way in the last few decades, but to truly make a smart city safe, real-time situational awareness and cross-agency collaboration are key areas which must be developed as a priority. Innovative surveillance cameras with integrated IoT Public places need to be safe, whether that is an open park, shopping centre, or the main roads through towns Public places need to be safe, whether that is an open park, shopping centre, or the main roads through towns. From dangerous drivers to terrorist attacks, petty crime on the streets to high profile bank robberies, innovative surveillance cameras with integrated IoT and cloud technologies can go some way to helping respond quickly to, and in some cases even prevent, the most serious incidents. Many existing safety systems in cities rely on aging and in some places legacy technology, such as video surveillance cameras. Many of these also use on-premises systems rather than utilising the benefits of the cloud. Smart programming to deliver greater insights These issues, though not creating a major problem today, do make it more challenging for governments and councils to update their security. Changing every camera in a city is a huge undertaking, but in turn, doing so would enable all cameras to be connected to the cloud, and provide more detailed information which can be analysed by smart programming to deliver greater insights. The physical technologies that are currently present in most urban areas lack the intelligent connectivity, interoperability and integration interfaces that smart cities need. Adopting digital technologies isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. Smart surveillance systems It enables teams to gather data from multiple sources throughout the city in real-time, and be alerted to incidents as soon as they occur. Increased connectivity and collaboration ensures that all teams that need to be aware of a situation are informed instantly. For example, a smart surveillance system can identify when a road accident has occurred. It can not only alert the nearest ambulance to attend the scene, but also the local police force to dispatch officers. An advanced system that can implement road diversions could also close roads around the incident immediately and divert traffic to other routes, keeping everyone moving and avoiding a build-up of vehicles. This is just one example: without digital systems, analysing patterns of vehicle movements to address congestion issues could be compromised, as would the ability to build real-time crime maps and deploy data analytics which make predictive policing and more effective crowd management possible. Cloud-based technologies Cloud-based technologies provide the interoperability, scalability and automation Cloud-based technologies provide the interoperability, scalability and automation that is needed to overcome the limitations of traditional security systems. Using these, smart cities can develop a fully open systems architecture that delivers interoperation with both local and other remote open systems. The intelligence of cloud systems can not only continue to allow for greater insights as technology develops over time, but it can do so with minimal additional infrastructure investment. Smart surveillance in the real world Mexico City has a population of almost 9 million people, but if you include the whole metropolitan area, this number rises sharply to over 21 million in total, making it one of the largest cities on the planet. Seven years ago, the city first introduced its Safe City initiative, and ever since has been developing newer and smarter ways to keep its citizens safe. In particular, its cloud-based security initiative is making a huge impact. Over the past three years, Mexico City has installed 58,000 new video surveillance cameras throughout the city, in public spaces and on transport, all of which are connected to the City’s C5 (Command, Control, Computers, Communications and Citizen Contact) facility. Smart Cities operations The solution enables officers as well as the general public to upload videos via a mobile app to share information quickly, fixed, body-worn and vehicle cameras can also be integrated to provide exceptional insight into the city’s operations. The cloud-based platform can easily be upgraded to include the latest technology innovations such as licence plate reading, behavioural analysis software, video analytics and facial recognition software, which will all continue to bring down crime rates and boost response times to incidents. The right cloud approach Making the shift to cloud-based systems enables smart cities to eliminate dependence on fibre-optic connectivity and take advantage of a variety of Internet and wireless connectivity options that can significantly reduce application and communication infrastructure costs. Smart cities need to be effective in years to come, not just in the present day, or else officials have missed one of the key aspects of a truly smart city. System designers must build technology foundations now that can be easily adapted in the future to support new infrastructure as it becomes available. Open system architecture An open system architecture will also be vital for smart cities to enhance their operations For example, this could include opting for a true cloud application that can support cloud-managed local devices and automate their management. An open system architecture will also be vital for smart cities to enhance their operations and deliver additional value-add services to citizens as greater capabilities become possible in the years to come. The advances today in cloud and IoT technologies are rapid, and city officials and authorities have more options now to develop their smart cities than ever before and crucially, to use these innovations to improve public safety. New safety features Though implementing these cloud-based systems now requires investment, as new safety features are designed, there will be lower costs and challenges associated with introducing these because the basic infrastructure will already exist. Whether that’s gunshot detection or enabling the sharing of video infrastructure and data across multiple agencies in real time, smart video surveillance on cloud-based systems can bring a wealth of the new opportunities.

Securing mobile vehicles: The cloud and solving transportation industry challenges
Securing mobile vehicles: The cloud and solving transportation industry challenges

Securing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in the transportation industry is multi-faceted for a multitude of reasons. Pressures build for transit industry players to modernise their security systems, while also mitigating the vulnerabilities, risks, and growth-restrictions associated with proprietary as well as integrated solutions. There are the usual physical security obstacles when it comes to increasingly integrated solutions and retrofitting updated technologies into legacy systems. Starting with edge devices like cameras and intelligent sensors acquiring video, analytics and beyond, these edge devices are now found in almost all public transportation like buses, trains, subways, airplanes, cruise lines, and so much more. You can even find them in the world’s last manually operated cable car systems in San Francisco. The next layer to consider is the infrastructure and networks that support these edge devices and connect them to centralized monitoring stations or a VMS. Without this layer, all efforts at the edge or stations are in vain as you lose the connection between the two. And the final layer to consider when building a comprehensive transit solution is the software, recording devices, or viewing stations themselves that capture and report the video. The challenge of mobility However, the transportation industry in particular has a very unique challenge that many others do not – mobility. As other industries become more connected and integrated, they don’t usually have to consider going in and out or bouncing between networks as edge devices physically move. Obviously in the nature of transportation, this is key. Have you ever had a bad experience with your cellular, broadband or Wi-Fi at your home or office? You are not alone. The transportation industry in particular has a very unique challenge that many others do not – mobility Can you trust these same environments to record your surveillance video to the Cloud without losing any frames, non-stop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year? To add to the complexity – how do you not only provide a reliable and secure solution when it’s mobile, travelling at varying speeds, and can be in/out of coverage using various wireless technologies? Waiting to upload video from a transport vehicle when it comes into port, the station, or any centralised location is a reactive approach that simply will not do any longer. Transit operations require a more proactive approach today and the ability to constantly know what is going on at any given time on their mobile vehicles, and escalate that information to headquarters, authorities, or law enforcement if needed; which can only occur with real-time monitoring. This is the ultimate question when it comes to collecting, analysing, and sharing data from mobile vehicles – how to get the video from public transportation vehicles alike to headquarters in real time! Managing video data In order to answer this question, let’s get back to basics. The management and nature of video data differs greatly from conventional (IT) data. Not only is video conducted of large frames, but there are specific and important relationships among the frames and the timing between them. This relationship can easily get lost in translation if not handled properly. This is why it’s critical to consider the proper way to transmit large frames while under unstable or variable networks. The Internet and its protocols were designed more than two decades ago and purposed for conventional data. Although the Internet itself has not changed, today’s network environments run a lot faster, expand to further ranges, and support a variety of different types of data. Because the internet is more reliable and affordable than in the past some might think it can handle anything. However, it is good for data, but not for video. This combination makes it the perfect time to convert video recording to the Cloud! Video transmission protocol One of the main issues with today’s technology is the degradation of video quality when transmitting video over the Internet. ITS are in dire need for reliable transmission of real-time video recording. To address this need a radical, yet proven, video transmission protocol has recently been introduced to the market. It uses AI technology and to adapt to different environments in order to always deliver high quality, complete video frames. This protocol, when equipped with encryption and authentication, enables video to be transmitted reliably and securely over the Internet in a cloud environment. One of the main issues with today’s technology is the degradation of video quality when transmitting video over the Internet Finally, transportation industry has a video recording Cloud solution that is designed for (massive) video that can handle networks that might be experiencing high error rate. Such a protocol will not only answer the current challenges of the transportation industry, but also make the previously risky Cloud environment safe for even the most reserved environments and entities. With revolutionary transmission protocols, the time is now to consider adopting private Cloud for your transportation operations.

Latest PCSC news

PCSC and Coolfire Solutions collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security
PCSC and Coolfire Solutions collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security

PCSC, a designer and manufacturer of access control solutions and Coolfire Solutions, a St. Louis based software company known for creating Military-Grade situational awareness platforms, collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security. Coolfire Solutions created its innovative Ronin Platform to deliver software that sits on top of existing systems and infrastructure to transform data into actionable intelligence. Originally developed for the U.S. military, the Ronin Platform is being widely adopted by industry leaders and organisations who recognise the importance of placing the right data, in the right hands, in real-time, so that intelligent decisions can be made. LiNC-NXG PSIM system Stacking the Ronin Platform on top of the data provided by PCSC’s LiNC-NXG PSIM system provides a robust, real-time common operational pictureStacking the Ronin Platform on top of the data provided by PCSC’s LiNC-NXG physical security information management system provides a robust, real-time common operational picture, visually representing physical security events, and enabling a coordinated security response. For instance, urgent security related event details are pushed to mobile devices of nearby security officials for immediate action. An additional benefit, in the case of an on-premises environment, the underlying access management system is not exposed, only the top-level data is managed. Extend the capabilities of access solutions “An extremely impressive GUI for our industry and an actionable set of features extend the capabilities of PCSC’s access solutions for real-time response,” said Mas Kosaka, President and CEO of PCSC. “The expansion possibilities are virtually limitless too. We’re excited to debut the capabilities of Ronin to our Business Partners during the PCSC Symposium in conjunction with ISC West, the largest security industry trade show in the U.S.” Coolfire Solutions and PCSC have the experience and capabilities to transform the way security professionals do their job every day" “Coolfire Solutions and PCSC have the experience and capabilities to transform the way security professionals do their job every day. We can maximise the value of existing technology investments by combining data from any source and making it actionable," said Don Sharp, CEO at Coolfire Solutions. "Security professionals have an incredibly challenging job and it’s only getting tougher. By bringing all of their critical data onto a single pane of glass we can increase the level of security while driving significant operational efficiencies.”

Suprema to globally provide and support BioConnect Identity Platform
Suprema to globally provide and support BioConnect Identity Platform

The BioConnect Identity Platform provides an integration of Suprema's biometric solutions with the majority of leading access control systems BioConnect and Suprema have announced Suprema's launch of the BioConnect Identity Platform. Developed by BioConnect, Suprema's long-standing strategic partner in North America, the BioConnect Identity Platform provides an integration of Suprema's biometric solutions with majority of the leading access control systems in the global security market. Under the appointment, Suprema will provide and support the BioConnect Identity Platform globally from June 1st, 2016 onward. Powerful integration featuresWith the BioConnect Identity Platform's powerful integration features and BioConnect's and Suprema's partner eco-systems, enterprises benefit from the ability to take advantage of deploying biometrics with their existing (or their choice of) access control vendor, standards, devices and way of operating. The BioConnect Identity Platform enables the seamless integration of Suprema's biometric terminals with access control systems, ERP and time and attendance systems, supporting biometric and multi-factor authentication, biometric enrollments and user ID management. One central system The solution enables greater security, identity assurance and convenience from one central system and has ultimately changed the way that the physical access control market can consume biometrics as an authentication strategy. No other manufacturer around the world has been able to offer this level and quality of integrations - with the BioConnect Identity Platform boasting over 20. "With the BioConnect Identity Platform, BioConnect complements our goal of providing industry-leading biometric security solutions to the global market. The product is a ready-made bridge solution that provides easier integration of cutting-edge Suprema biometric technology together with a customer's choice of leading access control systems," said Young Moon, VP of Suprema. "We are looking forward to providing the BioConnect Identity Platform to a more global security market and are excited to offer our customers a seamless and cost-effective way of adopting Suprema's biometric security solutions," Moon added. Innovative technologies From the perspective of the access control provider, the BioConnect Identity Platform opens up the option to provide a Suprema biometric solution and continue to benefit from the complete product line as Suprema brings new and innovative technologies to market. "As a Suprema partner we have experienced a lot of growth in the North American and UK markets due to its leadership and continued emphasis on producing biometric products of superior quality, versatility and range," said Steve Greb, Strategic Director of Business Development at BioConnect. "We're very excited to draw on Suprema's impressive partner network and continue to build out our Quest for Rightful Identity on a global scale." Integration with leading systems The BioConnect Identity Platform integrates the following leading access control systems with the Suprema biometric terminals; ACT ACTManage, AMAG Symmetry, Axis A1001, Brivo OnAir/OnSite, Genetec Security Center, IMRON IS2000, Lenel OnGuard, Open Options dnaFusion, Paxton Net2, Honeywell ProWatch, Honeywell WINPAK, RS2 AccessIT!, S2 Netbox, Software House CCURE 9000, Stanley SecureNET, Gallagher Command Centre and now PCSC LiNC-PLUS. Suprema and BioConnect will team together to showcase the BioConnect Identity Platform at IFSEC 2016 in London on June 21st-23rd at Stand E1400.

Do’s and Don’ts of managing legacy systems – Migration better than rip-and-replace for enhancing security control system functionality
Do’s and Don’ts of managing legacy systems – Migration better than rip-and-replace for enhancing security control system functionality

Systems may be reliable and performing as originally intended, but can also beoutdated in comparison to current technology offerings Let’s start by defining what a legacy system is in the context of a security control system. Legacy refers to an installed and operating security control system made up of numerous components, both hardware and software, that have been eclipsed by newer technologies. A shortage of parts and pieces may be creeping in, and it’s also likely the older stuff has a service tech scratching his head when faced with a configuration setting or data entry protocol. The newer technologies, however, may still be providing much of the desired functionality required by the legacy system user. Legacy in this context then is not necessarily a pejorative term. The system may be both reliable and performing as originally intended but is outdated in comparison to current technology offerings both from a communications standpoint and as it relates to applications and data mining. So what to do? For openers, as my dad would day, do a Ben Franklin list of do’s and don’ts. Naturally you’d love to move to a new, bigger or smaller, better and faster system. But, first, what does that list look like? I for one think is might begin to look like this: Things to do when managing legacy systems Do you have a handle on your current technology capabilities? Many legacy systems are underutilised and have features that are not used. Revisit your systems capabilities: You are likely to make some pleasant discoveries. Do you have a handle on your current technology capabilities? Many legacy systems are underutilised and have features that are not used Do you currently know how all of the pieces and parts in your system are currently communicating? A great start for planning the next steps is to understand the “plumbing.” Associated with that is the location of communication; specifically, how are things wired and where are they terminated, recorded and catalogued? What does your power distribution for the system components look like? Do you have backup and other means of maintaining operations during a loss of power, and where is that stuff? If not done recently, this step provides an opportunity to ensure you are ready for things that don’t happen and also to revisit codes. It’s always worthwhile if a maintenance provider is available to a system test in this area, or it can be self-conducted. What is the state of your record management, and when was the last time you did some basic housekeeping, such as backup and the like? If you don’t remember when you did it last, stop reading and go do some housekeeping — it’s clearly due now! What works for you and your organisation, and what have you developed a work-around for? If your “super users” have found ways to manage desired system outcomes by some clever workaround, are there other desired features?  Do you have a relationship with an authorised service provider or an on-staff trained first responder? Do you have attic stock (stuff you own) to support those older components? I like to think of it like making a road trip with a spare tire and basics in the trunk in case an extended unplanned stop on the side of the road interrupts your trip. Have you developed a plan for an eventual upgrade? What’s first, what does it cost and whom will I let provide pricing to do so?  Rip-and-replace isn't your only option. There are many products and servicesavailable to migrate from a legacy to next steps utilising embedded infrastructure Planning and management What are my/your basic functional requirements, and where are the gaps now you must fill for enterprise sustainability? That legacy system likely has paid its way and now needs to be retired; I’m not ready either. Do you have a business case for this refresh – applications, data mining, new and reporting and risk mitigation strategies? If not, you are missing this first step of legacy migration planning and management. Managing the age includes a system exit strategy. Getting C suite, namely your CFO’s, attention is key; sustainability of your enterprise is 101, so functionality as it relates to risk mitigation is essential to keeping your entity flourishing. So what are the DON’T’s? Don’t trivialise the migration or response to the Do’s or you’ll end up in a big To Do. Don’t minimise the relationship with existing integration resources you have worked with, old and new. Organisations evolve, some for the best, some not so. Refresh these relationships as well; resources are like bridges – you never know when a crossing is needed. Don’t rush into the latest and greatest; be wary of who’s definition you subscribe to. There’s a reason they call it the “cutting” edge. Don’t believe that rip-and-replace is your only option. There are many legacy systems in our industry, and many well-made and well-thought-out products and services are available to migrate from a legacy to next steps utilising embedded infrastructure. The bottom line: Define your parameters, select your partners and engage companies with a history of legacy migration and thought leadership. If your legacy includes some products with forward-thinking engineering thought leadership, you may be able to manage your needs with security control board-level replacements or the flashing of new firmware and upgrades to software. I‘m aware of several companies whose products elegantly move through time, adding new applications and functionality without wholesale rip-and-replace. These legacies carry on. The market has responded to you and others eager to know their options. There are many ingenious and clever ways to upgrade communications and transport of data, reliable mainstream products designed to meet this challenge head-on. There are solutions aimed at allowing you to use current IT and Internet of Things (IoT) apps and functionality. However, there are also quite a number of technology partners able help make the leap from analogue to digital using existing pathways. The bottom line: Define your parameters, select your partners and engage companies with a history of legacy migration and thought leadership. They are most likely to produce the best results and allow you to leave behind the legacy you want to be associated with.

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