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

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

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.

Trends and challenges we will see in the AI-driven security space in 2021
Trends and challenges we will see in the AI-driven security space in 2021

For decades, the nature of global safety has been evolving. From physical security threats like large-scale terrorist attacks and lone actor stabbings to chemical threats such as the Salisbury poisonings and even microbiological threats such as COVID-19, new challenges are constantly arising and the threat landscape we operate in today is constantly changing. Compounding the complexity of the security issues is the complexity and nature of attacks. With the economic downturn, there is the traditional rise in theft, violence and other crimes. Compound this with unmanned businesses and work-at-home staff, and there is a perfect storm for a rise in security threats. Artificial intelligence (AI) and specifically the branch of AI known as machine learning (ML), was already causing widespread disruption in many industries, including the security industry. AI has been a driving force to replace labour-based business models with integrated data and actionable intelligence that is context-aware. It has become apparent that AI will play a big part in the ongoing fight against both pandemics such as COVID-19, as well as other threats that we may face in the future. With all of this in mind, 2021 is poised to be a big year for AI growth. While AI is going to continue to impact our lives in dozens of ways, from smart sensors to face mask compliance detection, the following reflects a few top trends and challenges that I have my eye on for 2021 as we close out this year. The rise of smart city investments One such example is the increasing development of smart cities and how AI can be leveraged to build safe communities. To date, we’ve seen an increase in the number of smart city programmes around the globe; cities that are beginning to deploy innovative technologies for the management and ease of life services. Compounding the complexity of the security issues is the complexity and nature of attacks Typical development of a city includes standard infrastructure - roads, schools, power, water, transportation. Now, internet, data and AI capabilities are part of the standard infrastructure requirements for all new developments. AI promises to deliver increased efficiencies with the infrastructure that will accommodate growing populations while reducing our impact on the environment, resources, and communities. Global cities now account for more than half of the world’s population, and the United Nations projects the number to balloon to 68% by mid-century. Owing to both demographic shifts and overall population growth, that means that around 2.5 billion people could be added to urban areas by the middle of the century, predicts the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). With an increase in population has come an increase in global spending on smart city initiatives to drive down the impact of growing urban concentration. Global spending on smart city initiatives is expected to total nearly $124 billion this year, an increase of 18.9% over 2019, according to IDC's Worldwide Semiannual Smart Cities Spending Guide, while Singapore, Tokyo, London and New York as the big spenders - expected to spend more than $1 billion in 2020. Using AI-driven technology to create safer public and private spaces Today, security solutions driven by AI are being developed and can be covertly deployed across a range of physical environments to protect the population in a more efficient, and accurate manner. As we look ahead to the future of public safety, it’s clear that new AI technology can dramatically improve the effectiveness of today’s physical security space. One such deployment is the use of video object recognition/computer vision software that can be integrated into existing video monitoring security (VMS) systems. These enhanced VMS systems can be deployed both inside and outside of buildings to identify risks and flag threats, such weapons, aggressive behaviours, theft, and safety compliance. This helps to minimise the impact of a breach by an early alert to onsite security in real-time to the location and nature of the potential threat, allowing them to intervene before a loss occurs. These same AI-enabled video solutions can similarly be used to provide advanced business operations in retail, logistics, and manufacturing organisations. Multi-sensor security solutions Also, targeted magnetic and radar sensor technologies, concealed in everyday objects like planter boxes or inside walls, can now scan individuals and bags entering a building for concealed threat objects. Using AI/machine learning, these two sensor solutions combined can identify metal content on the body and bag and match the item to a catalogue of threat items, such as guns, rifles, knives and bombs. Security solutions driven by AI are being developed and can be covertly deployed across a range of physical environments Without this advanced multi-sensor solution, it becomes nearly impossible to discover a weapon on a person's body before it appears in an assailant’s hands. This multi-sensor solution allows for touchless, unobtrusive access to a building, but allows for immediate notification to onsite security when a concealed threat is detected. The hidden technology thus empowers security staff to intercept threats before they evolve into a wider scale attack, while also maintaining the privacy and civil liberties of the public, unless, of course, they are carrying a concealed weapon or pose a physical threat. With the advent of sophisticated surveillance and technological innovation, a level of caution must be exerted. Despite the ongoing global debate, there remains little regulation about the use of AI technologies in today’s physical security space. One thing is certain; it must be deployed in the right place, at the right time, with the right privacy and civil liberty protection objectives. People don’t want to be protected by omnipresent, obstructive and overbearing security systems that infringe on their privacy and civil liberties. They want a proper balance between security and their current way of life, one that must be fused together. Technology and tracing COVID-19 Machine learning-based technologies are playing a substantial role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, the key purpose of surveillance systems has been to detect and deter threats, including the detection of visible and hidden weapons and abnormal behaviour. While this, of course, remains a primary focus, today we are seeing how surveillance systems defend against new invisible threats, as well as rapidly automate the process of contact-tracing to capture and contain a virus before it spreads. Again, the ability to track and trace through parsing algorithms that can manage through enormous amounts of data provides a highly scalable and rapid response mechanism to control the spread of threats. AI has demonstrated potential for identifying those displaying symptoms of infectious diseases, without requiring physical human contact Although the threat may not be visible, it is just as destructive. By incorporating AI into existing technologies, government, healthcare and security professionals can monitor public spaces and environments through the combined use of digital and thermal video surveillance cameras and video management systems); just one of the solutions being explored. AI has demonstrated potential for identifying those displaying symptoms of infectious diseases, without requiring physical human contact. By Using AI-powered video analytic software, businesses can monitor face masks, social distancing and large gathering compliance and also detect elevated body temperature. Critically, technology must be capable of both identifying and tracking the virus but also be unobtrusive. An unobtrusive system that is adaptable enough to be deployed across a range of environments where the public gathers in enclosed spaces is necessary to be effective. Security in 2021 Technology has proven itself to be a valuable ally in times of crisis. For smart cities, the use of innovative AI/machine learning technologies will help optimise security solutions in areas that are brimming with potential. As we look ahead to the future of security in a world that is impacted by such a wide range of threats, from physical to chemical to microbiological, it’s clear that new technologies, specifically AI can dramatically improve the effectiveness of security systems and help us to better defend against a wide spectrum of threats. Technology has a huge role to play in making our communities safe in 2021 and beyond, but for security systems to be effective, they must not be oppressive or obstructive. This will ensure they have the full support of the public - the key to success.

Latest Vicon Industries news

Vicon appoints Andronicus Turner and Jason Lloyd as new regional sales managers
Vicon appoints Andronicus Turner and Jason Lloyd as new regional sales managers

Vicon Industries, Inc., a subsidiary of Cemtrex Inc., and leading designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware, and components, announced the appointment of both Andronicus Turner and Jason Lloyd as Regional Sales Managers. The appointments follow several other key additions to the Vicon team. Vicon is expanding rapidly to address escalating demand as end-users seek a reliable source of video surveillance and access control technologies fit for today’s highly dynamic environment. Work experience As Regional Sales Manager for California, Nevada, and Hawaii, Vicon was pleased to appoint Andronicus Turner. Turner has an extensive career within the industry and a demonstrated ability to nurture strong relationships with system integrators, dealers, and end-users. Before Vicon, he served as a Regional Sales Representative for Hikvision. Turner studied International Business at California State University, Northridge, and Global Management at the University of Phoenix for Business.  Vicon was also pleased to appoint Jason Lloyd as Regional Sales Manager for Chicago, Northern Illinois, and Wisconsin. Lloyd has over 20 years of experience and expertise working at the dealer and integrator levels. He also brings an extensive technical history to the position, with a degree in Electrical Engineering and roles as Senior Design Engineer and Low Voltage Director. Leadership hires Vicon enable end-users to scale their security with high-performance and extraordinarily flexible security solutions These appointments follow several other recent key leadership hires. This includes Bob Germain, an industry vet who came from Hikvision to become Vicon’s Director of Hardware Management, and Rakesh Sharma, who came from Exacq to spearhead the company’s hardware engineering efforts filling the position of Director of Hardware Engineering. Recent hires also include Leland Jacobson, who serves Vicon as Regional Sales Manager covering Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas, and Bob Kriegisch, who joined Vicon’s U.S. Sales team as Regional Sales Manager covering Delaware, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. Security solutions “We are excited to continue our expansion and welcome Andronicus Turner and Jason Lloyd to the Vicon family,” said Bret McGowan, Senior Vice President, Sales, and Marketing. “Together, they bring vast technical knowledge, passion, and dedication that will lend itself immensely to customers and the team. We look forward to expanding Vicon’s security solutions account base in these regions,” added McGowan. “The growth that Vicon has achieved is a testament to its vision, product excellence, and execution,” McGowan continued. “We are excited that each of these individuals joined the Vicon team and share our mission of driving strategy and execution, to enable end-users to scale their security with high-performance and extraordinarily flexible security solutions.”

Vicon launches NDAA-compliant Roughneck Camera Series to provide exceptional quality and performance
Vicon launches NDAA-compliant Roughneck Camera Series to provide exceptional quality and performance

Vicon Industries, Inc., a subsidiary of Cemtrex Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware, and components fills the supply gap caused by NDAA compliance and the emerging FCC ban on certain Chinese surveillance cameras and components with a sophisticated portfolio of compliant solutions. Since Congress passed the 2019 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) more than two years ago, many U.S. businesses have been faced with the adversity of removing and replacing numerous components of their security system. National security risks Recently, the Federal Communications Commission proposed a ban on the use of certain telecommunications products and other electronics made by Chinese companies. The order, which cites alleged national security risks, also seeks to forbid future U.S. sales and could revoke prior authorisations. Many companies in the industry kept moving forward selling banned technology" “Prior to the recent FCC ruling, many companies in the industry kept moving forward selling banned technology because it only impacted Federal opportunities. This new FCC ruling is an upheaval event bound to once again cause a major transformation in the industry impacting every space in the market” explained Bret McGowan, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Vicon. Competitive surveillance technology The ban’s enactment will create many challenges for integrators, specifiers, and end-users. The first, finding compliant and competitive surveillance technology that does not utilise any SoC (System on Chip) components from these now-banned Chinese companies. Once dealers, integrators, and specifiers identify compliant technologies, then price, quality, and time to implement them add to the complexities. As new and stricter laws began taking effect, the engineers at Vicon worked diligently to create a camera line specifically dedicated to solving the issues their government customers and prospective clients were facing. Moreover, they wanted to ensure delivering premium quality cameras at value price points. Delivering exceptional quality Vicon’s NDAA-compliant Roughneck Camera Series is designed to deliver exceptional quality To overcome this challenge, Vicon developed the Roughneck Series. Vicon’s NDAA-compliant Roughneck Camera Series is designed to deliver exceptional quality and performance at competitive pricing. Vicon recognised that to become a potential alternative to these value brands, a new pricing strategy was needed and that’s what Vicon implemented. “Vicon is pleased to have the ability to solve the challenge of compliance with our fully NDAA-compliant Roughneck Camera Series. From vandal-proof micro-domes to robust outdoor domes, these Roughneck cameras include a variety of form factors, making them an ideal solution for any market,” shared Bob Germain, Director, Hardware Product Management, Vicon. Time-consuming installations All Roughneck cameras boast a range of distinctive features, including smart IR, durable IP67/IK10 construction, and smart H.265 encoding to reduce bandwidth and storage costs. For more cutting-edge capabilities, the Pro series adds advanced AI-driven analytics, adaptive IR for clearer images in darkness, and Starlight low-light colour imaging in the 2, 5 and 8MP dome and bullets. Vicon understands the urgency in finding solutions that integrate without stressful time-consuming installations regardless of the VMS. In addition to being certified with most major VMS systems, the Roughneck Camera Series is also ONVIF certified and seamlessly transitions into any video surveillance security operation.

Vicon Industries announce the release of the advanced V1020-WIR-360 multi-sensor camera for day/night surveillance
Vicon Industries announce the release of the advanced V1020-WIR-360 multi-sensor camera for day/night surveillance

Vicon Industries’ V1020-WIR-360 multi-sensor camera is designed to provide users with the straightforward installation while delivering powerful performance and quality. This exceptional camera is comprised of four independently adjustable sensors that eliminate blind spots so that users can monitor extremely wide areas, with just a single IP address and cable. V1020-WIR-360 camera The V1020-WIR-360 camera is a great addition to Vicon’s camera line, providing the widest coverage area. This powerful camera is perfect for indoor and outdoor use such as parking lots, airports, stadiums, correctional facilities, commercial building corridors, warehouses and more. The multi-sensor is available with 5 MP sensors, creating a 20 MP model, providing exceptional image quality The multi-sensor is available with 5 MP sensors, creating a 20 MP model, providing exceptional image quality for any application. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, this durable, reliable and flexible multi-sensor camera is IK10 rated for vandal protection and IP66 to withstand the toughest of environments. Easy installation and remote configuration These multi-sensor cameras are engineered to save installers’ time, money and frustration. Traditional non-repositionable multi-sensor cameras typically require at least two individuals for installation and tedious manual adjustments of the modules to obtain the desired FOV. The V1020-WIR-360 multi-sensor camera is designed to be effortlessly configured remotely from a PC and eliminate the need of requiring multiple people for an installation. Users are provided with the freedom to change their FOV as needed, without having to worry about manual installation changes. PTZ control and 360º coverage The camera offers presets for 270⁰ or 360⁰ views, along with which, users can also create custom views through each sensor’s independent PTZ control. Additionally, they can also save up to two user-defined presets, with each camera module independently positioned and zoomed as required, providing optimal surveillance. The 270º view is commonly used in corners, such as the corner of a building. Typical installation practice for a 270º setup is to mount on the corner of a building, allowing users to view directly in-front of them and to their left and right. The fourth sensor can then be positioned as desired to provide additional coverage such as looking straight down to eliminate blind spots. Integration with Valerus and other VMS platforms The ONVIF-compliant multi-sensor cameras integrate with most major VMS platforms and Vicon’s acclaimed Valerus A 360º is ideal for wide areas and is typically mounted to a pole and used in settings such as intersections and parking lots. This view’s FOV takes all angles, also eliminating the potential of any blind spots. The ONVIF-compliant multi-sensor cameras integrate with most major VMS platforms and Vicon’s acclaimed Valerus. When integrated with Valerus, the multi-sensor camera also supports Museum Search to streamline security investigations. Starlight technology for exceptional colour images These powerful cameras also deliver fantastic detail, day or night. With True WDR, the cameras can overcome challenging lighting conditions during the day, while 131 ft of IR illumination ensures that users can see every detail, even in the darkness of the night. The standout feature of this multi-sensor camera, when compared to the competition, is the advanced starlight imaging capabilities. Starlight illumination allows users to see vivid colours and sharp details that would otherwise go unnoticed. Operators can see critical forensic details that they would otherwise miss in traditional IR black-and-white images. PoE source The camera can be powered by 24 VAC, 24 VDC or with either IEEE 802.3at (PoE+) or IEEE 802.3bt Class 5 (PoE++) Power over Ethernet. The PoE source is automatically detected with the only performance difference being the IR distance of up to 131 ft (40 m) on PoE++ and up to 98 ft (30 m) on PoE+.

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