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7 steps to make VMS system design and installation easier
7 steps to make VMS system design and installation easier

For those of you old enough to remember, video matrix switchers were once the heyday of surveillance camera control. These cumbersome antiques were at the heart of every major video surveillance system (CCTV at the time) in premier gaming properties, government installations and corporate industrial complexes. They required more physical labour to construct and configure than perhaps the pyramids – maybe not – but you get the picture. And then digital video made its way in to the market and everything changed, transforming the physical demands for camera control and management from a hardware-centric to a software driven process. We’ve come a long way in a few short years, and the borders that once defined IT and security continue to diminish, if not disappear completely There’s no doubt that this migration also presented significant challenges as many security professionals often struggled with all things IT and software programming being one of the industry’s soft spots. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way in a few short years, and the borders that once defined IT and security continue to diminish, if not disappear completely. However, the complexities of today’s VMS functionality can be intimidating for anyone tasked with installing one of these systems given all of the user-defined options available from the simplest camera sequencing and bandwidth allocations to mobile management and enterprise level integration. This is where truly advanced VMS solutions need to shine on both the operations and the design/build sides of the equation. Smart VMS design There are more solutions products labelled “VMS solutions” out there than ever before. The issue is the fact that many of these “solutions” really don’t fall into the category of a true VMS by today’s standards but offer basic camera and NVR control. No doubt that there is a place for such software programs in the market. However, VMS solutions from the likes of OnSSI and other industry-leading companies offer distinct and superior management and control capabilities for demanding security and business intelligence applications. Perhaps of equal importance, these top-tier VMS solutions incorporate provisions for installers, so they have a clear and easier implementation path. OnSSI offers VMS solutions with smart camera drivers Here are seven attributes that can assist with the design and implementation of an advanced VMS solution: 1) Open architecture platform We need the ability to easily integrate with other systems and scale for future developments and physical system growth The ability to easily integrate with other systems and scale for future developments and physical system growth is largely dependent on a systems platform architecture. Here’s where VMS solutions with open architecture provide a distinct advantage. Open-architecture solutions expand functionality by facilitating greater integration between multiple systems and components. This not only makes VMS solutions with open architecture easier to implement, it makes them extremely cost-efficient by eliminating the need for proprietary solutions. Open architecture systems also provide adherence to industry standards such as ONVIF and PSIA, as well as compression formats such as H.265 and MJPEG, and help ensure system integration and support of an extensive range of manufacturers’ cameras and off-the-shelf hardware. Be wary of VMS solutions with limited camera manufacturer support. 2) Simple licensing processes and pricing Camera licenses and pricing is always a touchy subject, as any misunderstanding of a specific VMS solutions’ licensing terms can prove to be costly after the fact. And it often seems that some VMS suppliers have gone to great lengths to complicate the process as to obscure actual Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Perhaps the most direct, simple and straightforward camera licensing and pricing method is to have one license per IP address used by each camera/encoder on multi-channel devices. These should be perpetual licenses with no required annual fees or subscriptions. Additionally, the licensing agreement should be all inclusive without added fees for multiple clients, failover servers, active directory support, I/O devices, redundant management servers, technical support or security patches and updates. 3) Mixing and matching camera license types The ability to mix and match different camera license types within the same system helps facilitate a seamless and simple migration of new and pre-existing systems with minimal downtime or interruption in operation. The ability to mix and match camera licenses not only saves valuable design and installation time, it can provide considerable savings when integrating large, multi-tenant systems. Mix and match capabilities also allow system designers to apply specific feature sets to specific groups of cameras to best leverage functionality and budgets, as well as providing the flexibility to implement an on-site, virtual, or cloud-based VMS solution, without any additional cost. 4) Auto camera detection and configuration Another VMS set-up feature that eases the install process is the ability to forego device registrations or MAC address requirements Another VMS set-up feature that eases the install process is the ability to forego device registrations or MAC address requirements. This functionality allows installers to instantly locate cameras on the network and configure them centrally so they can easily replace older cameras while seamlessly retaining video recorded from them. The auto detection capability should also include the ability to detect and import CSV files, which can then be stored and used to configure camera templates for future camera installation profiles. 5) Smart camera driver technology VMS solutions with smart camera drivers offer valuable assistance during system implementation, and any time new cameras are added to the network or replace older models. Manufacturer-specific smart camera drivers expand the range of model-specific static drivers. Instead of storing the device’s information (codecs, resolutions, frame rates, etc.) statically, a VMS with smart camera drivers queries devices for their capabilities using the manufacturers’ proprietary protocol. All that is required for configuration is that the camera is available on the network. Smart camera drivers eliminate the need to wait for model-specific drivers or installation of driver packs, allowing for newly released cameras to be used immediately. Network security is an area where leading VMS suppliers like OnSSI have ramped up development efforts to stay ahead of hackers  6) Importance of network security Network Security is perhaps the greatest challenge faced by industry professionals today Network security is perhaps the greatest challenge faced by industry professionals today. This is an area where leading VMS suppliers like OnSSI have ramped up development efforts to stay ahead of hackers. New security developments to look for include TLS 1.2 encryption protocols for camera-to-server communications (SSL 3.0 supported for older cameras), as well as server-to-server communications. Additional safeguards to consider include: randomised video databases with no camera identification information to secure recorded data; support for Active Directory authentication; AES encryption between servers and clients; and AES encrypted exporting. 7) Automatic updates Regardless of the supplier you select for your VMS solution, they should be consistently providing new updates and security patches on a frequent if not regular basis. Keeping up with these updates can be a burden and are often overlooked leading to system failures and breeches. Advanced VMS solutions now feature automatic update service checks on a system-wide basis, eliminating the need to manually update individual servers and devices. This ensures that your VMS system always has the latest drivers, fixes and updates which assures overall security while reducing TCO. So next time you’re getting a demo of the latest and greatest VMS solution, remember to ask what it offers in terms of design and implementation tools. Half the battle with new technologies is getting them installed and working properly. Without the right tools to accomplish these critical first steps, all the functionality in the world will do you little good.

Video technology reimagined with the empowerment of IoT
Video technology reimagined with the empowerment of IoT

It amazes me how in a few short years security systems have gone from simple, dumb cameras witnessing events to intelligent eyes, ears, speech and touch solutions that boost situational awareness far beyond human capabilities. It seems the only senses missing from the equation now are smell and taste. And who knows, someone might be working on those in a lab somewhere right now. But what’s really fascinating to me is how the Internet of Things (IoT) has opened a world of possibilities for transforming security technology into something new yet again. With IoT we’re able to push and pull nuggets of intelligence from sources we never considered before: environmental sensors, pressure plates, door lock timers and much more. It’s helped us break through the constraining mindset that security systems are strictly single-purpose. With interconnectivity at the core, we’re starting to imagine myriad ways to apply these tools to challenges outside the realm of security. Here are just a few examples. Flood management assistance Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate remotely As recent hurricanes and floods have shown, water damage can be devastating to a community. That’s why some municipalities are using their city surveillance cameras in conjunction with water sensor to proactively address the problem. Water sensors collect data from multiple sources such as rain gutters, sewer systems and pump stations, in order to monitor fluctuations in water levels and water quality. If an alert triggers, having a network camera in proximity to visually verify the situation helps responders determine the best course of action. For instance, if multiple water detection sensors trigger alerts simultaneously or sequentially over a large area it’s probably due to natural runoff from recent rainfall. But without eyes on the scene, how can you be sure? Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate and identify the cause of a trigger remotely. It might be a fire hydrant spewing water, a water main break or even a chemical spill. With video streaming live to the command center, staff can remotely inspect the area, determine the cause of the trigger and decide whether remediation is required, thus avoiding the expense of dispatching an investigative crew to a non-event. Some municipalities are using their city surveillance cameras in conjunction with water sensor to proactively address the problem Environmental control assistance Data centers house the lifeblood of a business so it’s no wonder why companies work hard to protect them. We’re all familiar with the integration of network cameras with access control systems to visually verify who is actually using the credentials. Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate and identify the cause of a trigger remotely But there’s another aspect to protecting data centers and that’s environment control. Data centers need to maintain optimum humidity and temperature for the racks of electronics. When environmental sensors in the facility detect out-of-norm ranges technicians can remotely command a network camera to zoom in on the gauges and help them determine whether remediation might be necessary.  Coupling network cameras with other sensors in the data center can provide visual confirmation of other conditions as well. For instance, every time a data rack door-open-close sensor detects an event it can trigger the camera to pan to the location and stream video to security. Some data centers employ weight sensors at the doorway to weigh personnel and equipment as they enter the room and when they exit to ensure no additional hardware is being taken out of the facility or left inside without permission. Any discrepancy would trigger the camera to zoom in for a close-up of the individual’s face and send a visual alert and ID information to security. Roadway management and parking assistance Network cameras have long played a part in city-wide traffic management. Adding video analytics and integration with network sensors, makes those cameras that much smarter and versatile. They can detect cars driving in bike lanes or driving in the wrong direction and capture license plates of offenders. Their ability to detect anomalous traffic flow patterns can be integrated with car counting sensors, networked electronic road signs and traffic light systems to automatically redirect vehicles to alternate routes. They make great, intelligent parking lot attendants, too. Working in conjunction with weight sensors network cameras can count vehicles coming into and leaving a lot or garage and verify when the facility has reached capacity. License plate recognition and video analytics can be used to ascertain that a vehicle entering a reserved parking space doesn’t match the credentials and vehicle attributes in the database. With the addition of noise sensors and audio analytics, network cameras can improve roadway and parking facility safety by detecting and identifying specific sounds – breaking glass, car alarms, gun shots, and aggressive speech – and triggering a visual alert to first responders. Network cameras can improve roadway and parking facility safety by detecting and identifying specific sounds and triggering a visual alert to first responders Shopper experience assistance In the early days of online shopping, e-tailers designed their sites to replicate the in-store customer experience. In an ironic turn of events, today brick-and-mortar stores are trying to mirror the online shopping experience. To do so, they’re turning their security systems into adjunct sales assistance. With network video and audio system automation they can recognise and acknowledge loyal customers with personal greetings. Retailers are applying people counting video analytics to checkout activity to create rules-based consistency in customer service With heatmapping analytics they can measure how much time a customer spends in a specific department or observe how they walk through the aisles of the store. They can track shopping behaviors such as items looked at that made it into the cart or didn’t, or whether a customer actually checked out or left the merchandise behind. By capturing these shopping patterns and trends retailers can shape a more positive, more profitable customer shopping experience. For instance, integrating video analytics with point of sale systems and RFID sensors on merchandise tags can result in timely alerts to sales associates to recommend additional merchandise. This is a case of emulating how e-tailers let the customer know that other customers who bought X often also purchased items Y and Z. Or to avoid disappointing customers due to stock outages, retailers are linking weight sensors and video analytics to make sure their shelves are well-stocked and if not, quickly alert associates to what items need to be restocked. Capturing business intelligence Retailers are also using video cameras to monitor checkout queues and trigger automated announcements over the public-address system, closed system such as smartphones or other wireless communications devices that checkers are needed rather wait for a person to call for backup. IoT laid the groundwork for network security solutions to seamlessly integrate with other IP-based technologies, sensors and programs They’re applying people counting video analytics to checkout activity to create rules-based consistency in customer service. While retailers will always use their surveillance camera for loss prevention, they’re finding that integrating traditional technology in new ways can yield even bigger returns. Linking network video surveillance, video analytics, network communications system and sensors with point-of-sale systems and customer loyalty databases, retailers are capturing the business intelligence they need to get back in the game and make brick-and-mortar a greater overall experience than online shopping. A natural cross-over technology This trend towards integration has forever changed how organisations view their investment in security technology. The intelligence and versatility of a tool that can see, verify and analyse what’s happening in real-time is spurring users to tap its cross-over potential for a host of other tasks that could benefit from more astute situational awareness – everything from manufacturing and equipment maintenance to logistics, inventory control and beyond. IoT laid the groundwork for network security solutions to seamlessly integrate with other IP-based technologies, sensors and programs. How we capitalise on that connection is only limited by our imagination.

Top ten security industry mergers and acquisitions of 2018
Top ten security industry mergers and acquisitions of 2018

Consolidation persisted in the physical security industry in 2018, and big companies such as Motorola, Canon and UTC continued to make moves. Also among the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) news in 2018 was a high-profile bankruptcy (that ended well), continuing consolidation in the integrator market, and the creation of a new entity called “LenelS2.” Here’s a look at the Top 10 M&A stories in 2018: 1. Motorola acquires Avigilon Motorola Solutions announced in February that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire video surveillance provider Avigilon in an all-cash transaction that enhances Motorola Solutions’ portfolio of mission-critical communications technologies. Avigilon products are used by a range of commercial and government customers including critical infrastructure, airports, government facilities, public venues, healthcare centers and retail. The company holds more than 750 U.S. and international patents. 2. UTC Climate, Control & Security buys S2 Security UTC Climate, Controls & Security agreed in September to acquire S2 Security, a developer of unified security and video management solutions. UTC subsequently combined S2 with its Lenel brand to create LenelS2, “a global leader in advanced access control systems and services” with “complementary strengths.” 3. Costar Technologies acquires Arecont Vision after bankruptcy Arecont Vision, the provider of IP-based megapixel camera and video surveillance solutions, announced in July that the acquisition by Costar Technologies, Inc. of its assets had been approved by the bankruptcy court. After the closing of the sale, the company began operating as Arecont Vision Costar, LLC and is part of Costar, a U.S. corporation that designs, develops, manufactures, and distributes a range of products for the video surveillance and machine vision markets. 4. Allegion acquires access control company ISONAS Allegion plc, a security products and solutions provider, agreed in June to acquire ISONAS through one of its subsidiaries. ISONAS’ edge-computing technology provides access control solutions for non-residential markets. ISONAS' devices – like its integrated reader-controllers – utilise power over ethernet, making them easy to install and cost effective as they utilise existing customer infrastructures. The company is based in Boulder, Colo. 5. HID buys Crossmatch for Biometrics HID Global announced that it had acquired Crossmatch, a provider of biometric identity management and secure authentication solutions, from Francisco Partners. Crossmatch’s portfolio of products includes biometric identity management hardware and software that complement HID’s broad portfolio of trusted identity products and services. 6. BriefCam announces acquisition by Canon BriefCam, a global provider of video synopsis and deep learning solutions, announced its acquisition in May by Canon Inc., a global digital imaging solutions company. The addition of BriefCam to Canon’s network video solutions products portfolio complements the Canon Group’s previous acquisitions of Axis Communications and Milestone Systems. 7. Allied Universal acquires U.S. Security Associates Allied Universal, a security and facility services company, finalised its acquisition of U.S. Security Associates (USSA) in October, further building on its position in the security services industry. This acquisition includes Andrews International (including its Government Services Division and Consulting and Investigations and International Division) and Staff Pro. 8. Johnson Controls acquires Smartvue Corp. Johnson Controls announced in April that it had acquired Smartvue, a global IoT and video provider that empowers cloud video surveillance and IoT video services. The addition of the Smartvue cloud-based video platform will enhance Johnson Controls’ offering of an end-to-end, smart cloud-based solution that can provide superior business data and intelligence to customers and added value to partners. 9. ADT acquires Red Hawk Fire & Security (and others) ADT Inc.’s acquisition of Red Hawk Fire & Security, Boca Raton, Fla., was the latest move in ADT Commercial’s strategy to buy up security integrator firms around the country and grow their footprint. In addition to the Red Hawk acquisition, announced in mid-October, ADT has acquired more than a half-dozen security system integration firms in the last year or so. 10. Convergint Technologies continues to acquire Convergint Technologies announced in August the acquisition of New Jersey-based Access Control Technologies (ACT), bringing further electronic security systems experience to Convergint's service capabilities. Convergint has strategically grown its service footprint across the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia Pacific through strong organic growth and the completion of 18 acquisitions since early 2016. And it continues: Convergint announced acquisition of SI Technologies, Albany, N.Y., in November and Firstline Security Integration (FSI), Anaheim, Calif., in December. (And Convergint itself was acquired in February by private equity group Ares Management.)

Latest A&H Software House, Inc. news

AMG announces strategic technology partnership with Luxriot
AMG announces strategic technology partnership with Luxriot

The partnership will allow AMG-Panogenics 5 MP PanoCam360 camera range to integrate with Luxriot’s VMS AMG Systems, the British manufacturer of sophisticated Megapixel cameras and CCTV transmission technology, and Luxriot, market leading suppliers of Enterprise Video Management solutions in the USA, have announced a strategic technology partnership that will see the AMG-Panogenics 5 megapixel 360 degree PanoCam360 camera range integrated into Luxriot’s signature Video Management Solution (VMS). Aleksandr Jesikov, Account Manager at Luxriot EU, says, “Panoramic cameras are becoming increasingly demanded in the market. The reason is pretty simple – one panoramic camera can cover an area that previously required the use of several devices. This lowers installation expenses and simplifies the investigation process. AMG’s PanoCam360 camera offers a 5 megapixel resolution, very impressive for a fish eye camera. This created a demand from Luxriot VMS customers and the integration of PanoCam360 was a natural and logical decision. As AMG Systems adheres to standardised protocols and have a very helpful support team – the integration and testing of PanoCam360 integration went very smoothly.” Sara Bullock, International Sales & Marketing Director of AMG Group commented, “I am delighted to announce this new strategic partnership with Luxriot. The partnership is a significant move for introducing our range of cameras to Luxriot’s client base as it works with the company’s entire range of VMS solutions. Through the integration with Luxriot’s VMS solutions, users can de-warp video streams from PanoCam360, which allows full operational flexibility, and users can therefore take full advantage of the ability of the camera. This in turn makes the combined offering incredibly useful for applications in nearly all market verticals.”

Arecont Vision provides IP-based megapixel video surveillance system at Tiskarna Kostomaj in Slovenia
Arecont Vision provides IP-based megapixel video surveillance system at Tiskarna Kostomaj in Slovenia

Arecont Vision’s IP-based megapixel cameras cover the drive-in, parking area, entrance, as well as the office area Customer Tiskarna Kostomaj in Celje, Slovenia, is a family-owned and operated commercial printer. Five years ago, the company moved into a new two-story office building which includes additional facilities and a parking lot. Challenge The first attempt by Tiskarna Kostomaj to provide video surveillance for their new building using inexpensive network cameras was not successful. The first break-in at the printing business showed the cameras, which were standard definition VGA resolution with built-in infrared (IR) illuminators, were ineffective. The company also tried a 640x480-pixel camera from a major manufacturer, but it became evident that this low resolution camera did not meet the company's need for surveillance. The inexpensive cameras were also not dependable and ceased functioning within two years of their installation. Tiskarna Kostomaj ultimately concluded that a surveillance system would only be useful to them if it was able to recognise a person or vehicle within the camera field of view (FOV). Megapixel solution The new megapixel video surveillance system was designed entirely in-house, with installation completed in cooperation with a local security company and a local electrician, according to Marjan Kostomaj, chief information officer of Tiskarna Kostomaj. The company did not consider analogue cameras for a number of reasons. Whereas an analog camera can detect an intruder, IP-based megapixel cameras provide video image quality that makes it possible to also recognise the intruder. IP cameras use progressive scan which avoids flickering and provides critical detail in a moving image. Finally, megapixel cameras provide a good price/performance ratio. The commercial printer now uses a combination of Arecont Vision IP-based megapixel cameras outside to cover the drive-in, parking area and entrance, and indoors for the office area. All cameras are powered through the Ethernet connection (PoE). For highest resolution needs, Tiskarna Kostomaj uses the Arecont Vision AV5100DN, a 5 megapixel MJPEG camera providing 2,492 x 1,944-pixel resolution at 9 frames per second (fps). It delivers light sensitivity of 0.3 lux at F1.4. MegaVideo image processing involves more than 6 million operations per second. The camera offers simultaneous full field-of-view and region-ofinterest (ROI) video, and image cropping allows streaming of full-density partial images. A motorised IR cut filter is used with the day/night (DN) version. Video management software for the video surveillance system is provided by Luxriot and video is monitored locally To provide better night vision, Arecont Vision's AV3130 series is a unique dual-sensor, day/night 3/1.3-megapixel IP camera that delivers up to 15 frames per second (fps) at 2,048x1,536 pixels of high-definition color resolution using a CMOS colour sensor. It is a robust, all-weather camera suited to variable 24-hour lighting conditions. In low-light conditions, the AV3130 changes from color to black-and-white mode (using a separate 1.3-megapixel CMOS sensor), and the camera’s frame rate increases to a maximum of 30 fps at 1280x1024 pixels. Light sensitivity is 0.02 lux at F1.4. The AV3130 provides superior night vision at Tiskarna Kostomaj compared to a competitive camera also tested. Model AV3130 also offers on-camera motion detection. Arecont Vision Model AV1300 captures 1280x1024-pixel video at 32 frames per second and has light sensitivity of 0.1 lux at F1.4. It also features forensic zooming, region-of-interest (ROI), image cropping and motion detection. The AI version used by Tiskarna Kostomaj includes an auto-iris lens. Video management software for the system is provided by Luxriot and video is monitored locally. All cameras are connected to a PoE switch using a separate virtual local area network (VLAN) and to a dedicated Gigabit server network interface controller (NIC). The server uses Windows with Luxriot and monitoring employs local and/or remote clients. Megapixel benefits The system has performed very well so far. The cameras provide the perfect combination of high resolution and night vision capability that the user needs. Arecont Vision cameras’ higher resolutions enable customers to minimise the number of cameras they use without compromising coverage. This brings a number of advantages to the user. The ability of fewer megapixel cameras to take the place of many more standard-resolution network cameras or analogue cameras contributes to an overall lower system cost. The use of fewer cameras also requires less labour and cabling while providing high resolution. Using fewer cameras to cover larger areas also translates into cost savings related to infrastructure (cables, mounts, housings, etc.), which makes it easier to realise a system return-on-investment (ROI). Also, the availability of higher-resolution images can provide prosecutable forensic evidence. Arecont Vision cameras, made in the USA, employ the company's MegaVideo technology to create the world’s fastest multi-megapixel network cameras supporting full-motion video frame rates. The Arecont Vision 3.0 megapixel camera provides up to ten times the resolution of an analogue camera, while the 5.0 megapixel camera provides up to 15 times the resolution of an analogue camera. The ability of these cameras to be connected to an existing network provides installation flexibility and keeps costs low.

ACTi cameras secure Centre Point Trakker Tower in Pakistan
ACTi cameras secure Centre Point Trakker Tower in Pakistan

ACTi’s open platform cameras work perfectly alongside the Luxriot VMS software Background The Centre Point Trakker Tower in Pakistan is a prestigious office tower development. It comprises of a single, 29-floor building structure with a covered area of 350,000 sqft. The first eight floors are reserved for parking with the upper 20 floors for corporate office space. Solution Centre Point tower is now the 7th high building in Pakistan. For better integration with other systems, the system integrator chose Luxriot for software solution. Thanks to ACTi’s open platform, cameras work perfectly under Luxriot VMS software. Benefit ACTi has full product line which provides high price/performance products. Meanwhile, ACTi work closely with third party software vendors that our product department will direct contact with software company for integration. That really provides customer a worry free experience of software/hardware integration.

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