Digital video recorders (DVRs) - Expert commentary

Physical security and the cloud: why one can’t work without the other
Physical security and the cloud: why one can’t work without the other

Human beings have a long-standing relationship with privacy and security. For centuries, we’ve locked our doors, held close our most precious possessions, and been wary of the threats posed by thieves. As time has gone on, our relationship with security has become more complicated as we’ve now got much more to be protective of. As technological advancements in security have got smarter and stronger, so have those looking to compromise it. Cybersecurity Cybersecurity, however, is still incredibly new to humans when we look at the long relationship that we have with security in general. As much as we understand the basics, such as keeping our passwords secure and storing data in safe places, our understanding of cybersecurity as a whole is complicated and so is our understanding of the threats that it protects against. However, the relationship between physical security and cybersecurity is often interlinked. Business leaders may find themselves weighing up the different risks to the physical security of their business. As a result, they implement CCTV into the office space, and alarms are placed on doors to help repel intruders. Importance of cybersecurity But what happens when the data that is collected from such security devices is also at risk of being stolen, and you don’t have to break through the front door of an office to get it? The answer is that your physical security can lose its power to keep your business safe if your cybersecurity is weak. As a result, cybersecurity is incredibly important to empower your physical security. We’ve seen the risks posed by cybersecurity hacks in recent news. Video security company Verkada recently suffered a security breach as malicious attackers obtained access to the contents of many of its live camera feeds, and a recent report by the UK government says two in five UK firms experienced cyberattacks in 2020. Cloud computing – The solution Cloud stores information in data centres located anywhere in the world, and is maintained by a third party Cloud computing offers a solution. The cloud stores your information in data centres located anywhere in the world and is maintained by a third party, such as Claranet. As the data sits on hosted servers, it’s easily accessible while not being at risk of being stolen through your physical device. Here’s why cloud computing can help to ensure that your physical security and the data it holds aren’t compromised. Cloud anxiety It’s completely normal to speculate whether your data is safe when it’s stored within a cloud infrastructure. As we are effectively outsourcing our security by storing our important files on servers we have no control over - and, in some cases, limited understanding of - it’s natural to worry about how vulnerable this is to cyber-attacks. The reality is, the data that you save on the cloud is likely to be a lot safer than that which you store on your device. Cyber hackers can try and trick you into clicking on links that deploy malware or pose as a help desk trying to fix your machine. As a result, they can access your device and if this is where you’re storing important security data, then it is vulnerable. Cloud service providers Cloud service providers offer security that is a lot stronger than the software in the personal computer Cloud service providers offer security that is a lot stronger than the software that is likely in place on your personal computer. Hyperscalers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Service (AWS) are able to hire countless more security experts than any individual company - save the corporate behemoth - could afford. These major platform owners have culpability for thousands of customers on their cloud and are constantly working to enhance the security of their platforms. The security provided by cloud service providers such as Claranet is an extension of these capabilities. Cloud resistance Cloud servers are located in remote locations that workers don’t have access to. They are also encrypted, which is the process of converting information or data into code to prevent unauthorised access. Additionally, cloud infrastructure providers like ourselves look to regularly update your security to protect against viruses and malware, leaving you free to get on with your work without any niggling worries about your data being at risk from hackers. Data centres Cloud providers provide sophisticated security measures and solutions in the form of firewalls and AI Additionally, cloud providers are also able to provide sophisticated security measures and solutions in the form of firewalls and artificial intelligence, as well as data redundancy, where the same piece of data is held within several separate data centres. This is effectively super-strong backup and recovery, meaning that if a server goes down, you can access your files from a backup server. Empowering physical security with cybersecurity By storing the data gathered by your physical security in the cloud, you're not just significantly reducing the risk of cyber-attacks, but also protecting it from physical threats such as damage in the event of a fire or flood. Rather than viewing your physical and cybersecurity as two different entities, treat them as part of one system: if one is compromised, the other is also at risk. They should work in tandem to keep your whole organisation secure.

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.

ONVIF Profile T and H.265: the evolution of video compression
ONVIF Profile T and H.265: the evolution of video compression

In today’s market, efficient use of bandwidth and storage is an essential part of maintaining an effective video surveillance system. A video management system’s ability to provide analysis, real time event notifications and crucial image detail is only as a good as the speed and bandwidth of a surveillance network. In the physical security industry, H.264 is the video compression format used by most companies. Some companies also employ H.264 enhancements to compress areas of an image that are irrelevant to the user at a higher ratio within a video stream in order to preserve image quality for more important details like faces, license plates or buildings. The H.265, H.264’s successor, will be increasingly used for compression in the future. Some companies are already using H.265 in their cameras and video management systems, while a host of other manufacturers are certainly preparing for its broader adoption in the years to come. Video compression technologies Reduced bandwidth and storage requirements are the primary benefits of video compression technologies Reduced bandwidth and storage requirements are the primary benefits of video compression technologies. In some cases, H.265 can double the data compression ratio of H.264, while retaining the same quality. Increased compression rate translates into decreased storage requirements on hard drives, less bandwidth usage and fewer switches – all of which reduce overall costs of system ownership. H.265 compression delivers a lower bitrate than H.264, which is relevant to end users and integrators because the lower bitrate reduces strain on hardware and can reduce playback issues. It’s very important that the compression format that is used is supported in all of the different components of a system: cameras, desktop computers on which the VMS is running and the VMS itself. It is also good for end users and integrators to understand the basics of video compression. Having a basic understanding of compression allows users to tweak settings to reduce bandwidth usage even more. Many cameras come with default settings that can be changed to ultimately reduce costs. ONVIF physical security In the physical security industry, ONVIF is working to incorporate into its specifications the use of new formats such as H.265 but is not directly involved in developing the compression standards themselves. With Profile T, the new ONVIF video profile released will employ a new media service that is compression agnostic. This means that it can support new video compression formats, including H.265, as well as new audio compression formats, with the ability to include new video and audio codecs as needed in the future without having to redesign its media service. In the physical security industry, ONVIF is working to incorporate into its specifications the use of new formats such as H.265 Standardisation organisations that are directly addressing new compression standards include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and a joint commission of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which is addressing the coding of audio, picture, multimedia and hypermedia information. Other compression formats on par with H.264 and H.265 are being developed by companies such as Google. H.265 compression formats Using products that employ H.265 compression will reduce costs through bandwidth reduction, as will changing default settings on cameras, which are often conservative. Having a basic understanding of compression formats and how to tweak camera factory default settings also gives integrators the ability to further reduce bandwidth for added costs savings and increased system performance. These enhancements will analyse which parts of an image are most important and adjust local levels of compressions accordingly It is also worth noting that H.265 enhancements will likely be developed by camera manufacturers to further reduce bandwidth, as was the case with H.264. These enhancements will analyze which parts of an image are most important and adjust local levels of compressions accordingly. While H.265 itself is ready for prime time, its value as a tool for IP-based surveillance systems is dependent on support for the codec in all parts of the system – the VMS, server hardware, graphics cards and camera. Though widespread H.265 adoption is predicted, providers of these components are jumping on the H.265 bandwagon at different rates of speed. ONVIF is including support for H.265 in its new video profile, Profile T, because it believes it will become the most widely used compression format and ONVIF recognises the need to anticipate that migration as a future need of the industry. The new media service, which will be implemented with Profile T, will be future-proof in that when new compression formats are released in the future, ONVIF can adopt them very quickly. That flexibility will definitely help integrators.

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Digital Watchdog DW Spectrum IPVMS v2.5 video management software adds new storage and performance features
Digital Watchdog DW Spectrum IPVMS v2.5 video management software adds new storage and performance features

Digital Watchdog (DW™), the industry leader in digital recorders, surveillance cameras and related management software, announces the release of the latest update for DW Spectrum™ IPVMS. The new v2.5 software adds powerful new features including a bookmarks engine and storage backup, performance improvements and improved support for multi-sensor cameras. Easy approach to HD surveillance DW Spectrum IPVMS is an elegantly easy cutting-edge approach to HD surveillance, addressing the primary obstacles and limitations of managing enterprise-level HD video while offering the lowest total cost of deployment and ownership of any solution on the market. The software offers advanced search features to help you quickly find incidents or instantly review an exact date and time. The software is cross-platform, installs quickly and provides instant network mapping and discovery to start viewing your entire security system in minutes. DW Spectrum IPVMS is a perfect solution for any application that requires ease, speed, efficiency, and unprecedented image quality. “With the timely release of DW Spectrum 2.5, it continues to deliver unprecedented return on investment without the need for an annual maintenance agreement.” said Patrick Kelley, Director of IP Sales – North America, Digital Watchdog. “These new features are seamlessly incorporated into the DW Spectrum user interface, providing a dramatically easier user experience for all user levels than any other video management solution on the market.” DW Spectrum™ IPVMS features: New Mobile Apps - Brand new cross-platform mobile apps for iOS and Android with better performance, revamped design and consistent user experience across both Apple iOS and Google Android devices. Bookmarks - Users can create bookmarks for specific segments of archived video with names, descriptions, and tags either manually or via the Rules & Events engine. Storage Backup - Users can now set up scheduled or real-time archive backup of high-res, low-res, or all streams from selected cameras to local, NAS, or even cloud-based storage locations (e.g. ftp sites, Amazon Prime Storage, etc). PTZ Preset as an Action - Users can now set up rules to trigger a PTZ preset as an action (e.g. create a motion event on a fixed camera that triggers the PTZ to look at the spot where motion occurred). Alarm Layout - allows users to set display-camera-on-Alarm-Layout as an action (aka pop-up video on alarm). Live Video Text Overlay - allows users to create custom text overlays-as-an-action (including Generic Event API). New device support: Axis F44 Main Unit Axis Q6000E panoramic camera ACTi V23 4 Channel Encoder (with I/O Support) Messoa IP Cameras (with I/O Support) Hikvision DS-6704HFI 4 Channel Video Server Implemented "Advanced" Settings for DWC-BVI2IR cameras Improved support for DWC-PZV2M72T cameras Vista VK2-1080XVRDPTPMF camera now mapped for advanced PTZ Arecont RTSP camera support implemented Digital I/O support for Arecont cameras implemented Improvements to management software: Added "Connect" button to the "Test" dialogue during dialogue Updated viewing cell icons and improved styling for "info" data Calendar widget can now be pinned Added layout background support for video wall Transcoding is now enabled by default for video export from multi-sensor cameras (e.g. DWC-PZV2M72T) Added warning before export if export will result in video downscaling (applies only to very high resolution or multi-sensor cameras) "Timeline mode" renamed to "Time Mode". Change can be seen in timeline, timestamps in Event Logs, Audit Trail and Bookmark Log Added ability to sort Alarm/Event Rules by any column Improved "Server Settings" and "System Administration" dialogs - now changes can be applied without closing dialog Storage Analytics improvement - storage utilised by deleted/moved out cameras is displayed separately Storage usage optimisations and improvements Improved time synchronisation mechanism between Servers Improved error messages for some cases of push updates failure "Free Storage Space" is increased from 5Gb to 50Gb for NAS   Server SSL can now be disabled API documentation is improved and extended General Server stability improvements based on anonymous usage and crash statistics

MESSOA Maven IP cameras secure Tokyo shopping district
MESSOA Maven IP cameras secure Tokyo shopping district

The shopping District, or Shoutengai, in Koto-Ku, Tokyo is located next to a busy train station that gathers many restaurants, shops, and sake bars together in this newly vibrant neighbourhood. As the area becoming more commercially alive, there was an increasing concern for crimes taken place within the district, especially during late nights. For the purpose of crime prevention, the Shopping District Association began to consider deploying surveillance cameras at the crime hot spots as a way to strengthen the public safety in the neighbourhood. Yet with its limited finances, the association had to look for an effective solution at a lower cost that would cope with its tight budget. Solution With the help from MESSOA, more than 60 Maven series NCR365 IR bullet cameras and a dozen of NOD385 IR dome cameras were introduced in this project. Equipped with a 3MP CMOS sensor and removable IR-cut filter for 24/7 monitoring, these cameras deliver exceptional image quality for accurate identification at crime-prone spots. Both cameras support onboard memory with microSD card slot that utilises edge recording technology. Up to 64GB of HD quality CCTV footage can be recorded locally on each camera without the need of installing NVRs, saving a significant amount of installation costs. Structure-wise, both the NCR365 and NOD385 are IP67 certified, featuring built-in heater and weatherproof enclosure to ensure the cameras are capable of withstanding any harsh environments in Japan, particularly in winter times. Result By utilising the edge-based recording technology, the whole project eliminated the need for a centralised recording server or storage, helping the association saving a great deal of costs as planned. This solution did not compromise reliability thanks to SD card’s solid state without any moving parts like a hard drive. The files can be securely stored and easily retrieved when needed. The motorised lens with auto focus of the NCR35 provided benefits to the project as well by drastically facilitating the time-consuming installation. Technicians were able to get the job done fast with easy by taking advantage of remote configuration with simple mouse clicks. The simplified set up cut the installation process short and saved lots of labour costs as result.

Messoa, PlateSmart enter into integration partnership for effective license plate recognition solution
Messoa, PlateSmart enter into integration partnership for effective license plate recognition solution

Partnership comes fresh on heels of Messoa’s exhibition of its latest HD IP cameras specifically designed for ALPR at IFSEC 2015 PlateSmart automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) software-only solutions are known for working with cameras across the spectrum of the security industry. Messoa, one of the security industry’s premier video camera manufacturers, has consistently produced cameras that work effectively with PlateSmart’s products, making for a strong and productive association. The relationship between the two companies has now been cemented by recently joint announcement that PlateSmart and Messoa have entered into an official integration partnership agreement. Messoa’s HD IP cameras for ALPR applications at IFSEC 2015 The announcement comes fresh on the heels of Messoa’s successful exhibition at IFSEC 2015 in London, where it displayed its latest models of high-definition IP cameras specifically designed for ALPR use. Among the cameras on display was a model boasting 3 megapixels of resolution in addition to headlight suppression, built-in infrared (IR) illumination, and other features conducive to excellent ALPR performance. Pairing of PlateSmart’s HD ALPR engine with Messoa’s HD cameras In addition to the high-quality product offerings from both companies, the effectiveness of the PlateSmart-Messoa combination springs from the pairing of PlateSmart’s high-definition (HD) ALPR engine with Messoa’s HD cameras, which enables users to cover a wider area and capture multiple plates with only a single camera. According to PlateSmart CEO John Chigos, the partnership with Messoa fits perfectly with the Company’s market philosophy. “PlateSmart has always made a point of choosing best-of-breed channel partners,” he says. “With Messoa, we are able to offer our customers everything they could want in license plate recognition. Messoa gives them a fantastic video image while PlateSmart gives them our unparalleled accuracy, flexibility, and data integrity protection.” “We are very excited about the partnership with PlateSmart”, said Allan Lee, President of MESSOA Technologies Inc. “With the integration of MESSOA CatchAll™ engine and PlateSmart HD LPR engine, it makes the state-of-art LPR solution obtainable and affordable, which ultimately benefits to the public safety as well as increases management effectiveness for applications in need of LPR solution such as parking lots, campus and schools, for example.”

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