Dome cameras - Expert commentary

Why visualisation platforms are vital for an effective Security Operation Centre (SOC)
Why visualisation platforms are vital for an effective Security Operation Centre (SOC)

Display solutions play a key role in SOCs in providing the screens needed for individuals and teams to visualise and share the multiple data sources needed in an SOC today. Security Operation Centre (SOC) Every SOC has multiple sources and inputs, both physical and virtual, all of which provide numerous data points to operators, in order to provide the highest levels of physical and cyber security, including surveillance camera feeds, access control and alarm systems for physical security, as well as dashboards and web apps for cyber security applications. Today’s advancements in technology and computing power not only have increasingly made security systems much more scalable, by adding hundreds, if not thousands, of more data points to an SOC, but the rate at which the data comes in has significantly increased as well. Accurate monitoring and surveillance This has made monitoring and surveillance much more accurate and effective, but also more challenging for operators, as they can’t realistically monitor the hundreds, even thousands of cameras, dashboards, calls, etc. in a reactive manner. Lacking situational awareness is often one of the primary factors in poor decision making In order for operators in SOC’s to be able to mitigate incidents in a less reactive way and take meaningful action, streamlined actionable data is needed. This is what will ensure operators in SOC truly have situational awareness. Situational awareness is a key foundation of effective decision making. In its simplest form, ‘It is knowing what is going on’. Lacking situational awareness is often one of the primary factors in poor decision making and in accidents attributed to human error. Achieving ‘true’ situational awareness Situational awareness isn’t just what has already happened, but what is likely to happen next and to achieve ‘true’ situational awareness, a combination of actionable data and the ability to deliver that information or data to the right people, at the right time. This is where visualisation platforms (known as visual networking platforms) that provide both the situational real estate, as well as support for computer vision and AI, can help SOCs achieve true situational awareness Role of computer vision and AI technologies Proactive situational awareness is when the data coming into the SOC is analysed in real time and then, brought forward to operators who are decision makers and key stakeholders in near real time for actionable visualisation. Computer vision is a field of Artificial Intelligence that trains computers to interpret and understand digital images and videos. It is a way to automate tasks that the human visual system can also carry out, the automatic extraction, analysis and understanding of useful information from a single image or a sequence of images. There are numerous potential value adds that computer vision can provide to operation centres of different kinds. Here are some examples: Face Recognition: Face detection algorithms can be applied to filter and identify an individual. Biometric Systems: AI can be applied to biometric descriptions such as fingerprint, iris, and face matching. Surveillance: Computer vision supports IoT cameras used to monitor activities and movements of just about any kind that might be related to security and safety, whether that's on the job safety or physical security. Smart Cities: AI and computer vision can be used to improve mobility through quantitative, objective and automated management of resource use (car parks, roads, public squares, etc.) based on the analysis of CCTV data. Event Recognition: Improve the visualisation and the decision-making process of human operators or existing video surveillance solutions, by integrating real-time video data analysis algorithms to understand the content of the filmed scene and to extract the relevant information from it. Monitoring: Responding to specific tasks in terms of continuous monitoring and surveillance in many different application frameworks: improved management of logistics in storage warehouses, counting of people during event gatherings, monitoring of subway stations, coastal areas, etc. Computer Vision applications When considering a Computer Vision application, it’s important to ensure that the rest of the infrastructure in the Operation Centre, for example the solution that drives the displays and video walls, will connect and work well with the computer vision application. The best way to do this of course is to use a software-driven approach to displaying information and data, rather than a traditional AV hardware approach, which may present incompatibilities. Software-defined and open technology solutions Software-defined and open technology solutions provide a wider support for any type of application the SOC may need Software-defined and open technology solutions provide a wider support for any type of application the SOC may need, including computer vision. In the modern world, with everything going digital, all security services and applications have become networked, and as such, they belong to IT. AV applications and services have increasingly become an integral part of an organisation’s IT infrastructure. Software-defined approach to AV IT teams responsible for data protection are more in favour of a software-defined approach to AV that allow virtualised, open technologies as opposed to traditional hardware-based solutions. Software’s flexibility allows for more efficient refreshment cycles, expansions and upgrades. The rise of AV-over-IP technologies have enabled IT teams in SOC’s to effectively integrate AV solutions into their existing stack, greatly reducing overhead costs, when it comes to technology investments, staff training, maintenance, and even physical infrastructure. AV-over-IP software platforms Moreover, with AV-over-IP, software-defined AV platforms, IT teams can more easily integrate AI and Computer Vision applications within the SOC, and have better control of the data coming in, while achieving true situational awareness. Situational awareness is all about actionable data delivered to the right people, at the right time, in order to address security incidents and challenges. Situational awareness is all about actionable data delivered to the right people Often, the people who need to know about security risks or breaches are not physically present in the operation centres, so having the data and information locked up within the four walls of the SOC does not provide true situational awareness. Hyper-scalable visual platforms Instead there is a need to be able to deliver the video stream, the dashboard of the data and information to any screen anywhere, at any time — including desktops, tablets phones — for the right people to see, whether that is an executive in a different office or working from home, or security guards walking the halls or streets. New technologies are continuing to extend the reach and the benefits of security operation centres. However, interoperability plays a key role in bringing together AI, machine learning and computer vision technologies, in order to ensure data is turned into actionable data, which is delivered to the right people to provide ‘true’ situational awareness. Software-defined, AV-over-IP platforms are the perfect medium to facilitate this for any organisations with physical and cyber security needs.

Securing your business while working remotely
Securing your business while working remotely

It's a very common purchase for people to seek a smart security camera to remotely link them to their home whilst at work. Now the emphasis has shifted, with a lot more people working from home, business owners should consider a surveillance device to deter would-be thieves, protecting valuable equipment crucial for businesses to operate successfully. A robust security camera setup can aid existing security staff, and give business owners peace of mind out of hours.    According to a recent report, police forces are having to carry out extra night patrols in empty city and town centres, as burglars target shops, pubs and other commercial premises during the pandemic. During these unprecedented times, investing in a video security system can save you and your business money – and in more than one way. In addition to preventing loss of property from inside, surveillance cameras also prevent acts of theft and vandalism by outside individuals However, technology, improved mobile connectivity, apps, and cloud technologies has changed the security market and made it easy for anyone to set up a surveillance ecosystem with easy installation and constant round the clock, cloud monitoring. Plus, you can access footage from anywhere in the world via devices and apps – just in case you have to skip the country! The best cameras for SMBs Most good cameras have the much same functionality: excellent video and audio capabilities, remote access and programming, motion and sound detection, and the ability to capture still or video images and audio and save the data to the Cloud. But the burning question is, when you're trying to find a need in a haystack, what will work best for a small to medium sized business? A robust security camera setup can aid existing security staff, and give business owners peace of mind out of hours Now you can buy cameras that come packed with features such as integrated night vision, 1080p resolution, microSD card slot for local recording, two-way audio functionality as well as the latest latest 128bit encryption. They also have wide-angle lenses allowing users to see more of their office with a single camera, and some come with free, intelligent AI-Based motion detection. The AI gives users more choices on what is captured by the camera and when they should be alerted. Users can specify what types of motion they would like to detect, such as an intruder as opposed to a dog, an object crossing a defined boundary or into a specific area. They can also define multiple zones, alerting them immediately when movement is detected in particular areas. Easy installation is crucial These security cameras should also be easy enough to install and use that you don't need to fork out for expensive expert installation, and many can work with existing CCTV and CCTV DVR systems you may already have set-up. Many of the business security cameras are Wi-Fi enabled and come with their own apps, so you can view footage on your smartphone or tablet, no matter where you are in the world. It means you don't need to pay for a security team to watch the footage at all times (though if you can afford it, that won't hurt), and you can store your videos locally with an NVR on a HD, in the cloud with mydlink or do both with a hybrid NVR/cloud recorder. The apps use Rich Notifications which send a push notification with snapshot to the mobile device the moment activity is detected. Users can react immediately without the need to log into the app by accessing the camera’s live view or calling one of two pre-assigned contacts with a single tap. Any motion-triggered recordings can be saved in the cloud, or locally on a microSD card. Indoor, Outdoor or both? Indoor cameras can be smaller, more lightweight and are usually less intrusive than bulkier outdoor cameras The primary distinction between indoor and outdoor security cameras is the types of external factors each camera has to be able to withstand. While both types of cameras usually come in similar styles and with comparable features, outdoor cameras need to be able to contend with all types of weather and varying light conditions. Outdoor cameras are also more vulnerable to being tampered with, so they are typically made of more durable materials, like metal, and may be heavier or even housed in a casing in order to discourage easy removal. Indoor cameras can be smaller, more lightweight and are usually less intrusive than bulkier outdoor cameras. Both indoor and outdoor cameras utilise features like infrared, allowing for clear pictures in low light conditions and easy transitions when there is a sudden change in light-changing automatically from colour images in bright light to black and white when it gets darker. When doing your research, features to look out for include: Wide angle lens for optimum room view or full view of the front of your property Full HD 1080p at 30fps   ONVIF compatible - Open Network Video Interface Forum - The forum aims to standardize how IP products within the video surveillance industry communicate with each other. Night vision - look at length of the night vision - 5m is about right Your options will depend on your budget and specific needs, but the above features are a great start when you come to buy.

Face recognition: Privacy concerns and social benefits
Face recognition: Privacy concerns and social benefits

News reports and opinion columns about face recognition are appearing everyday. To some of us, the term sounds overly intrusive. It even makes people shrink back into their seats or shake their head in disgust, picturing a present-day dystopia. Yet to others, face recognition presents technology-enabled realistic opportunities to fight, and win, the battle against crime. What are the facts about face recognition? Which side is right? Well, there is no definitive answer because, as with all powerful tools, it all depends on who uses it. Face recognition can, in fact, be used in an immoral or controversial manner. But, it can also be immensely beneficial in providing a safe and secure atmosphere for those in its presence.  Concerns of facial recognition With the increased facial recognition applications, people’s concerns over the technology continuously appear throughout news channels and social media. Some of the concerns include: Privacy: Alex Perry of Mashable sums up his and most other peoples’ privacy concerns with face recognition technology when he wrote, “The first and most obvious reason why people are unhappy about facial recognition is that it's unpleasant by nature. Increasing government surveillance has been a hot-button issue for many, many years, and tech like Amazon's Rekognition software is only making the dystopian future feel even more real”. Accuracy: People are worried about the possibilities of inaccurate face detection, which could result in wrongful identification or criminalisation. Awareness: Face recognition software allows the user to upload a picture of anyone, regardless of whether that person knows of it. An article posted on The Conversation states, “There is a lack of detailed and specific information as to how facial recognition is actually used. This means that we are not given the opportunity to consent to the recording, analysing and storing of our images in databases. By denying us the opportunity to consent, we are denied choice and control over the use of our own images” Debunking concerns  The concerns with privacy, accuracy, and awareness are all legitimate and valid concerns. However, let us look at the facts and examine the reasons why face recognition, like any other technology, can be responsibly used: Privacy concerns: Unlike the fictional dystopian future where every action, even in one’s own home, is monitored by a centralised authority, the reality is that face recognition technology only helps the security guard monitoring public locations where security cameras are installed. There is fundamentally no difference between a human security guard at the door and an AI-based software in terms of recognising people on watchlist and not recognising those who are not. The only difference is that the AI-based face recognition software can do so at a higher speed and without fatigue. Face recognition software only recognises faces that the user has put in the system, which is not every person on the planet, nor could it ever be. Accuracy concerns: It is true that first-generation face recognition systems have a large margin for error according to studies in 2014. However, as of 2020, the best face recognition systems are now around 99.8% accurate. New AI models are continuously being trained with larger, more relevant, more diverse and less biased datasets. The error margin found in face recognition software today is comparable to that of a person, and it will continue to decrease as we better understand the limitations, train increasingly better AI and deploy AI in more suitable settings. Awareness concerns: While not entirely comforting, the fact is that we are often being watched one way or another on a security camera. Informa showed that in 2014, 245 million cameras were active worldwide, this number jumped to 656 million in 2018 and is projected to nearly double in 2021. Security camera systems, like security guards, are local business and government’s precaution measures to minimise incidents such as shoplifting, car thefts, vandalism and violence. In other words, visitors to locations with security systems have tacitly agreed to the monitoring in exchange for using the service provided by those locations in safety, and visitors are indeed aware of the existence of security cameras. Face recognition software is only another layer of security, and anyone who is not a security threat is unlikely to be registered in the system without explicit consent. The benefits In August 2019, the NYPD used face recognition software to catch a rapist within 24 hours after the incident occurred. In April 2019, the Sichuan Provincial Public Security Department in China, found a 13-year-old girl using face recognition technology. The girl had gone missing in 2009, persuading many people that she would never be found again. Face recognition presents technology-enabled realistic opportunities to fight, and win, the battle against crimeIn the UK, the face recognition system helps Welsh police forces with the detection and prevention of crime. "For police it can help facilitate the identification process and it can reduce it to minutes and seconds," says Alexeis Garcia-Perez, a researcher on cybersecurity management at Coventry University. "They can identify someone in a short amount of time and in doing that they can minimise false arrests and other issues that the public will not see in a very positive way". In fact, nearly 60% Americans polled in 2019 accept the use of face recognition by law enforcement to enhance public safety. Forbes magazine states that “When people know they are being watched, they are less likely to commit crimes so the possibility of facial recognition technology being used could deter crime”. Saving time  One thing that all AI functions have been proven to achieve better results than manual security is speed. NBC News writes, “Nearly instantaneously, the program gives a list of potential matches loaded with information that can help him confirm the identity of the people he’s stopped - and whether they have any outstanding warrants. Previously, he’d have to let the person go or bring them in to be fingerprinted”. Facial recognition can also be immensely beneficial in providing a safe and secure atmosphere for those in its presence With AI, instead of spending hours or days to sift through terabytes of video data, the security staff can locate a suspect within seconds. This time-saving benefit is essential to the overall security of any institution, for in most security threat situations, time is of the utmost importance. Another way in which the technology saves time is its ability to enable employees (but not visitors) to open doors to their office in real time with no badge, alleviating the bottleneck of forgotten badge, keycode or password. Saving money A truly high-performance AI software helps save money in many ways. First, if the face recognition software works with your pre-existing camera system, there is no need to replace cameras, hence saving cost on infrastructure. Second, AI alleviates much of the required manual security monitoring 24/7, as the technology will detect people of interest and automatically and timely alert the authorities. Third, by enhancing access authentication, employees save time and can maximise productivity in more important processes. The takeaway AI-enabled face recognition technology has a lot of benefits if used correctly. Can it be abused? Yes, like all tools that mankind has made from antiquity. Should it be deployed? The evidence indicates that the many benefits of this complex feature outweigh the small chance for abuse of power. It is not only a step in the right direction for the security industry but also for the overall impact on daily lives. It helps to make the world a safer place. 

Latest Vicon Industries news

Vicon Industries announces Valerus version 20.2 including mobile video streaming and live location monitoring
Vicon Industries announces Valerus version 20.2 including mobile video streaming and live location monitoring

Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware and components, announced the availability of Valerus version 20.2, which brings improved cybersecurity and streamlined maintenance to the forefront. This latest release offers features including mobile video streaming, geo mapping, snapshot, robust health dashboard, audit log, and a thick client solution. Valerus’ addition of mobile video streaming allows users to send live or recorded footage directly from their Android or iOS smart devices into Valerus. This helps operators better document patrols or events outside the range of traditional cameras. Strategically monitoring geographical locations The geo mapping feature allows operators to strategically monitor geographical locations with a live geo map. Users simply enter a physical address or coordinates to access the true location, add cameras and create an easy-to-understand live map of their facility. Another exciting update we further developed is our robust health dashboard. This update not only provides an improved user experience, but also new business-critical features to help operators diagnose potential problems before they become catastrophic. New features include remote RAM and CPU resource monitors for both App Servers and NVR, an NVR latency monitor to troubleshoot potential network issues and a new cybersecurity dashboard that monitors potential threats like duplicate logins to better protect the system. Save and store images Valerus 20.2 also now offers a Thick-Client solution for operators that prefer not to use browsers Another new feature is the snapshot tool that allows users to quickly save and store images from live or recorded playback video. This is especially helpful when trying to document suspects or incidents. Valerus 20.2 also now offers a Thick-Client solution for operators that prefer not to use browsers or require a program startup with preconfigured settings or screens. This is a key feature for instances when operator control is limited. Presets allow for easy restoring all previously programmed settings, saving time and allowing you to focus on what’s important. Lastly, the improved new audit log allows designated users to monitor activities within the system so administrators can keep track of who logs in and out of the system, what they view and what actions they have taken. If a failure or critical setting is changed, not only can one reverse the action but also see who made it. Free Valerus Enterprise licence To take advantage of this new release introduction, Vicon has launched a promotional campaign that allows one to experience this version firsthand. Replace one’s old competing VMS for Valerus and receive a free Valerus Enterprise licence. And if one doesn’t already have a VMS, Vicon is giving out free Valerus starter software, so one can experience what everyone loves about Valerus. “Vicon’s Valerus VMS platform has proven to be widely embraced in enterprise applications, and we anticipate that the features we are introducing with Valerus version 20.2 will do much to further that trend,” said Bret McGowan, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing.

Vicon Industries introduces VTR-3000 and VTR-6000 series thermal sensor surveillance for perimeter protection
Vicon Industries introduces VTR-3000 and VTR-6000 series thermal sensor surveillance for perimeter protection

Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance, access control software and hardware and cameras, released its highly anticipated updated Thermal Sensor models. The innovative Thermal Sensor series is a 360-degree surveillance solution that combines powerful high-end thermal technology with high-resolution PTZs for unparalleled perimeter protection in wide-open spaces like power stations, airports, construction sites and other facilities. The VTR-3000 series is a cutting-edge, cost-effective model designed for small to medium sized facilities with a range of up to 250 metres. This series ideal for private airports and parking lots, ensuring nothing goes unnoticed. The VTR-6000 series covers vast areas up to 500 metres and is ideal for larger applications such as construction sites, large commercial airports and more. Enhanced analytics for fire detection Both series can be used day or night and are rich with upgraded features such as enhanced analytics for fire detection and equipment temperature monitoring. Just one thermal sensor can replace up to 8 traditional cameras, and with the newly built-in TRIA, provides many cost-effective options to its users. This series also features exceptional improvements made to image clarity and detection, reducing false positives so time and energy is well spent. Lastly, an improved exterior design reduces the amount of moving parts, reducing the potential for replacing parts. “The line of upgraded Thermal Sensor models is a highly anticipated addition to our camera portfolio so we’re thrilled to incorporate this cost-effective and robust solution to our product offering,” said Bret McGowan, Senior V.P., Sales and Marketing.

Vicon announces Valerus VMS with interactive mapping, event query engine
Vicon announces Valerus VMS with interactive mapping, event query engine

Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware and components, announced the availability of Valerus version 20, which adds features designed to expand its overall capabilities while maintaining its core value as an easy VMS on the market. This latest release offers features that include: interactive mapping, an event query engine and bookmarking functionality. Valerus’ new interactive mapping feature provides the ability to create detailed maps from PNG or JPEG image files. Users can then overlay resource icons on to these maps, with the flexibility to control the location and view of the resource; for added ease of functionality, maps can be linked to other maps. The mapping functionality presents a wealth of information in a very efficient and understandable manner and is extremely useful for local law enforcement and security teams. Motion detection, digital input search queries The addition of a dedicated events database provides the ability to store all events that occur in Valerus, including both internal and external events, allowing the user to look back historically. This offers a new search capability, where users can create queries based on parameters such as motion detection, digital input, external events and analytics services. The event search feature enhances the way users interact with systems, dramatically improving event response times and helping make event issues more actionable. Another new feature available in version 20 is bookmarking, which adds the ability for the user to create a bookmark related to a specific video feed and allows entering notes so users can easily share information. The bookmark is accessible on the playback video and will be stored in the events database, so it can be queried. Bookmarking helps keep track of noteworthy events while users are building a case or trying to gain a better understanding of concerning incidents. Advanced log report for troubleshooting  In keeping with the Valerus commitment to delivering “advanced simplicity,” Valerus 20 has enhanced many user functions for ease-of-use. There is the ability to enforce a complex password for increased security. The numeric ID of a device can now be edited directly on its resource properties page as well the dedicated numeric ID page. The Excel report shows added information, including the MAC address, numeric ID and Gateway server, to better serve the user. There is a dynamic link from an error on the dashboard directly to that resource’s configuration page. An advanced log report was added to aid in troubleshooting any problems that might arise. To encourage users to take advantage of this new release introduction, Vicon has launched two promotional campaigns. The offers are targeted at new VMS installs and VMS replacement projects, offering free licences for Valerus 20. “Vicon’s Valerus VMS platform has proven to be widely embraced in enterprise applications, and we anticipate that the features we are introducing with Valerus version 20 will do much to further that trend,” said Bret McGowan, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing.

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