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James Twigg is the Managing Director of Total Integrated Solutions (TIS), an independent life safety, security and communication systems integrator, specialising in design & consultancy, technology and regulatory compliance. Total Integrated Solutions work primarily with retirement villages, helping to ensure the safety of residents in numerous retirement villages across the country. In this opinion piece, James shares how smart technology is helping security teams and care staff alike in ensuring the safety and security of their spaces, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Impact of smart technology Smart technology is having an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives Smart technology is having an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives. From how we travel, to how we work, to how we run our homes. It’s not unusual to have Alexa waking us up and ordering our groceries or Nest to be regulating the temperature and energy in our homes. And while there’s a popular misconception that people in their later years are allergic to technology, retirement villages and care homes are experiencing significant innovation too. And the result is not only improved quality of life for residents, but also improved safety and security systems for management teams. Switching to converged IP systems I’ve been working in the life safety and security industry for over fifteen years. When I first joined TIS, much of the sector was still very analogue, in terms of the technology being installed and maintained. Slowly but surely, we’ve been consulting and advising customers on how to design, install and maintain converged IP systems that all talk to each other and work in tandem. I'm excited to say retirement villages are some of the top spaces leading the way, in terms of technological advancement. Improving the quality of life for residents A move into a retirement village can be daunting and one of the key concerns that we hear about is the loss of independence. No one wants to feel like they are being monitored or to have someone constantly hovering over them. One of the ways we’ve used smart technology to maintain residents' independence is through devices, such as health monitors and motion sensors. For example, instead of having a member of staff check-in on residents every morning, to ensure they are well, sensors and analytics can automatically detect changes in routine and alert staff to possible problems. Similarly, wearable tech, such as smart watches give residents a chance to let staff know they are okay, without having to tell them face-to-face. As our retirement village customers have told us, a simple ‘I’m okay’ command can be the difference between someone feeling independent versus someone feeling monitored. Simplifying and improving security systems Smart technology gives care staff and security oversight of the needs of residents For the teams responsible for the safety of the people, places and spaces within retirement villages, smart technology is helping to improve and simplify their jobs. Smart technology gives care staff and security oversight of the needs of residents, and ensures rapid response if notified by an emergency alert, ensuring they know the exact location of the resident in need. And without the need to go and physically check-in on every resident, staff and management can ensure staff time is being used effectively. Resources can be distributed where they are needed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those residents who need extra consideration. 24/7 surveillance When planning the safety and security for retirement villages, and other residential spaces, it’s no use having traditional systems that only work effectively for 12 hours a day or need to update during the evening. Surveillance needs to be 24/7 and smart technology allows that without the physical intrusion into people’s spaces and daily lives. Smart technology ensures that systems speak to each other and are easily and effectively managed on one integrated system. This includes video surveillance, which has also become much more effective as a result of advanced video analytics, which automatically warn staff of suspicious behaviour. Securing spaces amid COVID-19 This year has, of course, brought new challenges for safety. COVID-19 hit the retirement and residential care sectors hard, first with the initial wave of infections in mid-2020 and then, with the subsequent loneliness caused by the necessary separation of families. As essential workers, we worked closely with our customers to make sure they had everything they needed As essential workers, we worked closely with our customers to make sure they had everything they needed during this time, equipping residents with tablet devices to ensure they could stay connected with their families and friends. It allowed residents to keep in touch without risking transferring the virus. Thermal cameras and mask detection And now that we’re emerging out of COVID-19 restrictions and most residents can see their families again, we’re installing systems like thermal cameras and mask detection, so as to ensure that security will be alerted to anyone in the space experiencing a high temperature or not wearing proper PPE. Such steps give staff and families alike, the peace-of-mind that operational teams will be alerted at the earliest possible moment, should a COVID-19 risk appear. Thinking ahead to the next fifteen years, I’m excited at the prospect of further technological advancements in this space. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about how complex your security system is or how you compete in the industry. It’s about helping teams to protect the people, spaces and places that matter. I see smart technology playing a huge role in that for years to come.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes and sporting venues open-up to full capacity, a new disturbing trend has hit the headlines - poor fan behaviour. Five NBA teams have issued indefinite bans on fans, who crossed the line of unacceptable behaviour, during the NBA playoffs. Major League Baseball stadiums have a recurring problem with divisive political banners being strewn over walls, as part of an organised campaign, requiring fan ejections. There was a brawl between Clippers and Suns fans after Game 1 of their playoff series. And, the U.S. vs. Mexico Nations League soccer game over the Fourth of July weekend had to be halted, due to fans throwing objects at players and screaming offensive chants. Cracking down on poor fan behaviour Security directors are consistently reporting a disturbing uptick in poor fan attitude and behaviour With players across all major sports leagues commanding more power than ever before, they are demanding that sports venues crack down on poor fan behaviour, particularly when they are the targets of that behaviour. Whether it’s an extension of the social-media divisiveness that’s gripped society, or people unleashing pent up negative energy, following 15 months of social isolation, during the COVID-19 global pandemic, security directors are consistently reporting a disturbing uptick in poor fan attitude and behaviour. They’re also reporting a chronic security guard shortage, like many businesses that rely on relatively low-cost labour, finding candidates to fill open positions has been incredibly difficult. Low police morale To add the third component to this perfect storm, many police departments are struggling with morale issues and officers are less likely to put themselves into positions, where they could wind up in a viral video. According to the Police Executive Research Forum, police officer retirements in the U.S. were up 45% in the April 2020 - April 2021 period, when compared to the previous year. Resignations were up 18%. In this environment, officers may be less likely to undertake fan intervention unless it’s absolutely necessary. This can seem like the worst of times for venue security directors, as they need more staff to handle increasingly unruly patrons, but that staff simply isn’t available. And, because the security guard staffing industry is a commoditised business, companies compete almost solely on price, which requires that they keep salaries as low as possible, which perpetuates the lack of interest in people participating in the profession. Digital Transformation There is only one way out of this conundrum and that is to make security personnel more efficient and effective. Other industries have solved similar staffing and cost challenges through digital transformation. For example, only a small percentage of the total population of restaurants in the U.S. used to offer home delivery, due to cost and staffing challenges of hiring dedicated delivery personnel. Advent of digital efficiency tools But with the advent of digital efficiency tools, now virtually all restaurants can offer delivery But with the advent of digital efficiency tools, such as UberEATS and DoorDash, now virtually all restaurants can offer delivery. Likewise, field-service personnel are digitally connected, so when new jobs arise, they can be notified and routed to the location. Compare this to the old paper-based days, when they wouldn’t know about any new jobs until they picked up their work schedule at the office, the next day and you can see how digital transformation makes each worker significantly more efficient. Security guards and manned guarding The security guard business has never undergone this kind of digital transformation. The state-of-the-art ‘technology’ has never changed - human eyes and ears. Yes, there are video cameras all over stadiums and other venues, but behind the scenes is a guard staring at a bunch of monitors, hoping to identify incidents that need attention. Meanwhile, there are other guards stationed around the stadium, spending most of their time watching people who are doing nothing wrong. Think about all the wasted time involved with these activities – not to mention the relentless boredom and ‘alert fatigue’ from false-positive incident reporting and you understand the fundamental inefficiencies of this labour-based approach to security. Now think about a world where there’s ubiquitous video surveillance and guards are automatically and pre-emptively notified and briefed, when situations arise. The fundamental nature of the security guards profession changes. Instead of being low paid ‘watchers’, they instead become digitally-empowered preventers. AI-based screening and monitoring technology This world is happening today, through Artificial Intelligence-based screening and monitoring technology. AI-powered weapons-detection gateways inform guards, when a patron entering the venue is carrying a gun, knife or other forbidden item. Instead of patting down every patron with metal in their pockets, which has been the standard practice since walk-through metal detectors were mandated by sports leagues following 9/11, guards can now target only those who are carrying these specific items. Video surveillance and AI-based analytics integration Combining surveillance video with AI-based advanced analytics can automatically identify fan disturbances Combining surveillance video with AI-based advanced analytics can automatically identify fan disturbances or other operational issues, and notify guards in real time, eliminating the need to have large numbers of guards monitoring video feeds and patrons. The business benefits of digitally transformed guards are compelling. A National Hockey League security director says he used to have 300 guards manning 100 walk-through metal detectors. By moving to AI solutions, he can significantly reduce the number of scanning portals and guards, and most importantly redeploy and gain further operational efficiencies with his overall operational strategy. Changing staffing strategy This changes the staffing strategy significantly and elevates the roles of guards. Suddenly, a US$ 20-per-hour ‘job’ becomes a US$ 40-per-hour profession, with guards transformed into digital knowledge workers delivering better outcomes with digitally enabled staffs. Beyond that, these digitally transformed guards can spend a much higher percentage of their time focused on tasks that impact the fan experience – whether it’s keeping weapons out of the building, pro-actively dealing with unruly fans before a broader disruption occurs, or managing business operations that positively impact fan patron experience. Digitally transforming security guards Perhaps most important, digitally transforming security guards elevates the profession to a more strategic level, which means better pay for the guards, better service for clients of guard services, and an overall better experience for fans. That’s a perfect storm of goodness for everyone.
The UK government recently announced a doubling of the Safer Streets Fund to £45 million, as it seeks to reassure the public that safety is a top priority, as the night-time economy makes a return. More than just surveillance While this funding increase is much needed, it’s vital that the government and local councils use the money strategically, or risk missing out on a great opportunity to deliver real change and enhance safety across the United Kingdom. One of the main strategies cited by the government is to increase the current vast number of CCTV cameras installed across the country, despite the fact that the UK is already one of the most surveilled nations in the world. Investing in video analytics London alone has around 700,000 cameras, but to effectively monitor them all would be an incredibly inefficient use of manpower and require a huge number of staff. Therefore, I believe the clearest and most cost-effective way for this project to succeed in its overall mission, is by investing in smarter technology, such as video analytics. Incorporating video analytics into existing infrastructure is the clear solution This technology offers a more efficient use of resources, faster response times and enables more informed, time-critical decision making, when reacting to unfolding events in real time. Incorporating video analytics into existing infrastructure is the clear solution, as the technology enables legacy assets, such as analogue CCTV cameras, to become more than just after the fact evidence gathering tools and instead be used to help enhance real-time responses to unfolding incidents. Artificial intelligence-enabled solutions Artificial intelligence-enabled solutions are trained using vast datasets of images and video footage, in order to better understand people, objects and vehicles that are captured on film, and they continue ‘learning’ and improving, while in use. The system’s algorithms analyse and prioritise input from video data to decide which inputs are of value, automatically classifying the footage and notifying security personnel accordingly. This reduces response times by notifying CCTV operators of an incident, as it happens, meaning law enforcement and security personnel can react faster and intervene in an ongoing situation. Edge technology and real-time video streaming A key consideration should be choosing a technology that can operate at the edge and deliver real-time video streaming, even at the lowest bandwidths, so it isn’t limited to use in areas with good connectivity, which would exclude most remote areas. Quality really does matter and technology that can operate over low bandwidths is crucial for allowing operators to zoom in on areas of interest, such as a car number plate or face, and retrieve full-resolution images that can make a real difference in ongoing investigations. Analytics-based security approach Introducing an analytics-based security approach would also help curtail the rising cost of tackling crime Introducing an analytics-based security approach would also help curtail the rising cost of tackling crime. Research conducted by the UK’s Labour Party recently found that the annual cost of crime reached a staggering £100 billion. While statistics show that crime rates in general have been fairly stable over recent years, experts point to the increase in specific types of violent crime, such as knife crime which rose by over 20% during 2020. Implementing smart analytics-based technology Implementing smart analytics-based technology would help maintain staffing costs, as the system can identify incidents without an operator’s input, as well as reducing the cost of managing crime, as more incidents will be intervened in before they escalate too far. This dramatically reduces the burden on staff and allows a single surveillance operator to monitor many more cameras. On the other hand, this level of automation also reduces false alarm fatigue and operator overload, which can quickly sap efficiencies and reduce operator alertness, if left unchecked. Data driven problem-solving approach to crime prevention Procurement officials should avoid the common mistake of simply doubling down and throwing more staff and security assets at the problem to bring results. Instead, they should take a more data driven problem-solving approach to crime prevention by leveraging technologies that can enhance response and preserve their existing investments in cameras. The smart use of real-time video analytics could make the difference by preventing dangerous situations from escalating into serious incidents.
Oncam, the provider of premium 360-degree video capture technologies, announces the release of updated firmware that transforms the already powerful and compact C-Series cameras into some of the most advanced and flexible cameras of their kind on the market. With the addition of multi-mode, users can choose from five different views and stream up to four of them simultaneously. Multi-mode adds flexibility, versatility and ultimately expands the use cases possible with 360-video technology. With the updated C-Series, stakeholders are empowered to record everything that happens within a scene with 360-degree video coverage and at the same time easily configure alternate and more natural looking views tailored to specific needs. Wall-mounted cameras The enhanced functionalities of the C-Series continue to be powered by the Qualcomm The enhanced functionalities of the C-Series continue to be powered by the Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform, which spans a full range of system-on-chips (SoCs) designed for running compute-intensive workloads at the edge of the network. With multi-mode, users can stream four different views at any given time including: Fisheye: A standard 360-degree fisheye view that is ideal for total situational awareness. Panoramic+: A 5:2 pre-dewarped panoramic view best suited for wall-mounted cameras that use the center of the fisheye sensor to generate an actual 180-degree image. Panoramic+ also includes specifically designed accessories to help ensure the correct tilting of the camera at the desired angle. Created for both the Indoor and Outdoor Plus models, Panoramic+ accessories will be available to purchase from Q3. This 180-degree view can also be set for all streams in Panoramic+ Only Mode, providing a compelling replacement for popular Evolution 180 cameras, which are being placed in the end of life. Corridor+: A split 2-way corridor view, Corridor+ allows to see in two opposite directions of a 360-image at the same time, with no gap in between, so that objects move seamlessly from one section to the other. T Corridor+: A perfect 3-way junction view, T Corridor+ focuses on three chosen directions in the fisheye image without any gap so that what is directly in front can be monitored as well as what’s on either side. VCam: A user-defined dewarped view of a chosen area of the fisheye image, where users can decide which specific area of the scene is of interest and focus on it. Intelligent video solutions “Multi-mode delivers unrivalled camera flexibility, all from one camera,” said Dilen Thakrar, Product Manager, Oncam. “This camera solution can be tailored to many needs. Whether an operator requires a 360-degree camera, a panoramic camera, or both at the same time, the C-Series can exceed the expectations of 360-video today." Oncam and its partners have been pivotal in expanding the adoption of 360-degree video surveillance "Being able to offer this level of versatility all from the same camera ensures we can meet many more uses cases whilst providing simpler configuration, ordering and stocking processes for our partners.” Since launching the C-Series in 2020, Oncam and its partners have been pivotal in expanding the adoption of 360-degree video surveillance across the globe. These efforts have resulted in significant growth with enterprises turning to its intelligent video solutions to support mission-critical use cases. Digital transformation strategies “Video is a core data source generated from IoT deployments and 360-degree video is an integral part of this ecosystem,” said Jérôme Jacqmin, Senior Director Business Development, Qualcomm Communications S.A.R.L. “Our continued collaboration with Oncam contributes to the development of the innovative video solutions that enable organisations to enhance their digital transformation strategies. We believe that together, we are pushing the envelope of what is possible with video.” “We’re not just leading the way in 360-degree video. We’re redefining it for the next evolution of IoT and security solutions,” said Jon Marsh, SVP Technology, Oncam. “We’re dedicated to providing our strategic alliance partners and customers with the flexibility they need to achieve their ever-evolving operational and security requirements. This commitment is driven by our promise to continue to leverage our deep expertise in panoramic imaging and edge dewarping to push the envelopes of 360-video technology.”
The “Roaring Twenties” was a decade of economic growth and widespread prosperity, driven by recovery from devastation, a construction boom, and welcoming of new technologies such as automobiles and electricity. As we look ahead to the big picture of the 2020s, 100 years later, are there parallels that suggest a successful decade ahead? Might recovery from the devastation of COVID-19 help to drive even higher levels of economic growth and technical innovation? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Does the new decade represent a new “Roaring Twenties” for the physical security market?
Oncam, the globally renowned provider of premium 360-degree video capture technologies, has announced the introduction of its powerful and compact C-Series camera line and the first two cameras of this line, the C-12 Indoor and the C-12 Outdoor Plus cameras, both featuring a 12 MP sensor and powered by advanced video technology from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. 360-degree fisheye solutions Designed to support mission-critical video surveillance and security deployments, the Oncam C-Series camera line provides the performance, resilience, scalability and ease of use required of advanced 360-degree fisheye solutions. Built on Oncam's expertise spanning more than 15 years in 360-degree video technology, the C-Series delivers higher frame rates, crisp images and bandwidth reduction technology, increasing functionality, as well as ensuring the creation of products that are both intuitive and user-friendly. C-12 cameras Oncam C-12 cameras feature the company’s award-winning de-warping technology The Oncam C-12 cameras feature the company’s award-winning de-warping technology, seamless ONVIF implementation, and integration with the major VMS (Video Management System) platforms, with superior processing power from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. that enables this next generation of high-tech video surveillance solution from Oncam. The company’s C-Series cameras use cutting-edge algorithms and advanced technology to deliver access to reliable, secure, and clear images that provide organisations and government agencies with enhanced situational awareness. Oncam's commitment to open solutions and the C-12 camera's advanced, intuitive user interface also delivers the freedom to configure and tailor the camera to specific requirements, making it ideal for a variety of markets. Harnessing the power of video Oncam’s C-12 cameras enable users to harness the power of video with innovations pioneered by the video surveillance company, including: Market-renowned frame rates: Oncam C-12 cameras stream 55 fps at full resolution, significantly outperforming other 360-degree cameras in the market currently. This superior performance allows for the capability to maintain the chosen frame rate up to 30 fps on the primary stream, even with up to three other streams running. The benefit of this technology is that it offers full frame rate video without sacrificing the flexibility for secondary streams. Alternatively, users will get to experience best in class performance and image quality of 25 fps with TrueDetail HDR. StreamLite Compression: The C-series camera line comes integrated with advanced real-time adaptive video encoder enhancement technology, applied to both H.264 and H.265 video compression technologies. StreamLite reduces bandwidth and storage space required by the camera by more than 50% and in scenes with no motion, it minimises the encoded stream by more than 90%, with minimal impact on the final image quality. Additionally, the C-series does all this without compromising on the details that matter the most. Integrated VMS (Video Management System)/NVR (Network Video Recorder) partners have access to StreamLite+ technology and they can achieve an additional 20% compression, thanks to the advanced capabilities of Oncam’s ColourMap Compression technology. This patented pre-compression color optimisation technology works with other Oncam compression technologies to reduce bandwidth and storage, with no perceptible impact on the image quality. TrueDetail HDR: This feature allows both dark and light areas within the same image to be visible and captured, while also revealing critical details in both dark and bright areas of a scene. TrueDetail HDR feature facilitates capturing two frames concurrently and by minimising the time lag between short and long exposures, it delivers bright and sharp images with minimal motion blur. Advanced Light Management Technology: Integrated with advanced light management technology, the C-series camera dynamically manages the available light to achieve the best results, in every corner of every 360-degree scene. Whether it be extreme low light or a complex mixed lighting environment, it automatically optimises image quality with whatever light is available to produce clearer, full-colour, lower noise surveillance videos, while also maintaining the sharpness of static or moving objects, even in very low-light or dark conditions. C-Series Indoor and Outdoor Plus camera models Oncam's C-Series cameras are available in the market through a network of trusted Strategic Alliance Partners Oncam's C-Series cameras are available in the market through a network of trusted Strategic Alliance Partners, including some of the largest and trusted brands across the globe. The C-12 cameras are available with multiple accessories and mounting options for both the Indoor and Outdoor Plus models. “We are proud to be collaborating with Oncam on the launch of its C-Series cameras, their first portfolio of products powered by Qualcomm Technologies,” said Jeff Lorbeck, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IoT, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Jeff adds, “As the Oncam product portfolio grows, our shared vision of delivering innovative camera solutions will enable us to continue unlocking the ‘Internet of Things’ potential for a variety of applications from enterprise, education to smart cities and beyond.” Qualcomm Technologies chosen as Oncam’s SoC vendor Qualcomm Technologies, a globally renowned video technology solutions provider with innovation and collaboration at their core, was chosen as Oncam’s System on a chip (SoC) vendor to ensure the market-renowned performance of the C-Series and beyond. “We are entering a new era for our industry so we have focused our efforts on building and nurturing a world-class team that centers on innovation through collaboration both internally and externally with the C-Series being the first tangible result of that mindset and approach,” said Scott Brothers, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Oncam. Scott adds, “Qualcomm Technologies’ investment into IoT and the ever-increasing use of IP video as a key element within the IoT ecosystem makes the Oncam/Qualcomm Technologies relationship a fantastic fit both now and in the future as we build out our product roadmap.”
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