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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.
Leading surveillance solutions provider CBC (Europe) GmbH has introduced an exciting new range of high quality megapixel varifocal lenses. These latest Computar lenses enable optical imaging performance from increasingly popular megapixel cameras, maximising their performance in a variety of operational circumstances. The lenses include IR corrected optics, maintaining sharp focus in both day and night modes, and even in otherwise tricky twilight conditions. As well as providing high contrast and sharp images, they ensure precise focus adjustment – an important advantage because setting the focus on megapixel IP cameras can be challenging, especially when facing the limited adjustment ranges and transmission delays that sometimes occur through a network. CBC’s new Computar megapixel varifocal lenses also cover a useful range of focal lengths from super-wide through to telephoto. The AG3Z3112 series, for example, allows users to capture a 105.4° overview in a 16:9 format. Telephoto models in the AG4Z1214 series, meanwhile, are ideal for various outdoor and high ceiling applications. Both manual iris, DC auto iris and P-iris models are available. The P-iris lens, combined with specialised camera software, delivers superior picture quality, enhancing contrast, resolution and depth of field. Other notable features shared by CBC’s new megapixel varifocal lenses include a compact design, built-in slip mount mechanism, and a locking mechanism for zoom and focus rings. “CBC’s new series of Computar megapixel variofocal lenses are the ideal complement for megapixel cameras, enabling users to extract the highest quality images for prevention and detection purposes, and thereby adding considerable value to this camera investment,” says Ken Ota, MD of CBC (Europe) GmbH’s UK operation.
Leading surveillance solutions provider CBC (Europe) GmbH has launched its new range of full HD Ganz IP Network Video Recorders (NVRs). Offering four or eight channels, the NVRs provide 1080p high definition quality images along with a free app and CMS software allowing images to be displayed remotely, quickly and easily in quad or full-screen on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. Supplied in a space saving compact profile, the new Ganz IP NVR recorders work seamlessly with CBC’s PixelPro range of indoor and outdoor IP cameras to provide an optimised image/storage solution. PixelPro cameras connect simply and directly to the NVRs using a single network cable per camera. To improve the ease of installation, the NVR is capable of supplying power to each camera over PoE. CBC’s NR4HL and NR8HL Triplex NVRs (available in 2Tb and 4Tb storage versions) use H.264 compression. Each camera can be viewed in Live mode and recorded at 25 images per second, offering numerous surveillance recording and monitoring applications both internally and externally. Multi-site device management is also achievable using the Ganz DMS Lite software supplied free with each NVR. Up to two HDDs can be installed on each NVR. Storage expansion is achieved via e-SATA. “CBC’s cost-effective new NVRs address the increasing demand for network capable image storage and flexible means of monitoring and reviewing that make customers’ access to surveillance systems much easier and time-efficient. They’re also space-efficient and offer solutions for a variety of security-related monitoring and recording applications,” says Ken Ota, MD of CBC (Europe) GmbH’s UK operation.
CBC supplies C-AllView cameras to monitor activities at a nature reserve in Hampshire Leading surveillance solutions provider CBC (Europe) has assisted natural history/wildlife production company Carynx Wild at two outdoor filming sites, helping to observe and protect potentially vulnerable birds. CBC recently supplied its versatile and optically powerful C-AllView cameras to monitor activities at an RSPB Reserve in north Wales and a nature reserve in Hampshire. Independent specialist Carnyx Wild works with broadcasters including the BBC’s acclaimed Natural History Unit, maker of programmes including Planet Earth and Springwatch/Autumnwatch, as well as clients such as the Forestry Commission and nature reserves around the country – for example, putting real-time and recorded wildlife footage onto websites and viewing screens at visitor centres. Carnyx’s Director and co-founder, Peter Dobson, explains that having become aware of CBC’s system capabilities he discussed the potential for C-AllView’s powerful 36x optical zoom to film animals at the two sites with Regional Sales Manager Mike Barrett. The cameras were required, firstly, to observe birds including guillemots, puffins and razorbills 100m vertically down the cliff face at South Stack Cliffs RSPB Reserve in Holyhead, north Wales. Optically powerful C-AllView cameras to monitor activities at an RSPB Reserve in north Wales and a nature reserve in Hampshire Here, a unit was installed by experienced climbers and mounted on a purpose-built marine-grade stainless mount with transmission cabling to a nearby café and visitor centre. Video images from the camera are also shown live on the internet. “The Reserve and its sea cliffs are a sensitive nesting area for visiting sea birds, but licensed access to these sea cliffs is only permitted between September and February. So after being installed the camera cannot be revisited for seven months,” Peter explains. “It was therefore extremely important that we have a reliable and robust unit for this challenging task, and the C-Allview camera comes into its own for requirements including close-up shots of animals. Dome cameras have horizontal limitations in their field of view and their lenses are difficult to keep clean in these situations, whereas the C-AllView can provide a 360° field of view, has a built-in wiper unit, and is less obtrusive than a PTZ camera. The C-AllView is therefore ideal for this type of filming work and we use the cameras in conjunction with infrared lighting when light levels are low.” Meanwhile, a C-AllView camera is also being used at Hampshire County Council’s 370-acre Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve, overlooking the Solent, where it’s being used to monitor rare Avocet wader birds in a nesting area on-site. Live video images are shown in the main visitor centre. Commenting on the service provided by CBC, Peter Dobson adds that the company’s customer service and technical dept have proved “really good at resolving any issues we’ve had in the sometimes very tight schedules involved, for example by sending out equipment overnight so that we don’t lose any precious filming time. Mike Barrett has also been proactive, keeping us in touch with equipment developments so that we don’t fall behind on the available technology.”
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