Fibre optics, telemetry receivers, transmitters, transceivers - Expert commentary

Live-streaming mobile surveillance takes cameras to the action
Live-streaming mobile surveillance takes cameras to the action

Video surveillance across the world is growing exponentially and its major application is in both public safety and law enforcement. Traditionally, it has been fixed surveillance where cameras provide live streams from fixed cameras situated in what is considered strategic locations. But they are limited in what they can see given by their very definition of being "fixed." The future of video surveillance includes the deployment of more mobile video surveillance with the benefits it offers. Instead of fixed cameras, this is the ability to live stream from mobile devices on the move such as body-worn cams, drones, motorbikes, cars, helicopters and in some cases, even dogs!Sending drones into the air, for example for missing people or rescue missions, is much more cost-effective than deploying helicopters Advantages of mobile surveillance The advantage of mobile surveillance is that the camera can go to where the action is, rather than relying on the action going to where the camera is. Also, sending drones into the air, for example for missing people or rescue missions, is much more cost-effective than deploying helicopters. The ability to live stream video from cars and helicopters in high-speed pursuits can be used to take some of the operational issues from the first responders on the ground and share that “life and death” responsibility with the operational team leaders back in the command centre. This allows the first responders in the pursuit vehicle to focus on minimising risk while staying in close proximity of the fleeing vehicle, with direction from a higher authority who can see for themselves in real time the issues that are being experienced, and direct accordingly. In addition to showing video live stream from a pursuit car or motorcycle, by using inbuilt GPS tracking, the video can be displayed on a map in real time, allowing a command chief to better utilise additional resource and where to deploy them, through the use of displaying mapping information with real time video feed. It allows police chiefs to make better informed decisions in highly-charged environments. The 4G phone network can now be used with compressed video to live stream cost effectively Application in emergency situations The same is true of first responders in many different emergency situations. Mobile surveillance opens up a new area of efficiencies that previously was impossible to achieve. For example, special operations can wear action body-worn cameras when doing raids, fire departments can live stream from emergency situations with both thermal and daylight cameras, and paramedics can send video streams back to hospitals allowing doctors to remotely diagnose and prepare themselves for when patients arrive at the hospital. How can special operations and emergency first responders live stream video from a mobile camera with the issues of weight, reliability and picture-quality being considered? H265 mobile video compression Law enforcement insists on secure transmissions, and it is possible to encrypt video to the highest level of security available in the public domain The 4G phone network can now be used with compressed video to live stream cost effectively. The issue of course is that 4G is not always reliable. Soliton Systems has mitigated this risk of low mobile quality in certain areas, by building an H265 mobile video compression device that can use multiple SIM cards from different cellular providers simultaneously. H265 is the latest compression technique for video, that is 50% more effective than conventional H264, and coupling this with using multiple “bonded” SIM cards provides a highly reliable connection for live-streaming high-quality HD video. The 400-gram device with an internal battery can be connected to a small action cam, and can live-stream simultaneously over at least three different cellular providers, back to a command centre. Latency is typically less than a second, and new advance improvements are looking to reduce that latency further. Encrypted video transmission What about security? Law enforcement insists on secure transmissions, and it is possible to encrypt video to the highest level of security available in the public domain, i.e. AES256.What about integration into existing video infrastructure at the command centre? It is not untypical for a police force to have an existing video management system (VMS) at their command centre such as Milestone System’s Xprotect. The Soliton range of products are ONVIF-compliant, a standard used by video surveillance cameras for interoperability, allowing cameras and video devices that are ONVIF-compliant to simply “plug&play” into existing video management systems. These mobile transmitters are deployed with law enforcement and first responders across the globe. Their ability to provide secure, full HD quality and highly-reliable video streaming within a small unit, and to enable it to be integrated into the current eco-system that is already installed at the receiving end, has made them a favourite choice with many companies and government agencies.

Why live video streaming is critical for safer and smarter cities
Why live video streaming is critical for safer and smarter cities

The term “smart city” gets thrown around a lot nowadays, but as different technologies that strive to be defined in this way are adopted by different countries globally, the meaning of this phrase gets lost in translation. The simplest way to define a “smart city” is that it is an urban area that uses different types of data collecting sensors to manage assets and resources efficiently. One of the most obvious types of “data collecting sensor” is the video camera, whether that camera is part of a city’s existing CCTV infrastructure, a camera in a shopping centre or even a police car’s dash camera. The information gathered by video cameras can be used with two purposes in mind, firstly: making people’s lives more efficient, for example by managing traffic, and secondly (and arguably more importantly): making people’s lives safer. Live streaming video all the time, everywhere In the smart and safe city, traditional record-only video cameras are of limited use. Yes, they can be used to collect video which can be used for evidence after a crime has taken place, but there is no way that this technology could help divert cars away from an accident to avoid traffic building up, or prevent a crime from taking place in the first place. However, streaming live video from a camera that isn’t connected to an infrastructure via costly fibre optic cabling has proven challenging for security professionals, law enforcement and city planners alike. This is because it isn’t viable to transmit video reliably over cellular networks, in contrast to simply receiving it. Video transmission challenges Transmitting video normally results in freezing and buffering issues which can hinder efforts to fight crime and enable flow within a city, as these services require real-time, zero latency video without delays. Therefore, special technology is required that copes with poor and varying bandwidths to allow a real-time view of any scene where cameras are present to support immediate decision making and smart city processes. The information gatheredby video cameras can beused to make people’s lives more efficient, and to make people’s lives safer There are many approaches to transmitting video over cellular. We’ve developed a specialist codec (encoding and decoding algorithm) that can provide secure and reliable video over ultra-low bandwidths and can therefore cope when networks become constrained. Another technique, which is particularly useful if streaming video from police body worn cameras or dash cams that move around, is to create a local wireless “bubble” at the scene, using Wi-Fi or mesh radio systems to provide local high-bandwidth communications that can communicate with a central location via cellular or even satellite communications. Enhanced city surveillance Live video streaming within the smart and safe city’s infrastructure means that video’s capabilities can go beyond simple evidence recording and evolve into a tool that allows operations teams to monitor and remediate against incidents as they are happening. This can be taken one step further with the deployment of facial recognition via live streaming video. Facial recognition technology can be added on to any video surveillance camera that is recording at a high enough quality to identify faces. The technology works by capturing video, streaming the live video back to a control centre and matching faces against any watch lists that the control centre owns. Importantly, the data of people who aren’t on watch lists is not stored by the technology. Identifying known criminals This technology can work to make the city safer in a number of ways. For example, facial recognition could spot a known drug dealer in a city centre where they weren’t supposed to be, or facial recognition could identify if a group of known terror suspects were visiting the same location at the same time, and this would send an alert to the police. Facial recognition technology captures and streams live back to a control centre, matching faces against any watch lists that the control centre owns In an ideal world where the police had an automated, electronic workflow, the police officer nearest to the location of the incident would be identified by GPS and would be told by the control room where to go and what to do. Most police forces aren’t quite at this technological level yet, and would probably rely on communicating via radio in order to send the nearest response team to the scene. As well as this, shopping centres could create a database from analogue records of known shoplifters to identify criminals as soon as they entered the building. This would be even more effective if run co-operatively between all shopping centres and local businesses in an area, and would not only catch any known shoplifters acting suspiciously, but would act as a deterrent from shoplifting in the first place. Live streaming for police As mentioned above, live streaming video from CCTV cameras can help the police fight crime more proactively rather than reactively. This can be enhanced even further if combined with live streaming video from police car dash cams and police body worn cameras. If video was streamed from all of these sources to a central HQ, such as a police operations centre, the force would be able to have full situational awareness throughout an incident. This would mean that, if need be, officers could be advised on the best course of action, and additional police or other emergency services could be deployed instantly if needed. Incorporated with facial recognition, this would also mean that police could instantly identify if they were dealing with known criminals or terrorists. Whilst they would still have to confirm the identity of the person with questioning or by checking their identification, this is still more streamlined than describing what a person looks like over a radio and then ops trying to manually identify if the person is on a watch list. The smart, safe city is possible today – for one, if live video streaming capabilities are deployed they can enable new levels of flow in the city. With the addition of facial recognition, cities will be safer than ever before and law enforcement and security teams will be able to proactively stop crime before it happens by deterring criminal activity from taking place at all.

Surge protection for security installations: 2017 saw increased investment
Surge protection for security installations: 2017 saw increased investment

In 2017, DITEK saw how power surges from the many natural disasters that took place damaged many businesses. In a natural disaster, or even everyday business operations, a facility’s entire investment in security, life safety and surveillance systems technology can be disabled or rendered useless in a few seconds. Surge protection solutions can mitigate those risks and protect security investments. Proactive approach to risk mitigation Throughout 2017, we also witnessed a change in how enterprises view surge protection, which included how investments are being made in surge protection to protect valuable security, life safety and surveillance systems, while also reducing downtime, manpower costs, liability vulnerabilities, and possibly compliance issues that can force businesses to actually cease operations. Effective security management is about mitigating risks. But risks cannot be mitigated without a proactive approach. Enterprises and integrators, who take the time to assess risk and to develop a strategy to incorporate effective detection, deter and response criteria to protect physical assets will be successful in 2018. 2018 and beyond That strategy includes designing surge protection into new security systems, while also adding surge protection to existing systems. Enterprises and security integrators who implement a surge protection strategy during security planning processes – or after – will be exercising prevention and mitigation, and they will be successful in 2018 and beyond.  Surge protection devices have an untapped potential for enterprise surveillance and security systems In 2017, Ditek continued to offer security end users a solid surge protection solution. We also successfully educated system integrators, who are seeking value-added products or services to incorporate into their portfolios, on the importance of surge protection devices. Educating security integrators We believe that surge protection devices have an untapped potential for enterprise video surveillance and security systems, because they can and do meet safety and security challenges that have been rarely identified in the past. We are looking forward to 2018, when we will continue to develop new surge protection products – including a new product engineered to protect up to twelve individual fuel dispensers, which is critical to the financial operation of convenience stores. We will also continue to educate security integrators about the importance of including surge protection in the design/build RFP, to not only secure an enterprise’s valuable security equipment, but also to help integrators to differentiate their capabilities and knowledge from the competition.

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Functionality beyond security: The advent of open platform cameras
Functionality beyond security: The advent of open platform cameras

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic marks the biggest global disruption since World War II. While the ‘new normal’ after the crisis is still taking shape, consumers are apprehensive about the future. According to a recent survey, 60% of shoppers are afraid of going grocery shopping, with 73% making fewer trips to physical stores. Returning to the workplace is also causing unease, as 66% of employees report feeling uncomfortable about returning to work after COVID-19.  Businesses and employers are doing their best to alleviate these fears and create safe environments in and around their buildings. This also comes at tremendous costs for new safety measures and technologies – including updates to sanitation protocols and interior architecture – that protect against COVID-19. Costs in the billions that most businesses will face alone, without support from insurance and amidst larger macroeconomic challenges. Saving costs and increasing security But what if building operators, retail shop owners, and other stakeholders could save costs by leveraging new functionality from their existing security infrastructure? More specifically, expanding the use of current-generation security cameras – equipped with AI-driven image analysis capabilities – beyond the realm of security and into meeting new health regulations. This is exactly where video analytics algorithms come into play. And in the next step, a new evolutionary approach towards open security camera platforms promises new opportunities. Security cameras have evolved from mere image capturing devices into complex data sensors Over the past decade, security cameras have evolved from mere image capturing devices into complex data sensors. They provide valuable data that can be analysed and used in beneficial ways that are becoming the norm. Since 2016, Bosch has offered built-in Video Analytics as standard on all its IP cameras. On one hand, this enables automated detection of security threats more reliably than human operators. And on the other hand, video analytics collect rich metadata to help businesses improve safety, increase efficiency, reduce costs, and create new value beyond security. Expanding camera functionality beyond security Today, we have ‘smart’ security cameras with built-in video analytics to automatically warn operators of intruders, suspicious objects and dangerous behaviors. The rich metadata from several cameras on the same network can also be consolidated by making use of an intelligent software solution. It offers so-called pre-defined widgets to provide business intelligence by measuring area fill levels, counting building occupancy and detecting the formation of crowds. In combination with live video stream data, these insights enable heightened situational awareness to security operators. What’s more, operators are free to set their own parameters – like maximum number of occupants in a space and ‘off limit’ areas – to suit their needs. These user-centric widgets also come in handy in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Specific widgets can trigger an alarm, public announcement or trigger a 'traffic light' when the maximum number of people in a space is exceeded. Building operators can also use available intelligence such as foot traffic ‘heat maps’ to identify problem areas that tend to become congested and place hand sanitiser stations at heavily frequented hotspots. At the same time, the option to perform remote maintenance on these systems limits the exposure of technicians in the field during the pandemic. Again, the underlying camera hardware and software already exist. Cameras will be able to ‘learn’ future functionality to curb the spread of the coronavirus Looking ahead, cameras with video analytic and neural network-based analytic capabilities will be able to ‘learn’ future functionality to curb the spread of the coronavirus. For instance, cameras could monitor distances between individuals and trigger voice announcements when social distancing guidelines are violated. Facial recognition software can be trained to monitor personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance and sound alerts for persons entering buildings without masks. The technical requirements are already in place. The task at hand is to deliver these new functionalities to cameras at scale, which is where open camera platforms hold the key. Why open camera operating systems? When it comes to innovating future camera applications that extend beyond security, no hardware manufacturer should go at it alone. Instead, an open platform approach provides the environment for third-party developers to innovate and market new functions. In essence, an open platform principle allows customers and users to change the behavior of devices by adding software afterwards. This software can either be found in an app store or can be self-developed. For a precedent, we can look at the mobile phone industry. This is where software ecosystems like Android and Apple’s iOS have become the norm. They have also become major marketplaces, with the Apple App Store generating $519 billion in billings on 2019, as users use their phones for far more than just making phone calls. In the same way, intelligent cameras will be used far beyond classic video applications in the future. To get there, adopting an open platform principle is essential for a genuine transformation on an industry level. But establishing an open platform principle in the fragmented video security industry demands a cooperative approach. In 2018 Bosch started a fully owned start-up company, Security & Safety Things, and became one of five founding members of OSSA (Open Security & Safety Alliance). With more than 40 members, the Alliance has collectively created the first Technology Stack for “open” video security devices. This includes the OSSA Application Interface Specification and Compliant Device Definition Specification. An open camera platform for innovating future functionality  Based on OSSA’s common APIs, collective approach on data security and core system requirements for video security cameras, the first camera manufacturers were able to build video security cameras that adopt an open platform principle. Further fueling innovation, OSSA focused on driving the creation of one centralised marketplace to unite demand and supply in the market. Camera devices that are built in accordance with OSSA’s Technology Stack, so-called “Driven by OSSA” devices, can benefit from this marketplace which consists of three pillars: a development environment, an application store, and a device management portal. Security & Safety Things has advanced OSSA’s open camera platform concept, built this marketplace for the security and safety industry and has developed the open OS that powers the first “Driven by OSSA” devices. Making it quick and simple to customise security solutions by installing and executing multiple apps This year, Bosch, as one of the first camera manufacturers, introduces the new INTEOX generation of open platform cameras. To innovate a future beyond security functionality, INTEOX combines built-in Intelligent Video Analytics from Bosch, an open Operating System (OS), and the ability to securely add software apps as needed. Thanks to the fully open principle, system integrators are free to add apps available in the application store, making it quick and simple to customise security solutions by installing and executing multiple apps on the INTEOX platform. In turn, app developers can now focus on leveraging the intelligence and valuable data collected by analytics-equipped cameras for their own software developments to introduce new exciting possibilities of applying cameras. These possibilities are needed as smart buildings and IoT-connected technology platforms continue to evolve. And they will provide new answers to dealing with COVID-19. The aforementioned detection of face masks and PPE via facial detection algorithms is just one of manifold scenarios in which new apps could provide valuable functionality. Contact tracing is another field where a combination of access control and video analytics with rich metadata can make all the difference. Overall, open camera platforms open a future where new, complex functionality that can save lives, ensure business continuity and open new business opportunities will arrive via something as simple as a software update. And this is just the beginning.

Bosch introduces Access Management System 3.0 that integrates with other security solutions
Bosch introduces Access Management System 3.0 that integrates with other security solutions

Today’s market wants access control systems that are always available, scalable, and integrated with other security solutions like video and intrusion systems to ensure the highest security and safety levels. At the same time, these systems must be easy to configure and use. With the introduction of the Access Management System 3.0, Bosch meets all of these requirements. Always available for security Access Management System 3.0 is designed to be available at all times. Its resilient design includes a Master Access Controller (MAC) as an additional layer of defence between the server and the access controllers. If the server fails, the MAC takes over, ensuring continuous communication across controllers while sharing necessary information from the card readers. In addition, access control functionalities that involve multiple access readers, such as anti-passback and guard tour can continue to perform. The anti-passback functionality is an important feature to ensure a high level of security. It prevents a cardholder from passing a card to another person enabling an unauthorised entry. Guard tour is a safety functionality offered to security guards, which uses access readers as checkpoints along a defined route at specified times. Threat level management The different threat levels can make all doors open, or all doors blocked, or a mix of open and blocked Any deviation of sequence or timing causes an alarm in the Access Management System. Immediate notifications to colleagues or first responders increase the safety of security guards. In the rare event that both the Access Management System 3.0 server and the MAC fail, cardholders can still enter and leave areas with their badges because the database is stored directly on the Access Management Controllers (AMCs). Thanks to this offline capability, it is possible to save millions of events even during downtimes, ensuring the continuous availability of the system. Access Management System 3.0 offers up to 15 configurable threat levels such as lockdown, controlled lockdown, or evacuation, which means safety measures can be initiated quickly in critical situations such as fire or security breach. The threat level state is activated by one of three triggers: operator workstation, external contact such as an emergency button, or specially configured “emergency” cards that are presented to a reader. The different threat levels can make all doors open, or all doors blocked, or a mix of open and blocked. Scalable and future-proof Users can start small and add extra capacity whenever necessary. The Access Management System 3.0 software can be expanded up to 10,000 doors and 200,000 cardholders. The software is offered in three pre-configured software bundles from medium to large organisations: Lite (max. 144 doors), Plus (max. 512 doors), and Professional (max. 10,000 doors). All bundles support up to 200,000 cardholders. No hardware needs replacing when expanding; users only require software upgrades and possibly additional controllers, readers, and cards. So, increasing the system is also cost-efficient. Customers who work with the software solution Access Professional Edition (APE) from Bosch can migrate to the Access Management System 3.0 by using the new importer/exporter tool. Together with regular updates to data security enhancements, these features make the system a future-proof investment - suitable for office and government buildings, retail environments, educational institutions, and more. Easy configuration and operation Access Management System 3.0 also has trusted digital certificates for mutual authenticationConfiguration is easy: Users can import existing floor maps into the system, and drag and drop icons on the map to represent controllers, doors, and building objects. User onboarding is straightforward. For example, enrolment and assignment of access profiles are all implemented in one dialogue manager. Operation is smooth: The graphical user interface (GUI) is simple and easy to understand. The dark colour scheme of the GUI reduces eye-strain and fatigue, so operators stay fresh and alert. Access Management System 3.0 offers protection against cybercrime and loss of personal data. The database, as well as the communication between the server and access controllers, is encrypted at all stages through the support of the secure Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) v2 protocol. Access Management System 3.0 also has trusted digital certificates for mutual authentication between the server and client to prevent tampering by unauthorised clients and uses secure design principles such as “secure-by-default” and “principle of least privilege.” Integration with third-party solutions Access Management System 3.0 is ideal as a standalone solution to meet today’s access control needs. It integrates seamlessly with Bosch B Series and G Series intrusion control panels as well as with video systems such as Bosch Video Management System or third-party systems like Milestone’s XProtect for increased security and enhanced situational awareness. The integrated command and control functionality enables operators to arm and disarm intrusion panels directlyIntegration with Bosch Video Management System (version 10.1 and higher) offers manual video verification to increase the security level at doors. The operator can visually verify whether the person at the door matches the registered person in the database. If so, the operator allows the person to enter. Bosch Video Management System integration also enables searching for cardholder events and events at doors. With the searching functionality, it is possible to quickly check who has entered an area and at what time. Moreover, access commands and events can be handled in Bosch Video Management System, making the operation of the integrated system most efficient. Intrusion control panels integration B and G Series intrusion control panels integrate seamlessly into Access Management System 3.0 for efficient authorisation management and a central overview of all access and intrusion events. With central user management, operators can add, delete, and modify intrusion-related user passcodes and authorisations directly into the system, as well as organise users by groups or functionalities. The integrated command and control functionality enables operators to arm and disarm intrusion panels directly in the Access Management System 3.0 user interface as well as to see states of the areas (e.g. “armed”, “ready to arm”) and detectors (e.g. “motion detected”) on the system map. This provides operators with a central overview of all access and intrusion states, allowing them to easily and remotely handle intrusion events. Bosch Access Management System 3.0 is available for sale and makes access management simple, scalable, and always available.

Open Security and Safety Alliance announce commercial video security cameras and Application Interface Specification
Open Security and Safety Alliance announce commercial video security cameras and Application Interface Specification

The Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA), an industry body comprised of influencers and innovative organisations from all facets of the security, safety and building automation space, announced a series of milestones achieved in the past 20 months since the Alliance opened its doors. Significant markers include the OSSA common Technology Stack and two resulting specifications, the introduction of the first OSSA-inspired digital marketplace, and the newly unveiled “Driven by OSSA” designation for the first commercially available video security devices based on the Alliance philosophy and purpose. These accomplishments roll up into the organisation’s overall vision of ‘one global approach to fuel the creation of new value within the security and safety space.’ Consistency across video security devices The OSSA-orchestrated ecosystem is designed to enhance trust, and to enable innovation and opportunity for industry stakeholders and customers. The initiative is anchored by OSSA’s first Technology Stack, which describes the fundamental thoughts on how to create harmony across video security devices to enhance trust and enable innovation. Under the umbrella of this guiding document, and further solidifying it, the Alliance is now launching the first two in a series of technical specifications, being: OSSA Application Interface Specification This technical specification (available to OSSA members only) defines a set of four interfaces which collectively enable third-party software applications to run on video security cameras following the Technology Stack. The input stream describes the video frames and messages the applications can subscribe to. The web API describes how applications can make use of the camera’s webserver to support, configuration and data upload to the application. The system APIs provide system information regarding OS version, capabilities and information about the video security camera. This is needed to understand the features and APIs that are available on the cameras to make use of device-specific functionality. The streaming application model allows applications to interact with each other. Apps can share their results, such as events and scene descriptions, with other apps on the device or (video management) software in the network. OSSA Compliant Device Definition Specification This technical specification sets the core system requirements for video security cameras following the OSSA Technology Stack to provide a basis of trust and for app interoperability across vendors. This spec is publicly available. The First “Driven by OSSA” Commercial Cameras Camera manufacturers have started to introduce to the market, devices designed to reduce fragmentation and orchestrate harmony within an open ecosystem for the surveillance industry. The first manufacturers to launch cameras based on OSSA’s Technology Stack include Topview/Qisda, Ability/AndroVideo, Bosch (through their INTEOX camera line), VIVOTEK and Hanwha Techwin. The first commercially available products based on the specifications set forth by the Alliance, OSSA will receive a signage mark for video security cameras. Companies that use this “Driven by OSSA” signage: Are full OSSA members; have signed the OSSA by-laws guiding amongst other things minimum requirements regarding data security and privacy protection. Follow the OSSA Technology Stack for video security devices that prescribes the use of an open operating system (OS). Security & Safety Things, an OSSA member company, developed the open OS and made it available to OSSA members. Ensure seamless connectivity within one centralised digital marketplace. Offer the ability to install and execute third-party apps on their cameras. One Centralised Digital Marketplace OSSA is driving the creation of one centralised marketplace to unite demand and supply in the market. Camera devices that are built in accordance with OSSA’s Technology Stack, so-called “Driven by OSSA” devices, can benefit from this marketplace which consists of (1) a development environment (2) an application store and (3) a device management portal. System integrators, using the application store, can deploy available apps across devices, in a brand independent manner, to meet specific customer requirements. App developers will find in the development environment comprehensive tools, documentation and libraries to develop new software applications. These new apps can then be offered for sale through the application store. “This is an exciting time for security and safety professionals as the main industry players pivot together in a new direction based on digital connections afforded by the IoT,” said Johan Jubbega, President, Open Security & Safety Alliance. “In these current times of global change and uncertainty, it’s of vital importance that we persist in our quest for new market opportunities and current market efficiencies, and we’re proud to be facilitating this movement that is shaping the future of the security and safety systems environment.”