The coronavirus pandemic had a monumental impact on all aspects of the business world, including the security industry. However, amid the gloom and doom, many security professionals also saw opportunity: New ways the industry’s products could be applied to address the challenges of coping with the virus. This article will review some of those opportunities, based on our reporting throughout the year and including links back to the original articles.

During and after the pandemic, security systems are an important asset when it comes to helping to keep occupants and buildings safe as employees return to work. For example, video analytics can provide insight into how spaces have previously been used and can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other or congregate.

Role of thermal cameras

These foot-traffic patterns can inform settings for a variety of devices - like ventilation and temperature controls - and even help owners create social distancing plans and monitor personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance. Thermal surveillance, a mainstay of traditional physical security and outdoor perimeter detection, began being deployed early in the pandemic to quickly scan employees, contractors and visitors as part of a first line of defence to detect COVID-19 symptoms.

These systems provide flexibility and can offer integrations with multiple VMS platforms and access control devices

These systems provide flexibility and can offer integrations with multiple VMS platforms and access control devices. Thermal cameras can be a tool for detecting fever, but any use of the technology for this purpose is full of qualifications and caveats. Importantly, how the camera system is configured makes all the difference in whether temperature readings are accurate, and the downside of inaccurate readings is obvious - and potentially deadly.

Temperature detection systems

FDA guidelines limit how the cameras are used, not to mention guidance from other regulatory/government bodies such as the CDC. One of our Expert Roundtable panelists compares the market to a “wild west scenario,” and almost all the panelists are clear about how customers should approach the market: Buyer beware.

There are many companies jumping into selling temperature detection systems to the state, local governments, hospitals, airports and local businesses, but do they know how to drive one? Anyone can get behind a car and drive it into a wall by accident. The same can happen with a temperature detection system. Customers need to know what questions to ask to ensure they maximise the accuracy of body temperature detection systems.

Rise of contactless

Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads. No longer in favor are contact-based modalities including use of personal identification numbers (PINs) and keypads, and the shift has been sudden and long-term. Both customers and manufacturers were taken by surprise by this aspect of the virus’s impact and are therefore scrambling for solutions.

Immediate impact of the change includes suspension of time and attendance systems that are touch-based

Immediate impact of the change includes suspension of time and attendance systems that are touch-based. Some two-factor authentication systems are being downgraded to RFID-only, abandoning the keypad and/or biometric components that contributed to higher security, but are now unacceptable because they involve touching. "Users do not want to touch anything anymore,” says Alex Zarrabi, President of Touchless Biometrics Systems (TBS).

Facial recognition system

Another contactless system that benefits from concerns about spread of COVID-19 is facial recognition. New advancement in software, specifically in the areas of algorithms, neural networks and deep learning and/or artificial intelligence (AI), have all dramatically improved both the performance and accuracy of facial recognition systems, further expanding its use for an increasing number of applications.

A low-tech solution - the face mask - became a leading preventative measure during the pandemic. But, a high-tech solution is necessary to ensure that everyone is wearing them. Cameras powered by artificial intelligence can now identify whether or not people entering a facility are wearing facemasks and help enforce adherence to mask mandates. This technology is proving to be a cost-effective solution that reduces risks of confrontations over masks policies and gives managers the data they need to document regulatory compliance and reduce liability.

Smart video analytics

Other technology approaches, including artificial intelligence (AI), were also brought to bear during the pandemic. The German data analytics powerhouse G2K, for example, has developed a Corona Detection and Containment System (CDCS) that is ready for immediate use in record time. Detection takes place in combination with AI-supported data analysis to specifically identify virus hotspots and distribution routes, as well as to identify other potentially infected persons.

One specific AI application fuels the reopening of the world and successfully keeps the spread of the virus abated

One specific AI application fuels the reopening of the world and successfully keeps the spread of the virus abated. A “collaborative security” application includes a synthesis of smart video analytics, facial recognition, object identification/detection, and thermal cameras that can support the reopening of businesses globally when installed within those facilities frequented by customers.

Enforcing social distancing

Several applications have been successful to date and will increase in usability in the foreseeable future, creating “smart cities” working together towards a safer, more secure world. The site of one pilot programme is the 250,000-square-foot HID Global facility in Austin. For the pilot programme, 80 HID Location Services readers were installed in a wide area in the facility, including a variety of environments. Initially 30 badges and 30 fobs, all BLE-enabled, were issued to employees.

If a badge identifies another nearby beacon (suggesting a social distancing failure), it emits a blinking LED light, which can be seen by the offending co-worker. To ensure social distancing, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon is emitted from an employee’s fob (or from a badge that has the same functionality). The beacon communicates peer-to-peer with a beacon emitted by another employee’s fob or badge to alert if the location of the two employees is less than six feet apart.

For contact tracing, the beacons communicate via a nearby “reader” (a BluFi BLE-to-Wi-Fi gateway) to the Bluzone cloud-based software-as-a-service.

COVID-19 white papers

In addition, we published several White Papers in 2020 that addressed various aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. They included:

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Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

The EU called for a ban on police use of facial recognition but not commercial use. Why?
The EU called for a ban on police use of facial recognition but not commercial use. Why?

Recently, the European Parliament called for a ban on police use of facial recognition. In the US, too, some cities have restricted police use of facial recognition. The first question that comes to mind is - why ban police from using technology that is allowed to private companies? Point of difference The key difference between the way police use facial recognition and the way commercial facial recognition products work is that: The police get a picture of a suspect from a crime scene and want to find out: "Who is the person in the picture?" That requires as wide a database as possible. Optimally - photos and identities of all the people in the world. Commercial facial recognition products such as those used by supermarkets, football stadiums, or casinos answer different questions: "Is the person in the picture on the employees' list? Is the person in the picture on a watch-list of known shoplifters?" To answer these questions doesn't require a broad database but rather a defined list of employees or a watch-list of specific people against whom there is an arrest warrant or a restraining order. Use of facial recognition AnyVision helps organisations leverage facial recognition ethically to identify known persons of interest "Facial Recognition Apps Should Be Provided to the Police with an Empty Database". This is exactly the subject of the open letter sent by AnyVision, to the British Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Prof. Fraser Sampson, titled: "Facial Recognition Apps Should Be Provided to the Police with an Empty Database". AnyVision recently raised $235M from Softbank and another leading VCs is a visual AI platform company that helps organisations across the globe leverage facial recognition ethically to identify known persons of interest, including shoplifters, felons, and security threats. Ethical use of facial recognition AnyVision CEO Avi Golan wrote, "The ethical use of facial recognition is a thorny one and requires a nuanced discussion. Part of that discussion has to explain how facial recognition works, but, just as important, the discussion must also involve how the technology is used by police departments and what checks and balances are built into their processes.” “We recommend building their watchlists from the ground up based on known felons, persons of interest, and missing persons. Some facial recognition solution providers have scrapped billions of photos and identities of people from social networks, usually without their consent." "Unfortunately, this method of facial recognition has justifiably angered privacy groups and data protection agencies around the globe and damaged the public trust in accuracy and reliability of facial recognition systems.” Preventing invasion of citizen’s privacy We believe an unjustified invasion of citizens' privacy can be prevented, false arrests can be reduced" “We believe that lists of suspects should be limited and justified. In this way, unjustified invasion of citizens' privacy can be prevented, false arrests can be reduced and public confidence in technology can be increased.” Golan added: "AnyVision is willing to share its industry insights and best practices from our vast research experience with leading global players, including name-brand retailers, global hospitality and entertainment companies, and law enforcement agencies from around the world.” Balancing public order and crime prevention “If the regulations set forth by Surveillance Camera Code of Practice are committed to the principles outlined above, then law enforcement agencies can strike the right balance between the need to maintain public order and prevent crime with the rights of every person to privacy and non-discrimination before the law." Recently Clearview AI CEO told Wired; the company has scraped 10 billion photos from the web - 3 times more than was previously known.

Dahua Technology shows how intelligent cameras enhance safety in nursing homes
Dahua Technology shows how intelligent cameras enhance safety in nursing homes

Patient falls in nursing homes are a serious problem. In the United States, for example, around 1,800 elderly people, living in nursing facilities, die each year from injuries related to falls, according to the Nursing Home Abuse Center. Those patients who survive their injuries often have a reduced quality of life and suffer some form of permanent disability. Rise in nursing home patient falls Figures show that between 50% and 75% of nursing home residents suffer falls each year, twice the chances of falling when compared to seniors who live in a regular residential community. It has been a prevalent challenge to detect falls quickly and effectively, especially when these occur in residents’ bedrooms. In the United Kingdom, the Care Quality Commission has recognised that the use of CCTV may be one of the best ways to ensure safety and quality of care. However, using video surveillance also brings into question other security issues, such as privacy and data protection. Dahua’s WizMind technologies WizMind embraces human-based AI (Artificial Intelligence), for a whole host of applications across verticals This is where Dahua Technology’s WizMind technologies come into play. WizMind embraces human-based AI (Artificial Intelligence), for a whole host of applications across verticals, such as retail, energy, finance, transportation and of course, health and social care. Specific to the health and social care sector are deep-learning algorithms, to protect the privacy of the face and body in real-time, and stereo analysis, which combines dual-lens cameras with three-dimensional scene analysis, in order to detect sudden physical movement, such as falls. Stereo video analysis The growth of AI applications has enabled the greater availability of 3D scene analysis solutions, thereby enabling objects and people to be analysed in three dimensions. Dahua Technology’s stereo analysis uses two lenses, in order to capture separate images of the same scene. It then computes the ‘optical parallax’ of spatial points in the two images, providing 3D information of the scene. The stereo vision mimics the depth of view that comes from humans having two eyes, known as binocular vision. Combined with deep-learning algorithm Combined with a deep-learning algorithm, stereo analysis can recognise event patterns, such as falls and other movement-based behaviours, such as people approaching, the detection of an abnormal number of people in an area, and violent behaviour. In nursing and care homes, stereo analysis cameras can help staff monitor residents, in case of emergency and respond to residents’ problems, such as tripping and falls. The cameras can view all three dimensions of subjects and together with its deep-learning algorithm, can immediately alert staff to any unusual or sudden movement, such as would be evident in a fall. Cameras in communal areas and bedrooms With cameras situated both in communal areas and in bedrooms, the staff is able to respond quickly to incidents With cameras situated both in communal areas and in bedrooms, the staff is able to respond quickly to incidents, which may otherwise stay undiscovered for hours. An example of such a scenario is a nursing home in Singapore, which has a capacity of around 400 beds and is divided into 14 separate living environments, with each designed to be a home-like living area. Dahua cameras with intelligent fall detection technology Dahua cameras, such as IPC-HDW8341X-BV-3D with intelligent fall detection technology were installed, including the provision of 167 stereo analysis cameras inside each bedroom. These trigger an alarm, in the case of incidents, such as a fall, allowing immediate response by staff. Not only does this enhance the well-being and safety of residents, but it also can reduce the nursing home’s labour costs. In addition, Stereo Analysis can also be applied in other application scenarios. An underground unmanned bicycle parking garage in Amsterdam, for instance, has installed Dahua Technology’s behaviour analysis cameras, to detect abnormal events and prevent accidents, such as people tripping and falling, or suspicious individuals wandering around the area. Privacy Protection 2.0 technology While monitoring their situation inside the nursing home, Dahua also adopts Privacy Protection 2.0 technology that features masking of human face and body, to protect the residents’ privacy. It involves the restriction of what can be seen in video images and applies equally to live, and recorded images. Digital masking takes place on the front-end device (e.g. network camera). Dahua’s Privacy Protection 2.0 provides real-time occlusion of the body and face and enables users to access recorded videos, without having to overlay faces with mosaic masks. It also offers additional occlusion options, such as irregular polygons, mosaics and coloured blocks, and allows code exporting based on specified targets, ensuring the privacy of subjects. Privacy and security in evidence collection Stereo video analysis and privacy protection come into their own in nursing homes and healthcare facilities Benefits offered include non-pixelated human targets, allowing for privacy and security in evidence collection. The technology also allows for face and human attributes analysis, without breaching people’s privacy, making it ideal for nursing homes. Stereo video analysis and privacy protection come into their own in nursing homes and healthcare facilities. It allows the close monitoring of residents or patients to help ensure their well-being and safety, while at the same time protecting the privacy of often vulnerable individuals. Dahua TechMonth As part of the Dahua TechMonth, this blog highlights how Dahua’s stereo analysis technology, combined with privacy protection, can provide a valuable tool to help staff respond to incidents quickly and efficiently, including falls, without infringing on people’s data protection rights. In the next blog, Dahua Technology will be discussing the WizMind application of human metadata, enabling users to maximise situational awareness and analysis of events. 

Eagle Eye’s Uncanny Vision deal highlights value of combining AI and cloud
Eagle Eye’s Uncanny Vision deal highlights value of combining AI and cloud

The trend of video customers moving to the cloud has reached a tipping point. At the same time, artificial intelligence (AI) is being adopted on a massive scale. Combining the two trends adds a higher level of value than either component individually. Merging the power of AI and the cloud is a driving force behind cloud surveillance company Eagle Eye Networks’ acquisition of Uncanny Vision, an AI and video analytics company headquartered in Bangalore, India. Expensive AI resources Cloud systems empower customers to leverage AI without having to install and program complicated and expensive hardware, in effect stripping away the barriers to entry that customers face when seeking to embrace AI. The cloud also enables customers to share expensive AI resources. One of the key components is ease of deployment – click, click and turn on the AI for any camera" Simplicity of implementation is crucial to the combined value proposition of Eagle Eye Networks and Uncanny Vision. “One of the key components is ease of deployment – click, click and turn on the AI for any camera (in a cloud system),” says Dean Drako, Eagle Eye Networks CEO. There is also a benefit of having AI systems networked, enabling 25 banks to perform facial recognition of customers from a single cloud-based system, he adds. A transition is also under way in the perception of AI. Video surveillance applications While previously it was seen as an add-on to surveillance systems, now it is seen as a very desirable feature on any system. “Centralised management of the cloud benefits the AI database,” says Drako. “In a project built around licence plate recognition (LPR), for example, all the data goes up to the cloud into a single database, and the customer can get a mobile view of everything going on across the world. You can’t do that without the cloud. And AI for LPR is more accurate.” Uncanny Vision’s targeted focus on AI for video surveillance applications was one factor that attracted Eagle Eye Networks to make the acquisition, says Drako. In contrast, some other companies have embraced broader applications of video AI. Uncanny Vision also has more customers using their system in real-world applications than competitors. Finally, the acquisition will help to expand Eagle Eye Networks’ presence in the LPR market, where Uncanny Vision is especially strong. Improving business operations The 60 employees at Uncanny Vision are mostly engineers and programmers Uncanny Vision’s deep learning algorithms enable recognition, identification, and prediction, improving business operations, customer service, and site safety. Applications include smart parking, retail, smart cities, ATM monitoring, worker safety and perimeter security. The 60 employees at Uncanny Vision are mostly engineers and programmers. “These guys understand how to translate AI algorithms to run very efficiently on various types of hardware,” says Drako. “They optimise how they get the code to run so we can implement in the cloud cost-effectively. They do it at a modest cost to make it more accessible. They understand how to deploy software for high performance on low-cost hardware.” For Uncanny Vision, the new ownership provides more reach. “We have a huge channel and a huge brand,” says Drako. “They are strong technical guys who need a sales and solution channel.” Video analytics solutions Even in light of the acquisition, Eagle Eye Networks will continue to provide a selection of third-party AI and video analytics solutions to customers. Use of AI and video analytics is specific to the application and business needs of each customer. Use of AI and video analytics is specific to the application and business needs of each customer In addition to AI functionality, systems need a ‘business logic’ component that drives how that capability is integrated into a system. System needs vary widely by vertical market, and many third-party vendors are focused on a specific vertical and how AI can benefit that market. Recurring monthly revenue “Third parties can provide analytics and the business logic, which is different for a factory, an office building or for a drive-thru restaurant,” says Drako. “The market is looking for many solutions, and one company couldn’t own a majority of them.” To ensure flexibility, Eagle Eye Networks will accommodate third party solutions, deploy their own analytics, or leverage analytics embedded in cameras. For Eagle Eye Networks’ dealer and integrator customers, the expansion into AI presents a new opportunity for recurring monthly revenue (RMR) and provides greater value to customers. Drako says the impact of the acquisition will be global as AI applications grow in popularity worldwide.