IP cameras - Expert commentary

The increased role of video surveillance technology in our changing environment
The increased role of video surveillance technology in our changing environment

Today’s environment has evolved into something that according to some may seem unexplainable. But in the context of video surveillance, this is something that we understand. Allow me to shed some light and understanding in terms of security and why it truly is a necessity. Security is not a luxury, it is a necessity. An essential practice now peaking the interests of all businesses small and large. A video surveillance system is a cost effective option that does not require monitoring fees. As business slows, temporarily shuts down or closes, an increase in vacant properties is inevitable. This pandemic will continue to put severe pressure on many businesses around the country. With so many considered non-essential, it is really sad to see how many must shutter their doors and lay off employees. Keeping an eye out for suspicious activity using a commercial grade surveillance system that supports advanced analytics, may end up saving your potential customers thousands of dollars down the road. Demand for video surveillance and security products We can certainly draw on the conclusion that security is a “need” more so than a “want”. Times like this just further cement that thought process. In today’s economic spiral, people aren’t actively looking for lighting controls or home theaters. What they look for is a way to keep their loved ones safe, protect their homes, businesses and property. Video surveillance technology provides added security for you, your family and your business In my opinion, you will see video surveillance and security product sales skyrocket in the coming months and years. It has been reported that response times for first responders may be impacted as a result of COVID-19, leaving those with bad intent more time to ransack a property knowing that law enforcement may be slow to respond. Criminals will always take advantage of the situation. All we can do as a community is use common sense, stay vigilant through these odd times and watch out for one another. For some of us that may mean mitigating risks with technology. Affordable video monitoring solutions Having a solution that can quickly and securely share video footage may be the difference between identifying a perpetrator and becoming a victim. Ella, a video search platform developed by IC Realtime, makes every second of video instantly searchable and shareable, either with the authorities or your neighborhood social apps. Plus it is compatible with any RTSP streaming device. To wrap this up, it’s not about pointing out the obvious, it’s really about bringing awareness as to how technologies can be implemented to provide peace of mind without breaking the bank. Video surveillance technology is a way to do that and provide added security for you, your family and your business.

The digital transformation of access control solutions
The digital transformation of access control solutions

The safeguarding of premises through the monitoring of entrance and exit points has traditionally been a very manual aspect of security. Human operators have been relied on to make decisions about who to admit and deny based on levels of authorisation and the appropriate credentials. But the access control business, like many industries before it, is undergoing its own digital transformation; one where the protection of premises, assets and people is increasingly delivered by interconnected systems utilising IoT devices and cloud infrastructure to offer greater levels of security and protection. Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification, right through to complex networks of thermal cameras, audio speakers and sensors. These systems, connected through the cloud, can be customised and scaled to meet the precise requirements of today’s customer. And it’s the ease of cloud integration, combined with open technologies and platforms that is encouraging increasing collaboration and exciting developments while rendering legacy systems largely unfit for purpose. Remote management and advanced diagnostics Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution.Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution. For example, as the world faces an unprecedented challenge and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption, the ability to monitor and manage access to sites remotely is a welcome advantage for security teams who might otherwise have to check premises in person and risk breaking social distancing regulations. The benefits of not physically having to be on site extend to the locations within which these technologies can be utilised. As an example, within a critical infrastructure energy project, access can be granted remotely for maintenance on hard to reach locations. Advanced diagnostics can also play a part in such a scenario. When access control is integrated with video surveillance and IP audio, real-time monitoring of access points can identify possible trespassers with automated audio messages used to deter illegal access and making any dangers clear. And with video surveillance in the mix, high quality footage can be provided to authorities with real-time evidence of a crime in progress. Comprehensive protection in retail Within the retail industry, autonomous, cashier-less stores are already growing in popularity The use of connected technologies for advanced protection extends to many forward-looking applications. Within the retail industry, autonomous, cashier-less stores are already growing in popularity. Customers are able to use mobile technology to self-scan their chosen products and make payments, all from using a dedicated app. From an access control and security perspective, connected doors can be controlled to protect staff and monitor shopper movement. Remote management includes tasks such as rolling out firmware updates or restarting door controllers, with push notifications sent immediately to security personnel in the event of a breach or a door left open. Remote monitoring access control in storage In the storage facility space, this too can now be entirely run through the cloud with remote monitoring of access control and surveillance providing a secure and streamlined service. There is much to gain from automating the customer journey, where storage lockers are selected online and, following payment, customers are granted access. Through an app the customer can share their access with others, check event logs, and activate notifications. With traditional padlocks the sharing of access is not as practical, and it’s not easy for managers to keep a record of storage locker access. Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers. The elimination of manual tasks, in both scenarios, represents cost savings. When doors are connected to the cloud, their geographical location is rendered largely irrelevant. Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers They become IoT devices which are fully integrated and remotely programmable from anywhere, at any time. This creates a powerful advantage for the managers of these environments, making it possible to report on the status of a whole chain of stores, or to monitor access to numerous storage facilities, using the intelligence that the technology provides from the data it collects. Open platforms power continuous innovation All of these examples rely on open technology to make it possible, allowing developers and technology providers to avoid the pitfalls that come with the use of proprietary systems. The limitations of such systems have meant that the ideas, designs and concepts of the few have stifled the creativity and potential of the many, holding back innovation and letting the solutions become tired and their application predictable. Proprietary systems have meant that solution providers have been unable to meet their customers’ requirements until the latest upgrade becomes available or a new solution is rolled out. This use of open technology enables a system that allows for collaboration, the sharing of ideas and for the creation of partnerships to produce ground-breaking new applications of technology. Open systems demonstrate a confidence in a vendor’s own solutions and a willingness to share and encourage others to innovate and to facilitate joint learning. An example of the dynamic use of open technology is Axis’ physical access control hardware, which enables partners to develop their own cloud-based software for control and analysis of access points, all the while building and expanding on Axis’ technology platform. Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification Opportunities for growth Open hardware, systems and platforms create opportunities for smaller and younger companies to participate and compete, giving them a good starting point, and some leverage within the industry when building and improving upon existing, proven technologies. This is important for the evolution and continual relevance of the physical security industry in a digitally enabled world. Through increased collaboration across technology platforms, and utilising the full range of possibilities afforded by the cloud environment, the manufacturers, vendors and installers of today’s IP enabled access control systems can continue to create smart solutions to meet the ever-changing demands and requirements of their customers across industry.

Optimising large-scale event security and operations with intelligent video surveillance
Optimising large-scale event security and operations with intelligent video surveillance

Large event venues spend significant resources on physical security, and the vast majority invest in video surveillance systems as a way of monitoring public areas such as parking lots, garages and seating, as well as “backstage” areas such as loading docks and offices. Even though the camera footage is often preserved for investigating incidents, for the most part, video footage goes untapped because – realistically – security staff cannot constantly and efficiently monitor cameras in real-time or review the high volumes of archived video. Video analytics powered by Artificial Intelligence Increasingly, event venues are overcoming this challenge and maximising this video data by investing in intelligent video surveillance. In this article, I will explore how the combination of traditional surveillance and groundbreaking video content analytics enables event venues to not only optimise physical security and safety, but also improve customer service, streamline operations, and gather valuable business intelligence. Deep learning and artificial intelligence-based video content analytic systems detect, identify, extract, and catalog all the objects that appear in video footage based on classes and attributes such as gender, appearance similarity, color or size. This – along with behavioral detection, such as object interactions, dwell times, and navigation paths, as well as face and license plate recognition – enables searchable, actionable and quantifiable analysis of video. The technology makes it easy for users to accelerate post-event investigations, improve situational awareness, and derive critical business insights from video data. Accelerate post-event investigations, improve situational awareness, and derive critical business insights Accelerating investigations Where there are crowds, it’s not uncommon for medical or criminal incidents to transpire. In the aftermath, security teams must quickly understand the scene and, by making video searchable, video analytics helps them efficiently gather information or evidence from multiple camera. Whereas a manual search of video footage would require hours, if not days, of valuable time and staff resources – while being subject to human error – a video content analytics system enables effective multi-video search using a variety of filters, so that post-incident investigations can be focused and, thereby, accelerated. For instance, if witnesses claim that a man in a yellow shirt caused a disturbance and then drove away in a blue pickup truck, security could filter video to review instances where people or vehicles matching those descriptions appeared, and then focus their investigation on relevant video evidence. For the same example, if the perpetrator was still at large in the venue, security managers would want to track the person’s movements and, ultimately, apprehend him. Using the same cataloged metadata that drives video search, intelligent video surveillance accelerates real-time response to developing situations from threats and suspicious behaviors to emergencies, or even any behavior that requires closer monitoring or intervention. Something as mundane as an unwieldy queue forming at a concession stand can alert logic that increases operators’ situational awareness and ability to effectively intervene. By understanding developing situations in real-time, they can respond more quickly to prevent or solve a problem. Rule-based real time alerts Users can configure rule-based real-time alerts, based on specific scenarios – such as when people counts in the defined space next to the cashier are higher than the specified threshold, indicating a queue, or when vehicles are detected dwelling in a no-park zone or sensitive security area. In the case of the offender in the yellow shirt, security could configure alerts to notify for appearances of men in yellow shirts or blue pickup trucks within the event complex. If they’re able to extract the perpetrator’s face or license plate from the video search, security officers can also identify and track the specific person and vehicle of interest. Intelligent video surveillance users can compile “watchlists” Object recognition is helpful for tracking specific, identified threats, but it can also be leveraged for locating missing persons or vehicles or offering VIP services to guests who comply. Intelligent video surveillance users can compile “watchlists” – that include persons of interest, such as past agitators, recognised criminals or terrorists, missing persons or VIPs – to be alerted when matches for these faces appear in video. Face recognition can also be used to differentiate recognised employees from visitors that are not authorised to be in certain spaces in order to prevent security breaches. Because camera conditions aren’t always optimal for “in the wild” face and license plate recognition – where lighting conditions or camera angles don’t always allow for a pristine face or plate capture – it is critical to have a comprehensive video content analysis tool for triggering alerts based object classifications and non-personally-identifiable parameters. Optimising operations based on business intelligence While having real-time situational awareness is crucial for proactive intervention to developing situations, understanding long-term activity and trends can be equally important for an events venue or stadium. With video analytics, video surveillance data can be aggregated over time to generate statistical intelligence, trend reports, and data visualisations for operational intelligence. This capability transforms video surveillance from a siloed security tool to an intelligence platform with broad value for business groups across the organisation. Marketing departments can gain visitor demographic information for targeted advertising and product placements. On-site retailers can uncover how visitors navigate their stores and the products or spaces that draw the most attention. Property management can follow heatmaps demonstrating where visitors dwell and the durations they stay at certain exhibits or areas, to base rental and leasing fees on actionable and quantifiable intelligence. Operations managers can more effectively plan and hire staff for events, by analysing visitor traffic trends, entry and exit points and occupancy statistics.   Video surveillance data can be aggregated over time to generate statistical intelligence For these reasons and more, event organisations that already rely on CCTV networks should consider how to better leverage those existing investments to deliver substantial value across the organisation. By making video searchable, actionable and quantifiable, intelligent video surveillance empowers event managers to enhance public safety and physical security, while also streamlining operations and improving customer service.

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Salient Systems provides best of breed security systems to launch Bexar County Metro’s Emergency Operations Centre
Salient Systems provides best of breed security systems to launch Bexar County Metro’s Emergency Operations Centre

It has been a long time coming, but the Bexar County Metro 911 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is up and running, and the security systems implemented to protect the facility are among the best of the best. The regional operations centre unifies emergency operations into one cutting-edge facility. A New Home Built in San Antonio, Texas, the EOC provides a new home for the Bexar County Sheriff’s communications operations and is an alternate site for the San Antonio police and San Antonio fire and EMS operations. The facility is a joint operations centre not only for Bexar County but also for Comal (New Braunfels) and Guadalupe (Sequin) counties. Tight security system All three counties touch dividing lines and are considered part of the San Antonio metro area. Bexar Metro 911 Executive Director Bill Buchholtz said building the facility has stayed on budget of $40 million, “give or take a couple of million.” The electrical system meets Tier IV data centre standards for maintaining operations regardless of any unplanned activity, and the mechanical system meets Tier III standards. Because the building is under a tight security system inside and out, it was also important that redundant systems were in place, as well as uninterrupted power. Employees based at the monitors on the main floor are given breaks every so often to decompress, relax and interact. Early stages of planning Alterman staff was fortunate to work with the general contractor in the early stages of planning security Alterman Technologies was hired to provide, install and direct the security solutions effort for general contractor Whiting-Turner, who directed construction on the 81,500 square foot facility located on 11 acres of land. Alterman Technologies’ staff was fortunate to work with the general contractor in the early stages of planning security for this facility. According to James Carmen, Alterman’s Project Engineer, being able to make early and consistent contact allowed for the integrator to help specify the types of security that they felt would most satisfy the end user. It also allowed the installation crew to be able to meet their integration deadline of 8 months, long before the overall construction of the facility was complete. Enterprise access control systems “We were able to evaluate all components of the security solution when we saw the demonstrations of the Lenel, Axis and Salient products,” Carmen said. “We’re pleased with the decisions we made to deploy this security equipment.” To keep the facility secure, Alterman Technologies installed 170 IP cameras inside and out to enforce perimeter security. Now that the facility has been formally dedicated and is fully in use, if a person doesn’t have a reason to be on property, they aren’t getting inside. The facility is secure. Alterman Technologies installed 120 door enterprise access control systems, including iClass biometric readers. Video management systems To monitor both the outside perimeter and inside the building itself, 110 5 MP Axis Communications IP cameras were paired with Salient Enterprise video management systems integrated with the Lenel access control solution. Inside the operations centre, the facility is outfitted with 100 55-inch video control systems side by side, all of which are integrated with video and audio control solutions. During Hurricane Harvey, operators inside are able to coordinate any and all emergency and rescue operations Inside the facility, there is a first-floor, open room for 104 operator desk consoles, where operators can keep tabs on all three counties. Operators sit in a 13,878-squarefoot Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to handle all 911 calls, formerly managed at 25 different locations. In fact, during the recent Hurricane Harvey, operators inside are able to coordinate any and all emergency and rescue operations. Getting behind the power “The ability to have multiple supervisor control stations is a key feature, providing access to sources and allowing supervisors to manipulate the wall and change presets as needed,” said Art Salinas, Project Manager for Alterman Technologies. “It’s a great system with no real limitations. I believe the client has been pleased with the capability to control and preview content before it goes on the wall. They currently have about 30 preset displays.” With the number of cameras and the video streaming to the facility, Salinas had to be certain the equipment he was recommending and the software that would power the system would work without a hitch, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “Our work to determine the right kind of solution was very involved, and we evaluated all the systems,” Salinas said. “When it came right down to it, we selected Lenel’s OnGuard for access control, Axis Communications IP cameras and Salient’s VMS and its PowerUltra servers. All of this is securely stored in an enclosed network so there is no worry of outside hacking.” Perimeter security system With three counties and multiple agencies using this facility, the security solutions have to be dependable" Salient Regional Sales Representative Paul Fisher said the choice of VMS was truly an important decision because it had to be strong enough to stop any breaches but also be able to provide the ability to run the perimeter security system and the internal security. “Our VMS solution is able to take the lead with all the streaming video and push it wherever it is directed,” Fisher said. “With three counties and multiple agencies using this facility, the security solutions have to be dependable, yet easy to use. We were invited in to demonstrate the system, and we were able to show numerous details that would benefit the end user. We are able to provide reliability and scalability, and we’re a local company, so that worked to our benefit as well,” Fisher said. Law enforcement officials The facility is designed to provide uninterrupted 911 services during various emergencies, including terrorist attacks and natural disasters. There also is an onsite helipad for access by law enforcement officials, should area roadways be closed or congested, and for staging for media during a public emergency. The building is constructed to withstand an EF3 tornado strike and to operate without any public utilities for an extended period of time. “The mission of the facility is to provide that emergency response when a caller is quite possibly going through the worst experience of their life,” said James Hasslocher, Bexar Metro 911 Network District Chairman.

RealNetworks Inc. announces SAFR® Inside app component of Facial Recognition and Computer Vision Platform
RealNetworks Inc. announces SAFR® Inside app component of Facial Recognition and Computer Vision Platform

SAFR from RealNetworks, Inc., announced SAFR® Inside, a new app component of its Facial Recognition and Computer Vision Platform that runs on ACAP enabled cameras with edge processing capabilities. SAFR Inside reduces network traffic and server overhead and thus lowers overall deployment costs. The first version of SAFR Inside runs on the new AXIS Q1615 Mk III Network Camera announced. Facial recognition and mask detection SAFR Inside enables network cameras like the AXIS Q1615 Mk III to reduce video processing server overhead and achieve new lows in total cost of ownership. A 100-camera installation can now be run on a single on-premise SAFR recognition server Take the example of a retail grocery chain deploying SAFR for mask detection on a few traditional IP cameras at dozens of locations. Until now, this customer would have had to install a new server at each location. By installing cameras with SAFR Inside and pairing them with SAFR’s Cloud Platform, the grocery chain eliminates the need for on-premise servers entirely. A four-camera per location installation would have required a $2,000 server at each store. Without it, the chain saves at least $500 in up-front costs per camera, not including system configuration costs or on-going support requirements. Single on-premise SAFR recognition server Large-scale on-premise deployments such as at a casino or stadium would experience similar up-front cost savings. By choosing cameras with SAFR Inside instead of a traditional IP camera, a 100-camera installation can now be run on a single on-premise SAFR recognition server - achieving an estimated savings of $500,000 or $500 per camera. “Our customers are always looking for ways to reduce the total cost of ownership when deploying SAFR,” says Eric Hess, Sr. Director Product Management for SAFR. “By bringing our world-leading AI into the camera, we are delivering lower costs and more flexible deployment options for our end users.” Touchless access control systems SAFR can both ensure employees are wearing masks and recognise them with the mask on The SAFR Inside app supports some of the SAFR Platform’s most requested features for fighting COVID-19. Improve public health safety by automatically playing an audio reminder when someone is, or is not, wearing a protective face mask. Reduce opportunities for viral transmission by introducing touchless access control systems using SAFR’s facial recognition on live video. SAFR can both ensure employees are wearing masks and recognise them with the mask on. AI capabilities “We are very pleased to bring SAFR Inside to the AXIS Camera Application Platform,” said Reza Rassool, CTO of RealNetworks, “Their worldwide leadership and quality products are a perfect fit for our highly accurate, high performance facial recognition platform. We look forward to expanding our relationship into the future.” “SAFR Inside is the first Axis Application Development Partner (ADP) application to take full advantage of the new AI capabilities of our AXIS Camera Application Platform,” said Robert Muehlbauer, Senior Manager, Business Development, at Axis Communications. “With advanced computer vision technology like SAFR combined with the AI enabled AXIS Q1615 Mk III, we see many use cases, including integrated solutions that utilise our IP audio and IP intercom technologies. We look forward to SAFR Inside running on more Axis cameras and intercoms in the future.”

Broome County upgrades video surveillance infrastructure with networked Axis cameras and Qognify’s Ocularis VMS integration
Broome County upgrades video surveillance infrastructure with networked Axis cameras and Qognify’s Ocularis VMS integration

When Broome County, in the US State of New York, took the decision to upgrade its public safety radio network, it required the highest quality video surveillance system to safeguard its US$ 23 million investment in critical infrastructure. New radio network Working with Integrated Systems, a solution combining networked Axis cameras, illuminators and radar motion detectors, with Qognify’s Ocularis video management system (VMS) was installed, to deter, detect and respond to unauthorised activity, at each of its nine new radio towers. The new radio network replaces a system that was in place since the 1970’s and improves communications for police, fire, along with other emergency services and public works departments for the municipalities across the county. 24/7 security monitoring Each of the radio tower sites required a combination of networked PTZ and fixed cameras" Such mission critical infrastructure requires reliable round-the-clock security monitoring, so Integrated Systems was approached, for its reputation in the delivery of technology solutions to government and industry, to specify and install a new video surveillance system. President of Integrated Systems, Mark Hamilton, explains, “Each of the radio tower sites required a combination of networked PTZ and fixed cameras, as well as radar motion detection to provide comprehensive coverage that would ensure any unauthorised activity would be swiftly detected, automatically recorded and alerts triggered, to initiate a timely and appropriate response.”  Axis camera and radar detection technology Axis camera and radar detection technology was chosen for interior and exterior use at each radio tower site and the award-winning Ocularis to provide the all-important integration. Hamilton adds, “Early in our engagement with Broome County we urged them to migrate from their disparate video surveillance architecture, whereby VMS, NVR and DVR systems were all being managed individually across the county.” He further said, “Our recommended solution was a single unified, IP-based system that was county-wide sanctioned. To achieve this, we specified the Ocularis VMS from Qognify.” Ocularis video management system Ocluaris is a VMS that is ideal for large-scale projects such as Broome County, with an emphasis on tactical real-time operations and live visualisation, it is supported by full system redundancy and 24/7 availability. Integrated Systems were impressed by Ocluaris’s rich feature set, intuitive user interface (including visually mapping of the entire camera estate) and impressive scalability. What’s more with Axis as a Qognify Technology Partner it instilled the confidence Broome County needed to switch to a more unified approach to video surveillance. PTZ and fixed cameras installed All surveillance camera footage is recorded and centrally archived at the County Data Centre Using Ocularis, authorised personnel at the Central Security Building and Emergency Management Services Centre have 24/7, 365-days access to live and archived footage from every camera at each of the nine sites. The PTZ cameras installed give a 360-degree view of each radio tower site, whilst fixed cameras monitor the tower yards main gates and shelter doors. Meanwhile, the radar motion detection system guards the perimeter. All surveillance camera footage is recorded and centrally archived at the County Data Centre via the county’s microwave data network. “If any suspicious activity is detected an operator can rapidly view, review and replay all relevant footage through Ocularis,” explains Hamilton. Use of video analytics and visual maps To aid the speed of response, the operator also benefits from the use of visual maps to rapidly determine what cameras are available across each site, as well as video analytics to minimise time required to trawl through footage to identify activities of interest. Broome County has been impressed with the Axis and Qognify solution, which has also been integrated with its existing county-wide video network that includes street cameras, buildings and mobile video command systems. The success of the project has been recognised with a prestigious Security Solutions Award. Hamilton concludes by saying, “Qognify’s Ocularis is now the lead VMS that Integrated Systems specifies whenever embarking on a new video surveillance project.”

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