IP cameras - Expert commentary

We have the technology to make society safer – how long can we justify not using it?
We have the technology to make society safer – how long can we justify not using it?

While the application of facial recognition within both public and private spheres continues to draw criticism from those who see it as a threat to civil rights, this technology has become extremely commonplace in the lives of iPhone users. It is so prevalent, in fact, that by 2024 it is predicted that 90% of smartphones will use biometric facial recognition hardware. CCTV surveillance cameras  Similarly, CCTV is a well-established security measure that many of us are familiar with, whether through spotting images displayed on screens in shops, hotels and offices, or noticing cameras on the side of buildings. It is therefore necessary we ask the question of why, when facial recognition is integrated with security surveillance technology, does it become such a source of contention? It is not uncommon for concerns to be voiced against innovation. History has taught us that it is human nature to fear the unknown, especially if it seems that it may change life as we know it. Yet technology is an ever-changing, progressive part of the 21st century and it is important we start to shift the narrative away from privacy threats, to the force for good that LFR (Live Facial Recognition) represents. Live Facial Recognition (LFR) We understand the arguments from those that fear the ethics of AI and the data collection within facial recognition Across recent weeks, we have seen pleas from UK organisations to allow better police access to facial recognition technology in order to fight crime. In the US, there are reports that LAPD is the latest police force to be properly regulating its use of facial recognition to aid criminal investigations, which is certainly a step in the right direction. While it is understandable that society fears technology that they do not yet understand, this lack of knowledge is exactly why the narrative needs to shift. We understand the arguments from those that fear the ethics of AI and the data collection within facial recognition, we respect these anxieties. However, it is time to level the playing field of the facial recognition debate and communicate the plethora of benefits it offers society. Facial recognition technology - A force for good Facial recognition technology has already reached such a level of maturity and sophistication that there are huge opportunities for it to be leveraged as a force for good in real-world scenarios. As well as making society safer and more secure, I would go as far to say that LFR is able to save lives. One usage that could have a dramatic effect on reducing stress in people with mental conditions is the ability for facial recognition to identify those with Alzheimer’s. If an older individual is seemingly confused, lost or distressed, cameras could alert local medical centres or police stations of their identity, condition and where they need to go (a home address or a next of kin contact). Granted, this usage would be one that does incorporate a fair bit of personal data, although this information would only be gathered with consent from each individual. Vulnerable people could volunteer their personal data to local watchlists in order to ensure their safety when out in society, as well as to allow quicker resolutions of typically stressful situations. Tracking and finding missing persons Another possibility for real world positives to be drawn from facial recognition is to leverage the technology to help track or find missing persons, a lost child for instance. The most advanced forms of LFR in the market are now able to recognise individuals even if up to 50% of their face is covered and from challenging or oblique angles. Therefore, there is a significant opportunity not only to return people home safely, more quickly, but also reduce police hours spent on analysing CCTV footage. Rapid scanning of images Facial recognition technology can rapidly scan images for a potential match Facial recognition technology can rapidly scan images for a potential match, as a more reliable and less time-consuming option than the human alternative. Freed-up officers could also then work more proactively on the ground, patrolling their local areas and increasing community safety and security twofold. It is important to understand that these facial recognition solutions should not be applied to every criminal case, and the technology must be used responsibly. However, these opportunities to use LFR as force for good are undeniable.   Debunking the myths One of the central concerns around LFR is the breach of privacy that is associated with ‘watchlists’. There is a common misconception, however, that the data of every individual that passes a camera is processed and then stored. The reality is that watch lists are compiled with focus on known criminals, while the general public can continue life as normal. The very best facial recognition will effectively view a stream of blurred faces, until it detects one that it has been programmed to recognise. For example, an individual that has previously shoplifted from a local supermarket may have their biometric data stored, so when they return to that location the employees are alerted to a risk of further crimes being committed. Considering that the cost of crime prevention to retailers in recent years has been around £1 billion, which therefore impacts consumer prices and employee wages, security measures to tackle this issue are very much in the public interest. Most importantly, the average citizen has no need to fear being ‘followed’ by LFR cameras. If data is stored, it is for a maximum of 0.6 seconds before being deleted. Privacy Privacy is ingrained in facial recognition solutions, yet it seems the debate often ignores this side of the story Privacy is ingrained in facial recognition solutions, yet it seems the debate often ignores this side of the story. It is essential we spend more time and effort communicating exactly why watchlists are made, who they are made for and how they are being used, if we want to de-bunk myths and change the narrative. As science and technology professionals, heading up this exciting innovation, we must put transparency and accountability at the centre of what we do. Tony Porter, former Surveillance Camera Commissioner and current CPO at Corsight AI, has previously worked on developing processes that audit and review watch lists. Such restrictions are imperative in order for AI and LFR to be used legally, as well as ethically and responsibly. Biometrics, mask detection and contactless payments Nevertheless, the risks do not outweigh the benefits. Facial recognition should and can be used for good in so many more ways than listed above, including biometric, contactless payments, detecting whether an individual is wearing a facemask and is therefore, safe to enter a building, identifying a domestic abuse perpetrator returning to the scene of a crime and alerting police. There are even opportunities for good that we have not thought of yet. It is therefore not only a waste not to use this technology where we can, prioritising making society a safer place, it is immoral to stand by and let crimes continue while we have effective, reliable mitigation solutions.  

Safety in smart cities: How video surveillance keeps security front and centre
Safety in smart cities: How video surveillance keeps security front and centre

Urban populations are expanding rapidly around the globe, with an expected growth of 1.56 billion by 2040. As the number of people living and working in cities continues to grow, the ability to keep everyone safe is an increasing challenge. However, technology companies are developing products and solutions with these futuristic cities in mind, as the reality is closer than you may think. Solutions that can help to watch over public places and share data insights with city workers and officials are increasingly enabling smart cities to improve the experience and safety of the people who reside there. Rising scope of 5G, AI, IoT and the Cloud The main foundations that underpin smart cities are 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Cloud. Each is equally important, and together, these technologies enable city officials to gather and analyse more detailed insights than ever before. For public safety in particular, having IoT and cloud systems in place will be one of the biggest factors to improving the quality of life for citizens. Smart cities have come a long way in the last few decades, but to truly make a smart city safe, real-time situational awareness and cross-agency collaboration are key areas which must be developed as a priority. Innovative surveillance cameras with integrated IoT Public places need to be safe, whether that is an open park, shopping centre, or the main roads through towns Public places need to be safe, whether that is an open park, shopping centre, or the main roads through towns. From dangerous drivers to terrorist attacks, petty crime on the streets to high profile bank robberies, innovative surveillance cameras with integrated IoT and cloud technologies can go some way to helping respond quickly to, and in some cases even prevent, the most serious incidents. Many existing safety systems in cities rely on aging and in some places legacy technology, such as video surveillance cameras. Many of these also use on-premises systems rather than utilising the benefits of the cloud. Smart programming to deliver greater insights These issues, though not creating a major problem today, do make it more challenging for governments and councils to update their security. Changing every camera in a city is a huge undertaking, but in turn, doing so would enable all cameras to be connected to the cloud, and provide more detailed information which can be analysed by smart programming to deliver greater insights. The physical technologies that are currently present in most urban areas lack the intelligent connectivity, interoperability and integration interfaces that smart cities need. Adopting digital technologies isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. Smart surveillance systems It enables teams to gather data from multiple sources throughout the city in real-time, and be alerted to incidents as soon as they occur. Increased connectivity and collaboration ensures that all teams that need to be aware of a situation are informed instantly. For example, a smart surveillance system can identify when a road accident has occurred. It can not only alert the nearest ambulance to attend the scene, but also the local police force to dispatch officers. An advanced system that can implement road diversions could also close roads around the incident immediately and divert traffic to other routes, keeping everyone moving and avoiding a build-up of vehicles. This is just one example: without digital systems, analysing patterns of vehicle movements to address congestion issues could be compromised, as would the ability to build real-time crime maps and deploy data analytics which make predictive policing and more effective crowd management possible. Cloud-based technologies Cloud-based technologies provide the interoperability, scalability and automation Cloud-based technologies provide the interoperability, scalability and automation that is needed to overcome the limitations of traditional security systems. Using these, smart cities can develop a fully open systems architecture that delivers interoperation with both local and other remote open systems. The intelligence of cloud systems can not only continue to allow for greater insights as technology develops over time, but it can do so with minimal additional infrastructure investment. Smart surveillance in the real world Mexico City has a population of almost 9 million people, but if you include the whole metropolitan area, this number rises sharply to over 21 million in total, making it one of the largest cities on the planet. Seven years ago, the city first introduced its Safe City initiative, and ever since has been developing newer and smarter ways to keep its citizens safe. In particular, its cloud-based security initiative is making a huge impact. Over the past three years, Mexico City has installed 58,000 new video surveillance cameras throughout the city, in public spaces and on transport, all of which are connected to the City’s C5 (Command, Control, Computers, Communications and Citizen Contact) facility. Smart Cities operations The solution enables officers as well as the general public to upload videos via a mobile app to share information quickly, fixed, body-worn and vehicle cameras can also be integrated to provide exceptional insight into the city’s operations. The cloud-based platform can easily be upgraded to include the latest technology innovations such as licence plate reading, behavioural analysis software, video analytics and facial recognition software, which will all continue to bring down crime rates and boost response times to incidents. The right cloud approach Making the shift to cloud-based systems enables smart cities to eliminate dependence on fibre-optic connectivity and take advantage of a variety of Internet and wireless connectivity options that can significantly reduce application and communication infrastructure costs. Smart cities need to be effective in years to come, not just in the present day, or else officials have missed one of the key aspects of a truly smart city. System designers must build technology foundations now that can be easily adapted in the future to support new infrastructure as it becomes available. Open system architecture An open system architecture will also be vital for smart cities to enhance their operations For example, this could include opting for a true cloud application that can support cloud-managed local devices and automate their management. An open system architecture will also be vital for smart cities to enhance their operations and deliver additional value-add services to citizens as greater capabilities become possible in the years to come. The advances today in cloud and IoT technologies are rapid, and city officials and authorities have more options now to develop their smart cities than ever before and crucially, to use these innovations to improve public safety. New safety features Though implementing these cloud-based systems now requires investment, as new safety features are designed, there will be lower costs and challenges associated with introducing these because the basic infrastructure will already exist. Whether that’s gunshot detection or enabling the sharing of video infrastructure and data across multiple agencies in real time, smart video surveillance on cloud-based systems can bring a wealth of the new opportunities.

Biometrics provides industries with security, access control, and data protection
Biometrics provides industries with security, access control, and data protection

Several major players vigorously employ biometric recognition technologies around the globe. Governments use biometrics to control immigration, security, and create national databases of biometric profiles. Being one of the most striking examples, the Indian Aadhaar includes face photos, iris, and fingerprints of about 1.2 billion people. Financial institutions, on their part, make use of biometrics to protect transactions by confirming a client's identity, as well as develop and provide services without clients visiting the office. Besides, biometric technology ensures security and optimises passenger traffic at transport facilities and collects data about customers, and investigates theft and other incidents in retail stores. Widespread use of biometrics Business, which suddenly boosted the development of biometrics, is an active user of biometric technology Business, which suddenly boosted the development of biometrics, is another active user of biometric technology. Industries choose biometric systems, as these systems are impossible to trick in terms of security, access control, and data protection. Being in demand in business, these three tasks are also relevant for the industry. However, the use of biometrics at industrial sites is discussed unfairly seldom. Therefore, it is the face identification that is the most convenient there, as workers often use gloves, or their hands may be contaminated, and the palm pattern is distorted by heavy labour. All these features make it difficult to recognise people by fingerprints or veins and significantly reduce identification reliability. Therefore, industries seek facial recognition solutions. Thus, let us demonstrate the application of face recognition technology at different enterprises, regardless of the area. Facial recognition use in incident management Facial biometric products are known to automate and improve the efficiency of security services by enriching any VMS system. These systems provide an opportunity of instantly informing the operator about recognised or unrecognised people, and their list membership, as well as save all the detected images for further security incident investigation. Furthermore, some sophisticated facial biometric systems even provide an opportunity to build a map of the movements of specific people around a site. Besides, it is relevant not only for conducting investigations but also in countering the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Identifying and tracking COVID-19 positive cases Therefore, if an employee or visitor with a positive COVID-19 test enters a facility, the system will help to track his/her movement and identify his/her specific location. It will also help to take the necessary measures for spot sanitary processing. Thus, the introduction of biometric facial recognition at the industrial enterprise can improve and speed up the incidents’ response and investigations without spending hours watching the video archive. Access control system to secure physical assets The right access control system can help industries secure physical and informational assets The right access control system can help industries secure physical and informational assets, cut personnel costs, and keep employees safe. Facial recognition systems may enrich access control systems of any company by providing more security. As biometric characteristics, by which the system assesses the compliance of a person with the available profiles in the database, cannot be faked or passed. The human factor is also reduced to zero, due to the fact that while identity documents can be changed, the inspector can make a mistake or treat his/her task carelessly, be in collusion with an intruder, the biometric system simply compares a person in front of the camera with the biometric profiles database. Biometric facial identification software For example, RecFaces product Id-Gate, a specialised software product for reliable access control to the site, checks the access rights by using biometric facial identification alone or in conjunction with traditional IDs (electronic passes, access keys, etc.), which means that there is almost a zero probability of passing to the site by someone else's ID. The access control system’s functionality allows one to strictly account the number and time of all the facility’s visitors and also track their movement. When unauthorised access is attempted or a person from the stop list is detected, Id-Gate sends an automatic notification to the access control system and operator. Enhanced data and information security Even despite the division of access to different industrial enterprise areas, the security service needs to provide independent information system security. Employees with the same facility access rights may have different access rights to data. However, in that case, a personal password is not enough, as an employee may forget it, write it down and leave it as a reminder, tell a colleague to do something for him/her during the vacation, or just enter it at another person’s presence. Password-free biometric authentication systems make the procedure user-friendly and secure Password-free biometric authentication Password-free biometric authentication systems make the procedure user-friendly and secure. Such systems usually provide an option of two-step verification when successful password entry is additionally confirmed by biometric recognition. Hence, it is particularly relevant due to the current lockdown in many countries. To sum up, the application of biometric technologies solves several issues of the industry, such as: Optimises and partially automates the work of the security service, as it provides reliable identification and verification of visitors/employees, reduces the amount of time spent on finding a person on video and making a map of his/her movements, without spending hours on watching video archive in case of investigation. Provides a high level of reliability and protection from unauthorised access to the enterprise and the information system. Provides a two-step verification of the user/visitor (including password and biometric data) and almost eliminates the risk of substitution of user data/ID.

Latest Axis Communications news

ASSA ABLOY’s Aperio wireless locks and AXIS Entry Manager access control software integration offers a cost-efficient system for end users
ASSA ABLOY’s Aperio wireless locks and AXIS Entry Manager access control software integration offers a cost-efficient system for end users

Businesses are always looking for cost-efficient solutions to upgrade their security level. AXIS Entry Manager’s customers can now extend access control efficiently and affordably with Aperio battery-powered locks from ASSA ABLOY. Online integration of the AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller with Aperio cylinders, escutcheons and locks give facility managers real-time control over more doors. Administrators continue to manage every locking point from one AXIS Entry Manager interface, thereby saving time and removing the need to complete extra training. AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller operates on a flexible platform, built to adapt as a site’s security needs change AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller operates on a flexible platform, built to adapt as a site’s security needs change. With this integration, battery-powered Aperio locks are controlled from the same web interface as wired door devices. Because the integration is online, it enables real-time control plus door and user audits on demand. “This integration is the first we have ever done with our access controllers,” explains Ernst Westerhoff, Business Development Manager for Access Control in Europe at Axis Communications, adding “At the end of the day, it costs less for the end-user.” Aperio RS-485 Hub Once installed, an Aperio RS-485 Hub coordinates up to 8 Aperio devices within a 15- to 25-metre range, communicating with the central system via the AXIS A1001. One AXIS A1001 can manage one wired door and one Aperio hub, for a total of 9 doors maximum per controller. AES 128-bit encryption secures all communication between locks and security systems. Aperio locks are wireless, so they require no expensive cabling to install. The AXIS A1001 uses Power over Ethernet (PoE), which eliminates any need for power cabling to controllers. Aperio is cost-efficient during the use phase, too. Wireless Aperio locks Because they run on standard batteries, Aperio locks are much more energy-efficient than equivalent wired door locks. Unlike wired locking, Aperio devices are not connected to mains electricity and use no power when inactive. According to recent ASSA ABLOY benchmarking analysis, choosing wireless over wired locking could bring a large reduction in access control energy use, more than 70% or thousands of euros over a typical installation’s life-cycle. Greater flexibility to expand system coverage Aperio offers Axis end users much greater flexibility to affordably expand or modify their system coverage" “Aperio offers Axis end users much greater flexibility to affordably expand or modify their system coverage. If needs change at a facility, for example, managers want to filter access through more doors, it’s quick and easy for an installer to fit Aperio locks and integrate them online with the AXIS Entry Manager control panel.”, says Lars Angelin, Aperio Business Development Manager at AAOS. The integration allows users to open all wired doors and Aperio wireless controlled doors with the same credential, via almost any standard RFID technology including iCLASS, MIFARE, HID Prox/EM410 and Seos. “We offer to our customers the benefit of easy set-up for wireless access control. They just mount a wireless lock or wireless cylinder to a door and they have full access control,” adds Westerhoff. Streamlining access management The new integration has already been deployed at H-Farm, a business education and innovation hub in Italy. They sought a solution to streamline access management at a geographically dispersed portfolio of buildings. H-Farm experiences rapid user turnover, both because new businesses join regularly and because they organise up to 300 events every year. New locks had to extend the existing Axis system without adding admin workload. Aperio handles, security locks and escutcheons To meet their needs, H-Farm selected Aperio handles, security locks and escutcheons, each easy to retrofit To meet their needs, H-Farm selected Aperio handles, security locks and escutcheons, each easy to retrofit, so as to ensure that day-to-day work at their offices would not be disrupted. So far, 40 Aperio H100 wireless door handles, plus the Aperio wireless locks and wireless escutcheons, have been installed across multiple H-Farm locations in northern Italy. Most of H-Farm’s interior doors are secured with the award-winning Aperio H100 wireless handle, a former Intersec Access Control Product of the Year. The H100 wireless handle packs the flexibility and affordability of wireless access control into a slim door handle. Wireless access control hardware A standard battery slots inside and powers the handle, ensuring a minimal footprint. ASSA ABLOY’s device design team incorporated electronics into the handle lever on the outside of the door, without compromising security. “Aperio wireless access control hardware is solid, nice looking and perfectly fits our environment, solving our access problem,” stated Alberto Aldrigo at H-Farm. H-Farm has a strong track record supporting innovation and creativity in European start-ups. The company focuses on skills development, new approaches to education and digital transformation. With the help of seamless integration from Aperio and Axis, the latest transformation upgrades their own access and security management.

Axis study reveals impact of COVID-19 on physical security industry
Axis study reveals impact of COVID-19 on physical security industry

Axis Communications, a global industry front-runner in network video, has released the results of a recent partner survey in a new whitepaper exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the physical security industry. The online survey, conducted in December 2020, sought the views of senior decision makers within circa 200 partner companies across the UK and Ireland. It is hoped that through the results partners and the wider security industry will be able to make more informed decisions on future business opportunities. The enduring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have yet to be fully grasped. Its initial impact on businesses in the UK and around the world was swift and gave rise to a great many challenges. As businesses adapt to the new social and economic reality and lay down plans for the year ahead, many will want to implement necessary measures to mitigate the effects of further recurrences. The report identifies ways that technology can facilitate a smarter, safer world, by helping businesses to continue to operate through careful management of social distancing and other COVID-led requirements. New security approach Axis’ ‘listening project’ also sought insight into how it can better support its partners and their customers in 2021 Axis’ ‘listening project’ also sought insight into how it can better support its partners and their customers in 2021. While the majority of partners continued to work, albeit some with limited capacity, under their classification as essential services, 41% of respondents expressed concerns about their supply chains, while anxiety over general economic recovery was repeatedly referenced as a top concern for both partners (67%) and their customers (55%). What is clear is the need for ongoing support as partners and customers embrace new approaches to security, with strong customer support viewed as essential. Effective business operations David Needham, Sales Manager of the UK and Ireland, Axis Communications, commented, “Despite the unprecedented disruption that COVID-19 has caused, Axis is proud to have been able to effectively respond and adapt. To further demonstrate our commitment to offer support wherever possible, we launched a survey in the region to identify the main challenges, needs and expectations of our trusted partners, their customers, and wider stakeholders.” “Through careful analysis of the experiences of senior decision makers from a wide range of industries, we will be able to determine where the greatest support is needed and identify ways that technology can facilitate safer and more effective business operations.” Analytics, contactless entry and video surveillance Over half of the partner companies that responded serve medium to large enterprises in a wide range of industry sectors, with more than one in ten employing over 1000 people. Analytics are highlighted as being key to ongoing success, with crowd management and assistance with appropriate social distancing measures also welcomed. In addition, contactless entry to avoid the unnecessary touching of shared surfaces, and integrated solutions such as video surveillance combined with access control, are emphasised. In terms of which particular sectors are viewed as having the most potential in the year ahead, (73%) of respondents cited commercial, followed by industrial (58%) and education (50%). Changes in workflow Process changes have also been widespread throughout the physical security industry On the effects of the pandemic to businesses to date, changes in workflow were reported by most respondents, who indicated that both they and their customers have been challenged by the shift to remote working that has accompanied COVID. HR issues were raised as a cause for concern by 29% of partners; and 33% of end customers, according to the partners, had been affected by HR related issues and 32% by their ability to effectively function remotely. The survey responses indicated that process changes have also been widespread throughout the physical security industry, but few regarded this as a concern. Respondents touched upon a number of key areas, such as increased use of video conferencing, a shift toward remote management systems and changes in sales activity. A third cited changes in service delivery and sales processes (34%). Many believe that the increased emphasis on health and safety processes would likely continue, even as restrictions are eased. Survey outcomes in the Whitepaper The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been widespread and often difficult to gauge. The Axis survey results contained in the whitepaper shed light on the issues facing businesses in the security industry and their customers, as well as their willingness to embrace modern technology, such as automation, analytics, and touchless tools to mitigate those concerns. The responses will help Axis meet the needs of its partners and customers, and continue to find ways of innovating for a smarter, safer world.

Will the new decade represent a ‘Roaring Twenties’ for security?
Will the new decade represent a ‘Roaring Twenties’ for security?

The “Roaring Twenties” was a decade of economic growth and widespread prosperity, driven by recovery from devastation, a construction boom, and welcoming of new technologies such as automobiles and electricity. As we look ahead to the big picture of the 2020s, 100 years later, are there parallels that suggest a successful decade ahead? Might recovery from the devastation of COVID-19 help to drive even higher levels of economic growth and technical innovation? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Does the new decade represent a new “Roaring Twenties” for the physical security market?

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