IP cameras - Expert commentary

Blending physical security with convenience is no simple task
Blending physical security with convenience is no simple task

Back in the 1960s a lead engineer working in conjunction with the United States Navy for Lockheed’s Skunk Works team coined the acronym KISS, which translated to the design principle ‘keep it simple stupid’.  The KISS principle embraces the concept of simplicity, stating that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than geared up to be more complicated. When it comes to physical security systems, this concept can also play a key element in its overall success. Secure work environments For years the tug of war in the security industry has pitted the need for a secure environment against the desire for technology that is convenient for users. However, finding a happy medium between the two has often seemed elusive. I believe you can design and have operational convenience at the same time as achieving high security" Jeff Spivey, a security consultant and the CEO of Security Risk Management, has this to say about it, “If there is an understanding of the security-related risks and their separate and/or collective impact on the organisation’s bottom line business goals, a resolution can be reached.” Jeff also does not think that convenience and high security have to be opposing each other. He says, “I believe you can design and have operational convenience at the same time as achieving high security.” Importance of secure access control The premise is that for organisations and spaces to be truly secure, they must be difficult to access. So, by its very nature, access control is designed to be restrictive, allowing only authorised staff and visitors to access a facility or other secured areas inside. This immediately puts convenience at odds with security. Most people will tolerate the restrictive nature of a controlled entrance using badge, card or biometric because they understand the need for security. When that technology gets in the way of staff traversing freely throughout the facility during the course of a business day, or hindering potential visitors or vendors from a positive experience entering the building, they become less tolerant, which often leads to negative feedback to the security staff. Enhancing corporate security Security consultants like Spivey and security directors all stress that understanding the threats and risk levels of an organisation will most likely dictate its physical security infrastructure and approach. All the technology in the world is useless if it is not embraced by those who are expected to use it and it doesn’t fit the culture of the organisation. Once employees and customers are educated about what security really is, they understand that they're not losing convenience, they're gaining freedom to move safely from point A to point B. Converged data and information shape new access options Migration of physical access control systems to a more network-centric platform is a game-changer for security technologies The migration of physical access control systems to a more network-centric platform has been a game-changer for emerging security technology options. The expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), Near-Field Communication devices powered by Bluetooth technology, and the explosion of converged information systems and identity management tools that are now driving access control are making it easier than ever before for employees and visitors to apply for clearance, permissions and credentials. Wireless and proximity readers Advancements in high-performance wireless and proximity readers have enhanced the user’s access experience when presenting credentials at an entry and expediting movement throughout a facility. A user is now able to access a secured office from street-level without ever touching a key or card. Using a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or triggering a facial recognition technology, they enter the building through a security revolving door or turnstile. A total building automation approach adds extra convenience, as well as seamless security, when access technology is integrated into other systems like elevator controls. A total building automation approach adds extra convenience and seamless security How to Meet Security Concerns at the Entry While security managers are charged with providing their facilities the maximum level of security possible, there is always the human element to consider. But does the effort to make people comfortable with their security system ecosystem come at a cost? Does all this convenience and the drive to deliver a positive security experience reduce an organisation’s overall levels of security? And if so, how can we continue to deliver the same positive experience including speed of entry – while improving risk mitigation and threat prevention? Door entrances, barriers Users can slip through the door or turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through Let’s examine some of the various types of entrances being used at most facilities and the security properties of each. With some entrance types, there is the possibility for security to fall short of its intended goals in a way that can’t be addressed by access control technology alone. In particular, with many types of doors and barriers, tailgating is possible: users can slip through the door or turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through. To address this, many organisations hire security officers to supervise the entry. While this can help to reduce tailgating, it has been demonstrated that officers are not immune to social engineering and can often be “talked into” letting an unauthorised person into a facility. Deploying video cameras, sensors Some organisations have deployed video surveillance cameras or sensors to help identify tailgaters after the fact or a door left open for longer than rules allow. This approach is not uncommon where facilities have attempted to optimise throughput and maintain a positive experience for staff and visitors. Security staff monitoring the video feeds can alert management so that action can be taken – but this is at best a reactive solution. It does not keep the unauthorised persons from entering, and so is not a totally secure solution. Optical turnstiles, speedgates Security staff should carefully evaluate its facility’s needs and consider the technology that is built into the door itself Security staff should carefully evaluate its facility’s needs and consider the technology that is built into the door itself. Not all security entrances work the same way. And, there will always be a balance between security and convenience – the more secure the entry, the less convenient it is for your personnel and visitors to enter your facility. For example, it takes more time to provide 2-factor authentication and enter through a mantrap portal than to provide only one credential and enter through an optical turnstile or speedgate. Perimeter protection So, it is an important first step to determine what is right at every entrance point within and around the perimeter. Remember that convenience does not equate to throughput. Convenience is the ease and speed of entry experienced by each individual crossing that threshold, while throughput relates to the speed at which many individuals can gain access to the facility. A more convenient entry makes a better first impression on visitors and is good for overall employee morale. Throughput is more functional; employees need to get logged in to begin their workday (and often to clock in to get paid), and they quickly become frustrated and dissatisfied when waiting in a long line to enter or exit the premises. Considering form and function when designing a security entrance can ensure that those requiring both high-security and convenience are appeased.

Home monitoring at the edge: Advanced security in the hands of consumers
Home monitoring at the edge: Advanced security in the hands of consumers

Imagine a home surveillance camera monitoring an elderly parent and anticipating potential concerns while respecting their privacy. Imagine another camera predicting a home burglary based on suspicious behaviors, allowing time to notify the homeowner who can in turn notify the police before the event occurs—or an entire network of cameras working together to keep an eye on neighborhood safety. Artificial Intelligence vision chips A new gen of AI vision chips are pushing advanced capabilities such as behavior analysis and higher-level security There's a new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) vision chips that are pushing advanced capabilities such as behavior analysis and higher-level security to the edge (directly on devices) for a customisable user experience—one that rivals the abilities of the consumer electronics devices we use every day. Once considered nothing more than “the eyes” of a security system, home monitoring cameras of 2020 will leverage AI-vision processors for high-performance computer vision at low power consumption and affordable cost—at the edge—for greater privacy and ease of use as well as to enable behavior analysis for predictive and preemptive monitoring. Advanced home monitoring cameras With this shift, camera makers and home monitoring service providers alike will be able to develop new edge-based use cases for home monitoring and enable consumers to customise devices to meet their individual needs. The result will be increased user engagement with home monitoring devices—mirroring that of cellphones and smart watches and creating an overlap between the home monitoring and consumer electronics markets. A quick step back reminds us that accomplishing these goals would have been cost prohibitive just a couple of years ago. Face recognition, behavior analysis, intelligent analytics, and decision-making at this level were extremely expensive to perform in the cloud. Additionally, the lag time associated with sending data to faraway servers for decoding and then processing made it impossible to achieve real-time results. Cloud-based home security devices The constraints of cloud processing certainly have not held the industry back, however. Home monitoring, a market just seven years young, has become a ubiquitous category of home security and home monitoring devices. Consumers can choose to install a single camera or doorbell that sends alerts to their phone, a family of devices and a monthly manufacturer’s plan, or a high-end professional monitoring solution. While the majority of these devices do indeed rely on the cloud for processing, camera makers have been pushing for edge-based processing since around 2016. For them, the benefit has always been clear: the opportunity to perform intelligent analytics processing in real-time on the device. But until now, the balance between computer vision performance and power consumption was lacking and camera companies weren’t able to make the leap. So instead, they have focused on improving designs and the cloud-centric model has prevailed. Hybrid security systems Even with improvements, false alerts result in unnecessary notifications and video recording Even with improvements, false alerts (like tree branches swaying in the wind or cats walking past a front door) result in unnecessary notifications and video recording— cameras remain active which, in the case of battery powered cameras, means using up valuable battery life. Hybrid models do exist. Typically, they provide rudimentary motion detection on the camera itself and then send video to the cloud for decoding and analysis to suppress false alerts. Hybrids provide higher-level results for things like people and cars, but their approach comes at a cost for both the consumer and the manufacturer. Advanced cloud analytics Advanced cloud analytics are more expensive than newly possible edge-based alternatives, and consumers have to pay for subscriptions. In addition, because of processing delays and other issues, things like rain or lighting changes (or even bugs on the camera) can still trigger unnecessary alerts. And the more alerts a user receives, the more they tend to ignore them—there are simply too many. In fact, it is estimated that users only pay attention to 5% of their notifications. This means that when a package is stolen or a car is burglarised, users often miss the real-time notification—only to find out about the incident after the fact. All of this will soon change with AI-based behavior analysis, predictive security, and real-time meaningful alerts. Predictive monitoring while safeguarding user privacy These days, consumers are putting more emphasis on privacy and have legitimate concerns about being recorded while in their homes. Soon, with AI advancements at the chip level, families will be able to select user apps that provide monitoring without the need to stream video to a company server, or they’ll have access to apps that record activity but obscure faces. Devices will have the ability to only send alerts according to specific criteria. If, for example, an elderly parent being monitored seems particularly unsteady one day or seems especially inactive, an application could alert the responsible family member and suggest that they check in. By analysing the elderly parent’s behavior, the application could also predict a potential fall and trigger an audio alert for the person and also the family. AI-based behavior analysis Ability to analyse massive amounts of data locally and identify trends is a key advantage of AI at the edge The ability to analyse massive amounts of data locally and identify trends or perform searches is a key advantage of AI at the edge, for both individuals and neighborhoods. For example, an individual might be curious as to what animal is wreaking havoc in their backyard every night. In this case, they could download a “small animal detector” app to their camera which would trigger an alert when a critter enters their yard. The animal could be scared off via an alarm and—armed with video proof—animal control would have useful data for setting a trap. Edge cameras A newly emerging category of “neighborhood watch” applications is already connecting neighbors for significantly improved monitoring and safety. As edge cameras become more commonplace, this category will become increasingly effective. The idea is that if, for example, one neighbor captures a package thief, and then the entire network of neighbors will receive a notification and a synopsis video showing the theft. Or if, say, there is a rash of car break-ins and one neighbor captures video of a red sedan casing their home around the time of a recent incident, an AI vision-based camera could be queried for helpful information: Residential monitoring and security The camera could be asked for a summary of the dates and times that it has recorded that particular red car. A case could be made if incident times match those of the vehicle’s recent appearances in the neighborhood. Even better, if that particular red car was to reappear and seems (by AI behavior analysis) to be suspicious, alerts could be sent proactively to networked residents and police could be notified immediately. Home monitoring in 2020 will bring positive change for users when it comes to monitoring and security, but it will also bring some fun. Consumers will, for example, be able to download apps that do things like monitor pet activity. They might query their device for a summary of their pet’s “unusual activity” and then use those clips to create cute, shareable videos. Who doesn’t love a video of a dog dragging a toilet paper roll around the house? AI at the Edge for home access control Home access control via biometrics is one of many new edge-based use cases that will bring convenience to home monitoring Home access control via biometrics is one of many new edge-based use cases that will bring convenience to home monitoring, and it’s an application that is expected to take off soon. With smart biometrics, cameras will be able to recognise residents and then unlock their smart front door locks automatically if desired, eliminating the need for keys. And if, for example, an unauthorised person tries to trick the system by presenting a photograph of a registered family member’s face, the camera could use “3D liveness detection” to spot the fake and deny access. With these and other advances, professional monitoring service providers will have the opportunity to bring a new generation of access control panels to market. Leveraging computer vision and deep neural networks Ultimately, what camera makers strive for is customer engagement and customer loyalty. These new use cases—thanks to AI at the edge—will make home monitoring devices more useful and more engaging to consumers. Leveraging computer vision and deep neural networks, new cameras will be able to filter out and block false alerts, predict incidents, and send real-time notifications only when there is something that the consumer is truly interested in seeing. AI and computer vision at the edge will enable a new generation of cameras that provide not only a higher level of security but that will fundamentally change the way consumers rely on and interact with their home monitoring devices.

The intersection of education and fire and security
The intersection of education and fire and security

Protecting against fire and security risks is an essential aspect of life for people and across all sectors. However, there is an increasing expectation and demand on fire and security providers, in areas such as education. The securitisation of our world paired with the rapid speed of communication and news updates means that young people especially have the potential to be more aware of potential dangers and threats to their own safety and the safety of those around them. Education institutions are large and sometimes sprawling sites that present considerable fire and security challenges. From kindergarten to university Each education site brings distinct challenges, with differing facilities and specialties, as well as the need to maintain the capacity of students, teachers and lecturers to study, learn and teach at the high level expected.Each education site brings distinct challenges, with differing facilities and specialties While some schools and universities are based in urban areas with a mix of heritage and high rise buildings, others are sprawled across green open spaces. Some of these sites have specialised sporting facilities, while others may be focused on engineering or scientific study, with costly technical equipment. Kindergartens and primary schools have their own unique requirements. Parents expect the highest safety standards, while schools require safety in addition to efficient facilities management. The demographic of these institutions is predominantly young children, who are often unaware of or only just learning about fire safety and personal safety. This creates a huge vulnerability and an added onus on teachers to keep their students safe. Facial recognition at West Academy of Beijing In response to this need, Chubb China upgraded the closed-circuit television (CCTV) system for Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) focusing on elevating video content analytic features, including maximised CCTV monitoring, automatic police calling, and a smart search solution. Complementing this, a facial recognition system capable of finding the exact location of a student on campus within 30 seconds was added, aided by real-time remote gate operation. This integrated and advanced system resulted won the "High Quality Educational Technology Suppliers for School" award for the WAB project at the 2019 BEED Asia Future Oriented Construction of Universities and Schools Seminar. This award recognises outstanding solution design and project execution. Parents expect the highest safety standards, while schools require safety in addition to efficient facilities management Awareness remains important at university As students graduate from kindergarten, primary school, junior and senior school, they become more aware of fire safety, relevant dangers and how to protect themselves. Unfortunately, external dangers remain. There are particularly high stakes for university campus facilities managers The safety of students in a university environment is also critical. It is often the first time young people live away from their family home and have the independence of adulthood. For this reason, there are particularly high stakes for university campus facilities managers. In the eventuality of a fire, students could be at great risk and, beyond the immediacy of physical harm, this can have serious ramifications for the reputation of an educational institution. Integrated solutions Integrated solutions must be nimble and adapted to a range of site types including campus residences, recreational areas, open spaces and lecture theatres. Chubb Sicli recently identified and overcame these challenges through the installation of a full suite of fire safety and security equipment and services at Webster University Geneva. Established in Switzerland in 1978, Webster University Geneva is an accredited American university campus that offers programs in English to students interested in undergraduate or graduate-level education.  Located in the Commune of Bellevue, just a few kilometres from Geneva's central station, the campus of Webster University Geneva includes five buildings in a park-style atmosphere. Full fire and security audit Chubb Sicli provided Webster’s fire extinguisher maintenance for over 25 years. This business relationship led to a full fire and security audit that identified the need for updates to the university’s security installation. The initial audit showed several improvements to the university’s security profile were needed.The challenge was to create and provide an effective and interconnected fire and security solution The challenge was to create and provide an effective and interconnected fire and security solution, enhancing the security of the student population and its ever-evolving needs. This included complete fire detection and intruder alarms for all five buildings, upgrades to existing CCTV systems, new video surveillance equipment and an automated fire extinguishing system in the kitchen areas. In addition to this integrated system solution, Webster University required access control for all main entrances, with the requirement that all documentation to be made available in English, because Webster is an American company. Customised solution Chubb Sicli’s quality, capability, and security expertise provided a customised solution for the unique educational establishment. Not only was the solution both tailored and integrated, the approach and planning were based on audit, fire extinguisher and emergency light maintenance, fire detection, intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance and Fire Detection. Through dedicated and integrated fire safety support, Chubb provides students and families peace of mind and security. From the moment a young child enters the education system, Chubb’s diligent and effective surveillance and fire safety systems work to prevent and protect, offering a new kind of ‘end-to-end’ service for education systems around the world.

Latest Mitsubishi Electric news

Mitsubishi Electric set to launch new and enhanced LCD video wall system at ISE 2020
Mitsubishi Electric set to launch new and enhanced LCD video wall system at ISE 2020

Mitsubishi Electric will launch the latest version of its high-end LCD video wall system at ISE 2020. The LM55P4 is the latest iteration of Mitsubishi Electric’s flagship 55” professional-grade LCD monitor, which has been successfully employed in a wide variety of mission-critical control room installations around the world. The LM55P4 offers a significantly improved visual experience when used in video wall applications thanks to the greatly reduced bezel width compared to earlier versions. At just 0.44mm, the obtrusive gaps between individual LCD tiles are virtually eliminated to create a near-seamless display. LM55P4 provides an attractive, high-specification and cost-effective alternative to DLP video walls where installation space is limited. Designed and built in Japan to the same exacting standards as its DLP rear projection systems, the LM55P4 is aimed at the most demanding applications where long-term reliability and low maintenance are key considerations. Built-in dynamic brightness controls The LM55P4 offers Full HD (1920x1080 pixel) performance and is rated for 100,000 hours operation. High brightness and contrast, together with an anti-glare screen surface makes it an excellent choice for small control rooms, breakout suites or meeting rooms. Built-in dynamic brightness controls ensure screens are always perfectly colour-balanced and tiling compensation ensures accurate screen geometry is maintained. LM55P4 is equipped with an OPS slot for extended functionality and features DisplayPort (1.2a), HDMI (HDR supported), DVID (with HDCP) and analogue video inputs. Monitors can be daisy-chained together via DisplayPort to create simple video wall applications with no external controller required. Visitors to ISE 2020 will be able to see the new LM55P4 along with an extensive range of rear projection and flat panel displays, including a new 1.25mm direct view LED screen designed specifically for control room use. 

Amthal Fire & Security secures Mitsubishi electric contract
Amthal Fire & Security secures Mitsubishi electric contract

Amthal has been awarded a new support contract with global technology leaders Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V, to upgrade and maintain security solutions at its UK Head Office, and across its regional UK offices. As one of the world’s leading names in the manufacture and sales of electrical products and systems, Mitsubishi Electric has eight regional offices, including its UK Head Office in Hatfield, supporting over 700 staff members. New contract details The new contract with Amthal covers the provision of support and maintenance across each of Mitsubishi Electric’s sites, to ensure security arrangements, including CCTV, intruder alarm and access control, are maintained to the highest level and upgraded quickly where required. Karen Kelsall, Mitsubishi Electric Business Services Team - Facilities Coordinator said, "Each of our UK office locations has its own security arrangements that must be maintained on a regular basis.  We needed to source a reliable company that could not only achieve this requirement but also ensure we continue to offer our staff and visitors complete peace of mind at their place of work. Amthal proved themselves even before the contract was signed, responding to several different site requests quickly, with true technical capability and professionalism.  Plus, being a local company to our head offices makes a difference to ensuring an efficient and sustainable supplier service that we look forward to building." Highest levels of operational excellence This contract award is extremely significant for Amthal, not only to be associated with such a global brand, but also to demonstrate our commitment to our customers" Jamie Allam, Commercial Director Amthal Fire & Security added, "This contract award is extremely significant for Amthal, not only to be associated with such a global brand, but also to demonstrate our commitment to our customers, both new and existing the team’s knowledge, experience and expertise together with an ability to react quickly and get the job done, contributed to our appointment. And as per our core mission, vision and values, that run through everything we do, we will continue to work in partnership with Mitsubishi Electric to deliver the highest levels of operational excellence and continuity of service, both on a local basis to its main offices and regionally, across all sites." Independently owned, Amthal Fire & Security is dedicated to satisfying end-user needs for security safety and convenience offering design, installation, service and remote monitoring of advanced electronic fire and security solutions, including intruder, Fire, Access and CCTV systems.  Amthal Fire & Security is accredited by the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB) United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS) and British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE.)

IFSEC International announces development plans for its leading global security event in June 2015
IFSEC International announces development plans for its leading global security event in June 2015

Safe Cities will be a central hub within IFSEC to shape future of urban security, civil welfare & disaster management IFSEC International, organised by UBM Live, is excited to announce development plans for the leading global security event in June 2015. Following the phenomenal success of the 2014 show, IFSEC International 2015 is in high demand with 92 per cent of the floor plan already sold out. Big name sign-ups and stand out new exhibitors include DELL, Mitsubishi Electric, Dorma UK, Capita IT Services, Hanbang Technology, Commax, DVTel plus many more. With a huge 29 per cent increase in end user and international visitors in 2014, there is a big focus around developing an even broader international attendance for 2015. Feedback demonstrated that 74 per cent of the audience recognised IFSEC International as the most prestigious worldwide event in the security industry and to support this, the international pavilions will welcome a Spanish pavilion for the very first time. Declared by exhibitors as the “biggest security show in Europe”, business generated per exhibitor reached £362,000 which hit a year on year increase of more that £200,000. In 2015, IFSEC International will be united with FIREX International. As the security and fire industries continue to integrate, the need has been recognised for these two shows to be united side by side and visitors will be able to have an even more joined up events experience. Gerry Dunphy, Event Director for IFSEC & FIREX International said: “We’re hugely excited for the shows in 2015 already. We have taken on board all of the customer feedback and introduced features on the show floor in response to this. Incorporating FIREX alongside is a big asset to visitors who manage systems integration of intelligent buildings and we will be releasing more detail on the cross over features shortly, so keep an eye out!” Brand new features for 2015 include the Innovation Zone, which will showcase the latest products to market in a unique environment, responding to demand from visitors to see future technology, trends and innovation live on the show floor. Safe Cities will also be a central hub within IFSEC International to shape the future of urban security, civil welfare and disaster management. Safe Cities at IFSEC International will demonstrate how traditional and new security solutions can be interconnected, interoperable and future-proofed to play a vital role in the advanced security architectures of the future. This initiative will provide insight into stronger resilience, greater security and a safer environment for the next generation. "Incorporating FIREX alongside is a big asset to visitors who manage systems integration of intelligent buildings" Security & Fire Installer Live is going to be back in a big way in 2015 following its launch in 2014. Business advisers will be on hand to give guidance on the most effective methods for company expansion, as well as giving the opportunity to try products before purchasing. Experts will be giving live demos and testing kit to the extreme so visitors can see for themselves the limits products can be pushed to. The IFSEC & FIREX Global Meetings Programme will be back following the huge success of 2014. More than 490 tailor-made meetings were set up to ensure valuable business connections were made. “The Global Meetings service has been an essential tool for the success we had at IFSEC International 2014. Thanks to this service, we were able to better prepare our participation as well as to better target and invite key people to our booth. The quality of Global Meetings service as well as the quality of contacts is much appreciated it really saves a lot of time and effort. This service made an important difference on the success at IFSEC International 2014 for us and we cannot wait to make use of it again for next year´s show,” said Isabel Tinoco, Business Development Specialist, fortem.

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