OPTEX people counter sensor includes a 30-day free trial analytics package
OPTEX people counter sensor includes a 30-day free trial analytics package

OPTEX has developed Akribos, a multi-directional people counting solution that measures the real-time levels of pedestrian traffic flow into locations/scenarios such as shopping centres, public facilities, exhibitions and transport hubs.  The Akribos sensor uses 3D modelling and state-of-the-art, patented image recognition technology (Vector Focus Point Method) to accurately report the volume of people entering and exiting a particular building, to a 97% success rate. The sensor can track up to 65 people in the scene, ignore trolleys and analyse complicated movements such as people standing still, stopping or turning around. The sensor automatically transfers data via TCP/IP in CML or TXT format to third party analytics software so that users can obtain instant data and optimise their performance.  Xenometric software To offer a full solution, and particularly for potential clients that do not have existing analysis software, OPTEX has partnered with Xenometric, a third-party software provider. It is offering clients a 30-day free trial on one of three software packages that are tailored to capture count data and create bespoke dashboards, helping OPTEX to provide a one-stop solution for its clients.  The dashboards and reports generated by Xenometric software provide, in an easy and visual way, information on the number of customers or visitors that have entered a shop or premises. They can also be generated to a number of timeframes, whether it’s a certain hour of the day, the day itself, a week or over a month. By linking this information with POS data, Akribos will help store or venue managers understand their business performance, and how they can better plan or position their staff and market their products.  The sensor is pre-configured with a number of counting and directional scenarios, and has a simple web-based interface to achieve the final configuration with minimum of fuss. On top of this, it stores data for up to 30 days.  Optex’s Akribos people counting sensor together with Xenometric software is an easy-to-use and cost-effective solution for retailers or venues to analyse their footfall and gather quick information on their business performance and how to improve it.

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IP cameras - Expert commentary

We need to talk about intelligent enclosure protection
We need to talk about intelligent enclosure protection

Enclosures containing electronics, communications or cabling infrastructure offer a simple attack point for cyber breaches and an opportunity for a physical attack on the hardware. Yet, many of these assets are housed within enclosures that provide minimal security features to offer a deterrent to any would-be attacker. This has always just been a pet hate. Walking down the high street of a town anywhere in the United Kingdom, you can often see open street communication cabinets. You can actually look directly inside at the equipment. And if I was a bad guy, I could quite easily just put my foot into their enclosure and quite quickly take out their infrastructure. Charged service for enclosures This seems crazy when a US$ 2 magnetic contact on a door can quickly tell you whether your enclosure is open or shut, and can be vital in keeping your network alive. Moreover, the operators of these systems, whether it is telecoms or internet providers, are providing a charged service to their customers, so they should really be protecting their enclosures. Why has that security level not been so readily taken into the outside world, into the unprotected environment? More sobering, if you contrast this security approach to the approach taken in the data centre world, an environment that already has multiple stringent security protocols in place, you get a very different picture. For instance, security devices can capture snapshots of anyone who opens a cabinet door in a data room, so it is recorded who has opened that door. While that is just one simple example, it begs the question. Why has that security level not been so readily taken into the outside world, into the unprotected environment? In my mind, a lot of it boils down simply to education. Network connection, easy point of cyber attacks Our preconceived idea about cyber security is some big corporation being knocked out or held to ransom by, again in our mind, someone sitting at a laptop, probably with their hood up over their head, typing away in the darkness, attacking us through the internet. But how the would-be criminal is going to come at us is just like in sport. They attack at the weakest point. Networks can be deployed in the outside world in many ways, such as cameras monitoring the highways. That means those locations will have a network connection. And that can be a point of attack in a non-secure outside world. Enclosures can be broken into by attackers Many people think, ‘That is okay because I’m going to take that ethernet device that my cameras are connected to and I’m going to put it inside an enclosure.’ However, what people do not realize is that the only thing that the enclosure is doing is protecting the ethernet device from Mother Nature. Because, without proper security, those enclosures can be broken into pretty easily. Many of them are just a single key that is not in any way coded to the device. Twofold cyber security People need to realise that cyber security is twofold. It can be carried out by hacking the network or physically breaking Therein lays the problem. People need to realise that cyber security is twofold. It can be carried out by hacking the network or physically breaking into the weakest physical point. And so, a simple boot through the open door of an enclosure can vandalise the devices inside and take down a small or large part of a network. And by definition, this meets the criteria for a cyber-attack. So, how do we go about tackling this problem? Well, security is a reaction marketplace. And for enclosures, there’s not, at present, a plethora of solutions out there for to counter these types of attacks. It can be challenging to find what you’re looking for through a quick Google search compared to searching for more traditional security protection measures. Deploying smart sensors and detectors But, under Vanderbilt and ComNet, we are currently taking our knowledge and experience from system installation and compiling it together. We’re bringing different products from different parts of our business to make a true solution. For instance, we have sensors for enclosures that detect anything from gas or smoke to open doors, detectors that will tell you if someone is trying to smash open your enclosure with a sledgehammer, or that someone is trying to lift your enclosure off of its mount. More importantly, as is not really a one-size-fits-all solution, we have developed a menu structure available that allows customers to pick and choose the ones that will best fit their own requirements.

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.

Latest OPTEX news

OPTEX launches new REDSCAN PRO LIDAR Sensor for high accuracy detection near and far
OPTEX launches new REDSCAN PRO LIDAR Sensor for high accuracy detection near and far

OPTEX is rolling out the launch of its new REDSCAN PRO laser detection sensor, featuring its longest range yet, making it the perfect solution for the highest security sites. The latest evolution in its award-winning REDSCAN LiDAR series, REDSCAN PRO can very accurately detect intruders to a range of 50mx100m, without any ‘gaps’ or the detection reliability ‘fading’ with range. By creating rectangular as opposed to circular (fan-shaped) detection patterns, there are no unnecessary overlaps, providing great coverage for virtual wall applications such as façade and fence protection, and for virtual planes to cover open areas, ceilings and roofs. Features To meet the individual needs of every site, REDSCAN PRO features intelligent multiple zones logic. This means that for each detection zone, the sensitivity, target size and output can be configured independently, allowing the zone’s risk and location to be adapted and provide maximum capture rate with minimum nuisance alarms. The sensor’s camera module brings visual assistance for configuration and post-alarm analysis. When an alarm is created, a file is saved with an alarm log and video image. It helps security teams reviewing the alarms and checks if any action needs to be taken or if the settings need to be adjusted. Ideal solution for high security sites With enhanced configuration flexibility and functionality, REDSCAN PRO allows you to do more with less Mac Kokobo, Officer & Senior General Manager at OPTEX, says the new REDSCAN PRO series provides the ultimate detection solution: “For a decade we’ve been gathering feedback from our customers on what applications they want to use our LiDAR for. Featuring our longest detection range yet without any deterioration on performance, in combination with the ability to operate in harsh outdoor environments and to customise precisely the detection area and target size, our new REDSCAN PRO series is the ideal solution for major infrastructure, critical facilities, high-end residential properties and other high security sites.” “With enhanced configuration flexibility and functionality, REDSCAN PRO allows you to do more with less, one device that can deliver and achieve what used to be done by multiple devices.” Design and models REDSCAN PRO features a sleek, new design, with a flexible mounting option (+5 to -95-degree tilt), simple set up and easy-to-use web configuration. The sensors are also ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) Profile S compliant. ONVIF is a global standard for physical IP-based security products, which aims to standardise how IP products within the video surveillance industry communicate with each other. The REDSCAN Pro series includes two models – the RLS-3060V with a range up to 30x60m and the RLS-50100V up to 50x100m. Both models will become available from April 2021.

Optex launches 12 Channel Visual Verification Bridge
Optex launches 12 Channel Visual Verification Bridge

OPTEX, a global front-runner in sensing solutions, is expanding its Intelligent Visual Verification solution by introducing a 12 Channel Visual Verification Bridge (Model: CKB-312). This powerful gateway is the new hardware device that allows security professionals to connect ONVIF compatible cameras and alarm sensors to the cloud-based Visual Verification Portal powered by CHeKT. Features and functions Aimed primarily to monitored alarm systems, the solution provides central station operators the ability to visually verify alarm threats within seconds, and respond accordingly. When installed and maintained properly, this system can eliminate 100% of false dispatches and dramatically increase customer satisfaction and retention. The solution allows the operator to share video alarm events with the site emergency contacts to validate or dismiss the alarm. The CKB-312 allows the integrator to pair up to twelve cameras with twelve sensors for visual verification of events. It simplifies the installation for larger sites using a single device to transmit twelve event-driven camera feeds. Installing the CKB312 as an alarm panel module is a cost-effective way to add a video to existing intruder systems, using the legacy equipment and to build new visual verified security systems. Easy to use app and a cost-effective solution In addition, a smart-phone App is available, allowing end-users the option to have a professionally installed and self-monitored visual verification solution. “The 12 channel Bridge perfectly complements the existing 4 channel Bridge and gives more options to the installer. Offering a cost-effective solution to add a video to monitored alarm systems increases the benefits significantly to the end-users. Integrators can confidently bring the security solution outside by adding external intrusion sensors to deter any break-ins,” says Rob Blair, CEO of OPTEX Inc.

OPTEX and Fenix Monitoring announce strategic partnership to offer seamless and integrated Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution
OPTEX and Fenix Monitoring announce strategic partnership to offer seamless and integrated Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution

Fenix Monitoring, an approved NSI Gold Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), has entered into a new partnership with OPTEX to support its customers in providing state-of-the-art security response services. The business, founded in 2018 by Managing Director, Carl Meason, will harness the reliability and performance of OPTEX’s Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution to extend its services to provide visually verified alarms, enhancing security by capturing genuine alarms while filtering out nuisance alarms in a diverse range of environments. OPTEX – Fenix Monitoring partnership Fenix Monitoring, which provides CCTV, intruder and lone worker monitoring solutions, has built its reputation on the principles of digital innovation, data analysis and customer-driven experience. These principles provide cutting edge security products and services to the monitoring market, culminating with being recognised as British Security Industry Association (BSIA) SME business of the year 2020. Carl Meason believes the partnership with OPTEX will enable Fenix to significantly enhance their product offering to its customers. Carl Meason said “Fenix Monitoring continues its mission of partnering with the most innovative companies out there, and delivering products and services that are industry leading. In joining forces with OPTEX, we have added another technology partner that can help us build the very best monitoring solutions for our customers.” OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution OPTEX’s Intelligent Visual Monitoring Solution offers a number of key benefits, including privacy mode" Carl adds, “OPTEX’s Intelligent Visual Monitoring Solution offers a number of key benefits, especially in relation to its privacy mode which means we will only see a silhouette when an alarm is activated. The homeowner or end-user can then lift this privacy feature, should the alarm be genuine and the person monitoring can see exactly what is going on.” Benjamin Linklater, Sales Director at OPTEX Europe, is looking forward to the new partnership with Fenix Monitoring. He said, “We are very pleased to welcome Fenix to the network of monitoring centres offering our cloud-based visual monitoring solution. Fenix is an agile, technology-focused security company constantly looking for new solutions to solve their customers’ issues.” Intruder and CCTV technologies installed on single site The OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution enables separate intruder and CCTV technologies installed on the same site, but acting independently, to be connected using the OPTEX Bridge and create one, seamless, integrated and intelligent visual monitoring solution. Intruder alarms can now be visually verified within seconds, without impacting the integrity of the technology installed or its grade. When an alarm occurs, a signal is instantly sent to the ARC whose operator can view images pre and post the alarm event via a dedicated portal to determine whether the alarm is genuine.

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