IP Dome cameras - Expert commentary

Why visualisation platforms are vital for an effective Security Operation Centre (SOC)
Why visualisation platforms are vital for an effective Security Operation Centre (SOC)

Display solutions play a key role in SOCs in providing the screens needed for individuals and teams to visualise and share the multiple data sources needed in an SOC today. Security Operation Centre (SOC) Every SOC has multiple sources and inputs, both physical and virtual, all of which provide numerous data points to operators, in order to provide the highest levels of physical and cyber security, including surveillance camera feeds, access control and alarm systems for physical security, as well as dashboards and web apps for cyber security applications. Today’s advancements in technology and computing power not only have increasingly made security systems much more scalable, by adding hundreds, if not thousands, of more data points to an SOC, but the rate at which the data comes in has significantly increased as well. Accurate monitoring and surveillance This has made monitoring and surveillance much more accurate and effective, but also more challenging for operators, as they can’t realistically monitor the hundreds, even thousands of cameras, dashboards, calls, etc. in a reactive manner. Lacking situational awareness is often one of the primary factors in poor decision making In order for operators in SOC’s to be able to mitigate incidents in a less reactive way and take meaningful action, streamlined actionable data is needed. This is what will ensure operators in SOC truly have situational awareness. Situational awareness is a key foundation of effective decision making. In its simplest form, ‘It is knowing what is going on’. Lacking situational awareness is often one of the primary factors in poor decision making and in accidents attributed to human error. Achieving ‘true’ situational awareness Situational awareness isn’t just what has already happened, but what is likely to happen next and to achieve ‘true’ situational awareness, a combination of actionable data and the ability to deliver that information or data to the right people, at the right time. This is where visualisation platforms (known as visual networking platforms) that provide both the situational real estate, as well as support for computer vision and AI, can help SOCs achieve true situational awareness Role of computer vision and AI technologies Proactive situational awareness is when the data coming into the SOC is analysed in real time and then, brought forward to operators who are decision makers and key stakeholders in near real time for actionable visualisation. Computer vision is a field of Artificial Intelligence that trains computers to interpret and understand digital images and videos. It is a way to automate tasks that the human visual system can also carry out, the automatic extraction, analysis and understanding of useful information from a single image or a sequence of images. There are numerous potential value adds that computer vision can provide to operation centres of different kinds. Here are some examples: Face Recognition: Face detection algorithms can be applied to filter and identify an individual. Biometric Systems: AI can be applied to biometric descriptions such as fingerprint, iris, and face matching. Surveillance: Computer vision supports IoT cameras used to monitor activities and movements of just about any kind that might be related to security and safety, whether that's on the job safety or physical security. Smart Cities: AI and computer vision can be used to improve mobility through quantitative, objective and automated management of resource use (car parks, roads, public squares, etc.) based on the analysis of CCTV data. Event Recognition: Improve the visualisation and the decision-making process of human operators or existing video surveillance solutions, by integrating real-time video data analysis algorithms to understand the content of the filmed scene and to extract the relevant information from it. Monitoring: Responding to specific tasks in terms of continuous monitoring and surveillance in many different application frameworks: improved management of logistics in storage warehouses, counting of people during event gatherings, monitoring of subway stations, coastal areas, etc. Computer Vision applications When considering a Computer Vision application, it’s important to ensure that the rest of the infrastructure in the Operation Centre, for example the solution that drives the displays and video walls, will connect and work well with the computer vision application. The best way to do this of course is to use a software-driven approach to displaying information and data, rather than a traditional AV hardware approach, which may present incompatibilities. Software-defined and open technology solutions Software-defined and open technology solutions provide a wider support for any type of application the SOC may need Software-defined and open technology solutions provide a wider support for any type of application the SOC may need, including computer vision. In the modern world, with everything going digital, all security services and applications have become networked, and as such, they belong to IT. AV applications and services have increasingly become an integral part of an organisation’s IT infrastructure. Software-defined approach to AV IT teams responsible for data protection are more in favour of a software-defined approach to AV that allow virtualised, open technologies as opposed to traditional hardware-based solutions. Software’s flexibility allows for more efficient refreshment cycles, expansions and upgrades. The rise of AV-over-IP technologies have enabled IT teams in SOC’s to effectively integrate AV solutions into their existing stack, greatly reducing overhead costs, when it comes to technology investments, staff training, maintenance, and even physical infrastructure. AV-over-IP software platforms Moreover, with AV-over-IP, software-defined AV platforms, IT teams can more easily integrate AI and Computer Vision applications within the SOC, and have better control of the data coming in, while achieving true situational awareness. Situational awareness is all about actionable data delivered to the right people, at the right time, in order to address security incidents and challenges. Situational awareness is all about actionable data delivered to the right people Often, the people who need to know about security risks or breaches are not physically present in the operation centres, so having the data and information locked up within the four walls of the SOC does not provide true situational awareness. Hyper-scalable visual platforms Instead there is a need to be able to deliver the video stream, the dashboard of the data and information to any screen anywhere, at any time — including desktops, tablets phones — for the right people to see, whether that is an executive in a different office or working from home, or security guards walking the halls or streets. New technologies are continuing to extend the reach and the benefits of security operation centres. However, interoperability plays a key role in bringing together AI, machine learning and computer vision technologies, in order to ensure data is turned into actionable data, which is delivered to the right people to provide ‘true’ situational awareness. Software-defined, AV-over-IP platforms are the perfect medium to facilitate this for any organisations with physical and cyber security needs.

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.  

Latest Vicon Industries news

Vicon Industries announces Valerus version 20.2 including mobile video streaming and live location monitoring
Vicon Industries announces Valerus version 20.2 including mobile video streaming and live location monitoring

Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware and components, announced the availability of Valerus version 20.2, which brings improved cybersecurity and streamlined maintenance to the forefront. This latest release offers features including mobile video streaming, geo mapping, snapshot, robust health dashboard, audit log, and a thick client solution. Valerus’ addition of mobile video streaming allows users to send live or recorded footage directly from their Android or iOS smart devices into Valerus. This helps operators better document patrols or events outside the range of traditional cameras. Strategically monitoring geographical locations The geo mapping feature allows operators to strategically monitor geographical locations with a live geo map. Users simply enter a physical address or coordinates to access the true location, add cameras and create an easy-to-understand live map of their facility. Another exciting update we further developed is our robust health dashboard. This update not only provides an improved user experience, but also new business-critical features to help operators diagnose potential problems before they become catastrophic. New features include remote RAM and CPU resource monitors for both App Servers and NVR, an NVR latency monitor to troubleshoot potential network issues and a new cybersecurity dashboard that monitors potential threats like duplicate logins to better protect the system. Save and store images Valerus 20.2 also now offers a Thick-Client solution for operators that prefer not to use browsers Another new feature is the snapshot tool that allows users to quickly save and store images from live or recorded playback video. This is especially helpful when trying to document suspects or incidents. Valerus 20.2 also now offers a Thick-Client solution for operators that prefer not to use browsers or require a program startup with preconfigured settings or screens. This is a key feature for instances when operator control is limited. Presets allow for easy restoring all previously programmed settings, saving time and allowing you to focus on what’s important. Lastly, the improved new audit log allows designated users to monitor activities within the system so administrators can keep track of who logs in and out of the system, what they view and what actions they have taken. If a failure or critical setting is changed, not only can one reverse the action but also see who made it. Free Valerus Enterprise licence To take advantage of this new release introduction, Vicon has launched a promotional campaign that allows one to experience this version firsthand. Replace one’s old competing VMS for Valerus and receive a free Valerus Enterprise licence. And if one doesn’t already have a VMS, Vicon is giving out free Valerus starter software, so one can experience what everyone loves about Valerus. “Vicon’s Valerus VMS platform has proven to be widely embraced in enterprise applications, and we anticipate that the features we are introducing with Valerus version 20.2 will do much to further that trend,” said Bret McGowan, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing.

Vicon Industries introduces VTR-3000 and VTR-6000 series thermal sensor surveillance for perimeter protection
Vicon Industries introduces VTR-3000 and VTR-6000 series thermal sensor surveillance for perimeter protection

Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance, access control software and hardware and cameras, released its highly anticipated updated Thermal Sensor models. The innovative Thermal Sensor series is a 360-degree surveillance solution that combines powerful high-end thermal technology with high-resolution PTZs for unparalleled perimeter protection in wide-open spaces like power stations, airports, construction sites and other facilities. The VTR-3000 series is a cutting-edge, cost-effective model designed for small to medium sized facilities with a range of up to 250 metres. This series ideal for private airports and parking lots, ensuring nothing goes unnoticed. The VTR-6000 series covers vast areas up to 500 metres and is ideal for larger applications such as construction sites, large commercial airports and more. Enhanced analytics for fire detection Both series can be used day or night and are rich with upgraded features such as enhanced analytics for fire detection and equipment temperature monitoring. Just one thermal sensor can replace up to 8 traditional cameras, and with the newly built-in TRIA, provides many cost-effective options to its users. This series also features exceptional improvements made to image clarity and detection, reducing false positives so time and energy is well spent. Lastly, an improved exterior design reduces the amount of moving parts, reducing the potential for replacing parts. “The line of upgraded Thermal Sensor models is a highly anticipated addition to our camera portfolio so we’re thrilled to incorporate this cost-effective and robust solution to our product offering,” said Bret McGowan, Senior V.P., Sales and Marketing.

Vicon announces Valerus VMS with interactive mapping, event query engine
Vicon announces Valerus VMS with interactive mapping, event query engine

Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware and components, announced the availability of Valerus version 20, which adds features designed to expand its overall capabilities while maintaining its core value as an easy VMS on the market. This latest release offers features that include: interactive mapping, an event query engine and bookmarking functionality. Valerus’ new interactive mapping feature provides the ability to create detailed maps from PNG or JPEG image files. Users can then overlay resource icons on to these maps, with the flexibility to control the location and view of the resource; for added ease of functionality, maps can be linked to other maps. The mapping functionality presents a wealth of information in a very efficient and understandable manner and is extremely useful for local law enforcement and security teams. Motion detection, digital input search queries The addition of a dedicated events database provides the ability to store all events that occur in Valerus, including both internal and external events, allowing the user to look back historically. This offers a new search capability, where users can create queries based on parameters such as motion detection, digital input, external events and analytics services. The event search feature enhances the way users interact with systems, dramatically improving event response times and helping make event issues more actionable. Another new feature available in version 20 is bookmarking, which adds the ability for the user to create a bookmark related to a specific video feed and allows entering notes so users can easily share information. The bookmark is accessible on the playback video and will be stored in the events database, so it can be queried. Bookmarking helps keep track of noteworthy events while users are building a case or trying to gain a better understanding of concerning incidents. Advanced log report for troubleshooting  In keeping with the Valerus commitment to delivering “advanced simplicity,” Valerus 20 has enhanced many user functions for ease-of-use. There is the ability to enforce a complex password for increased security. The numeric ID of a device can now be edited directly on its resource properties page as well the dedicated numeric ID page. The Excel report shows added information, including the MAC address, numeric ID and Gateway server, to better serve the user. There is a dynamic link from an error on the dashboard directly to that resource’s configuration page. An advanced log report was added to aid in troubleshooting any problems that might arise. To encourage users to take advantage of this new release introduction, Vicon has launched two promotional campaigns. The offers are targeted at new VMS installs and VMS replacement projects, offering free licences for Valerus 20. “Vicon’s Valerus VMS platform has proven to be widely embraced in enterprise applications, and we anticipate that the features we are introducing with Valerus version 20 will do much to further that trend,” said Bret McGowan, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing.

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