Remote monitoring security applications
Founded in 1871, Fulton County School System is the fourth largest school district in Georgia, United States. It consists of 101 schools and administrative support buildings, including 67 elementary schools, 19 middle schools, 17 high schools and eight charter organisations. Fulton’s mission is to provide a safe and secure environment for its more than 96,000 students and more than 12,000 full-time employees. To help enhance safety Search Technology at more than 100 schools, Fulton has in...
VMS software and IP products from Hikvision, a supplier of innovative video surveillance products and solutions, are now being used by the Government of Gujarat Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), to protect and administer education facilities and services across Western India. A government organisation that provides qualitative and higher level technical training for students from a diverse mix of financial and social backgrounds, the Directorate of Technical Education’s (DTE) goal...
In the Biatta family, the craft of producing excellent wines is passed from generation to generation. Back in 1985, Giovanni Biatta, the forefather of the Le Marchesine operation, purchased the first three hectares in the area of Franciacorta, but the family has dedicated itself to a single passion for at least five generations: Excellence in wine-making. Heir of an ancient family from Brescia, the great-grandfather of Giovanni, Camillo Biatta, was a negociant eleveur, a noble and ancient t...
Users can now enjoy complete control of their wired and hybrid security systems with the brand new Pyronix PCX46 APP. Users can experience unparalleled control over their entire security system, from anywhere in the world, on a smart device with the fully compatible HomeControl+ App. Wired and hybrid: The best of both As the PCX46 APP can be both wired and hybrid, there are a multitude of wired and wireless security and lifestyle devices to choose from, meaning users' systems can be tailo...
The internet helped revolutionise the security industry, and technology continues to evolve at a speed and depth that is changing the way people protect their premises. Vanderbilt flagship products Cloud technology has resulted in a society that is always connected. For the security industry, this means it is now possible to remotely monitor many locations from hundreds of miles away. This is an area where Vanderbilt solutions carry particular depth. A browser and an internet connection are a...
Trust and track record are vital attributes in any locking system designed for critical infrastructure. French water utility Eau de Valence set themselves a challenge upgrading an old-fashioned mechanical locking system. They demanded access control that could manage multiple and dispersed utility sites; perform reliably outdoors in any weather; and log and monitor all system users from a single control point. CLIQ® key-based access control technology from ASSA ABLOY was the solution. PROTE...
From satellite imagery to street views to indoor mapping, technology has disrupted our past world. This has left us dependent upon new ways to visualise large spaces. This new world has brought many benefits and risks. But what does that mean for the security professional or facility manager today and what technologies can be used to secure buildings and improve facility operations? A brief history of 3D technology Starting May 5, 2007 (inception 2001), Google rolled out Google Street View to augment Google Maps and Google Earth; documenting some of the most remote places on earth using a mix of sensors (Lidar/GSP/Radar/Imagery). The mission to map the world moved indoors May 2011 with Google Business Photos mapping indoor spaces with low cost 360° cameras under the Trusted Photographer program. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialisation, expensive hardware and unavailable computing power With the growth of 3D laser scanning from 2007 onwards, the professional world embraced scanning as effective method to create digitised building information modelling (BIM), growing fast since 2007. BIM from scanning brought tremendous control, time and cost savings through the design and construction process, where As-Built documentation offered an incredible way to manage large existing facilities while reducing costly site visits. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialisation, expensive hardware, unavailable computing power and knowledge of architectural software. Innovation during the past 8 year, have driven ease of use and lower pricing to encourage market adoption. Major investments in UAVs in 2014 and the commercial emergence of 360° photography began a new wave of adoption. While 3D scanners still range from $20K – $100K USD, UAVs can be purchased for under $1K USD and 360° cameras for as low as $100. UAVs and 360° cameras also offer a way to document large spaces in a fraction of the time of terrestrial laser scanners with very little technical knowledge. Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors The result over the past 10+ years of technology advancement has been a faster, lower cost, more accessible way to create virtual spaces. However, the technology advances carry a major risk of misuse by bad actors at the same time. What was once reserved to military personal is now available publicly. Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors. Al Qaeda terror threats using Google Maps, 2007 UK troops hit by terrorists in Basra, 2008 Mumbai India attacks, 2016 Pakistan Pathankot airbase attacks, ISIS attacks in Syria using UAVs, well-planned US school shootings and high casualty attacks show evidence that bad actors frequently leverage these mapping technologies to plan their attacks. The weaponization of UAVs is of particular concern to the Department of Homeland Security: "We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organisations exploit the internet to inspire, enable or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts." Example comparison of reality capture on the left of BIM on the right. A $250 USD 360° camera was used for the capture in VisualPlan.net software What does this mean for the security or facility manager today? An often overlooked, but critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing. Most facilities managers today work with outdated 2D plan diagrams or old blueprints which are difficult to update and share.Critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing Renovations, design changes and office layout changes leave facility managers with the wrong information, and even worse is that the wrong information is shared with outside consultants who plan major projects around outdated or wrong plans. This leads to costly mistakes and increased timelines on facility projects. Example benefits of BIM There could be evidence of a suspect water value leak which using BIM could be located and then identified in the model without physical inspection; listing a part number, model, size and manufacture. Identification of vulnerabilities can dramatically help during a building emergency. First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans and they must have immediate access to important building information in the event of a critical incident. Exits and entrances, suppression equipment, access control, ventilation systems, gas and explosives, hazmat, water systems, survival equipment and many other details must be at their fingertips. In an emergency situation this can be a matter of life or death. Example benefit of reality capture First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans A simple 360° walk-through can help first responders with incident preparedness if shared by the facility manager. Police, fire and EMS can visually walk the building, locating all critical features they will need knowledge of in an emergency without ever visiting the building. You don’t require construction accuracy for this type of visual sharing. This is a solution and service we offer as a company today. Reality capture is rapidly becoming the benchmark for facility documentation and the basis from which a security plan can be built. Given the appropriate software, plans can be easily updated and shared. They can be used for design and implementation of equipment, training of personnel and virtual audits of systems or security assessments by outside professionals. Our brains process visual information thousands of times faster than text. Not only that, we are much more likely to remember it once we do see it. Reality capture can help reduce the need for physical inspections, walk-throughs and vendor site-visits but more importantly, it provides a way to visually communicate far more effectively and accurately than before. But be careful with this information. You must prevent critical information falling into the hands of bad actors. You must watch out for bad actors attempting to use reality capture as a threat, especially photo/video/drones or digital information and plans that are posted publicly. Have a security protocol to prevent and confront individuals taking photos or video on property or flying suspect drones near your facility and report to the authorities. Require authorisation before capturing building information and understand what the information will be used for and by who.There are a number of technologies to combat nefarious use of UAVs today Nefarious use of UAVs There are a number of technologies to combat nefarious use of UAVs today, such as radio frequency blockers and jammers, drone guns to down UAVs, detection or monitoring systems. Other biometrics technologies like facial recognition are being employed to counter the risk from UAVs by targeting the potential operators. UAVs are being used to spy and monitor for corporate espionage and stealing intellectual property. They are also used for monitoring security patrols for the purpose of burglary. UAVs have been used for transport and delivery of dangerous goods, delivering weapons and contraband and have the ability to be weaponised to carry a payload.Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualisation of facilities is well worth the time The Federal Aviation Administration has prevented UAV flights over large event stadiums, prisons and coast guard bases based on the risks they could potentially pose, but waivers do exist. Be aware that it is illegal today to use most of these technologies and downing a UAV, if you are not Department of Justice or Homeland Security, could carry hefty penalties. Facility managers must have a way to survey and monitor their buildings for threats and report suspicious UAV behaviours immediately to authorities. At the same time, it’s critical to identify various potential risks to your wider team to ensure awareness and reporting is handled effectively. Having a procedure on how identify and report is important. Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualisation of facilities is well worth the time. It can help better secure your facilities while increasing efficiencies of building operations. Reality capture can also help collaboration with first responders and outside professionals without ever having to step a foot in the door. But secure your data and have a plan for bad actors who will try to use the same technologies for nefarious goals.
They say that every choice has a cost. It's a basic principle that, economically speaking, nothing is free. If it doesn't cost actual money, it may be expensive in terms of time, attention and/or effort. These are interesting observations to keep in mind as one peruses the various "free" video management system (VMS) offerings available on the market. Some are provided by camera companies to unify their products into a "system", even if it's a small one. Other free VMS offerings are entry-level versions offered by software companies with the intent of the customer upgrading later to a paid version. For more insights, we asked this week's Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the value of “free” video management systems (VMSs) and how can a customer decide whether “free” is the right price for them?
Market dynamics are changing the U.S. residential security market, creating new business models that better appeal to the approximately 70% of households without a security system. Smart home adjacencies have helped revitalise the traditional security industry, and alternative approaches to systems and monitoring for the security industry are emerging, including a new batch of DIY systems. Growth in the residential security market and its position as the channel for smart home solutions have attracted numerous new entrants. Telecoms, cable operators, and CE (consumer electronics) manufacturers are joining traditional security players as they compete to fulfill consumer demand for safety and security. Connected products also provide a layer of competition as consumers must decide whether having category devices such as doorbell video cameras, networked cameras, and other products suffice for their security. Increasingly competitive landscape Smart home services can provide additional revenue streams for the security industry For instance, IP cameras are a highly popular smart home device rooted in security, and Parks Associates estimates 7.7 million standalone and all-in-one networked/IP cameras will be sold in the U.S. in 2018, with $889M in revenues. Product owners may feel their security needs are fulfilled with this single purchase, as such dealers and service providers are under increasing pressure to communicate their value proposition to consumers. Categorically, each type of player is facing competition uniquely—national, regional, and local dealers all have a different strategy for overcoming the increasingly competitive landscape. Smart home services can provide additional revenue streams for the security industry. In Parks Associates’ 2017 survey of U.S. security dealers, 58% report that smart home service capabilities enable extra monthly revenue. Almost half of dealers also note they have to offer smart home devices and services in order to keep up with their competition. While white-label devices are acceptable in some instances, dealers need to integrate with hero products whenever possible when those exist for a category. For dealers who have added smart home devices and services are all potential benefits and good for business Improved customer engagement That 2017 survey also revealed 36% of security dealers that offer interactive services report security system sales with a networked camera and 16% report sales with a smart thermostat. For dealers who have added smart home devices and services, enhanced system utility, increased daily value, and improved customer engagement with the system are all potential benefits and good for business. Security has served as the most productive channel for smart home solutions, mainly because the products create natural extensions of a security system’s functions and benefits, but as smart home devices, subsystems, and controllers expand their functionality, availability, and DIY capabilities, many standalone devices constitute competition to classical security. Particularly viable substitute devices include IP cameras, smart door locks, smart garage doors, or a combination of these devices. Products that are self-installed offer both convenience and cost savings, and these drivers are significant among DIY consumers—among the 6% of broadband households that installed a security system themselves, 39% did it to save money. Enhance traditional security Self-installable smart home devices may resonate with a segment of the market who want security While many security dealers believe substitute offerings are a threat, some dealers do not find such devices an existential threat but instead view them as another path to consumer awareness. They argue that the difference between smart product substitutes and traditional security is that of a solution that provides knowledge versus a system that gives one the ability to act on that knowledge. A common theme among professional monitoring providers is that a homeowner who is aware of events happening in the home does not necessarily have a secure and protected household. For example, a Nest camera, a DIY product, notifies a consumer via smartphone about events in the home when it detects motion, but only when the notification is opened and identified will a consumer be able to act on the related event. Self-installable smart home devices may resonate with a segment of the market who want security but are unwilling to adopt professional monitoring; however, providers can leverage these devices to enhance traditional security features and communicate the value of professional monitoring. Smart home devices and features, while posing a threat to some security companies, are a potential way forward to increased market growth Increased market growth A key counterstrategy for security dealers and companies is to leverage their current, powerful role as the prime channel for smart home devices. Many security dealers now include smart home devices with their security systems to complement their offerings and increase system engagement. For example, as of Q4 2017, nearly 70% of U.S. broadband households that were very likely to purchase a security system in the next 12 months reported that they want a camera to be included as part of their security system purchase. In response, many security system providers now offer IP cameras as optional enhancements for their systems. Smart home devices and features, while posing a threat to some security companies, are a potential way forward to increased market growth. Security dealers have an opportunity to become more than a security provider but a smart home solutions provider rooted in safety. Provide status updates Comcast has entered both the professionally monitored security market and the market for smart home services The alternative is to position as a provider of basic security with low price as the key differentiator. Comcast has entered both the professionally monitored security market and the market for smart home services independent of security. It has discovered that monetising smart home value propositions through recurring revenue becomes increasingly challenging as the value extends further away from life safety. Since the security industry remains the main channel for smart home services, security dealers are in a unique position to leverage that strength. Value propositions must shift from the traditional arming and disarming of a system to peace-of-mind experiences that builds off the benefits of smart devices in the home to provide status updates (e.g., if the kids arrived home safely) and monitoring at will (e.g., checking home status at any time to see a pet or monitor a package delivery). These types of clear value propositions and compelling use cases, which resonate with consumer and motivate them to expand beyond standalone products, will help expand the home security market.
Last week, the Schedule 84 Suppliers Research Panel participated in reviewing the 2018 contracting year with the GSA Schedule 84 leadership team. Our panel group consists of experienced contractors and consultants meeting for a monthly conference call. Schedule 84 is the GSA Schedules Contract for Total Solutions for Law Enforcement, Security, Facilities Management, Fire and Rescue. Our opinions are part of a research programme to provide valuable feedback to the GSA Schedule 84 programme and on to the GSA central office. The director of GSA Region 7 Schedules Program, the Schedule 84 Branch Chief and the Category Manager Subject Matter Expert who manages our suppliers' panel gave us their full attention as we discussed the successes of the programme, hot topics, problems and the future. We determined 2018 under the Schedule 84 team to be a year of innovative thoughts, cooperative effort and renewed enthusiasm Innovative review team We determined 2018 under the Schedule 84 team to be a year of innovative thoughts, cooperative effort, renewed enthusiasm and productive changes building upon the successes of 2017. There was high praise for the accessibility to the Schedule 84 staff. Their consistent quick response to questions and concerns, thinking outside the box and supporting the programme by partnering with their contractors was much appreciated. There has been a renewed spirit of partnering to cooperatively bring the best to agency customers. It seems to be working as per the Centre Director sales are growing for GSA Schedule 84. Advocating for the security industry In my experience, business development starts with the Administrator from Region 7 in Ft. Worth, TX. As the annual Schedule 84 Industry Day at the SSAC begins he is shaking every hand and passing out his cards looking folks right in the eye asking, “how can I help you?” They have the best practices and most organised paperwork. The SSAC director has chosen well in her staff and is hands-on in every endeavour to direct things along when challenges occur or to improve the programme. The new 84 Branch Chief is knowledgeable, innovative, tireless and has been heavily involved in advocating for the security industry It continues with the centre’s CASE Manager encouraging the contractors at events, visiting agency customers and promoting the GSA Schedules Program by helping coordinate the partnering. The new 84 Branch Chief is knowledgeable, innovative, tireless and has been heavily involved in advocating for the security industry for adding new technology, meeting with industry associations, understanding the complexity and challenges of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD12) and advocating for the purchasing Physical Access Control Systems (PACS) utilising the appropriate standards and the GSA Program among other innovations. As far as the supplier panel, we gave our GSA Schedule 84 team and leaders high praise for 2018. GSA also added new categories or SINs for clearly identifying Physical Access Control Products that appear on GSA’s Approved Product List Changes in the GSA programme Some changes this year in certain GSA programmes included the creation of a new category of products/services Special Item Number (SIN) for Order Level Materials (OLM) developed to assist with solution procurements. This new SIN was added to Schedules 03FAC, 56, 70, 71, 00Corp, 738X and 84. Under Schedule 84 it is SIN 84-500. GSA Schedule 84 consolidated many Special Items Numbers (SINs) to make finding products and services less complex Essentially this SIN allows agencies procuring under the aforementioned GSA Schedules’ programmes to purchase and the contractor to add items and services not known prior to the task as a Contract Line Item Number (CLIN) not to exceed 33% of the order. For more information and FAQs on OLMs go to www.gsa.gov/olm. This is not to take the place of “Open Market” items for adding products only that are not listed on a company’s GSA Contract. Physical access control products Previously, GSA Schedule 84 consolidated many Special Items Numbers (SINs) to make finding products and services less complex for the agencies. GSA also added new categories or SINs for clearly identifying Physical Access Control Products that appear on GSA’s Approved Product List according to the standards created under FIPS201. These products appear under SIN 246 35-7 after being tested and approved by GSA. To be qualified to install these products under the GSA Program at least one individual from the GSA Contractor company must complete the class and be CSEIP certified before applying for labour SIN 246 60-5. Additionally, the company must demonstrate certain qualifications and have past performance for this type of work. The Security Technology Alliance offers the training class and certification. Certified individuals and approved products are listed at www.idmanagement.gov. Companies listed with SIN 246-35 7 and SIN 246-60 5 may be found by searching at www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov. Updates to guidance for procurement Updates to guidance for procurement of PACS will continue to be posted to the GSA PACS Ordering Guide Updates to guidance for procurement of PACS will continue to be posted to the GSA PACS Ordering Guide. The ordering guide posted at www.gsa.gov/firesecurity is a valuable support tool created to assist agencies with understanding the requirements of FIPS201 and procuring a PACS. The guide includes relevant regulations, FAQs, sample systems designs, sample statements of work, a list of key points of contract for additional help and questions. In partnership with GSA and guided by the GSA Ombudsman group, the Security Industry Association and the Security Technology Alliance members and their contractor companies participated in a GSA Reverse Industry PACS Training Day on September 17, 2018. We presented from an industry perspective important fact on PACS system requirements, procurement planning, providing information on resources and further educating with panel discussions, individual presentations and amusing skits to over 300 Government agency staff and acquisition specialists. You can find some of the unedited recording of the PACS Reverse Industry Day Training on YouTube. Some changes included the creation of a new category of products/services Special Item Number (SIN) for Order Level Materials (OLM) GSA Schedules Program A hot topic about the GSA programme for 2018 was also an issue for the prior year. The GSA Schedules Program is a streamlined contracting vehicle incorporating specific Federal Acquisition Regulations for more efficiently purchasing commercial items. Companies may apply per a continuous open season for a 5-year contract with three 5-year options to renew. Contractors are vetted for past performance, corporate experience and financial capability. Products and services are considered for offering to Federal, State and Local customers (for Schedule 84) with pricing that is determined to be fair and reasonable through negotiations with GSA. To make the determination for fair and reasonable pricing GSA carefully reviews the commercial practices of the contractor To make the determination for fair and reasonable pricing GSA carefully reviews the commercial practices of the contractor as well as the competition of identical or similar item pricing. The most vocal complaint of concern from the contractors was regarding the consideration of competitor contractors offering identical items with out-of-date pricing or holding a Letter of Supply not authorised by the manufacturer. GSA pricing tool Since the GSA utilises a pricing tool to determine if the pricing offered is competitive, a rogue competitor can cause a pricing action to possibly be rejected due to out of date information even as the manufacturer offers an update of the product. This is an issue on all GSA Contracts that the supplier panel hopes will be reconsidered by GSA policymakers at the central office. Most of us believe the Letters of Supply should only be issued by the manufacturer or with documented specific permission of the manufacturer to a reseller. Manufacturers may want to have a better understanding of the Letter of Supply, how it is considered by GSA and more carefully choose their Government partners for experience and compliance. Another challenge for the security community is regarding the lack of accessibility of participating dealers to GSA eBuy Overcoming challenges for the security community Contractors may only see RFQs which are posted under the Special items Number(s) that were awarded to their GSA Contract Another challenge for the security community is regarding the lack of accessibility of participating dealers to GSA eBuy. GSA eBuy is an online Request for Quotation (RFQ) programme that is for GSA Contract holders only. Agencies will post their requirements by Special Item Number for at a minimum 48 hours. Contractors may only see RFQs which are posted under the Special items Number(s) that were awarded to their GSA Contract. GSA Participating Dealers may take orders on behalf of a manufacturer if they are authorised under the manufacturer’s GSA Contract. They may also have an online PO Portal to receive orders. But they have no access to GSA eBuy to response to RFQs. Usually, under these arrangements, the manufacturers do not respond directly, so there is a problem using GSA eBuy for opportunities as their GSA Participating Dealers have no access to respond. GSA Schedule 84 leadership In some instances, a contracting officer may allow an emailed quotation. However, with the use of the electronic ordering system, this has become a common problem we hope to bring to the attention of policymakers. Some changes to the programmes may make the presentation of documentation more effective going forwardThe GSA Schedule 84 leadership has been helpful to explain the challenges to the agencies to try and resolve such issues. So, what’s up for 2019? GSA modernisation is coming. There will be improvements to their tools and more consolidations of SINs and more. There have been discussions of a revival of the GSA Expo. The Expo offered training for contracting staff both Government and private industry. Valuable tools for vendor training Equally important is the networking, meetings and the exhibits of the contractors. Expos have been discontinued since 2012 but smaller events have been growing as well as online webinar training. Webinars are valuable tools for GSA and vendor training, but they do not take the place of being able to meet your customers face-to-face. GSA online eOffer and eMod programme have made processing actions more efficient. Some changes to the programmes may make the presentation of documentation more effective going forward. The GSA online website for viewing the items on the GSA Contract and for purchasing items, GSA Advantage could definitely use an update as it has been basically the same for 20 years. Keep an eye on GSA Interact for the latest happenings with GSA.
One of the biggest recent security divestitures in the news was the sale of Mercury Security to HID Global, which occurred around a year ago. The seller in that transaction was ACRE (Access Control Related Enterprises), also the parent company of Vanderbilt and ComNet. We recently spoke to founder and CEO Joe Grillo, a 30-year industry veteran, about the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market, ACRE’s future, and new opportunities opened up by the Mercury sale. Q: What’s new with ACRE? Grillo: We have an opportunity to have organic growth and to have some scale on a global basis to be a decent size player" ACRE is a company I founded in 2012, and since then we have had six acquisitions and one divestiture. We’ll never focus on ACRE as a brand, but we currently have more visibility of ACRE as a parent company with our two strong brands, ComNet and Vanderbilt. Last year was a very busy year [with the sale of Mercury Security to HID Global] because it takes as long to sell a brand as to buy one, maybe more so. Q: What’s next? Grillo: What you are seeing from us this year is that we are again in a buying mode. No announcement yet, but we expect one by the end of the year. We are well-funded, have great partners, and see an opportunity to continue to grow acquisitively as our highly fragmented space of access control continues to consolidate. From the standpoint of ACRE, with the ComNet and Vanderbilt brands, we are also doing more integration on the backside – not what the customer sees. We will continue to grow toward a $200 million business. We were there when we owned Mercury, and we will get there again. We have an opportunity to have organic growth and to have some scale on a global basis to be a decent size player. Because ACRE are owned by a private equity company, we are brought into every opportunity: ComNet is a good example" Q: Do you see the M&A market being more competitive – more companies looking to acquire? Grillo: There’s a lot of money chasing not-so-many deals, so evaluations can get expanded. But as interest rates creep up, it is definitely a challenge to find the right valuation, the right financing and the right strategic fit. It is a very strategic market. Q: There have been some big acquisitions lately. Were you guys involved at all in evaluating those opportunities? Grillo: Because we are owned by a private equity company, we are brought into every opportunity. An example of that was ComNet. I would not have been aware that the founder passed away two years ago and that there was this opportunity to own the business. So we look at everything; anything that’s out there we look at. The biggest recent announcement in our world was S2 (being sold to UTC/Lenel), and, yeah, we looked at that. It didn’t fit our profile – it was too expensive. Great business, and it’ll be interesting to see how it fits into the UTC environment. There was also Isonas [which was recently sold to Allegion], but the size didn’t add enough scale, but I like the technology. ComNet sells communication networking solutions and products, which is more attractive than video systems for ACRE Q: So what are you looking for in an acquisition? Grillo: It’s hard for us to find something that moves the needle, and you have to find that right balance. Is it something we can digest and have the financing for, and also is there room on the back end? We are private equity-owned, so we know there will be an exit for our investors, too. So we have to find the right balance, good valuations, the right size and digestible. If you look at our acquisitions, we have done two “carve outs.” The Vanderbilt name didn’t exist until we bought the business from Ingersoll Rand, and then we bought the [intruder] business from Siemens. That’s how Vanderbilt came about. You get a lot of value when you carve out a business, but there’s a lot of work. In the case of Mercury or Access Control Technology (ACT) that we acquired; they were growing and profitable but they stretch your finances a lot more. So you have to find the right mix in there. Q: Does video interest ACRE at all? Grillo: We have to find the right balance, good valuations, the right size and digestible"ComNet is our video play. ComNet sells communication networking solutions and products, and 70 to 80 percent of that is used for video systems. But unlike cameras, which don’t interest us, it’s actually good margins, highly specialised repeat business and with good channel partners. So where are we going to play? Cameras – no (because of commoditisation). We have some recorder technology (from the Siemens acquisition) and we have the communication networking technology (with ComNet). On the software side, we have looked at a lot of the VMS companies, and a lot of them have been on the market. But the valuation expectations can be high because they are software companies. And we really believe in partnering as a good thing, too. If we integrate to Milestone or Salient or some of these companies, we will never lose an access control client because they chose a particular VMS. Q: ACRE is also looking to grow organically, isn’t it? Grillo: From a technology perspective, we are a product company and we are continuing to bring new products to the market with the ComNet communication networking business and the access control business. And in Europe, we have a third leg of the stool, which is the very successful intrusion and burgular alarm business we acquired from Siemens (SPC products now sold under the Vanderbilt brand). That business continues to do well and is now one of the highest performing segments in our portfolio.The intrusion and burgular alarm continues to do well and is now one of the highest performing segments in our portfolio" Q: But you don’t have to own a company to make it part of your solution. Grillo: An important word is integration. We have to integrate to all the wireless locks. We have to integrate to the VMS systems. But we don’t have to own them. Q: How has the Mercury Security divestiture impacted the rest of your business? Grillo: It has opened up the opportunity for us to look at Mercury partners as possible acquisition targets without worrying about conflicts with the very good business of Mercury. We have more flexibility now compared to the Mercury era. Q: How will the economic cycle impact the security market? Grillo: Interest rates are a much bigger issue than the overall economic cycle. We talk a lot about it with our owners – clearly interest rates are tightening up. If you go out to do acquisitions or to borrow money to do something with your business, it will be tougher than it was two years ago, and it may get worse in the next two years. Security is less impacted by the economic cycle than some industries.
In the simplest terms, video systems capture and record video. But supporting these basic operations are a growing number of other functions that expand usefulness and the ability to interact with related elements in a larger system. As video system functionality expands, we asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the most important function of a CCTV system and why?
GRW is one of South Africa’s leading providers of sophisticated road transport trailers; designing, manufacturing and servicing a wide range of bespoke vehicles, each configured to provide a solution to the unique transportation needs of an individual client. GRW has now invested in a state-of-the-art IP CCTV system to protect its premises against unauthorised access and monitor the large, modern production facilities, and is already reaping the benefits from the integration of analytics with the IP cameras. GRW transport operations Founded in South Africa in 1996, GRW’s operations have always revolved around the transport of commercial goods. Whether it’s carrying petroleum, chemicals, temperature-controlled perishables, FMCG, pallets or bulk general cargo, the trailers manufactured by GRW are specifically designed to meet the individual transportation requirements of customers throughout Southern Africa, the Middle East, Australia and the UK. All the company’s products emerge from its large, ultra-modern manufacturing complex in Worcester, in South Africa’s Western Cape. As well as housing the extensive production facilities and spare parts department, the facility is also home to GRW Services and GRW Financial Services, which are responsible for worldwide customer care and after-sales contract servicing and the supply of rental units. Surveillance of the perimeter of this large facility and protecting the plant from unauthorised access was a key security concern for the company. However, manned patrols of the perimeter proved ineffective and Sensor Security was tasked with designing a solution that would automate the process of securing the boundary and eliminate the possibility of human error. At the same time, GRW recognised that an intelligent camera infrastructure might enable remote monitoring of the production process and Sensor Security was asked to investigate.Surveillance of the perimeter of this large facility and protecting the plant from unauthorised access was a key security concern for the company Integration of analytics with IP cameras “From the outset we knew that the proposed CCTV system should successfully serve a dual purpose, helping supervisors and managers monitor the workshop operations during opening hours and securing the perimeter 24 hours a day,” says Edmund Casaleggio, Sensor Security’s Sales Executive. “There was also a need to make the combined system as simple and easy to operate as possible, ensuring that operations staff had unrestricted access to the workshop video feeds while not being distracted by the security cameras and vice versa for the security officers, who are best served by complete concentration on securing the premises.” Following extensive consultations with GRW staff, the final design of the dual-purpose system involved a total of 18 Hikvision cameras, eleven on the perimeter and seven in the workshop area, all feeding in to a 32-channel Hikvision NVR at GRW, and to Security Sensor’s control room. “GRW was actively involved in the whole consultation and design process, right from day one, with suggestions on key sites needing monitoring and protecting and information and advice on the flow of work and personnel around the workshop area” continues Edmund Casaleggio. “This was hugely beneficial and one of the main contributory factors in the successful installation. In my experience it is always more challenging, risky even, to install any security-related system without sufficient input and collaboration from the end-user client.” A smart perimeter Perimeter patrolling with guards having proved ineffective, GRW was also keen that the introduction of cameras did not mean that an individual would have to be assigned to constantly manage the CCTV system around-the-clock. Therefore, the Hikvision DS-2CD4012F-A Smart 1.3MP low-light box camera was selected to monitor the perimeter of the plant, with active use of the cameras Smart Analytics intrusion flags ensuring that GRW’s security officers and Sensor Security’s control room are pro-actively notified of any unauthorised movement around the premises. According to Edmund Casaleggio, “The integration of analytics with the Smart IP CCTV cameras is a significant added advantage, flagging alarms only when intrusion occurs within the specified range. We do not have to use alarm inputs and outputs to connect passives and actives on the DVR/NVR, which saves significantly on maintenance of the system. It also reduced installation time significantly. What’s more, the accuracy of these Smart cameras with analytics is far better than beams, as long as the cameras are correctly calibrated when installed. In this regard, the Auto Back Focus on these Smart cameras greatly assists the installation technicians to achieve the best possible viewing quality.” As well as the Smart Intrusion Detection, the Hikvision DS-2CD4012F-A also features Smart Codec, Smart Focus, Smart VQD, Smart Face Detection and Smart Audio Detection. They also benefit from 3D DNR and Digital WDR, and the Day & Night IR cut filter allows successful video operation down to 0.001 Lux. Remote monitoring of perimeter and workshop Seven Hikvision DS-2CD2132-I 3MP Mini Dome Cameras keep watch over all operations in the workshop area, assisting the supervisors and managers to remotely monitor processes on the floor. This process is made much easier and more efficient for these staff due to the integration of the Hikvision DS-9632NI-ST 32-channel NVR with a PC, ensuring that operational staff are only presented with images relevant to the production area.GRW is already reaping the benefits from the integration of analytics with the IP cameras and is set to continue for many years" “The full HD, 1080p real-time video is a huge asset for the supervisory staff and the camera itself, protected within its IP66 vandal-proof housing, has withstood the rigours of a harsh industrial environment really well,” continues Edmund Casaleggio. “True day/night operation thanks to its 30m IR range and Digital WDR and 3D DNR also contribute to the high-quality video at all times.” A real success “This newly-installed state-of-the-art IP CCTV system automates the process of protecting GRW’s premises against unauthorised access and monitoring the production facilities while eliminating the possibility of human error,” says Edmund Casaleggio. “GRW is already reaping the benefits from the integration of analytics with the IP cameras and is set to continue for many years. “At the same time, they are benefitting from the user-friendly nature of Hikvision’s technology. This deceptively “simple” platform helps GRW staff to operate the software easily with minimal training while Smart features, such as ABF, aids our technicians to achieve the best possible video quality. “However, the quality of Hikvision’s hardware and software does not come with an unaffordable price tag. In fact, since Hikvision’s iVMS-4200 software allows for the integration of analogue and IP cameras free-of-charge, this serves to increase the affordability of their products. What’s more, the free Hikvision software allows the feeds from analogue and IP cameras to be integrated on one screen. “In conclusion, Hikvision’s huge range of cameras, NVRs, DVRs and software allows us to propose unitary solutions to their security needs and to more successfully back-up and service the installation over many years. Quite simply, it is easier to provide post-sales service and support with a single, reliable brand.”
A five-acre logistics site in the UK blighted by break-ins and theft of diesel is now being protected by a system that includes a combination of 30 highly reliable detectors from OPTEX, one of the world’s leading detection technology manufacturers. Established in 1995, Intake Transport operates one of the largest fleets on the British road today with one main depot and three satellites around the country. The main depot experienced a number of incidents where diesel was being stolen directly from the tanks of the lorries, most severely over a bank holiday weekend when it was closed for three days. Each vehicle holds at least £600 worth of diesel, and added to the cost of the damage to the bespoke painted vehicles when intruders tried to enter the cabs and steal scrap metal from the trailer, the overall cost to the business ran into many thousands of pounds. OPTEX intrusion detection sensors Eyewatch Security was approached by the Director of Intake Transport for a solution. The system designed by Eyewatch includes 30 OPTEX intrusion detection sensors to provide a layered protection around the site. Five AX infrared beams create a ‘virtual perimeter fence’ around the compound where the lorries are parked; six BX-80 outdoor PIRs provide a curtain of detection to protect the outdoor perimeter along the fence. Ten battery-operated high mount HX-80 sensors provide volumetric detection to secure the approach to the office building; and 25 VX-402 hardwired detectors add additional security at the entrance and around the rest of the site. The extensive system is linked to five cameras that are remotely monitored at Eyewatch’s HQ so that if an intrusion is detected, the incident can be ‘seen’ and responded to. Each of the Intake drivers is given a code to set and unset the system so that they do not cause any false alarms. System success Richard Burgin, director of Intake Transport: “Since the system was installed, we haven’t had any attempted break-ins and no false alarms either, now that the drivers have become used to the routine. I am incredibly impressed with the reliability of the OPTEX detectors and the peace of mind this has provided us as a business. “Diesel and scrap metal theft has become a prevalent problem nationwide and in Scunthorpe, we are seeing many businesses suffering from similar problems as Intake Transport,” says Dean Bolton, Managing Director of Eyewatch. “We have now installed a top level security system that will protect the compound and all of the valuable lorries within it for many years to come.”
Customer Located in the Meadowlands and part of the MetLife Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, MetLife Stadium is home to the New York Football Giants and the New York Jets. The $1.6 billion stadium was financed and built by a joint venture between the two teams, who operate it through the New Meadowlands Stadium Company. The stadium opened in April 2010 and boasts a seating capacity of 82,500, making it one of the NFL®'s largest stadiums. On February 2, 2014, MetLife Stadium played host to Super Bowl® XLVIII. Challenge MetLife Stadium wanted to replace 26 IP cameras located at the perimeter gates of the stadium and also to deploy 180° panoramic-view cameras in place of the 27 pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras that covered the exterior perimeter. Given the large crowds they attract, each football game, concert or other event has its share of unique challenges, including monitoring fan conduct, crowd management situations and dealing with medical emergencies. MetLife Stadium's main goal in upgrading its surveillance system was to ensure a safe, secure environment that would contribute to a memorable guest experience. Incident prevention and monitoring were additional key goals of the project. MetLife Stadium staff members are challenged with trying to determine what happened after an incident occurred. There are often various versions and accounts from those involved and from independent witnesses. Clear recorded video is needed to reveal what actually happened. Prior to the new camera system being installed, MetLife Stadium used four PTZ cameras to monitor the seating bowl area and these cameras were only used reactively when an incident came to the attention of the stadium's Command Center. With the new camera system, every seat in the seating bowl is monitored at all times. Being able to have their Command Center personnel go back in time and review everyone's actions is an extremely valuable investigative tool for stadium security personnel and for public safety agencies. Among the stadium security management team's other goals are to identify and examine objects left behind, monitor security screening procedures, investigate slip-and-fall incidents, observe staff performance and provide surveillance for counter terrorism efforts. Solution Because MetLife Stadium was designed to be a network-controlled building, IP cameras were part of the original design. When it came time to install cameras to cover the seating bowl, IP was the only platform considered, according to Daniel DeLorenzi, Director of Security for MetLife Stadium. "To run an analogue system would have been cost-prohibitive due to cabling, and the cables would be single-purpose. If upgrades were necessary, the project would have to be completed all over again," DeLorenzi said. The excellent image quality provided by the Arecont Vision megapixel cameras makes it possible for stadium security to identify individuals DeLorenzi and the rest of MetLife Stadium’s security management team turned to Robert McCabe, owner of Corporate Security Services, Inc., located in Edison, N.J., to assist in selecting IP surveillance components and to design and implement the video surveillance solution. After a careful evaluation process, an optimal surveillance solution was built around megapixel imaging technology from Arecont Vision to ensure wide area coverage with extreme detail and to enable forensic zooming on live and recorded video. Corporate Security Services deployed more than 130 Arecont Vision megapixel cameras throughout MetLife Stadium, including MegaVideo® Compact 10-megapixel (MP) cameras located around the bowl of the stadium to provide a view of every seat in every section; SurroundVideo® panoramic 8MP cameras provide 180° coverage of entrances and common areas; and MegaDome® 2 3MP cameras with remote focus and wide dynamic range (WDR) are located in the stadium's security entrance areas. Arecont Vision WDR cameras provide detailed video where bright and dark images exist in the same scene. The Arecont Vision megapixel cameras are controlled using Genetec Security Center, a unified video management system (VMS) which is monitored by a centralised security command center within the stadium. Arecont Vision worked with Corporate Security Services' designers to provide a layout of the camera locations required to cover the area, which McCabe says helped with the installation. In the end, all the cameras were installed in easily accessible and serviceable locations. Megapixel benefit Because of the high level of detail it provides, one Arecont Vision SurroundVideo panoramic camera covers the same area as multiple IP VGA resolution cameras. By using Arecont Vision cameras to reduce overall camera counts, MetLife Stadium's security team was able to achieve its goal of implementing an unobtrusive high-performance video surveillance system. With a reduction in the total number of cameras implemented, the system can be more efficiently managed. MetLife Stadium's policy is to initiate real-time recording 24-hours prior to game day, at which time every camera within the stadium is recorded at its full frame rate. Incidents are recorded prior to, during and for several hours after a game or other event. This allows the security staff to easily search and play back detailed video of any reported incidents from any of the cameras to determine what happened. Because of the high level of detail it provides, one Arecont Vision SurroundVideo panoramic camera covers the same area as multiple IP VGA resolution cameras The excellent image quality provided by the Arecont Vision megapixel cameras makes it possible for stadium security to identify individuals, and the high frame rates allow them to see actions that occur. Additional benefits of the Arecont Vision cameras include Day/Night video capabilities where mechanical infrared (IR) cut filters are used for clear images in low light, H.264 compression to reduce network and storage costs and Power over Ethernet (PoE) to reduce cabling costs. Arecont Vision MegaVideo Compact series box cameras are available in 1.3MP to 10MP resolutions with features that include dual H.264/MJPEG encoding, fast frame rates, privacy masking, pixel binning to increase light sensitivity in 3MP, 5MP and 10MP models, extended motion detection grid, flexible cropping and PoE. They are available in colour and Day/Night configurations. SurroundVideo series megapixel cameras from Arecont Vision are all-in-one 180° and 360° panoramic solutions that are available in 8MP, 12MP WDR, 20MP and 40MP resolutions. Housed in environmental rated IP66 domes, the units feature dual H.264/MJPEG encoding, true Day/Night functionality, IR corrected megapixel lenses, privacy masking, extended motion detection, bit rate control, binning mode to increase light sensitivity in 12MP, 20MP and 40MP models, fast image rates and WDR in 12MP models. Arecont Vision MegaDome 2 all-in-one cameras with remote focus and remote zoom are available in 1080p, 3MP, 5MP and 10MP resolutions. Features include an IP66-rated / IK-10 impact-resistant dome chassis with a 3-axis camera gimbal for easy adjustment, dual H.264/MJPEG encoding, integrated megapixel vari-focal lens, optional WDR in 1080p and 3MP models, pixel binning in 3MP, 5MP and 10MP models, total PoE and optional IR illumination, audio functionality and heater kit.
Moinesti, a city in Bacau County, Romania, recently upgraded its municipal surveillance system for the sake of its safety improvement and criminality prevention by installing Dahua Megapixel surveillance system. With strong support from Dahua’s local distributor and system integrator, KMW Systems and Mobilis, the project has been successfully implemented to safeguard city of Moinesti. Monitoring multiple sites The challenge of this project is covering multiple monitoring sites from roads, parks, schools and public areas alike. These sites have one thing in common which is open areas and it requires a monitoring centre to manage hundreds of network cameras and to process and store massive data flows as well as to respond quickly if any incident or unusual signals occur. Meanwhile, when choosing cameras, several factors were taken into consideration, such as detailed image quality, outdoor environment and variations of monitoring backgrounds; the suitable lens applied to the network camera is also a big concern. Without a doubt, the IP solution is definitely the answer to all the challenges. Therefore, the whole project lays importance on three dimensions — IP data transmission, video surveillance devices and central management software (CMS). Monitoring centre optimises police operations The project is covering multiple monitoring sites from roads, parks, schools and public areas alike The finalised solution consists of nearly 200 units of Dahua megapixel network cameras and speed domes, a pair of high-channel network video recorders as well as 11 units of network keyboards. The monitoring centre is situated in the local police department where hundreds of megapixel cameras are managed and mass data volume is centrally processed and stored. The office uses seven units of Dahua servers equipped with a quad-core processing chip and HDDs of high capacity to run Dahua CMS and NVRs, in order to fully ensure the smooth operation, data safety and system stability. Meanwhile, the bureau adopts 7 units of 42-inch 1080p LCD video-walls to take control of all on-going images. At the transmission front, optic fibre is featured in the project as physical support for data transmission while the auxiliary devices are wirelessly deployed. A local municipal official pointed out that the project is designed to combat crimes in an effective and friendly way, which also leads to an optimisation of police operations. “The municipal government has received quite a lot credits from our citizens since the deployment of the project,” unnamed official added. "Through this project, it demonstrates Dahua’s HD network solution is lived up to high standards that city of Moinesti requires,” said Michael Chen, Vice President of Dahua Technology. “With ample city surveillance projects in China, we surely have the capabilities for the projects alike.” "Our HD network solution includes front-end, back-end as well as TV wall, given that our products and technologies are differentiating with other suppliers can offer,” added Chen. “We will continue to offer solution-based solution to our customers not only for city surveillance projects but also other vertical markets, such as retail, hotel and transportation.”
For 121 years, National Lutheran Communities and Services (NLCS) has provided lifestyle, residential and health care choices to seniors through a variety of retirement community options. These include The Village at Rockville, a National Lutheran Community in Maryland; The Legacy at North Augusta, a National Lutheran Community in Staunton, Virginia; and The Village at Orchard Ridge, a National Lutheran Community in Winchester, Virginia, which is currently undergoing Phase 1 of construction and will open in Spring 2013. Security challenges NLCS prides itself on maximising independence to let residents live fulfilling, exciting lives with the assurance of health care at their fingertips. While their mission is rooted in the Lutheran heritage, they are proud to serve seniors of any faith and about 55 percent of their residents are non-Lutheran.NLCS is undergoing rapid expansion, with current renovations to The Village at Rockville and the construction of The Village at Orchard Ridge. With significant growth, comes security challenges and the community faces these head on by deploying technology to help combat potential issues. The security risks at any National Lutheran community, and any senior-living facility, for that matter, go beyond deterring and solving crime. An environment that supports the health and well being of all residents, while maintaining an atmosphere of independence and safety is essential to the day-to-day operations for any community. Privacy and respect a priority One of the challenges The Village at Rockville experienced is that many independent living residents requested use of an exercise facility, but without full-time personnel managing the exercise room, the associated risks seemed far too great. How could they make it safe without sacrificing independence of residents who wished to workout at their convenience?"Safety and security are selling points for our community," said Courtney Malengo, Director of Public Relations, National Lutheran Communities and Services, Rockville, Maryland. "One of the first questions adult children will ask is ‘how are my mom and dad going to be taken care of and how are you going to ensure their safety?’ They are essentially trusting strangers with their loved ones. Whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., we need to make sure everyone is safe and secure while keeping privacy and respect paramount."A couple of years ago NLCS installed a single IP camera to monitor a small space in The Village at Rockville, a 300-bed healthcare facility with 144 independent living cottages, hospice, respite and short-term rehabilitation facilities. Its current four-year renovations include enhanced rehabilitation services and assisted-living suites. This single test served as a pilot to see how the analogue surveillance system could be enhanced with new technology."Our old analogue system ran off copper but the interface wasn’t very friendly or reliable," said Drew Tannahill, Technical Services Manager, National Lutheran Communities and Services, Rockville, Maryland. "We were looking for a more friendly and robust interface so we could do more with the cameras. Plus, we needed a system that could be easily expanded upon if needed because of our rapid growth and renovation." MOBOTIX solution MOBOTIX cameras at The Village at Rockville Kim Hartman of MOBOTIX partner and leading systems integrator Surveillance Secure, in collaboration with Global Surveillance System, Inc., the largest distributor of IP video surveillance and low-voltage security equipment in the Washington, DC Metro area, installed 37 MOBOTIX cameras throughout the Village of Rockville, 27 of which were installed externally and 10 internally. Surveillance Secure is a full service provider of IP, digital, wireless surveillance cameras and services in the Washington, D.C. Metro area and throughout the United States. Surveillance Secure works diligently with Global Surveillance System, Inc. to provide strong value, the latest surveillance and access control technology and competitive pricing for all installation projects and cameras that meet client budgets and timelines. The cameras installed by Surveillance Secure at The Village of Rockville cover all of the main entrances and exits, the parking lot and other high-traffic areas. 24/7 monitoring day and night Six cameras are monitored 24 hours per day; three are configured for facial recognition so the staff can ‘buzz in’ residents and visitors, and keep unwanted guests out; all are set to activate and record when motion is detected; and several MOBOTIX DualDome cameras with night and day features that allow the staff to easily see outdoor activity at night, and have pan, tilt and zoom capability to see specific areas when needed. They also have six cameras at The Legacy at North Augusta and plan to install the same surveillance at The Village at Orchard Ridge community when it is complete.One of the key reasons NLCS chose to deploy a MOBOTIX surveillance system was due to the cost efficiencies delivered by its decentralised approach to surveillance technology. With this unique concept, each camera incorporates a high-speed computer and internal flash memory card (SD/MicroSD card) to enable all recording and storage to occur within the camera, reducing the need for a separate PC or DVR. MxControlCenter VMS The addition of MxControlCenter, a professional video management software package that connects any number of cameras at any location with centralised or local, user-based operation and evaluation, with the cameras at no additional charge was also deemed to be an ROI enhancer. The usability of the VMS platform enabled NLCS to get its staff up-and-running in no time. They are simultaneously protecting their residents from any day-to-day risks and employees from any situation that could harm them "Working with Kim we were shown how easy it is to operate and everyone got up to speed really quickly," Tannahill said. "The motion detection, PTZ and IP features have met our needs without bogging down our network, and it can easily be added to or changed based on where our renovation takes us."Furthermore, the MOBOTIX cameras provide a high level of video quality through its use of megapixel sensors. One single MOBOTIX camera with 3.1 megapixels records 30 times more detail than traditional CCTV cameras. As a result, larger image areas of up to 360-degree views are possible. This reduces the number of cameras needed in any environment and therefore, upfront and long-term costs are minimised. Results It may seem like a small addition, but not to the residents that have been demanding it for years: The Village at Rockville now has a gym. Thanks to the surveillance system, the staff can keep an eye on the workout room and quickly react to an emergency without making the residents feel as though they are losing their independence."The residents always wanted a place to workout," Malengo said. "But we were faced with the challenge of, ‘how do we provide this to allow them to maintain their independence and health, but also ensure their safety?’ What if someone slipped and fell on the treadmill, how would we handle that? With the camera system in place they can workout at their leisure and we can make sure they’re safe without interfering."The benefits of the surveillance solution from MOBOTIX have also helped prevent problems that are fairly unique to the senior communities. Residents suffering from dementia are often prone to wandering, or attempting to leave the premises unknowingly. The situation might cause a severe panic at similar places, but the team at NLCS can easily use the cameras to see where the resident was last seen in the building, in addition to several other security measures that are in place.Finally, NLCS’ proactive approach to safety provides its obvious purpose: peace of mind. They are simultaneously protecting their residents from any day-to-day risks and employees from any situation that could harm them."It’s also been great for the staff. It gives them the peace of mind and they don’t feel like they’re completely alone," Tannahill said. "It’s nice to know the cameras are around. We aren’t faced with much crime but it’s nice to know the cameras are there." Save
Temperatures ranging between -40°C and -5°C, storm wind speeds of more than 100 km/h, constant daylight during summer and darkness during winter. This must be Antarctica. This is where the Belgian Princess Elisabeth Antarctic base is situated, the first "zero emission" polar research station which was designed, built and operated by the International Polar Foundation (IPF). Since the station went into service on February 15, 2009, it has been already hosting a multiple of scientific projects by Belgian and foreign scientists in geology, geodesy, biology, air chemistry, and climate research. MOBOTIX monitors state of research instruments at zero emissions Station At this station a MOBOTIX Allround M24 camera helps researchers of the HYDRANT project to monitor the instruments they work with to get comprehensive measurements of the hydrological cycle of Antarctica. The project focuses on studying the atmospheric processes: it looks at the transport of the water vapour, formation of clouds and precipitation, snow accumulation, and meteorological conditions behind. The goal of the HYDRANT project is to have continuous observations of both meteorology and cloud properties, which then will be used to validate regional climate models. Thus cloud instruments were installed for the long-term operation which monitors the cloud and snow fall properties and meteorology all at the same time. "The final goal of the project is to contribute to understanding the current and future evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet and its contribution to sea-level changes," says project scientist Dr. Irina Gorodetskaya of K.U. Leuven. "There is a lack of data on the clouds and precipitation processes in the Antarctic, which are important for the ice sheet surface mass balance. With this project, we want to establish a database that can be used for an in-depth model evaluation". As the Princess Elisabeth Station is a zero emission station Dr. Irina Gorodetskaya was looking for a camera that could work at low cost and low maintenance. Irina Gorodetskaya: "The idea of the station is to do scientific measurements using as low power consumption as possible. Furthermore, the station is unmanned during winter. At that time, we do the monitoring remotely from Belgium or any other country that is involved. So the instruments have to be working fine during the period when there is no one there. This is when the MOBOTIX camera helps us". The MOBOTIX cameras have to survivetemperatures of -40°C and extremeweather conditions Complimentary function: The camera shows weather changes But besides monitoring the instruments and checking the state they are in the MOBOTIX camera also has another function. The camera gives complementary information about the environment. It shows how the weather changes: how the cloud types change, if there is precipitation, if there is blowing snow during clear skies, etc. "From our instruments we can determine the cloud height and cloud temperature but it is difficult to determine the type of clouds. The camera helps us analysing this when we are not there. "We have wide - 180 degrees - angle images. We can see the sky, the cloud types, the weather, the mountains and then we can also see if the instruments are covered with snow or not. During May-July there is complete darkness at Princess Elisabeth site, the so called polar night. That is why we have installed a spotlight that illuminates the instruments in winter so we can see the state they are in. For example: the radar that is made to detect the snowfall is sometimes covered with snow, which is then blown away by the wind. When snow accumulates on it the signal changes. So if we would not have the camera monitoring we could not check if the strange signal is due to the snow cover or because the radar is damaged. We can also see if there is blowing snow or precipitation as the white snowflakes are illuminated by the spotlight." In addition to monitoring the instruments and weather the camera also films the beautiful natural phenomenon Aurora australis (also known as the southern lights and southern polar lights) now and then. These are magnificent displays of light that appear in the Antarctic skies in winter. Even though the camera cannot capture the light of this distant phenomena, it shows spectacular movements. Cameras endure extreme winter temperatures and weather In winter temperatures at the station drop to -40 °C. These extreme temperatures, combined with storms, are a real challenge for people and technology. Here the MOBOTIX cameras can prove their efficiency and skills. MOBOTIX cameras have no mechanical parts for lenses or movements. The absence of mechanically moving parts minimises maintenance, expands the usable temperature range, improves overall reliability of the total system and operating costs. "We are really satisfied about the MOBOTIX solution. It is a robust camera with low-maintenance and it is weatherproof", Irina ensures. "This type of camera has been recommended by our colleagues at University of Cologne, who are employing several of such cameras at Zugspitze high mountain observatory. The camera was working perfectly from the beginning of its installation in Antarctica and we receive good quality images. It can also see far enough, when the sky is clear it can reach more than 1 km. Also technical support was satisfying, we ordered the camera very last moment and it was delivered very fast." The decentralised processing and storage in the MOBOTIX camera also reduce the required bandwidth to a minimum and significantly cuts system costs. The camera is integrated into the station’s LAN and provides real-time images. A picture is taken every minute and recorded on a local PC. The images are transferred every 15 minutes to the FTP server of K.U. Leuven. The 1-minute resolution is important to be able to make high quality videos showing weather conditions and cloud movement.