Network video recorders (NVRs) - Expert commentary

Sensor data fusion for more reliable intrusion alarm systems
Sensor data fusion for more reliable intrusion alarm systems

Intrusion alarm systems are currently facing a growing number of potential error sources in the environment. At the same time, alarm systems must comply with increasingly demanding legal requirements for sensors and motion detectors. As a future-proof solution, detectors equipped with Sensor Data Fusion technology raise the level of security while reducing the risk of cost- and time-intensive false alarms. This article provides a comprehensive overview of Sensor Data Fusion technology. Anti-masking alarms A cultural heritage museum in the South of Germany for decades, the installed intrusion alarm system has provided reliable protection on the premises. But suddenly, the detectors trigger false alarms every night after the museum closes. The system integrators are puzzled and conduct extensive tests of the entire system. When they finally identify the culprit, it’s unexpected: As it turns out, the recently installed LED lighting system in the museum’s exhibition spaces radiates at a wavelength that triggers anti-masking alarms in the detectors. Not an easy fix situation, since a new lighting system would prove far too costly. Ultimately, the integrators need to perform extensive detector firmware updates and switch to different sensor architecture to eliminate the error source.  This scenario is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a growing trend. Need for reliable detector technology Legal requirements for anti-masking technology are becoming stringent in response to tactics by criminals The number of potential triggers for erroneous alarms in the environment is on the rise. From the perspective of system operators and integrators, it’s a concerning development because every false alarm lowers the credibility of an intrusion alarm system. Not to mention steep costs: Every false call to the authorities comes with a price +$200 tag.   Aside from error sources in the environment, legal requirements for anti-masking technology are becoming more stringent in response to ever more resourceful tactics employed by criminals to sidestep detectors. What’s more, today’s detectors need to be fortified against service outages and provide reliable, around-the-clock operability to catch intruders in a timely and reliable fashion. Sensor Data Fusion Technology In light of these demands, one particular approach has emerged as a future-proof solution over the past few years: Sensor Data Fusion technology, the combination of several types of sensors within one detector – designed to cross-check and verify alarm sources via intelligent algorithms – holds the keys to minimising false alarms and responding appropriately to actual alarm events. This generation of detectors combines passive infrared (PIR) and microwave Doppler radar capabilities with artificial intelligence (AI) to eliminate false alarm sources without sacrificing catch performance. Motion detectors equipped with Sensor Data Fusion technology present a fail-proof solution for building security “It’s not about packing as many sensors as possible into a detector. But it’s about including the most relevant sensors with checks and balances through an intelligent algorithm that verifies the data for a highly reliable level of security. The result is the highest-possible catch performance at the minimum risk for erroneous alarms,” said Michael Reimer, Senior Product Manager at Bosch Security Systems. Motion detectors with sensor data fusion Looking ahead into the future, motion detectors equipped with Sensor Data Fusion technology not only present a fail-proof solution for building security. The comprehensive data collected by these sensors also unlock value beyond security: Constant real-time information on temperature and humidity can be used by intelligent systems and devices in building automation. Integrated into building management systems, the sensors provide efficiency improvements and lowering energy costs Integrated into building management systems, the sensors provide the foundation for efficiency improvements and lowering energy costs in HVAC systems. Companies such as Bosch support these network synergies by constantly developing and optimising intelligent sensors. On that note, installers must be familiar with the latest generation of sensor technology to upgrade their systems accordingly, starting with a comprehensive overview of error sources in the environment. Prominent false alarm triggers in intrusion alarm systems The following factors emerge as frequent triggers of false alarms in conventional detectors: Strong temperature fluctuations can be interpreted by sensors as indicators of a person inside the building. Triggers range from floor heating sources to strong sunlight. In this context, room temperatures above 86°F (30°C) have proven particularly problematic. Dust contamination of optical detectors lowers the detection performance while raising susceptibility to false alarms. Draft air from air conditioning systems or open windows can trigger motion sensors, especially when curtains, plants, or signage attached to the ceilings (e.g. in grocery stores) are put in motion. Strong light exposure directly on the sensor surface, e.g. caused by headlights from passing vehicles, floodlights, reflected or direct sunlight – all of which sensors may interpret as a flashlight from an intruder. Extensive bandwidth frequencies in Wi-Fi routers can potentially confuse sensors. Only a few years ago, wireless routers operated on a bandwidth of around 2.7GHz while today’s devices often exceed 5GHz, thereby catching older detectors off guard. LED lights radiating at frequencies beyond the spectrum of visible light may trigger sensors with their infrared signals. Regarding the last two points, it’s important to note that legislation provides clear guidelines for the maximum frequency spectrum maintained by Wi-Fi routers and LED lighting. Long-term security But the influx of cheap and illegal products in both product groups – products that do not meet the guidelines – continues to pose problems when installed near conventional detectors. For this reason, Sensor Data Fusion technology provides a reliable solution by verifying alarms with data from several types of sensors within a single detector. Beyond providing immunity from false alarm triggers, the new generation of sensors also needs to comply with the current legislature. These guidelines include the latest EN50131-grade 3, and German VdS class C standards with clear requirements regarding anti-masking technology for detecting sabotage attempts. This is exactly where Sensor Data Fusion technology provides long-term security. Evolution of intrusion detector technology Initially, motion detectors designed for intrusion alarm systems were merely equipped with a single type of sensor; namely passive infrared technology (PIR). Upon their introduction, these sensors raised the overall level of building security tremendously in automated security systems. But over time, these sensors proved limited in their catch performance. As a result, manufacturers began implementing microwave Doppler radar capabilities to cover additional sources of intrusion alarms. First step detection technology In Bosch sensors, engineers added First Step detection to trigger instant alarms upon persons entering a room Over the next few years, sensors were also equipped with sensors detecting visible light to catch flashlights used by burglars, as well as temperature sensors. In Bosch sensors, engineers added proprietary technologies such as First Step detection to trigger instant alarms upon persons entering a room. But experience in the field soon proved, especially due to error sources such as rats and other animals, that comprehensive intrusion detection demands a synergetic approach: A combination of sensors aligned to cross-check one another for a proactive response to incoming signals. At the same time, the aforementioned bandwidth expansion in Wi-Fi routers and LED lighting systems required detectors to implement the latest circuit technology to avoid serving as ‘antennas’ for undesired signals. Sensor data fusion approach At its very core, Sensor Data Fusion technology relies on the centralised collection of all data captured by the variety of different sensors included in a single detector. These data streams are directed to a microprocessor capable of analysing the signals in real-time via a complex algorithm. This algorithm is the key to Sensor Data Fusion. It enables the detector to balance active sensors and adjust sensitivities as needed, to make truly intelligent decisions regarding whether or not the data indicates a valid alarm condition – and if so, trigger an alarm. Advanced verification mechanisms The current generation of Sensor Data Fusion detectors, for instance from Bosch, feature advanced verification mechanisms, including Microwave Noise Adaptive Processing to easily differentiate humans from false alarm sources (e.g. ceiling fans or hanging signs). For increased reliability, signals from PIR and microwave Doppler radar are compared to determine whether an actual alarm event is taking place. Additionally, the optical chamber is sealed to prevent drafts and insects from affecting the detector, while the detector is programmed for pet and small animal immunity. Sensor cross-verification Further types of sensors embedded in current and future generations of Sensor Data Fusion detectors include MEM-sensors as well as vibration sensors and accelerometers. Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind that the cross-verification between sensors serves to increase false alarm immunity without sacrificing the catch performance of actual intruders. It merely serves to cover various indicators of intrusion. Protecting UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in China Intelligent detectors equipped with Sensor Data Fusion are protecting historic cultural artifacts in China from theft and damage. At the UNESCO-protected Terracotta Warriors Museum site, one hundred TriTech motion detectors from Bosch with PIR and microwave Doppler radar technology safeguard the invaluable treasures against intruders. To provide comprehensive protection amid the specific demands of the museum site, the detectors have been installed on walls and ceilings to safeguard the 16,300-square-meter museum site. To ensure an optimal visitor experience without interference from glass walls and other barriers, many detectors are mounted at a height of 4.5 meters (15 feet) above ground under the ceiling. Despite their height, the detectors provide accurate data around the clock while exceeding the performance limits of conventional motion detectors, which clock out at a mere 2 meters (6 feet) catchment area. Integrated video systems The site also presents additional error sources such as large amounts of dust that can contaminate the sensors, as well as visitors accidentally dropping their cameras or mobile phones next to museum exhibits. To distinguish these events from actual criminal activity, the intrusion alarm system is integrated with the museum’s video security system. This allows for verifying alarm triggers with real-time video footage at a fast pace: In the case of an actual alarm event, the system alerts the on-site security personnel in the control room in less than two seconds. Added value beyond security Sensor Data Fusion technology provides a viable solution for the rising number of error sources in the environment As of today, Sensor Data Fusion technology already provides a viable solution for the rising number of error sources in the environment while providing legally compliant building security against intruders. In light of future developments, operators can leverage significant added value from upgrading existing systems – possibly without fundamentally replacing current system architecture – to the new detector standard. Added value how? On one hand, the detectors can integrate with access control, video security, voice alarm, and analytics for a heightened level of security. These synergetic effects are especially pronounced on end-to-end platforms like the Bosch Building Management system. On the other hand, the data streams from intelligent detectors also supply actionable intelligence to building automation systems, for instance as the basis for efficiency improvements and lowering energy consumption in HVAC systems. New backward-compatible detectors Bosch will release a new series of commercial detectors by end of 2021, based on the latest research on risk factors for false alarm sources in the environment and line with current legislation and safety standards. Throughout these developments, installers can rest assured that all new detectors are fully backward compatible and work with existing networking/architecture. With that said, Sensor Data Fusion technology emerges as the key to more secure intrusion alarm systems today and in the future. TriTech detectors from Bosch For reliable, fail-proof alarms the current series of TriTech detectors from Bosch relies on a combination of different sensor data streams, evaluated by an integrated algorithm. These Sensor Data Fusion detectors from Bosch combine up to five different sensors in a single unit, including: Long-range passive infrared (PIR) sensor Short-range PIR sensor Microwave sensor White light sensor Temperature sensor Equipped with these sensors, TriTech detectors are capable of detecting the most frequent sources of false alarms; from headlights on passing cars to a mouse passing across the room at a 4.5-meter distance to the detector. What’s more, TriTech detectors provide reliable performance at room temperatures above 86°F (30°C) while fully guarding against actual intrusion and sabotage attempts from criminals.

A three-point plan for enhancing business video surveillance
A three-point plan for enhancing business video surveillance

Cyber threats hit the headlines every day; however digital hazards are only part of the security landscape. In fact, for many organisations - physical rather than virtual security will remain the burning priority. Will Liu, Managing Director of TP-Link UK, explores the three key elements that companies must consider when implementing modern-day business surveillance systems.  1) Protecting more than premises Video surveillance systems are undoubtedly more important than ever before for a huge number of businesses across the full spectrum of public and private sector, manufacturing and service industries. One simple reason for this is the increased use of technology within those businesses. Offices, workshops, and other facilities house a significant amount of valuable and expensive equipment - from computers, and 3D printers to specialised machinery and equipment. As a result, workplaces are now a key target for thieves, and ensuring the protection of such valuable assets is a top priority. A sad reality is that some of those thieves will be employees themselves. Video surveillance system Of course, video surveillance is often deployed to combat that threat alone, but actually, its importance goes beyond theft protection. With opportunist thieves targeting asset-rich sites more regularly, the people who work at these sites are in greater danger too. Effective and efficient surveillance is imperative not just for physical asset protection, but also for the safety From this perspective, effective and efficient surveillance is imperative not just for physical asset protection, but also for the safety of colleagues as well. Organisations need to protect the people who work, learn or attend the premises. A video surveillance system is, therefore, a great starting point for companies looking to deter criminal activity. However, to be sure you put the right system in place to protect your hardware assets, your people, and the business itself, here are three key considerations that make for a successful deployment. 2) Fail to prepare, and then prepare to fail Planning is the key to success, and surveillance systems are no different. Decide in advance the scope of your desired solution. Each site is different and the reality is that every solution is different too. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution and only by investing time on the exact specification can you arrive at the most robust and optimal solution.  For example, organisations need to consider all the deployment variables within the system’s environment. What is the balance between indoor and outdoor settings; how exposed to the elements are the outdoor cameras; what IP rating to the need? A discussion with a security installer will help identify the dangerous areas that need to be covered and the associated best sites for camera locations. Camera coverage After determining location and coverage angles, indoors and outdoors, the next step is to make sure the cameras specified are up to the job for each location. Do they have the right lens for the distance they are required to cover, for example? It is not as simple as specifying one type of camera and deploying it everywhere. Devices that can use multiple power sources, Direct Current, or Power over Ethernet well are far more versatile You have to consider technical aspects such as the required level of visual fidelity and whether you also need two-way audio at certain locations? Another simple consideration is how the devices are powered. Devices that can use multiple power sources, Direct Current or Power over Ethernet as well are far more versatile and reliable. Answers to these questions and a lot more need to be uncovered by an expert, to deliver a best-of-breed solution for the particular site. 3) Flexibility breeds resilience Understanding exactly what you need is the start. Ensuring you can install, operate and manage your video surveillance system is the next step. Solutions that are simple to install and easy to maintain will always be favoured - for example, cameras that have multiple sources of power can be vital for year-round reliability. Alongside the physical aspect of any installation, there is also the software element that needs to be considered. The last thing organisations need is a compatibility headache once all their cameras and monitoring stations are in place. Selecting cameras and equipment with the flexibility to support a variety of different operating systems and software is important not just for the days following the installation, but also to future-proof the solution against change.  Easy does it Once the system is up and running, the real work of video surveillance begins. Therefore, any organisation considering deploying a system should look to pick one that makes the day-to-day operation as easy as possible to manage. And again - that is all about the set-up. Cameras can also provide alerts if they have been tampered with or their settings changed The most modern systems and technology can deliver surveillance systems that offer smarter detection, enhanced activity reporting so you learn more about your operations, and also make off-site, remote management easy to both implement and adjust as conditions change. For example, camera software that immediately notifies controllers when certain parameters are met - like motion detection that monitors a specific area for unauthorised access. Cameras can also provide alerts if they have been tampered with or their settings changed without proper authorisation. Remote management of HD footage What’s more, the days of poor quality or unreliable transfer of video are long gone. The high-quality HD footage can be captured, stored, and transferred across networks without any degradation, with hard drives or cloud-based systems able to keep hundreds of days of high-quality recordings for analysis of historical data. Finally, the best surveillance solutions also allow for secure remote management not just from a central control room, but also from personal devices and mobile apps. All this delivers ‘always-on’ security and peace of mind. The watchword in security Modern video surveillance takes organisational security to the next level. It protects physical assets, ensures workplace and workforce safety, and helps protect the operations, reputation, and profitability of a business.  However, this is not just an ‘off-the-shelf purchase’. It requires proper planning in the form of site surveys, equipment and software specifications, as well as an understanding of operational demands and requirements. Investing time in planning will help businesses realise the best dividends in terms of protection. Ultimately, that means organisations should seek to collaborate with vendors who offer site surveys - they know their equipment best, your needs, and can work with you to create the perfect solution.

Video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) from an integrator and user perspective
Video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) from an integrator and user perspective

Technology based on the cloud has become a popular trend. Most IT systems now operate within the cloud or offer cloud capabilities, and video surveillance is no exception: virtually every major hardware and software vendor offers cloud-based services. Users benefit from the cloud due to its numerous advantages, such as ease of implementation, scalability, low maintenance costs, etc. Video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) offers many choices, so there is an optimal solution for each user. However, what about integrators? For them, VSaaS is also a game-changer. Integrators are now incentivised to think about how they can maintain their markets and take advantage of the new business opportunities that the cloud model provides.   Hosted video surveillance The cloud service model has drastically changed the role of an integrator. Traditionally, integrators provided a variety of services including system installation, support, and maintenance, as well as served as a bridge between vendors and end-users. In contrast, hosted video surveillance as a service requires a security system installer to simply install cameras and connect them to the network, while the provider is in direct contact with each end-user. The cloud service model has drastically changed the role of an integrator There is no end to on-premises systems. However, the percentage of systems where the integrator’s role is eliminated or considerably reduced will continue to increase. How can integrators sustain their markets and stay profitable? A prospective business model might be to become a provider of VSaaS (‘cloud integrator’) in partnership with software platform vendors. Cloud-based surveillance Some VMS vendors offer software VSaaS platforms that form the basis for cloud-based surveillance systems. Using these solutions, a data centre operator, integrator, or telecom service provider can design a public VSaaS or VSaaS in a private cloud to service a large customer. The infrastructure can be built on any generic cloud platform or data centre, as well as resources owned by the provider or client. So, VSaaS providers have the choice between renting infrastructure from a public cloud service like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud or using their own or clients’ computing infrastructure (virtual machines or physical servers). Gaining competitive advantage When integrators purchase commitment use contracts for several years, they can achieve significant savings As an example, a telecom carrier could deploy VSaaS on their own infrastructure to expand their service offering for clients, gaining a competitive advantage and enhancing profits per user. Using a public cloud, a smaller integrator can host the computing infrastructure immediately, without incurring up-front costs and with no need to maintain the system. These cloud services provide scalability, security, and reliability with zero initial investment. When integrators purchase commitment use contracts for several years, they can achieve significant savings. Next, let’s examine VSaaS options available in the market from an end-users point of view. With hosted (or cloud-first, or true-cloud) VSaaS solutions, all the video feeds are transmitted directly from cameras to the cloud. Optionally, video can be buffered to SD cards installed on cameras to prevent data losses in case of Internet connection failures. Dedicated hardware bridges There are many providers of such services that offer their own brand cameras. Connecting these devices to the cloud should only take a few clicks. Firmware updates are usually centralised, so users don’t have to worry about security breaches. Service providers may offer dedicated hardware bridges for buffering video footage and secure connections to the cloud for their branded and third-party cameras. Service providers may offer dedicated hardware bridges for buffering video footage Typical bridges are inexpensive, basic NVRs that receive video feeds from cameras, record on HDD, and send video streams to the cloud. The most feature-rich bridges include those with video analytics, data encryption, etc. Introducing a bridge or NVR makes the system hybrid, with videos stored both locally and in the cloud. At the other end of the spectrum relative to hosted VSaaS, there are cloud-managed systems. Video management software In this case, video is stored on-site on DVRs, NVRs, video management software servers, or even locally on cameras, with an option of storing short portions of footage (like alarm videos) in the cloud for quick access. A cloud service can be used for remote viewing live video feeds and recorded footage, as well as for system configuration and health monitoring. Cloud management services often come bundled with security cameras, NVRs, and video management software, whereas other VSaaS generally require subscriptions. Keep in mind that the system, in this case, remains on-premises, and the advantages of the cloud are limited to remote monitoring and configuring. It’s a good choice for businesses that are spread across several locations or branches, especially if they have systems in place at each site. On-site infrastructure All that needs to be changed is the NVRs or VMS with a cloud-compatible model or version All locations and devices can be remotely monitored using the cloud while keeping most of the existing on-site infrastructure. All that needs to be changed is the NVRs or VMS with a cloud-compatible model or version. Other methods are more costly and/or require more resources to implement. Hosted VSaaS helps leverage the cloud for the highest number of benefits in terms of cost and technological advantages. In this case, the on-site infrastructure consists of only IP cameras and network equipment. This reduces maintenance costs substantially and also sets the foundation for another advantage of VSaaS: extreme and rapid scalability. At the same time, the outgoing connection at each site is critical for hosted VSaaS. Video quality and the number of cameras directly depend on bandwidth. Broadband-connected locations Because the system does not work offline, a stable connection is required to stream videos. In addition, cloud storage can be expensive when many cameras are involved, or when video archives are retained for an extended period. The hosted VSaaS is a great choice for a small broadband-connected location The hosted VSaaS is a great choice for small broadband-connected locations and is also the most efficient way to centralise video surveillance for multiple sites of the same type, provided they do not have a legacy system. Since it is easy to implement and maintain, this cloud technology is especially popular in countries with high labour costs. Using different software and hardware platforms, integrators can implement various types of VSaaS solutions. Quick remote access For those who adhere to the classic on-premises approach, adding a cloud-based monitoring service can grow their value proposition for clients with out-of-the-box capabilities of quick remote access to multiple widely dispersed sites and devices. For small true-cloud setups, there is a possibility to rent a virtual machine and storage capacity in a public cloud (such as Amazon, Google, or Microsoft) and deploy the cloud-based VMS server that can handle dozens of cameras. In terms of features, such a system may include anything from plain video monitoring via a web interface to GPU-accelerated AI video analytics and smart search in recorded footage, depending on the particular software platform. Optimising internet connection Hybrid VSaaS is the most flexible approach that enables tailoring the system to the users’ needs High-scale installations, such as VSaaS for public use or large private systems for major clients, involve multiple parts like a virtual VMS server cluster, web portal, report subsystem, etc. Such systems can also utilise either own or rented infrastructure. Some vendors offer software for complex installations of this kind, though there are not as many options as for cloud-managed systems. Finally, hybrid VSaaS is the most flexible approach that enables tailoring the system to the users’ unique needs while optimising internet connection bandwidth, cloud storage costs, and infrastructure complexity. It’s high time for integrators to gain experience, choose the right hardware and software, and explore different ways of building systems that will suit evolving customer demands in the future.

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BSIA CCTV Seminar and Exhibition 2015: Exhibitors set to showcase innovative products
BSIA CCTV Seminar and Exhibition 2015: Exhibitors set to showcase innovative products

The exhibition will let delegates get hands-on with some of the most innovative products in the CCTV industry A number of companies involved in the design, installation and operation of CCTV systems will be exhibiting as part of a sell-out seminar in London next week. Organised by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), the event will take place at London’s Emmanuel Centre on Marsham Street – close to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey – on Thursday 12th November. The seminar will cover a variety of interesting topics including the latest changes in surveillance legislation and technology, whilst also exploring recent developments in the CCTV sector. Running alongside the seminar, the exhibition will give delegates the opportunity to get hands-on with some of the most innovative products in the industry. Exhibitors that will be showcasing their products on the day include: ATEC Security ATEC Security is a specialist security systems integrator and winner of multiple Security Excellence Awards. The ATEC Difference is about creating value not only through security innovation, but also by ensuring security projects deliver financial, operational, staff and business intelligence benefits. ATEC take time to understand your issues, your operating environment and your business, and deliver reliable integrated solutions and support built around your operational requirements. They achieve unparalleled quality through meticulous design, comprehensive documentation and rigorous project management, with processes built around Home Office best practice. The portfolio includes some of the most advanced technologies available from carefully selected manufacturers. Find out why customers such as London City Airport, The City of Westminster and First Capital Connect, choose to work with ATEC by visiting their stand. Dedicated Micros The seminar will cover a variety of interesting topics including the latest changes in surveillance legislation and technology, whilst also exploring recent developments in the CCTV sector Dedicated Micros will be showcasing their latest cost-effective high definition IP and analogue product ranges. Based on a unique architecture, these solutions provide greater reliability, connectivity, interaction and performance across a seamless operating system. Visit Dedicated Micros’ stand at the CCTV seminar to find out how their latest products can help to secure business. Bosch Security Systems Bosch Security Systems supply quality and innovative security solutions. They will be showcasing some of their latest in-camera technologies. Starlight technology offers a new quality standard in round-the-clock video surveillance. Regardless of lighting conditions, time of day or object movement, cameras deliver incredible levels of detail even in extreme low light situations. Intelligent Video Analysis (IVA) assists by alerting you when pre-defined alarms are triggered and by smartly combining up to 8 IVA rules, complex tasks are made easy and false alarms are reduced. Their Content Based Imaging Technology (CBIT) offers 3 main features: Intelligent Dynamic Noise Reduction, Intelligent Auto Exposure and Intelligent Tracking: IDNR technology intelligently distinguishes between noise and relevant information, such as movement, this reduces bitrate by up to 50%. National Security Inspectorate NSI is the first choice certification body for the UK’s leading providers of security and fire safety services. Over 1800 organisations commit to rigorous and regular checks by NSI’s national network of qualified auditors who carry out in the region of 4000 audits per year, verifying compliance with relevant Standards and industry Codes of Practice. Buyers who choose to contract NSI approved companies can be assured of security and fire safety services delivered to the highest standards by businesses committed to excellence. NSI will be delighted to talk to visitors at the CCTV Exhibition and Conference about the benefits of contracting NSI approved companies. Observant Innovations Observant’s PATROL Camera System is a vehicle mounted 360-degree panoramic video camera. PATROL enables visual documentation of everything occurring in the vicinity of a patrol or tasking, ensuring that nothing is missed. The system captures everything, in all directions, all of the time and has been built to withstand tough environmental and usage conditions. Featuring 360-degree panoramic imagery, hi-res 14 MP video and stills imagery and a rugged IP67 form factor, the PATROL Camera System provides a number of benefits including public reassurance, greater impartiality and improved dispute resolution. Also exhibiting will be Dallmeier Electronic UK Ltd and Thorn Security Limited.

Private security industry - choose security providers that value quality over price
Private security industry - choose security providers that value quality over price

It’s dangerous to compromise on safety features in search of a low-cost security solution, as it can put employees at serious risk Driving quality in the private security industry is vital to the ongoing effectiveness of the products and services that the industry provides. Figures show that, post-recession, buyers are increasingly aware of the importance of quality when it comes to choosing security providers, with 20% citing quality over price as a crucial factor in their decision. Pauline Norstrom, chief operating officer for Dedicated Micros, a CCTV manufacturer, is a strong advocate of choosing quality over price when selecting a security provider. Norstrom, who is also chairman of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), recently delivered a speech on the subject at IFSEC, the largest event for the security industry in London. Here, Norstrom shares her views with SourceSecurity.com about the potential hidden costs of low-price solutions. The issue of quality over price is a fundamental issue for businesses, operators, buyers and security providers to consider. When we talk about quality in the security sector, we are talking about the safety of employees, the public, assets and commercial outputs. I recently watched a television show featuring a car manufacturer. Its message was about choosing quality rather than a low-cost option – the analogy it draws is someone buying a cheap parachute. The person who buys the more expensive parachute is the person who drives the car that works. Would anyone buy a cheap parachute? I certainly would not. Directors have a statutory responsibility for the safety of their employees, as compromising this is not only a threat to a company's profitability, but could put them out of business This comparison emphasises the gravity of choosing between quality and price. Choosing a security solution based solely on the latter can put the safety of your employees at serious risk. Directors have a statutory responsibility for the safety of their employees, as compromising this is not only a threat to a company's profitability, but could put them out of business. Risk assessments and mitigating recommendations Before selecting a security product or service, a formal risk assessment must be carried out in order to reveal a business's vulnerabilities. This is a necessity, as ultimately the cost of loss has a direct effect on a company's bottom line. I speak on behalf of the BSIA in urging business owners or their delegated authorities to engage with reputable security specifiers to help them develop an operation requirement specification containing key risks and mitigating recommendations. As a result, the chosen security provider must respond with the best solution to minimise risk and satisfy needs. Typically, cheap systems do not minimise risk as they use non-compliant products and have non-compliant designs, and therefore miss important events. So, while procurement teams may have achieved their purchase price target, they have put their business at risk and not fully met its needs. Low cost offerings’ safety compromises Buying cheap can also result in a high cost of replacement and increased insurance claims. When you take these risks into account, are the savings really worth it? Given that the highest quality products are available in the market, why are compromises made in the private security industry? What are the reasons? Chief factors include a lack of bank lending and Government support for British companies, the global economic crisis (which created opportunities for low cost offerings to creep into the marketplace) and a lack of working capital – in some cases, it might be about cash as opposed to price. But we do know that buying cheap must result in compromises, because cheap is usually associated with taking something out. So how exactly do you define quality in the private security industry? And why does quality often cost more? As an illustrative example, let's say you have two offerings, both of which meet the basic requirements set out in the operational requirements specification. The cheap offering may scrape through on terminology as many requirements specifications are distilled down to the lowest common denominator. But, as opposed to higher quality offerings, the added functionality and benefits are all extra and companies face having to pay more further down the line. It may also be that training and operating procedures are not provided. Security tailored to specific needs A cheap product will merely provide a “one size fits all” service that is not tailored to the specific needs of a business. A quality offering is one that not only ticks all boxes but provides additional value benefits and offers measurable return on investment (ROI). Manufacturers should not provide CCTV solutions that simply meet elementary criteria. Products must provide maximum innovation over and above the basic requirements of a security solution. An end user or installer would pay more for quality solutions than for cheap offerings because they achieve fast response to preventable loss, reduce network vulnerability and offer extensive support and expertise throughout the life cycle of the product. This support can prove invaluable to a business in the long run. A principal reason you pay more for a quality product is that there is more investment into that product's development, which incurs cost in time and resource. Support and care during the life of the product and contract cost money, as does the training and development of staff. In return for this investment, you are able to grasp what the product can do for you and get exactly the solution you need. Buying cheap can also result in a high cost of replacement and increased insurance claims. When you take these risks into account, are the savings really worth it? To establish whether your provider has a high quality product or service, you need to ask several questions. Do they respond to customer's needs? Do they provide continual assessment and improvement programmes? Are they members of an industry association, such as the BSIA? The answers to these questions should give you an idea of whether or not your business has invested in a cheap or high quality option. When you are using a cheap security solution, loss is not always obvious as the costs are hidden. It might be that in-house staff are covering the deficiencies, or keyholders are called out unnecessarily, resulting in increased overtime costs. The costs may not measure truly what is the impact of a service on a business, so there needs to be a holistic view taken. Those who have this view are often directors or senior managers – otherwise the cost of ownership is little understood by buyers. Market knowledge and vulnerability awareness If you are involved in procurement of services, you need to have security market knowledge. Procurement teams must understand what makes a security provider different and better and who is responsible for business loss if something goes wrong. Business leaders must ensure their procurement teams are properly apprised and make sound recommendations based on industry knowledge. In the United Kingdom, this knowledge can be found within the BSIA, as it contains 18 discreet sections covering all areas of the security market, from access control to police to public services. These sections are designed to meet very specific requirements. So to conclude, it is my view that quality is far more important than price and compromises should not be made when it comes to security and safety. These are board room responsibilities and directors must be apprised to the risks and vulnerabilities. The way that procurement teams and owners and operators can protect themselves is by choosing a company which opts into quality, best practice and standards – a company that is different and ultimately better than the others. Low quality providers get away with offering cheap solutions if business owners take no interest, but this will ultimately come back to haunt the business as they will end up footing the bill.

BSIA's CCTV seminar and exhibition in London to highlight recent developments in the CCTV sector
BSIA's CCTV seminar and exhibition in London to highlight recent developments in the CCTV sector

The event enables CCTV manufacturers and installers to showcase their latest technological developments A popular CCTV seminar and exhibition is set to arrive in London this November, and will provide an opportunity for CCTV companies to reach out to delegates from a range of organisations including local businesses, civic authorities and the Police. Organised by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), the event will take place at London’s Emmanuel Centre on Marsham Street – close to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey – on Thursday 12th November, and is expected to follow on from the success of a series of CCTV seminars held by the Association over the past couple of years, which have served to highlight the appetite for information regarding CCTV best practice among end-users and security buyers. A limited number of exhibition spaces are available at the event, enabling CCTV manufacturers and installers to showcase their latest technological developments, while an informative seminar will explore the latest changes in surveillance legislation and technology, while exploring recent developments in the CCTV sector. Confirmed speakers at the event include: Tony Porter LLB QPM, Surveillance Camera Commissioner Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, Central Forensic Image Team, Metropolitan Police Pauline Norstrom, Chief Operating Officer at AD Group / Dedicated Micros and Chairman of the BSIA Simon Adcock, Managing Director of ATEC Security and Chairman of the BSIA’s CCTV section James Barrett of Safer London The event is kindly sponsored by the British Standards Institute (BSI). The BSIA expects the event to attract around 150 delegates from a number of organisations across the South East, for whom admission will be free of charge. Meanwhile, exhibitors will benefit from the following: 1 table with electrical connection Refreshments / lunch (for 2) Company logo on the programme for the day Inclusion in pre and post event promotion, including press releases, email marketing and social media activity A copy of all delegates’ contact details, sent post-event The opportunity to promote attendance at the event via the BSIA’s YouTube Channel

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