Customer:

George Mason University is one of Virginia's fastest growing higher education institutions with four campuses and 35,000 students. Located in the heart of Northern Virginia's technology corridor near Washington, D.C., George Mason University offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programmes in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care. The George Mason University School of Law has been recognised by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 40 law schools in the United States.

Challenge:

The previous video system at George Mason University suffered from poor video quality and a lack of standardisation. The legacy system could not provide the needed levels of video surveillance, either related to the area being viewed or the quality of images needed to identify events and/or individuals. A new construction project included the required funds for an initial investment in an IP-based surveillance system. The University needed a system that could provide better video quality to capture facial recognition and to offer a wider range of options.

Megapixel Solution:

A need for better image quality led George Mason University directly to IP-based megapixel camera technology. The University evaluated several well-known camera suppliers before deciding on Arecont Vision, which leads competitors related to processing power, breadth of the product line, and use of H.264 compression technology to minimise bandwidth and storage needs.

"We have installed almost every variety of megapixel camera made by Arecont Vision, from the 1.3 megapixel MegaDome® to the 8 megapixel 360-degree SurroundVideo® panoramic camera," said James L. McCarthy Jr., Director of Physical Security, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. The capabilities of various cameras are matched to the areas they need to cover.

Cameras have been installed in athletic facilities, including an Olympic-sized pool; in academic buildings; and in parking garages, according to Brian Piccolo, Senior Account Executive, S3 Integration, Baltimore, Maryland. The system was designed jointly by George Mason University and S3 Integration. Future installations will include the University's residence halls.

Two panoramic 360-degree cameras are positioned over a broad plaza area to enable surveillance of activity on the plaza while also covering doors leading into an adjacent building. Each camera's 8 megapixel images (from four 2 megapixel sensors) provide 360-degree coverage from inside a 6-inch dome. The camera is used to view large areas while capturing megapixel detail. Each camera provides up to 6400 x 1200-pixel images at 5.5 frames per second (fps), or can be set for lower resolutions at higher frame speeds, such as 1600x1200-pixel images at 22 fps. The cameras use Arecont Vision's MegaVideo® image processing at billions of operations per second. The cameras also provide image cropping and up to four regions of interest.

Several 180-degree cameras cover the pools and gym floors in George Mason's athletic facilities. The 8 megapixel, 180-degree panoramic camera also incorporates four 2 megapixel CMOS image sensors to provide 6400 x 1200-pixel panoramic images at 5.5 fps.

Covering long and narrow runs (such as hallways and drives) are 3 and 5 megapixel cameras from Arecont Vision. Arecont Vision's 5 megapixel camera uses a 1/2-in. CMOS sensor to provide 2,592 x 1,944-pixel images at 9 frames-per-second. Light sensitivity is 0.3 lux at F1.4. The camera can output multiple image formats, allowing the simultaneous viewing of the full-resolution field-of-view and regions of interest for high-definition forensic zooming. Arecont Vision's 3 megapixel camera provides 2048 x 1536-pixel images at 15 frames per second. Light sensitivity is 0.2 lux at F1.4.

The images from Arecont 
Vision's IP megapixel 
cameras are fed to a local 
ExacqVision network video 
recorder, which is monitored 
by a Central Security 
Operations Centre

The images from Arecont Vision's IP megapixel cameras are fed to a local ExacqVision network video recorder, which is monitored by a Central Security Operations Centre. Signals from some of the cameras are also fed to a central server that have been downloaded with Exacq software. All video data is transmitted over a secured, firewalled, standalone security network within the George Mason University intranet system.

The majority of the Arecont Vision cameras are placed in areas where there is sufficient light at all times. Parking garages are currently monitored with Arecont Vision day/night cameras, which use a motorised infrared (IR) cut filter. These cameras can monitor licence plate numbers and increase the productivity of garage personnel by monitoring daily tasks like: credit card transactions, remotely.

Now, any George Mason University department that wants to add video surveillance can call on S3 Integration to upgrade and expand the system using funds provided through departmental budgets.

Megapixel benefits:

"Advantages of Arecont Vision cameras over competitive products include performance, versatility, price and ease-of-use," said Mr. Piccolo. The end-user customer especially likes the ease-of-use and the sharp pictures available from the various Arecont Vision models. "The price point was better and [the cameras] helped eliminate some costs," said Mr. Piccolo.

"We now have better forensic capabilities and more flexibility in the recovery of data," added Mr. McCarthy.

The main attribute of the Arecont Vision camera line is the ability to install fewer cameras while capturing video from a larger area. Fixed megapixel cameras providing virtual pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) within captured images translates into fewer moving parts than traditional PTZ systems, which reduces overall maintenance cost and the potential for system failure.

The picture quality and digital zoom capabilities of Arecont Vision cameras far exceed analogue technology and allow George Mason University to retrieve usable video. Combined with recent cost reductions in NVR storage and network switches, the use of fewer cameras allows George Mason University to transition to higher-quality video at a minimum increase in cost.

Megapixel imaging represents a significant upgrade in system functionality compared to standard-resolution cameras. In addition to lower bandwidth and storage requirements, using fewer megapixel cameras to cover larger areas can dramatically decrease costs related to other elements of a system, such as fewer software licences, fewer lenses, and a decrease in man-hours needed to install the system.

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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. 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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. 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Get the most from investments in building security
Get the most from investments in building security

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How to build smarter, more secure cities from the ground up
How to build smarter, more secure cities from the ground up

Today, we live in a technology-obsessed age. Whichever way you look, it’s hard to avoid the increasing number applications, products and solutions that continue to redefine the boundaries of what we previously thought possible. From autonomous vehicles and edge computing to 5G and the Internet of Things, all facets of our lives are continuing to evolve, thanks to an endless stream of differentiated innovations. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the latter of these - the Internet of Things (IoT). Deployment of IoT technologies Smart homes, smart utilities, smart retail, smart farming, smart supply chains and many of the other ‘smart’ versions of sectors that we’re already familiar with, are all called as such because of the implications of IoT. Indeed, it is a technology that has manifested itself in billions of devices, which today underpin the truly transformational levels of connectivity that we see across industries of all shapes and sizes. The statistics speak for themselves. 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Transmissions usually travel shorter distances, which improves power efficiency and performance, and frequency hopping functionality prevents attackers from jamming signals, which could deny the service altogether. Open standards and interoperability But where do open, interoperable standards fit in? As is defined by the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), interoperability enables a computer programme to communicate and exchange information with other computer programmes, allowing all programmes to use that information. Open standards then allow any vendor of communications equipment or services to implement all standards necessary, to interoperate with other vendors. This is incredibly useful from a security perspective. It means that all specs are stress-tested and verified by many users, and that any vulnerabilities are quickly detected, and remediated, enhancing security and reliability. Need for open standards Equally, open standards can accelerate time-to-market, reduce costs and ensure products are usable, with a variety of manufacturers’ processors and radios, with a steam of publicly available protocol stacks, design information and reference implementations available that can help build and future-proof secure products. Indeed, large-scale corporate IoT networks alongside smart cities, smart utilities, and other key smart infrastructure will only continue to evolve, in the coming years. With the immense threats of attackers in mind, these systems must prioritise security-by-design, both now and in the future.