As one of the largest school districts in Northwest Iowa, Fort Dodge Community School District (FDCSD) is focused on providing a positive, caring, and nurturing environment for its 3,500 kindergarten to grade 12 students. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Douglas G. Van Zyl, FDCSD is committed to maintaining a safe and practical learning environment at all nine of its schools to enhance academics and effectively meet the needs of the community it serves. As a strong supporter of the use of security solutions in schools to protect students and staff alike, Van Zyl spearheaded the recent surveillance system upgrade at Fort Dodge Senior High School to help prevent break-ins, student disputes, vandalism, and other disruptive behaviour. The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system was chosen because it can run on the district’s existing network and delivers superior image resolution, cost-effective scalability, and advanced management functionality.The district also plans to leverage Avigilon Control Center Mobile to enable law enforcement officials and other key stakeholders to view live and recorded images wirelessly

High-definition live monitoring

Our old analogue system was not keeping up with our needs—we could not identify anyone or anything, we were running out of storage, and we could not easily share footage with local law enforcement if needed,” explained Jeremy Pearson, Supervisor of Information Technology for FDCSD. After looking at several different options, FDCSD turned to the experts at The Baker Group, a local provider of surveillance system design and installation, who recommended the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system. “The Baker Group has been a key asset throughout our deployment,” Pearson added. “Together, Avigilon and The Baker Group have far exceeded our expectations.”

High school administrators, a school resource officer, the attendance counselor, and Pearson himself use the Avigilon Control Center NVMS with HDSM technology running on the district’s existing network to manage the system from their workstations. FDCSD installed Avigilon HD 3 MP and 5 MP cameras at Fort Dodge Senior High School in the main entrances and hallways, and the cafeteria. The district also installed two Avigilon HD 8 MP 180˚ Panoramic Dome Cameras in the school’s gymnasium. FDCSD also deployed Avigilon analogue video encoders to leverage some of the existing analogue cameras located within the school. The district installed several Avigilon HD 3 MP cameras at the main district office to monitor all main entrances and purchased an Avigilon Network Video Recorder (NVR) to store up to 30 days of continuous surveillance video. The district also plans to leverage Avigilon Control Center Mobile to enable law enforcement officials and other key stakeholders to view live and recorded images wirelessly from anywhere on the network.FDCSD can share surveillance video with key stakeholders using either the client or ACC Mobile on the iPad, iPhone, or Android devices

Mobile access for effective surveillance

According to Pearson, a top feature of the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system is that it can leverage the existing network without straining bandwidth and storage. “We are able to use our current network infrastructure to run Avigilon Control Center software without having to gut it or add to it to make it work,” commented Pearson, who was initially hesitant to run the Avigilon system on the existing network for fear of overloading it. “We haven’t seen any signs of degradation with the Avigilon system or the network itself. In fact, it has remained very stable and fast.”

FDCSD was also very impressed with Avigilon’s HDSM technology, which preserves complete image integrity while still efficiently managing bandwidth and storage. “The image quality we can achieve on our network is night and day from our old system,” confirmed Pearson. “We’ve had absolutely no problems on the network—it just works.” FDCSD also likes the fact that it can share surveillance video with key stakeholders over the network, using either the client or ACC Mobile on the iPad, iPhone, or Android devices. “It’s great to have the option to access the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system on our mobile devices,” noted Pearson.

Cost-effective scalability

With system scalability a top priority, FDCSD also values the ability to cost-effectively expand the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system using its own network. “We can install an Avigilon HD camera at any of our schools and manage it centrally using Avigilon Control Center over the network for just $1,500, a vast savings compared to the $8,000 it would have cost with our old system, which would have required the installation of a separate DVR,” said Pearson.Avigilon offers the broadest range of megapixel cameras from 1 MP camera all the way up to 29 MP

FDCSD also liked that Avigilon offers the broadest range of megapixel cameras from 1 MP camera all the way up to 29 MP, providing the flexibility to grow and meet future needs as necessary. In addition, the juvenile court school liaison at the high school, who is the system’s heaviest user, loves the search and playback capabilities of Avigilon Control Center software, which allows him to use the system for maximum results. In fact, he has already successfully used surveillance video as evidence in court. “The quality of the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system is top notch—from the high-definition cameras to the compression technology used to deliver high resolution images across our network to the software that facilitates management,” said Pearson. “The other products we looked at do not deliver the image quality, advanced features, or cost-effective scalability we need to deploy the system district-wide. Avigilon does.”

Safe learning environment

Leveraging the advanced management features of Avigilon Control Center software, Pearson can easily maintain the system with minimal effort and time. “Avigilon Control Center just runs itself,” said Pearson. With his previous system, Pearson had to do a lot of maintenance. “Out of 180 work days, we would spend on average 7 or 8 days maintaining the old system – with Avigilon, we simply never have to work on it.” As a result, the team has reduced their maintenance time by 100 percent.

Committed to delivering the best education possible, Fort Dodge Community School District is constantly updating its programmes and modernising facilities to provide the safest and most stimulating learning environment possible. In fact, the district is currently building a new middle school designed to provide students with a 21st century learning environment that will extend its teaching capabilities even further. “The new middle school will be monitored using 70 Avigilon HD cameras and two Avigilon NVRs to ensure broad coverage of the entire facility,” concluded Pearson. “Ultimately, our goal is to have all our schools up and running on the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system in our effort to safeguard students and staff across the district.”

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2018 FIFA World Cup Russia integrates safety, security and service
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia integrates safety, security and service

The 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament is bringing 32 national teams and more than 400,000 foreign football fans from all over the world to 12 venues in 11 cities in Russia. Fans are crowding into cities including Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan. Given continuing global concerns about terrorism, security is top-of-mind. Protection of the World Cup games in Russia is focusing on an “integrated safety, security and service approach,” according to officials. Combining the term “security” with the terms “safety” and “service” is not an accident. An aggressive security stance is necessary, but at the end of the day, fan safety is paramount, and a service-oriented approach ensures a positive fan experience. Medical responders will be working side-by-side with police and antiterrorism personnel. Risk management best practices We asked Sean T. Horner and Ben Joelson, directors of the Chertoff Group, a global advisory firm focused on best practices in security and risk management, to comment on security at FIFA World Cup 2018. Although not involved in securing the 2018 World Cup, the Chertoff Group is experienced at securing large events and enterprises using risk management, business practices and security. Integration is another important aspect of protecting the games, says Horner. The use of multiple resources, including Russian military, intelligence and law enforcement, will be closely integrated to provide the best security for the large-scale event in each of the host cities, he says. The approach will be centralised and flexible, with resource deployment guided by effective situational awareness. Primary security and emergency operations centres will be dispersed throughout each host city “There is a unified command structure at the Russian Federation level, and they will keep resources in reserve and shift them as needed to various events and venues based on any specific intelligence, in effect deploying resources where threats are greatest,” says Joelson. “There will also be some regional commands, and resources will incorporate a spectrum of police and military personnel ranging from the ‘cop on the beat’ to the Spetsnaz, the Russian ‘special forces'.” Primary security and emergency operations centres will be dispersed throughout each host city, and additional forces can be shifted as necessary, he notes. Role of law enforcement In Russia, the lines of separation between law enforcement and the military are not as stark as in the United States, for example, where military forces are restricted from deployment for domestic law enforcement by the Posse Comitatus Act. In Russia, there is no such restriction.  A broad range of technology will play a role at the World Cup, Horner and Joelson agree. Technology will be used primarily as a force multiplier and a decision-support tool for security personnel. There are robust CCTV systems in many Russian cities, and mobile CCTV systems, such as camera towers or mobile security centres on wheels, will also be deployed. Technologies will include infrared cameras, flood lights, and ferromagnetic screening systems to scan hundreds of individuals as they walk by. In some locations, facial recognition systems will be used, tied into various intelligence, military and law enforcement databases of known bad actors. Behaviour analytics will be used as a decision-support tool. In addition to security in public areas, private CCTV systems in hotels, at transportation hubs, and inside the venues themselves will be leveraged. Video analytics and detection will help personnel review live view of people who may be acting suspiciously or who leave a bag unattended. In some locations, facial recognition systems will be used, tied into various intelligence, military and law enforcement databases of known bad actors Rigorous anti-terrorism measures A Fan ID card is required to enter the 2018 World Cup Tournament, even for Russian residents. The Russians have an aggressive stance against domestic terrorism, which will also help ensure the safety of the World Cup games, say Horner and Joelson. Terrorist group ISIS has promised “unprecedented violence” at the games, but they make similar threats at every major global event. Russia has been an active force disrupting ISIS in Syria, and experts suggest that losing ground geographically could lead to addition “asymmetric” terrorist attacks. However, Russia is leveraging all their intelligence resources to identify any plots and deploying their security apparatus to disrupt any planned attacks, experts say. Russia’s rigorous anti-terrorism measures include a total ban on planes and other flying devices (such as drones) around the stadiums hosting the World Cup. Private security In addition to military, intelligence and law enforcement personnel, private security will play a have a high profile during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Private security personnel will be on the front lines in hotels and in “fan zones.” They will operate magnetometers at entrances, perform bag checks, enforce restrictions on hand-carried items, etc. Private security will be especially important to the “guest experience” aspects of protecting the games. Private security will be especially important to the “guest experience” aspects of protecting the games Another private security function at the World Cup is executive protection of dignitaries and high-net-worth individuals who will be attending. Executive protection professionals will arrive early, conduct advanced security assessments before VIPs arrive, and secure trusted and vetted transportation (including armoured cars in some cases.) VIPs will include both Russian citizens and foreign (including U.S.) dignitaries attending the games. Private security details will be out in force. Aggressive security approach Overeager and outspoken fans are a part of the football culture, but Russia will deploy a near-zero tolerance policy against hooliganism and riots. An overwhelming force presence will take an aggressive approach to curbing any civil disturbances, and offenders will be removed quickly by Russian security forces. Strict restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol will be enforced in the venue cities before and after the matches. Officials will also be cognisant of the possibility of a riot or other event being used as a distraction to draw attention from another area where a terrorist event is planned. It will be a delicate balance between deploying an aggressive security approach and preserving the fan experience. Joelson notes that freedom of speech is not as valued in Russia as in other parts of the world, so the scales will be even more tipped toward security. “The last thing they want is for things to get out of control,” says Horner. “The event is putting Russia on the world stage, and they want visitors to walk away safely after having a great time and wanting to go back in the future.” Attendees should also have good situational awareness, and keep their heads up, scanning crowds and identifying unsafe situations" Precautions for World Cup attendees Attendees to the World Cup in Russia should take some basic precautions, Horner and Joelson agree. For example, Russia requires a translated, notarised letter explaining any prescription drugs. The country has a more aggressive foreign intelligence environment, so visitors cannot depend on their data being private. Joelson recommends the usual “social media hygiene” and privacy settings. Visitors should not post information about their travel plans or locations, and it’s best to travel with a disposable mobile phone that does not contain personal information. Location tracking should be deactivated. Travellers should also beware of talking and sharing information with others, or of saying anything derogatory. “They should also have good situational awareness, and keep their heads up, scanning crowds and identifying unsafe situations,” says Joelson. “If you bring a personal electronic device, you should expect that it has been compromised,” says Horner. Text messages and email will not be private, and he suggests creating an email address used only for travel. Don’t leave drinks unattended. Travellers from the U.S. should register at the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) operated by the U.S. State Department. “Plan before you travel and before you get to the airport,” says Horner.

The benefits and challenges of in-camera audio analytics for surveillance solutions
The benefits and challenges of in-camera audio analytics for surveillance solutions

Audio is often overlooked in the security and video surveillance industry. There are some intercom installations where audio plays a key role, but it’s not typically thought about when it comes to security and event management. Audio takes a back seat in many security systems because audio captured from a surveillance camera can have a different impact on the privacy of those being monitored. Audio surveillance is therefore subject to strict laws that vary from state to state. Many states require a clearly posted sign indicating audio recording is taking place in an area before a person enters. Analytic information derived from audio can be a useful tool and when implemented correctly, removes any concerns over privacy or legal compliance. Audio analytics on the edge overcomes legal challenges as it never passes audio outside of the camera Focused responses to events Audio analytics processed in the camera, has been a niche and specialised area for many installers and end users. This could be due to state laws governing audio recording, however, audio analytics on the edge overcomes legal challenges as it never passes audio outside of the camera Processing audio analytics in-camera provides excellent privacy since audio data is analysed internally with a set of algorithms that only compare and assess the audio content. Processing audio analytics on the edge also reduces latency compared with any system that needs to send the raw audio to an on-premises or cloud server for analysis. Audio analytics can quickly pinpoint zones that security staff should focus on, which can dramatically shorten response times to incidents. Audio-derived data also provides a secondary layer of verification that an event is taking place which can help prioritise responses from police and emergency personnel. Having a SoC allows a manufacturer to reserve space for specialised features, and for audio analytics, a database of reference sounds is needed for comparison Microphones and algorithms Many IP-based cameras have small microphones embedded in the housing while some have a jack for connecting external microphones to the camera. Microphones on indoor cameras work well since the housing allows for a small hole to permit sound waves to reach the microphone. Outdoor cameras that are IP66 certified against water and dust ingress will typically have less sensitivity since the microphone is not exposed. In cases like these, an outdoor microphone, strategically placed, can significantly improve outdoor analytic accuracy. There are several companies that make excellent directional microphones for outdoor use, some of which can also combat wind noise. Any high-quality external microphone should easily outperform a camera’s internal microphone in terms of analytic accuracy, so it is worth considering in areas where audio information gathering is deemed most important. In-built audio-video analytics Surveillance cameras with a dedicated SoC (System on Chip) have become available in recent years with in-built video and audio analytics that can detect and classify audio events and send alerts to staff and emergency for sounds such as gunshots, screams, glass breaks and explosions. Having a SoC allows a manufacturer to reserve space for specialised features. For audio analytics, a database of reference sounds is needed for comparison. The camera extracts the characteristics of the audio source collected using the camera's internal or externally connected microphone and calculates its likelihood based on the pre-defined database. If a match is found for a known sound, e.g., gunshot, explosion, glass break, or scream, an event is triggered, and the message is passed to the VMS. If a match is found for a known sound, e.g., gunshot, explosion, glass break, or scream, an event is triggered, and the message is passed to the VMS Configuring a camera for audio analytics Audio detectionThe first job of a well-configured camera or camera/mic pair is to detect sounds of interest while rejecting ancillary sounds and noise below a preset threshold. Each camera must be custom configured for its particular environment to detect audio levels which exceed a user-defined level. Since audio levels are typically greater in abnormal situations, any audio levels exceeding the baseline set levels are detected as being a potential security event. Operators can be notified of any abnormal situations via event signals allowing the operator to take suitable measures. Finding a baseline of background noise and setting an appropriate threshold level is the first step. Installers should be able to enable or disable the noise reduction function and view the results to validate the optimum configuration during setup Noise reductionA simple threshold level may not be adequate enough to reduce false alarms depending on the environment where a camera or microphone is installed. Noise reduction is a feature on cameras that can reduce background noise greater than 55dB-65dB for increased detection accuracy. Installers should be able to enable or disable the noise reduction function and view the results to validate the optimum configuration during setup. With noise reduction enabled, the system analyses the attenuated audio source. As such, the audio source classification performance may be hindered or generate errors, so it is important to use noise reduction technology sparingly. Audio source classificationIt’s important to supply the analytic algorithm with a good audio level and a high signal-to-noise ratio to reduce the chance of generating false alarms under normal circumstances. Installers should experiment with ideal placement for both video as well as audio. While a ceiling corner might seem an ideal location for a camera, it might also cause background audio noise to be artificially amplified. Many cameras provide a graph which visualises audio source levels to allow for the intuitive checking of noise cancellation and detection levels. Analytics take privacy concerns out of the equation and allow installers and end users to use camera audio responsibly Messages and eventsIt’s important to choose a VMS that has correctly integrated the camera’s API (application programming interface) in order to receive comprehensive audio analytic events that include the classification ID (explosion, glass break, gunshot, scream). A standard VMS that only supports generic alarms, may not be able to resolve all of the information. More advanced VMS solutions can identify different messages from the camera. Well configured audio analytics can deliver critical information about a security event, accelerating response times and providing timely details beyond video-only surveillance. Analytics take privacy concerns out of the equation and allow installers and end users to use camera audio responsibly. Hanwha Techwin's audio source classification technology, available in its X Series cameras, features three customisable settings for category, noise cancellation and detection level for optimum performance in a variety of installation environments.

How important is packaging in the commercial security market?
How important is packaging in the commercial security market?

High-quality products are the building blocks of successful physical security systems. How they are packaged may sometimes be seen as an unimportant detail or an afterthought. But should it be? Effective packaging can serve many functions, from creating a favorable customer impression to ensuring the product isn’t damaged in transit. Packaging can also contribute to ease of installation. On the negative side, excess packaging can be an environmental concern, especially for customers who are sensitive to green factors or to minimising waste. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Is packaging of products important in the commercial security market? Why or why not?