The latest generation ZeroWire and UltraSync technologies from Interlogix, a brand represented by UTC Fire & Security UK Ltd in the United Kingdom, are the solutions being used by leading security provider Bellit Security. UltraSync’s app-controlled and ZeroWire’s wireless packages bring together intruder, video and home automation features and add the advantage of 24/7 control via the user’s mobile phone.

Bellit Security Managing Director Daniel Halenko believes they are ‘game-changing’ products. “ZeroWire and UltraSync together give homeowners exactly the right mix of affordability, ease of use and convenience. This is a significant upgrade on what we’ve seen before and a major opportunity to shake up the industry.”

Smart phone and central monitoring options

"From our first completed projects, we could see how much customers love the technology – it really excites them"

The ZeroWire panel, along with its associated UltraSync app, is designed to be monitored either through the user’s smart phone or via connection to a central monitoring station. Configuring ZeroWire is simple and based upon the concept of ‘scenes.’ A scene encapsulates a group of up to 16 actions, such as turning on the lights or disarming the system, which can then be triggered either manually, through a system event such as an alarm, or via a time schedule. A typical scene might be to turn off lights, lock locks and shut the garage door when leaving. Another scene might be to activate a sounder, start a camera recording and send an email when a sensor detects an intruder.

“From our first completed projects, we could see how much customers love the technology – it really excites them,” says Halenko. “We are incredibly positive about its potential.”

Residential installations

Blackburn-based Bellit Security has already begun investing in marketing ZeroWire smart home systems. One of their latest projects is a new, high-end residential property and it illustrates why this new technology is so appealing. The homeowner is a single mother with two teenagers who needed a solution that would not only provide peace of mind but make her busy life easier. For her, it was about home-management and life-management as much as security.

Her previous property had been seriously damaged by a flood caused by a frozen pipe. She loved that, with Z-Wave controlled valves installed, the ZeroWire smart home system not only detects flooding but can automatically turn the main water supply off. She doesn’t have to be at home to turn off the water supply and doesn’t even have to know where the stop-valve is - just one example of the kind of control she now has over her property. This feature alone will be a major attraction for other customers, such as those with blocks of apartments to manage.

Also at her property, Bellit Security installed two internal wireless cameras, wireless door and window contacts, and three wireless Passive Infra Red (PIR) detectors. All wirelessly signal back to the ZeroWire panel, which can then communicate with either a central monitoring station or a mobile phone, depending on the customer’s wishes. In this case, the homeowner used the UltraSync app from her mobile phone to view her cameras, see the status of the intruder system and control items such as lights and thermostats.

Smart home functionality provides a means for a mother to check in on her home, and her teenage children, wherever she is

Remote monitoring

Smart home functionality provides a means for a mother to check in on her home, and her teenage children, wherever she is. This doesn’t mean spying on family members but getting phone notifications that somebody has arrived home safely at the time they are expected. For people looking after potentially vulnerable family members, the benefits are also clear.

The UltraSync app, using geo-location technology paired with a smartphone’s GPS, can advise the ZeroWire panel when a user has left or returned to a predefined physical location. Another added feature: the ZeroWire panel can automatically turn off Z-Wave lights when the user has left home and then turn the lights back on as the user returns home. This is done by the user putting a “geo-fence” around the house at the desired distance, so the home ‘wakes up’ and is ready to welcome them when they arrive. This includes things like the lights and heat turning on and the alarm system turning off. No longer would a homeowner have to search for their keys while the security system counts down to activation.

Mobile alarm notifications

Lastly, the ZeroWire can “push,” or send, alarm notifications to the homeowner’s mobile phone. When the system detects an intruder (or any specified alarm event), it sends a message to the user’s mobile phone. The user can then view the cameras, check whether there’s a problem and make an informed decision about how to respond, including contacting emergency services if necessary.

“Bellit Security is a great example of how security providers are using UTC Fire & Security technology to offer customers exciting, life-enhancing smart home solutions,” says Kevin Swann, managing director, UTC Fire & Security UK Ltd. “Now, with ZeroWire and UltraSync, homeowners can manage their properties remotely and have convenience, control and peace of mind. These are solutions that consumers will embrace because they enhance their busy lives in a very obvious way.”

It’s a message UTC Fire & Security and many security providers are convinced the industry – and its customers - are not only ready for but keen to hear.

Smart home automation is attracting a lot of attention these days, within the security sector and beyond

Smart home automation systems

Smart home automation is attracting a lot of attention these days, within the security sector and beyond, with companies such as Apple and Google developing visions for consumer lifestyles that are transformed by the Internet of Things. But with its established position in both the security and fire segments – which are subject to well-established commercial standards – UTC Fire & Security is well-placed to be among the industry leaders.

These innovative offerings reflect that. For communications, ZeroWire utilises IP, WiFi and optional GSM connections. The non-proprietary Z-Wave protocol is supported, which gives access to over 1,700 third party products such as thermostats, locks and lights. With EN Grade 2 and PD6662 accreditation, ZeroWire meets the required standards for police response to alarms if required.

The ZeroWire range of wireless peripherals includes indoor and outdoor cameras, a smoke detector, door/window sensors, indoor and outdoor sirens, a range of PIR detectors and a two-way key fob. With support of the Z-Wave protocol, this extends support to include third-party products such as thermostats, locks, plugs and dimmers. ZeroWire provides a single platform for both home security and automation.

ZeroWire and UltraSync provide homeowners with a proven smart home automation system

Easy installations

Ease of installation and on-going support has been a major consideration in the design philosophy of ZeroWire. All sensors are connected wirelessly so no wiring is required. Additionally, the UltraSync capability means that communication with a central monitoring station is established simply by plugging in the network cable and the ZeroWire unit ‘dials home’ itself, via the cloud, without the need for any IT knowledge such as port forwarding. Once installed, with the plug and play remote connection established, support such as configuration changes or firmware updates can be handled remotely.

ZeroWire and UltraSync provide homeowners with a proven smart home automation system, incorporating a traditional security capability along with control of a wide range of additional products such as camera and thermostats. Allowing ease of mind and convenience for a variety of customers, regardless of location.

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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?