By providing an open platform and access to documentation, software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs), individual developers and partner organisations can explore the full potential of Axis products and solutions.

And by doing so, creating advanced applications that bring new and compelling use cases to market. Long-time Axis Communications (Axis) partner, Citilog has been developing traffic management analytics applications alongside Axis for more than a decade. Citilog’s Vice-President Jean-Marie Guyon helped understand the benefits that the Axis Camera Application Platform (ACAP) brings to the company’s business.

Axis ADP Program

Axis Communications is a company that truly believes that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts'

Axis Communications is a company that truly believes that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’. Through the Axis Developer Community, which is open to all developers, whether already working within an Axis partner company or not, and the Axis Application Development Partner (ADP) Program, the company provides a wealth of resources that connect the ecosystem around Axis products and technologies.

In doing so, and particularly in giving early access to new technology, innovation is accelerated, and connections are made that bring benefits to partners and customers alike. Within the ADP Program and through the Axis Developer Community, partners and developers gain access to the Axis Camera Application Platform (ACAP), which specifically allows for the development of applications that sit within surveillance cameras themselves (and an increasing number of other products).

As the capabilities of Axis surveillance cameras increases and particularly, cameras are now available, which includes a Deep Learning Processing Unit (DLPU). ACAP represents a place where some of the most cutting-edge innovation is taking place.

A fundamental change to the business

The partnership between Axis and Citilog, a specialist in advanced traffic management analytics applications, began in 2009, at around the same time that ACAP itself was created (and well before Citilog was acquired by Axis in 2016).

Jean-Marie Guyon, Vice President at Citilog, talks about how the first possibilities of developing in camera analytics would fundamentally change their business. He explains how the company immediately saw the opportunity in ACAP when it was first announced. He said, “Citilog had already been an Axis partner for a number of years when the capacity of the camera processors became sufficient to port our applications on the edge.

Jean-Marie adds, “But, as soon as we saw the possibilities for developing analytics applications that were integrated into surveillance cameras themselves, we knew it would fundamentally change our business, even if it took longer for customers to realise the potential!

Decreased need of bandwidth with rise of edge analytics

By analysing the video within the camera, we only need to transfer the data that matters rather than everything"

Prior to the ability to develop in-camera analytics applications, often known as ‘edge analytics’, the analysis of video took place on centralised hardware and servers, either housed within the customer’s own premises or within a data centre. This meant the transfer of huge amounts of video footage from the camera to the data centre, with associated demand for bandwidth and the inevitable cost.

Jean-Marie continues, “We immediately saw the opportunity to remove a significant proportion of the bandwidth demands through in-camera analytics. Put simply, by analysing the video within the camera, we only need to transfer the data that matters rather than everything. For cameras that are monitoring roads 24 hours a day, seven days a week for incidents that can be relatively rare, it’s obvious to see what a difference this could make.

Market slow to respond

But as Jean-Marie mentions, while Citilog’s developers immediately saw the potential, the market was, as usual, slower to respond. He stated, “Over the past decade we’ve done a lot of promotion and evangelising of the benefits of in-camera analytics. It takes time for sectors to change and adapt new approaches, and not least when it requires a change in hardware and the first few years were tough going.

Jean-Marie adds, “However, persevering has been worth it, and today more than 70% of our business is based on ACAP. More than that, in the past few years we’ve seen the majority of tenders demanding in-camera analytics.

Change in capabilities of in-camera analytics

At its heart, ACAP is a platform for innovation and Citilog is always looking towards the future. Deep learning represents the next area of innovation. Jean-Marie expands on this by stating, “With the combination of our current deep learning-based solution (CT-ADL: Citilog Applied Deep Learning) and the evolution of the in-camera processing capabilities, it feels like we’re on the cusp of a real step-change.

Jean-Marie adds, “With the AXIS Q1615-LE Mk III, we have the first Axis camera in the market that includes a deep learning processing unit (DLPU) which combined with the CT-ADL makes it the first operational DL-based solution running on the edge. It’s difficult to overstate the scale of the step forward that this represents.

Deep learning (DL)

But deep learning is something that requires huge amounts of processing power

Deep learning (DL) is a subset of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In very simple terms, in relation to video analytics on the edge, the primary benefits relate to much greater accuracy in the detection, identification and classification of all types of object - a generic ‘vehicle’ becomes a car, lorry, bus, or motorcycle and critically, objects that aren’t relevant can be safely ignored.

But deep learning is something that requires huge amounts of processing power and while this was previously only available through the use of remote servers, it’s now accessible in the camera itself.

Reduced number of false alarms

In a sector such as traffic management, the ability to differentiate between a greater number of objects is critical, as Jean-Marie explains, “One of the biggest issues for any surveillance operation is the cost of false alarms: alerts being triggered that required attention and prompt action, but which aren’t actually materially important.

He adds, “In traffic management, as an example, traditionally one of the most common causes of false alarms is shadows and rain puddles. These can often be mistaken as a vehicle, and if they’re in the fast lane of a motorway, will create an alert. The power of deep learning reduces these false alarms substantially. In fact, that’s an understatement as we’re typically finding that the number of false alarms is reduced by a factor of 10.

Reduced need for hardware

These ‘lighter’ solutions are therefore easier to maintain and further reduce operational costs

Such a substantial reduction in false alarms is one obvious benefit to customers, but the switch from processing power in the server and data center to the camera also means a reduced need for hardware.

These ‘lighter’ solutions are therefore easier to maintain and further reduce operational costs. They also open up new use cases for in-camera analytics where lack of available bandwidth would have previously made it impossible.

High potential for deep learning edge analytics

While Citilog’s focus remains on traffic management and through that, using the analytics and data created to deliver on the vision for smart cities, the potential for deep learning edge analytics is there for every industry sector and use case.

Harnessing the creative power of the largest number of people has always been at the heart of the Axis ethos. Through the Axis Developer Community, Axis ADP and ACAP, the opportunities for all developers and partners to learn, experiment and innovate are infinite.

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In case you missed it

Expert roundup: healthy buildings, blockchain, AI, skilled workers, and more
Expert roundup: healthy buildings, blockchain, AI, skilled workers, and more

Our Expert Panel Roundtable is an opinionated group. However, for a variety of reasons, we are sometimes guilty of not publishing their musings in a timely manner. At the end of 2020, we came across several interesting comments among those that were previously unpublished. Following is a catch-all collection of those responses, addressing some of the most current and important issues in the security marketplace in 2021.

Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?
Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?

If you’re a security or facilities manager, you may already be aware of the quiet revolution that’s taking place across businesses and organisations up and down the country. By the end of 2020, 20% of all ID and access control systems featured mobile capability, and this is set to increase by a further 34% over the next three years. There’s no doubt that using a smartphone or mobile device in place of traditional credential and access control is a growing trend that’s only been sped up by the pandemic. It’s true that many businesses are still very much focused on remote working, although many are now starting to implement new-and-improved strategies that are better suited to protect the workforce moving forward. Mobile ID systems As the next normal becomes clearer, businesses will be reviewing procedures such as access control, occupancy monitoring, reducing touch points and tracking visitors. Mobile ID systems are ideally suited to this task. But what are the key reasons for considering such a setup in 2021? But why is this new technology so well-suited to future-proof your physical access system, and why is it becoming so popular? Eradicating outdated legacy credentials Have you seen just how vulnerable outdated Proximity card technology can be? Low-frequency 125kHz cards can be cloned in a matter of seconds with the use of cheap, readily available tools. Despite their weaknesses, they are still used by a huge majority of businesses – big and small. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential Replacing such a system with a mobile-enabled system is one of the best ways to increase security ten-fold. Thanks to a cloud-based infrastructure, mobile ID offers best-in-class security and cryptography. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential. Bluetooth Smart and NFC (Near Field Communication) make them the best product to operate such a credential via a secure app. If you’re looking for best-in-class security in 2021, mobile access is most definitely the way forward. Removing touch points across the business Reducing touch points and the adoption of touchless facilities has become a key priority for businesses in the wake of COVID-19. Even as businesses start to return to the office and operate a home/office split, it will be imperative that unnecessary contact is kept to an absolute minimum between staff. The traditional issuance of identification and access control credentials can pose problems in this regard. Facility and security managers who are responsible for onboarding and processing ID have done the process face to face. Mobile access makes it possible to carry this process out without people coming into direct content. First, the security manager has access to a secure portal, allowing them to create, manage and edit credentials anywhere. They can upload and remotely transfer mobile ID and access control credentials directly to users’ smartphones over the air. Via the secure app, users can view and see their credentials and immediately begin using it for ID and access control by simply placing their smartphone over card readers. Enabling a more flexible way of working The way in which we work has changed for good. Even as people more people return to the office in 2021, a majority of businesses will be operating a home/office split indefinitely. This once again reinforces the need for a smarter, more adaptable onboarding system. Implementing mobile ID is the perfect way of doing this: over-the-air delivery of credentials and security data is now a given, helping businesses create the perfect balance between the home and the office. No longer do people have to come into the office for the onboarding process. Increasing convenience and user experience More often businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security Ok, so mobile ID is the perfect way of increasing security and adapting workplaces to a post-COVID way of working. And we’ve not even touched on the most obvious advantage yet: Convenience. How many times have you forgotten your ID card? We’re sure it’s more times than you forget your smartphone. These powerful processors have become intertwined with the way we carry out tasks on a daily basis. They’re so vital that people will soon notice if they’ve forgotten it. From an employee’s perspective, mobile ID and access control is simple, convenient and extremely user-friendly. More and more businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security. From the employer’s perspective, mobile ID means it’s easier for administrators to manage access and credentials. Future-proofing access control now will ensure that in the longer term, mobile ID is well worth the investment. The annual expenditure of printing ID cards and purchasing credentials can be vast, while reissuance costs can also quickly add up for larger organisations. These issues are a thing of the past for businesses using mobile ID. Mobile ID perfect tool for 2021 and beyond Until mobile ID, new and improved credentials’ main focus was on increasing security. Mobile ID not only delivers that, but it also provides a more convenient way of accessing the office in a way that’s perfectly suited to returning to the office in 2021. If there was ever a time to upgrade, now is the time. Summing up, mobile access is changing the way we access the office by: Eliminating weak links in security systems such as outdated legacy card technologies Eradicating the need for touch points across multiple areas of the workplace Enabling a smarter, more flexible approach to onboarding Increasing convenience – for both employers and employees.

Water plant attack emphasizes cyber’s impact on physical security
Water plant attack emphasizes cyber’s impact on physical security

At an Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility on Feb. 5, an operator watched a computer screen as someone remotely accessed the system monitoring the water supply and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small concentrations to control acidity in the water. In larger concentrations, the compound is poisonous – the same corrosive chemical used to eat away at clogged drains. The impact of cybersecurity attacks The incident is the latest example of how cybersecurity attacks can translate into real-world, physical security consequences – even deadly ones.Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. The computer system was set up to allow remote access only to authorised users. The source of the unauthorised access is unknown. However, the attacker was only in the system for 3 to 5 minutes, and an operator corrected the concentration back to 100 parts per million soon after. It would have taken a day or more for contaminated water to enter the system. In the end, the city’s water supply was not affected. There were other safeguards in place that would have prevented contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply, which serves around 15,000 residents. The remote access used for the attack was disabled pending an investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 2, a compilation of breached usernames and passwords, known as COMB for “Compilation of Many Breaches,” was leaked online. COMB contains 3.2 billion unique email/password pairs. It was later discovered that the breach included the credentials for the Oldsmar water plant. Water plant attacks feared for years Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attempt to poison the water supply should be treated as a “matter of national security.” “The incident at the Oldsmar water treatment plant is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is continually at risk; not only from nation-state attackers, but also from malicious actors with unknown motives and goals,” comments Mieng Lim, VP of Product Management at Digital Defense Inc., a provider of vulnerability management and threat assessment solutions.The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online “Our dependency on critical infrastructure – power grids, utilities, water supplies, communications, financial services, emergency services, etc. – on a daily basis emphasises the need to ensure the systems are defended against any adversary,” Mieng Lim adds. “Proactive security measures are crucial to safeguard critical infrastructure systems when perimeter defences have been compromised or circumvented. We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorised to connect to an organisation's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorised devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organisations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organisations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organisations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. Fortunately, there were backup systems in place in Oldsmar. What could have been a tragedy instead became a cautionary tale. Both physical security and cybersecurity professionals should pay attention.