Pan Pacific, managed by Pan Pacific Hotels Group, is a leading hospitality brand in Asia and the Pacific Rim, situated in key cities of distinguished destinations offering upscale accommodations and services. Continuously exceeding global standards of quality, Pan Pacific Hotels & Resorts are synonymous with personalised care, encompassing a culture of subtle service and attention to detail. Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts are recognised with prestigious global accolades for consistent delivery of premium accommodation, high quality amenities and service excellence.

Safety and comfort of the highest standards

"We have an enlightened approach to our systems and security, using the most current technology. Pan Pacific Hotels Group is an organisation that embraces opportunities to be more effective by making better use of information. We aim to deliver information to our associates as quickly as possible to facilitate a higher quality of service to our customers," states Mark Fancourt, Vice President Information Technology at Pan Pacific Hotels Group. "Being a people-centric business, comfort and life safety issues are foremost for us. We have always had a high focus on security in terms of insuring a very robust life protection infrastructure - not just since the events of recent times - it is part of our brand."

These high security standards are evident at the Pan Pacific hotels: Mark Fancourt says that the level of surveillance in the design is quite extensive. "In Bangkok we have a property with 150 rooms and public areas such as a Lobby, Restaurants and Pool Deck. The property has 100 surveillance cameras installed in the building as an illustration of the importance we place on life and safety matters. Whether it's short or longstay business, we ensure our environment gives our customers the confidence that security is factored into their stay."

Hotels have a broad scope to keep track of and monitor, being multiple access locations with significant public traffic at all times of day or night. Large function and event spaces add to this requirement. Fancourt describes the hotel environment as an open yet controlled environment from the management point of view, with security challenges similar to the busy milieu of shopping centres.

Milestone's XProtect secures Pan Pacific Hotels Group 
 The Milestone open platform approach enabled convergence of the system from analogue to IP

Upgrade from analogue to IP with fast implementation

The flagship Singapore location on Raffles Boulevard has 785 rooms and is busy year round, with 600 employees tending to customers' every need. In October 2007, the IMF Conference was held in the SUNTEC Convention Center adjacent to Pan Pacific Singapore, where many of the delegates were housed. This event provided the impetus to upgrade the hotel's analogue video surveillance system to ensure that the very latest security tools would be available. Milestone Systems XProtect™ open platform IP video management software was chosen as the core of their solution, and since then is rolling out to other hotel locations (Pan Pacific Seattle, Pan Pacific Hotels Group corporate offices and Pan Pacific Serviced Suites, Bangkok).

An initial budget was estimated around USD 359,000 to meet the needs for the IMF Conference, and the technology upgrade migration plan at Pan Pacific Singapore with 250 cameras was scheduled for a two-month period to complete the project. Impressively, however, with the leaner setup infrastructure required for the IP system, implementing was much faster and very efficient.

"One of the advantages with open IP technology is that you don't need such a large physical space for your security operations, as you do with purpose-built, proprietary analogue installations. It's a lot more modular today thanks to the independent network software approach," explains Mark Fancourt.

There are many opportunities with the software and integration, both through the cameras that provide greater innovation such as analytics at the edge, and other connected systems like access control, parking systems or guest registration software.

"The motion-sensitive recording in Milestone makes a significant difference for us in terms of storage capacity as we only record video when needed. Efficiency-wise it changed everything, improving the cost of our investment and the system performance," states Fancourt. "The software does what it needs to do when we need it to do it."

Leveraging the security investment optimally

The Milestone open platform approach enabled convergence of the system from analogue to IP: Pan Pacific leveraged their earlier security investment by keeping their analogue cameras and running them through video encoders that digitised the images to be managed by the Milestone software. Mark Fancourt explains that the analogue cameras have now been replaced by network video cameras from Axis Communications, and all new camera installations are IP models.

"The motion-sensitive recording in Milestone makes a significatn differene in terms of storage capacity"

The process for selecting analogue versus IP technology came with deep discussions from the Pan Pacific Singapore and the Pan Pacific Hotels Group team, and also included third-party security experts' feedback in the evaluation. The final decision was based on the following criteria:

  • Ease of expansion: To be able to scale the system to more sites and with more or new cameras had to be easy so upgrading could be accomplished based on unit and group needs over time.
  • Lower total cost of ownership: Cost efficiency comes from using standard IT hardware and network resources such as hard disks, PCs, switches, etc. Maintenance by the IT Department becomes a natural part of all data management, with the efficiencies of a flexible, central operation, yet with local capabilities.

Open Platform software-based solution that's future-proof

Milestone XProtect software was chosen because it provides an independent, true open platform architecture, which allows the Pan Pacific Hotels Group to select best-of-breed models and brands for every component in their IP surveillance eco-system.

"We wanted an independent, software-based solution that did not require specific hardware. This provides a flexible model to address the multiple functions of our business with scalability in the future. We needed the ability to place various types of cameras in various locations; have wireless access or even mobile clients. We chose the Milestone solution as part of the technology scope for the entire company network. The way we construct the hotels today lets us build the security into the overall network design, keeping the video stored and archived, accessible like any other data, available to those who need access. We no longer run coax cable around the buildings when we erect new hotels - it is much more cost effective and flexible with IP as a unified platform for our properties to operate on."

Milestone surveillance is used to monitor staff and hotel operational processes 
Milestone XProtect Smart Clients provide the interface for security operators to live and recorded video

More than just security - customer service, too

"We also use the Milestone surveillance to monitor staff and hotel operational processes. This helps us ensure a smooth operation. We monitor access matters, staff as they are coming and going, vehicle movements, supply deliveries, etc." adds Mark Fancourt.

For Pan Pacific, aesthetics are also important. This is managed with the discreet camera models from Axis.

"The quality of analogue surveillance cannot compete with IP - so sharp and detailed. This has changed everything in terms of how well we are able to monitor and resolve issues. One of our PTZ cameras lets us see hundreds of metres from the corners of the buildings, out to the streets and surrounding areas, and pick up sharp detail. You could never do that with analogue CCTV. Our security operations love it," confirms Fancourt.

"It used to be all about the cameras - and Axis cameras are great - but we are no longer dependent on the camera setups any more, and there are many to choose from today. We have mixed-use properties that have retail, residential and hotel operations in some of our complexes where hotels are located. This model provides economy of scale across the whole project. The flexibility to put any camera on the network platform makes a difference to us going forward."

Milestone ease of use and fast response

The Milestone XProtect Smart Clients provide the interface for security operators to see both live and recorded video, for total overview of situations, the ability to respond quickly, and evidence to resolve incidences.

"Milestone provides an IT approach that allows my users to easily interface with the system - PCs are their daily working tools. Controlling Milestone from the comfort of the PC was a dream come true and the user friendliness of Milestone makes the whole process much simpler than expected," confirms Mr. Vinod, Director of Security at Pan Pacific Singapore.

 Milestone's IP cameras provide sharp images
Milestone's IP cameras provide sharp and detailed images which analogue surveillance cannot offer

Mark Fancourt concurs: "Milestone takes advantage of the computer tools of today and it is simple to use. With no training I was able to use it immediately - very intuitive. When there is an incident, the security team can access the video footage quickly with a non-stop flow of evidence from camera to camera. Sharing information with law enforcement bodies is also a simple process. In fact we are able to support third-party, real-time access to the surveillance, as we needed to for IMF in Singapore. The speed of availability is vastly different from analogue systems, and quickly provides the necessary information for faster response. There are also alerts that trigger proactive actions to prevent situations from escalating. The software is well thought out and designed, easy to configure, maintain and use. It really is a great piece of technology."

A long-term vision

Mark Fancourt explains that they have the Milestone Product Maintenance Agreement and get the most out of that investment by keeping current with the latest technology as new versions of the software become available. Future opportunities from the open platform IP technology are clearly in sight for Pan Pacific Hotels Group.

"We can take advantage of the software as it becomes smarter. Integrations with new advancements that come along will allow us to become even more effective, freeing up human resources that don't have to sit glued to a screen, getting alerts when needed. I foresee having a city-wide surveillance approach instead of in the separate businesses: a single point of central control with local and mobile access points. Emerging technologies in future are available to us with this solution. My aim is to recommend to our owners this long-term vision, through the software-based, hardware independent Milestone solution - it is the right one for us."

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Thermal cameras and smart cities: Preventing COVID-19 in public places
Thermal cameras and smart cities: Preventing COVID-19 in public places

With the pandemic still in full swing and no certainty as to when exactly it will come to an end, the world has been battling anxiety for months now. And with each day, circumstances change quickly and almost make it impossible to predict what will happen next, how events will unfold, and what actions to take in light of a new situation. But one thing is certain: the world has been shut down and paralysed for way too long, and the eventual reopening is unavoidable – in fact, it’s well under way. In this situation, what is possible to control is how the world will continue reopening – and specifically, how to ensure the safest possible reopening that will ensure the return of some degree of normalcy to people’s lives and business operations, while also managing the risk of COVID’s spread in the most efficient way. 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Here are some applications that have been successful to date and will increase in usability in the foreseeable future, creating “smart cities” working together towards a safer, more secure world. Maintaining social distancing practices The most important step everyone around the world has taken to contribute to the effort of slowing the spread of the virus has been social distancing. A six-foot-distance has become a new social norm that has quickly been adopted globally and become a habit to people who are naturally used to being close to others and socialising without giving distance a second thought. The star of the past decade has been artificial intelligence So, it is natural that such distancing measures take time to get accustomed to – and it is also natural that individuals may forget about them from time to time. 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To this extent, the object detection and identification abilities of smart cameras can further reinforce this requirement and ensure that the absence of protective equipment doesn’t go unnoticed.  Essentially, these cameras can easily identify if an individual has coverage at any given point of time or not, notifying the local authorities about any risks immediately and helping them maintain necessary safety measures without having to interrupt their workflow or worry about missing a visitor without a mask. Detecting high temperature One of the key (and the most widespread) symptoms of COVID-19 is a high fever - a certain indicator of whether an individual may have been infected with the virus or not. 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It’s not all about the theory  We have tested the described approaches in our own R&D campus in Europe. The latest release of the IREX cloud enables remote fever detection and monitoring of social isolation and mask policies with AI. We have integrated thermal cameras to detect people with elevated temperature and CCTV cameras for identification and notifying those who potentially ill. In case of any health threat, the venue manager gets an instant message with a picture and exact location. These preventive steps helped our employees return to the office months earlier than it's happening in other countries. Moreover, personnel coming back to the office by their own wish as now they feel a virus-free environment in the campus - even safer than in their own homes. Now we are launching a pilot project for a well-known pharmacy chain in Florida, USA. With the help of a Computer Vision platform, staff will be able to divide customer traffic into those with normal body temperature and those who come in with elevated temperatures, as well as effectively monitor social distance norms. The goal of our potential client is to maximise the safety of customers in the post-pandemic period. Also, IREX is already deployed across hundreds of locations in the UK and will add health monitoring capability soon.

Why cloud-enabled physical security must be part of your long-term digital strategy
Why cloud-enabled physical security must be part of your long-term digital strategy

COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown saw an unprecedented demand for cloud-enabled technologies across Europe. Such services enabled people to stay connected and allowed some businesses to relocate personnel and continue to operate successfully. With enterprise-focused video conferencing mobile app downloads showing a weekly 90% increase in comparison to pre-COVID-19 figures, it’s clear that cloud services have proven invaluable in these challenging times. Now, as the benefits to business of cloud technology become apparent, and the grip of COVID-19 begins to loosen, senior decision makers must consider the learnings from the past few months and look to apply them to boost productivity, streamline costs or become more agile in the long term. Digital transformation presents some enticing advantages for those companies that have been slow to adapt. The physical security industry, traditionally video surveillance cameras (CCTV) and access control, will have witnessed how cloud infrastructure is not only cost effective and safe, but is a force multiplier for connecting platforms, services and people with potent business benefits. The future is VSaaS and ACaaS In today’s modern, connected world, dated technologies are giving way to their cloud-enabled successors, video surveillance as-a-service (VSaaS) and access control as-a-service (ACaaS). In this context, cameras and readers are added to a network as IoT devices that bring security systems up to date and represent a vital component in any modern, cyber-secure digital strategy. Frictionless access control has meant touch free access to buildings But better security is just one benefit of a much greater system that can bring real value. Built in analytics, for example, that utilise the data from network video cameras and smart access control devices, produce valuable business insights that help to inform and automate decision making. In the recent pandemic, frictionless access control has meant touch free access to buildings; while occupancy tools have helped retailers adhere to strict government guidelines on social distancing. And as more security equipment becomes connected to the wider IT network, the advantages have not been lost on the IT industry that is expressing more than a passing interest in the adoption and management of such systems. Morphean recently conducted a survey of 1000 IT decision makers across the UK and Europe, with the purpose of providing clarity around their security purchasing intent in the 2020s. Findings revealed that as many as 84% of IT managers are currently using or considering VSaaS or ACaaS systems, pointing to an appreciation of the convergence of physical security and IT security, and a willingness to embrace systems when integrated with IT in the cloud. An adaptable business model with recurring revenues Of course, it is not just the IT industry that is changing mindsets towards hosted physical security. As a result of COVID-19, end customers are demanding it too and found it easier to scale at speed when business circumstances changed. Rather than being tied to fixed IT infrastructure on premises, a hosted solution offered greater dexterity as operational challenges around the pandemic arose. Businesses were able to customise and scale quickly to meet ongoing need without the need for large upfront capital investment, instead, paying for the convenience as-a-service out of operational expenditure as a monthly cost. 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Instead, convenient and recurring monthly payments will have put the installer on a firmer footing and guaranteed ongoing vendor support backed by the latest software updates and firmware upgrades to ensure delivery of a high quality service that’s always up to date and online. What is driving your digital strategy? VSaaS and ACaaS provide a flexible and fluid security and business solution Cloud is here to stay. Its resilience and ability to connect the world during the COVID-19 pandemic has proved its worth, even to the uninitiated who have now witnessed first-hand the value of connected systems. VSaaS and ACaaS provide a flexible and fluid security and business solution to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving industry, where the changing threat landscape means investing in the cloud is an investment towards success. 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Facial recognition: Contactless solutions for a safe, post-pandemic world
Facial recognition: Contactless solutions for a safe, post-pandemic world

Facial recognition technology has come a long way since it first came to market several years ago. Initially plagued with technical challenges and widely viewed as a futuristic solution, facial recognition is now firmly implanted in numerous consumer and business products and applications. New advancement in software, specifically in the areas of algorithms, neural networks and deep learning and/or artificial intelligence (AI), have all dramatically improved both the performance and accuracy of facial recognition, further expanding its use for an increasing number of applications. From a purely business perspective, facial recognition’s powerful identification and authentication capabilities make it ideal for two primary applications: first as a security tool, and second as a workforce management solution. The touchless, accurate credential solution Facial recognition readers meet the new emerging need to limit physical exposure to germs and viruses Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the touchless nature of facial recognition as an access credential was gaining traction with physical and cyber security professionals. By using an individual’s face as an access control credential, facial recognition eliminates the need and expense of physical cards and proximity devices, or the need to physically enter PIN codes. In addition, facial recognition readers meet the new emerging need to limit physical exposure to germs and viruses by offering a highly accurate touchless access control credentialing solution. As a workforce management tool, facial recognition helps preserve the health of employees checking into work, while providing management with an infallible means of documenting employee time and attendance while providing a detailed history of overall workforce activity and individual personnel tracking. Both of which have been longstanding challenges due to easily compromised time tracking systems and practices. Now, nothing is left to question based on hard data. With the growing popularity of facial recognition technology, there are many choices already available with more undoubtedly on the way. Selecting the right solution for your specific access control and/or workforce management application is dependent on a very wide range of variables. But there are a few core characteristics that you should look for when evaluating facial recognition readers. Wide and near-angle LEDs Most facial recognition terminals employ some form of IR (Infrared) technology to help ensure high visibility by the unit’s image sensor. This often limits where the unit can be installed such as outdoors or near windows due to strong ambient light. More advanced facial recognition readers employ as many as 80 wide-angle near infrared LEDs and 60 narrow-angle near infrared LEDs, allowing the unit to recognise faces even in full daylight and brightly lit environments (not direct sun). This enables installation at indoor locations near windows, lobbies and building entries. 3D pixel intensity distribution analysis Another facial recognition reader advancement to look for involves three-dimensional pixel intensity analysis. Ambient lighting contains ultraviolet rays which can negate near infrared LED lighting, and can also cast shadows making it difficult for a facial recognition reader to pinpoint the facial recognition points required for identification and authentication. Three-dimensional pixel intensity distribution analysis minimises the effects of ambient light when acquiring facial images by minimising lighting contrasts. As a result, it is easier for the algorithm to recognise the shape of the face, enabling it to extract more facial features and create higher quality face templates, which are critical for accurate facial recognition. Functional ergonomics This results in a faster, more comfortable, and convenient user experience The angle and position of a facial recognition reader directly impact the performance of the unit. Facial recognition readers with different viewing angles for built-in visual and infrared cameras allows users to stand at positions that are most suitable for facial recognition with little or no effort of contortions. This results in a faster, more comfortable, and convenient user experience. High performance processing Like any intelligent edge device, the performance of a facial recognition solution is directly reliant on its processing power. New advanced facial recognition readers deliver exceptional performance by employing enhanced face template extraction technology combined with powerful processor. For example, a facial recognition reader with a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor can perform up to 3,000 facial database matches (1:N) within one second. More advanced solutions also feature Group Matching functionality capable of executing up to 30,000 matches within one second. Live face detection It is most important that the facial recognition readers you evaluate are capable of analysing faces in real time to maintain fluid entry/egress even during high volumes of employee traffic. Hardware-dependent live face detection systems employing technologies such as facial thermogram recognition and facial vein recognition require expensive hardware components, provide less accurate matches and slower authentication performance, which is counterintuitive for mainstream access control and workforce management applications. Dual authentication for added security Although the use of an advanced facial recognition reader provides the convenience, health benefits and cost-savings of touchless identification and authentication, there are many applications where more than one credential may be necessary to ensure the highest levels of security. Advanced facial recognition readers with multimodal, multifactor credentialing capabilities provide this added security benefit. For example, facial recognition readers that support multiple RFID proximity devices supporting 125 kHz and 13.56 MHz provide varying degrees of protection and greater implementation versatility. Videophone or intercom capabilities Facial recognition readers with multifunctionality can solve several challenges with one solution Facial recognition readers with multifunctionality can solve several challenges with one solution. A perfect example includes devices with SIP (session initiation protocol) videophone capabilities which effectively eliminate the need and associated expense of  installing separate intercom devices while adding another layer of security to one’s facility. The COVID-19 pandemic, and hopefully soon to follow post-pandemic world, have surely accelerated the need for highly accurate, cost-efficient, and reliable facial recognition technologies to help get people back to work safely. Selecting the right facial recognition solution for your specific access control and/or workforce management is now more important than ever before, making a little extra due diligence during the evaluation process a smart decision.