A security system provided by Hikvision USA Inc., the North American company that offers video surveillance products and solutions, was installed by Holmes Security Systems to provide full coverage security and remote monitoring for a custom home built by Whitney Blair Custom Homes and sponsored by Southern Living Magazine.

Established in 1966 and published by Time Inc., Southern Living Magazine is one of the largest lifestyle brands in the country. The Southern Living Idea House is a custom home built annually that showcases top-of-the-line residential products and technologies. The 2017 Idea House was built on Bald Head Island in North Carolina and features a Hikvision security system.

Every year, we create an idyllic house that inspires millions of Southern Living readers with design and decorating ideas they can steal for themselves. Using the South's best architects, builders, designers, and landscapers, we reimagine the ultimate Southern home and bring it to life in the magazine, on southernliving.com, and on our social platforms. Now in its 28th year, no franchise is more eagerly anticipated by our audience than the Southern Living Idea House,” said Sid Evans, editor in chief of Southern Living.Holmes Security offered professional expertise and the Hikvision security camera system delivered high quality results

Remote monitoring access

Bald Head Island in North Carolina is known for its multi-million dollars vacation homes. The video surveillance equipment had to provide security with remote monitoring access for the homeowner.

Whitney Blair Custom Homes, a major builder on Bald Head Island, sought out the expertise of Holmes Security Systems, a 109-year old security company with offices in both Fayetteville and Wilmington, NC.

It was an honor to be selected by Southern Living Magazine to be the builder for the 2017 Idea Home. Our success depends on the quality of our trade partners and their product selection, especially with an accelerated schedule and limited access with transportation by boat only. Holmes Security offered professional expertise and the Hikvision security camera system delivered high quality results with a design that fit the home’s style,” said Jeff Sanderson, president of Whitney Blair Custom Homes.

Monitored fire alarm system

Every house on Bald Head Island is required to have a monitored smoke and fire alarm system. Holmes Security owns and operates its own UL-listed central monitoring station, which influenced Whitney Blair’s decision to choose Holmes as a security partner.

Other important considerations for the security system included aesthetics and functionality. As a Southern Living Idea home, it required innovative technology that could withstand a range of temperatures while being elegant and discreet. The video surveillance system had to blend seamlessly into the décor.Covering the indoor and outdoor space while keeping the camera placement discreet was challenging

Security installation challenges

The installation posed many, varied challenges. Bald Head Island is a car-free barrier island accessible only by boat and located about 35 miles south of Wilmington, N.C. All personnel, tools, and equipment had to travel to the island each day by ferry and then, once on the island, by golf cart.

The Idea House is a two-story, 3,273 square foot structure with a separate two-door golf cart garage, topped by a crofter – a separate flexible living space similar to a mother-in-law suite with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom/sitting area. The home boasts more than 1,300 square feet of outdoor living space with a paved patio, backyard fire pit, outdoor kitchen and lounge area.

Covering the indoor and outdoor space while keeping the camera placement discreet was challenging,” said Dave Foster, sales and marketing manager for Holmes Security Systems.

“Also, the Idea House was completed in an amazing six-month timeframe. The accelerated construction schedule meant that deadlines were tight, and subcontractors were stumbling over each other at times. Communication with the builder, other subcontractors, our supplier, and our own installation team was key.

Full-coverage security

Holmes Security recommended and installed an eight channel Hikvision DS-7608NI-E2/8P NVR with four terabytes (TB) of storage, paired with a Hikvision DS-D5021FC 21-inch monitor and six cameras to provide a customised, full-coverage security solution for the home.

The builder wanted to store up to two weeks of video. Holmes Security selected the four terabyte Hikvision NVR for its capacity to store up to four weeks of video. The NVR was easy for Holmes Security to install and program and is also designed to be easy to use for the future homeowner.

Five Hikvision DS-2CD2332-I Outdoor Turret cameras were installed to completely encircle the exterior of the home. Hikvision’s EXIR enhanced technology has built-in IR LEDs housed in a window separate from the camera lens to deliver superior viewing and recording quality in low light conditions, an important feature as Bald Head Island gets very dark at night.Whitney Blair included a second-floor equipment room to provide the homeowner with 24/7 access to video footage from an NVR

Round-the-clock access to video footage

Locations were chosen carefully to ensure key areas of the home would have coverage. The front and rear porches were equipped with turret cameras to view the front and rear doors, and one turret camera was installed to cover the garage door. The additional outdoor turrets were deployed to give the best angle of surveillance along the sides of the house. 

For the interior of the home, a Hikvision DS-2CD2532F-I Compact Dome camera was installed inside the front corner of the living room to cover living and dining areas. The dome camera captures the entire open space and provides good coverage of the front and rear doors while its low-profile blends seamlessly into the design.

Whitney Blair included a second-floor equipment room to house the NVR and the monitor, to provide the homeowner with 24/7 access to video footage.

Tailored security system with remote viewing

Hikvision’s iVMS software provides remote viewing that will allow the future homeowner to access the camera feed from their smartphone, tablet or computer when away from the home.Southern Living donated a portion of each ticket sold to benefit the Old Baldy Foundation

Southern Living looks to the builder and subcontractors to offer innovative solutions that fit our vision for the design. Holmes Security recommended the Hikvision security camera system, and it met all the functional needs for security at the Idea House while delivering great aesthetics that blended with the décor,” said Misty Chandler, marketing manager at Time Inc.

Once completed, the 2017 Southern Living Idea House was open for public tours, with thousands of people viewing the home. Southern Living donated a portion of each ticket sold to benefit the Old Baldy Foundation, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to maintaining North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse built in 1817 and located on Bald Head Island. After the initial Open House, Bald Head Island Realty hosted tours while also listing the property for sale.

Surveillance expertise

Whitney Blair Custom Homes currently has 19 additional Southern Living-inspired homes planned for construction on Bald Head Island. All will include Hikvision security systems.

The Southern Living Idea House features the best in construction products and features. By combining aesthetic style, discrete camera placement with HD quality video and remote viewing, Hikvision’s security system provides full coverage for this custom home. Hikvision integrator partner Holmes Security System’s expertise, professionalism and adaptability to construction challenges enabled Southern Living and the home builder to provide the best in residential video surveillance for the future homeowner.

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School security benefits from advanced communication technology
School security benefits from advanced communication technology

With the recent tragic events in Florida, it’s evident that schools require more tools to help ensure their students’ safety. With that, school and municipal officials all over the country are looking for more advanced ways to combat gun violence. While there is no perfect solution for the myriad of threats and emergencies with which our schools are confronted, many have looked to technology to help improve communications before, during and after incidents. For schools across the state of Arkansas; Nassau County, New York; Snohomish County, Washington; New Castel County, Delaware; Limestone County, Alabama and scores of others, the answer was the implementation of technologies that connect school personnel directly with local police, fire and EMS, and designated individuals at the school. Communication tools have proven invaluable when a potential active shooter situation was being discussed on social media Key to these schools’ choice in technology was the recognition that while the most traumatic of threats is the active assailant, any technology investment should be just as effective in handling the more frequent day-to-day incidents. Communication technologies for incident management How have technologies such as mobile panic buttons and anonymous texting helped impact school safety? Here are a few examples: In Limestone County, Alabama, 9-1-1 Director Brandon Wallace led an effort to implement technology tools across the county to help prevent and more quickly notify personnel of possible emergency situations. Communication tools have proven invaluable especially when a potential active shooter situation was being discussed on social media. Advanced technology integration The technology not only connected directly to emergency personnel, but also ensured that school faculty were able to communicate with one another during a potential emergency and account for students. Following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the school superintendent Dr. Joseph V. Erardi, Jr. chose to make communication technology a part of their new safety plan. The integration of advanced technology has given staff and teachers a greater sense of safety with not only active shooter events but also events like medical emergencies that require fast action and a quick response from public safety officials. Trainings ensure that staff and students are prepared for any type of situation and be on the same page in an emergency situation Implementing enhanced safety measures What are some lessons learned from these schools that can be applied to protect students in other areas? 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New tools can then be tested to ensure that all staff and students are comfortable in the event they will need to utilise it in the future. Expand those involved in your drills to be those who will actually be involved in an incident. All too often, drills are siloed and don’t include outside agencies. Re-evaluating safety procedures Schools across the country can learn a lot from districts that have implemented and actually used new communications technologies addressing school safety, which are leading the way in how teachers and faculty are preparing to keep students safe. However, it will remain important to re-evaluate safety procedures and integrate technology to help ensure that these steps remain effective. As the tools continue to advance, the available safety measures will only continue to grow.

Artificial intelligence is changing intrusion detection dynamics in the security industry
Artificial intelligence is changing intrusion detection dynamics in the security industry

With the ever-growing availability of video data thanks to the low cost of high-resolution video cameras and storage, artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning analytics now have become a necessity for the physical security industry, including access control and intrusion detection. Minimising human error and false positives are the key motivations for applying AI technologies in the security industry. What is artificial intelligence? Artificial intelligence is the ability of machines to learn from experience using a multi-layer neural network, which mimics the human brain, in order to recognise items and patterns and make decisions without human interference. 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How physical security consultants ensure cybersecurity for end users
How physical security consultants ensure cybersecurity for end users

Cybersecurity talk currently dominates many events in the physical security industry. And it’s about time, given that we are all playing catch-up in a scary cybersecurity environment where threats are constant and constantly evolving. I heard an interesting discussion about cybersecurity recently among consultants attending MercTech4, a conference in Miami hosted by Mercury Security and its OEM partners. The broad-ranging discussion touched on multiple aspects of cybersecurity, including the various roles of end user IT departments, consultants, and integrators. Factors such as training, standardisation and pricing were also addressed as they relate to cybersecurity. Following are some edited excerpts from that discussion.  The role of the IT department Pierre Bourgeix of ESI Convergent: Most enterprises usually have the information technology (IT) department at the table [for physical security discussions], and cybersecurity is a component of IT. The main concern for them is how any security product will impact the network environment. The first thing they will say, is “we have to ensure that there is network segmentation to prevent any potential viruses or threats or breaches from coming in.” The main concern for IT departments is how any security product will impact the network environment”They want to make sure that any devices in the environment are secure. Segmentation is good, but it isn’t an end-all. There is no buffer that can be created; these air gaps don’t exist. Cyber is involved in a defensive matter, in terms of what they have to do to protect that environment. IT is more worried about the infrastructure. The role of consultants and specifiers Phil Santore of DVS, division of Ross & Baruzzini: As consultants and engineers, we work with some major banks. They tell us if you bring a new product to the table, it will take two to three months before they will onboard the product, because they will run it through [cybersecurity testing] in their own IT departments. If it’s a large bank, they have an IT team, and there will never be anything we [as consultants] can tell them that they don’t already know. But we all have clients that are not large; they’re museums, or small corporations, or mom-and-pop shops. They may not be as vulnerable from the international threat, but there are still local things they have to be concerned about. It falls on us as consultants to let them know what their problems are. Their IT departments may not be that savvy. We need to at least make them aware and start there. Wael Lahoud of Goldmark Security Consulting: We are seeing more and more organisations having cybersecurity programs in place, at different maturity levels. At the procurement stage, we as consultants must select and specify products that have technology to enable cybersecurity, and not choose products that are outdated or incompatible with cybersecurity controls. We also see, from an access control perspective, a need to address weaknesses in databases. Specifying and having integrators that can harden the databases, not just the network itself, can help. The impact of physical security products on the network environment was a dominant topic at the MercTech4 consultants roundtable discussion The need for standards on cybersecurity Jim Elder of Secured Design: I’d like to know what standards we as specifiers can invoke that will help us ensure that the integrator of record has the credentials, knows what standards apply, and knows how to make sure those standards are maintained in the system. I’m a generalist, and cybersecurity scares the hell out of me.We’re not just talking about access to cameras, we are talking about access to the corporate network and all the bad things that can happen with that. My emphasis would be on standards and compliance with standards in the equipment and technology that is used, and the way it is put in. It can be easier for me, looking at some key points, to be able to determine if the system has been installed in accordance. We are seeing more and more organisations having cybersecurity programs in place, at different maturity levels"I’m taking the position of the enforcement officer, rather than the dictator. It would be much better if there were focused standards that I could put into the specification— I know there are some – that would dictate the processes, not just of manufacturing, but of installation of the product, and the tests you should run accordingly. Pierre Bourgeix: With the Security Industry Association (SIA), we are working right now on a standard that includes analysed scoring on the IT and physical side to identify a technology score, a compliance score, a methodology, and best-of-breed recommendation. Vendor validation would be used to ensure they follow the same process. We have created the model, and we will see what we can do to make it work. Terry Robinette of Sextant: If a standard can be written and it’s a reasonable process, I like the idea of the equipment meeting some standardised format or be able to show that it can withstand the same type of cyber-attack a network switch can withstand. We may not be reinventing the wheel. IT is the most standardised industry you will ever see, and security is the least standardised. But they’re merging. And that will drive standardisation. Jim Elder: I look to Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for a lot of standards. Does the product get that label? I am interested in being able to look at a box on the wall and say, “That meets the standard.” Or some kind of list with check-boxes; if all the boxes are checked I can walk out and know I have good cybersecurity threat management. IT is the most standardised industry you will ever see, and security is the least standardised" The role of training Phil Santore: Before you do any cybersecurity training, you would need to set the level of cybersecurity you are trying to achieve. There are multiple levels from zero to a completely closed network. Wael Lahoud: From an integrator’s perspective, cybersecurity training by the manufacturer of product features would be the place to start – understanding how to partner the database, and the encryption features. We see integrators that know these features are available – they tick the boxes – but they don’t understand what they mean. Cybersecurity is a complex topic, and the risk aspects and maturity levels vary by organisation. That would be a good starting point. The role of integrators Wael Lahoud: Integrators like convenience; less time means more money. So, we see some integrators cut corners. I think it is our role (as consultants) to make sure corners are not cut. If you rely solely on integrators, it will always be the weak password, the bypass. We have seen it from small projects to large government installations. It’s the same again and again. Even having an internal standard within an organisation, there may be no one overseeing that and double-checking. Tools will help, but we are not there at this point. I will leave it up to manufacturers to provide the tools to make it easy for consultants to check, and easier for integrators to use the controls. Cybersecurity is a complex topic, and the risk aspects and maturity levels vary by organisation - so training is very important The impact of pricing Pierre Bourgeix: The race to the cheapest price is a big problem. We have well-intended designs and assessments that define best-of-breed and evaluate what would be necessary to do what the client needs. But once we get to the final point of that being implemented, the customer typically goes to the lowest price – the lowest bidder. That’s the biggest issue. You get what you pay for at the end of the day. With standards, we are trying to get to the point that people realise that not all products are made the same, not all integrators do the same work. We hope that through education of the end user, they can realise that if they change the design, they have to accept the liability.It’s not just the product that’s the weakest link, it’s the whole process from design to securing that product and launching it" The big picture Wael Lahoud: The Windows platform has a lot of vulnerabilities, but we’re still using it, even in banks. So, it’s not just the product that’s the weakest link, it’s the whole process from design to securing that product and launching it. That’s where the cybersecurity program comes into play. There are many vulnerable products in the market, and it’s up to professionals to properly secure these products and to design systems and reduce the risk. Pierre Bourgeix: The access port to get to data is what hackers are looking for. The weakest link is where they go. They want to penetrate through access control to get to databases. The golden ring is the data source, so they can get credentialing, so they can gain access to your active directory, which then gives them permissions to get into your “admin.” Once we get into “admin,” we get to the source of the information. It has nothing to do with gaining access to a door, it has everything to do with data. And that’s happening all the time.