A security system provided by Hikvision USA Inc., the North American provider of innovative, award-winning video surveillance products and solutions, was installed by Denver-based A-1 Security Systems to meet all requirements set forth by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and to ensure comprehensive security at the newly retrofitted building for 14er Gardens in Boulder, Colorado.

In 2017, Evan Anderson, owner of medical marijuana company 14er Gardens, sought out the security expertise of Sofia Aguilar, sales manager and partner at A-1 Security Systems in Denver. The two had worked on previous projects together and Anderson was about to embark on a brand new, complex building retrofit in Boulder that had been in the planning stages for nearly two years.

Aguilar worked closely with Anderson and his team to design a custom, high-end Hikvision security system

A-1 excels at these types of projects, mid-sized commercial with access control and surveillance needs, and Aguilar has designed and installed hundreds of Hikvision security systems at growing facilities throughout Colorado since moving from Texas in 2008 to join A-1 as a business partner. Aguilar is a member of the national board of the Electronic Security Association and a board president for the state chapter of the Colorado Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.

Hikvision’s Pro Series NVRs

Aguilar worked closely with Anderson and his team to design a custom, high-end Hikvision security system that deployed a total of 95 cameras for indoor and outdoor surveillance and used Hikvision’s Pro Series NVRs for storage. All of 14er gardens are indoor facilities that meticulously control growth quality of the plants.

Outdoor growing facilities do exist,” said Anderson. “But they don’t deliver the consistent product quality every month of the year. Our approach is more of a manufacturing model, versus an agricultural endeavor.

He adds that his top two most important contractors on a job are the HVAC, due to the volume of lighting required to control the climate, and the security contractor, who is critical to securing his product and overall operation.

A-1 received a set of project plans and was asked to design a comprehensive Hikvision security system with high-end cameras and NVRs that met the MED storage requirements for 40 days of on- and off-site recording.

Aguilar calls what she does an “art,” and said this project offered her the chance to apply her creativity to design a comprehensive surveillance system to protect Anderson’s investment. Aguilar's top two most important contractors on a job are the HVAC, due to the volume of lighting required

It’s advantageous for growers to buy or build-out larger facilities to increase production. With that comes the demand for high-end, large-scale security systems with impeccable visual quality,” said Aguilar. She adds that growers who’ve used low-end systems often experience higher rates of break-ins, and if a camera has poor image quality it means lack of clear facial features in video images to help identify culprits.

The Boulder Project

The Boulder project began with the complete gutting of an existing two-story building that had previously been used as office space. Renovations included the re-pouring of all concrete with a total construction investment “that cost three to four times what we paid for the building,” said Anderson.

Anderson’s venture into the marijuana industry in Colorado began in 2008, before regulatory standards had been established. “We installed comprehensive security systems before it was ever required,” he said.

Anderson has worked with the MED to establish best practices and guidelines for securing these types of facilities. Initially, Colorado planned to establish a central monitoring station to link IP cameras from all marijuana growers throughout the state. A third-party consultant was brought in to evaluate this proposal and due to the sheer size of the industry, determined the model would use about ten percent of the state’s total bandwidth.

Following that assessment, the Colorado regulatory model for security shifted to a requirement that growers keep 40 days of on-site and 40 days of off-site video recordings per camera, although most entities keep more than that on hand, said Anderson.

The Colorado regulatory model for security states that growers must keep 40 days of on-site and off-site video recordings per camera

Access security footage remotely

Hikvision systems and A-1 security became the standard we use to operate. The Hikvision system offers a better platform that is more affordable then prior systems we used,” said Anderson. With Hikvision’s iVMS-4200 app, Anderson can access footage on his smartphone and PC, and easily show officials what is happening at a moment’s notice.

 “I was an art major with a minor in photography and worked in commercial photography for several years. My mantra is to fill the frame with the image you want,” said Aguilar. “My pet peeve is not using enough cameras to provide good facial recognition or worse, using great megapixel cameras and dumbing them down because the NVR is not powerful enough to handle the camera’s best quality.

Aguilar recommended multiple 32-channel Hikvision NVRs that are not at full capacity, in the unlikely event that a hard drive fails the remaining recorders will continue to work. “I can honestly say the Hikvision recorders have never failed,” said Aguilar. “Being a Hikvision Platinum dealer, A-1 offers a five-year warranty. We feel confident in the system we install without concern that we will need to return to a site just to repair a broken recorder.

the state of Colorado can ask to see recorded footage with little advanced notice
A total of 95 security cameras were used to complete the system, with about half used indoors and the other half placed outside of the facility

Increased throughput, larger capacity

A-1 installed the Hikvision Pro Series DS-9632NI-I8 NVRs, a 32-channel model with 48 terabytes (TB) of internal storage, providing increased throughput and larger capacity to meet MED storage requirements. Aguilar stacks the NVRs and uses an external server, which requires slightly more investment, but offers the client greater bandwidth to stream large amounts of data more quickly.

In Anderson’s case, this is critical since the state of Colorado can ask to see recorded footage with little advanced notice. A total of 95 security cameras were used to complete the system, with about half used indoors and the other half placed outside of the facility for perimeter, outdoor entrance and parking lot surveillance.

Indoor and outdoor capabilities

For indoor coverage, A-1 installed Hikvision’s DS-2CD2135FWD-I 3MP Ultra-Low Light Network Dome camera to cover all rooms containing product, and all exits and entrances, which is an MED requirement. This dome camera is actually designed as an outdoor model, which Aguilar selected for indoor use because of its vandal-proof rating, weather resistance, and clear imagery during day or evening conditions.

Video surveillance covers every square inch of the facility, greatly improving operational efficiency

We can turn off the IR feature in the growing area but leave it on in the hallways and other areas where it can help with image quality (trim, drying, packing, vault, etc.),” said Aguilar. “Weather resistance means no need to worry about chemicals, nutrients, misting or watering, and it is a very hot, humid environment. These are live plants that require all these things to survive and thrive like hothouse tomatoes or tropical plants. And the environment is either very brightly lit or pitch black, mimicking an outdoor environment.

In the grow rooms, lights are placed vertically and each room has rows of product with a three-foot space in between for people to walk while tending plants. A-1 placed indoor cameras at the end of product rows and at accessible wall areas to provide 360-degree coverage.

The building exterior was secured using Hikvision’s DS-2CD2T55FWD-I5 Outdoor Network Bullet camera featuring 5MP of resolution, 120 dB Wide Dynamic Range and Digital Noise Reduction. Aguilar “likes the 5MP varifocal models for parking lots. I install them in crisscross fashion to provide blanket coverage with the capability to zoom in on parking lot entrances.

24/7 efficient video surveillance

Video surveillance covers every square inch of the facility, greatly improving operational efficiency. “The system is great! I can watch my guys at all times from anywhere,” said Anderson. Surveillance cameras record non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week since MED requirements do not allow motion-activated recording.Surveillance cameras record non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week since MED requirements do not allow motion-activated recording

To install the system, A-1 had to overcome challenges associated with an older concrete building that was “built like a bunker” with an architectural accent bar along the roof perimeter. The constraint required them to pipe and core drill through exterior concrete and run wires through conduits or O-rings that were hammer-drilled into the seams every four feet.

The entire Boulder facility is run through a mobile platform. “This project involved a new level of detail and control compared with our previous projects and is a fully-automated monster,” said Anderson. “At our last facility, we had seven growers. The Boulder facility is four times as big as the last one and we only need two growers due to extensive automation.” 14er moved from physical-based labor to web-based controls.

User-friendly remote viewing

The Hikvision iVMS-4200 platform helps 14er with automation by providing better integration, reduced cost and user-friendly remote viewing. “Older systems were built more for an IT or security systems expert, not for clients to have a convenient system they could easily use,” said Anderson. “Hikvision’s iVMS platform helps us keep impeccable records of everything in the cloud, so when the state of Colorado contacts us for immediate access to recordings, we can easily provide them.

A-1 helped to develop standards for video surveillance and storage that have become industry best practice

Achieving the MED-required 40 days of on-site and off-site recordings is a big deal,” said Sofia Aguilar, sales manager and partner at A-1 Security. "With the Hikvision iVMS system they were able to build a platform around Hikvision products, solving the state’s problem of how to record at a reasonable price.

Hikvision worked with technology partner byRemote to develop software that utilizes Hikvision’s iVMS product to record off-site, said Aguilar.

Customers wanted higher-end systems without the cost associated with the old encoders,” said Aguilar. “The Hikvision partnership with byRemote offered exactly what the market demanded.

Powerful video security system 

Aguilar initially had reservations about marijuana as a vertical focus for A-1 Security Systems, believing it was too high-risk and if grower’s operations were shut down, A-1 would quickly lose its customer base. Eventually her business partner, Leif Wulforst, convinced her that marijuana was a viable business.

A-1 helped to develop standards for video surveillance and storage that have become industry best practice. Cultivating a relationship with growers such as Anderson from 14er gardens led to the development of a surveillance system that met strict MED storage regulations while providing ease of viewing for end users and the state regulatory body. Hikvision’s high resolution security cameras combined with its Pro Series NVRs in delivering a high performing solution at an affordable price to help the market thrive.

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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. 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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. 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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?