A substantial focus of the security industry is on the selection and installation of security systems, and there is no doubt that this is a critical element of the process. However, in order to ensure that security systems such as access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection and panic alarms deliver on ‘game day’, an equal if not greater emphasis has to be put on the actions that are taken after the installers have closed the doors on the truck and driven away. This article covers some important issues that were covered at the 2019 International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) annual conference in Miami, Florida, where Frank Pisciotta, CSC, Business Protection Specialists, Inc. and Michael Silva, CPP, Silva Consultants, facilitated a discussion among security professionals on the topic. Backwards compatibility in access control solutions David Barnard of RS2 security highlighted the importance of backwards compatibility in access control solutions David Barnard of RS2 Technologies LLC highlighted the importance of backwards compatibility in access control software solutions. Reputable manufacturers are constantly evolving software products and it is critical that software continues to work with all installed hardware or owners will find themselves purchasing equipment a second time, which is never good news. An example, a case study with a client where the video management software upgrades were not backwards compatible through the mobile app and a small manufacturing site was looking at a US$ 75,000 price tag to upgrade cameras to make them compatible with the ‘updated software’. Risks of failures in door hardware products Jim Primovic from ASSA ABLOY cautioned about the risks of failures in door hardware products resulting in a failure to attention to detail in the selection and, in particular, the installation process. He explained the importance of using certified installers to avoid operation problems. In light of constantly evolving software revisions, how often does one see any additional training provided to end users when software updates are released? Charles Johnson of Open Options raised this important point and it is an excellent one. As organisations think about structuring maintenance agreements, it might be wise to consider ongoing training to cover software updates and ensure that end users can continue to optimise the features and benefits of software revisions. Software Support Kim Kornmaier of Honeywell mentioned another element of security system lifecycle consideration, which is ‘Software Support’. Maintenance agreements are available and will likely be offered from every installer and come in a variety of flavours. However, care needs to be exercised to ensure that whatever services and support are included, in the scope of a maintenance agreement, have a clear correlation between service and software upgrades versus the fee charged. Software upgrades and system testing Maintenance agreements should be avoided that simply guarantee the free replacement of parts (which may or may not ever get used, even after you pay for it). Services that should be considered include software upgrades, system testing and replacement of consumable parts, like back up batteries. Another key issue ties directly to periodically measuring and ensuring the risk reduction results of security systems, for example, with an access control system, there are several actions recommended for system owners, including: Conduct periodic door and alarm testing - This presumes users have installed all of the necessary parts to enable alarm monitoring). These tests should include the mechanical testing of doors and confirming door-held-open-too-long and forced-door alarms are properly reporting to the alarm client. Importance of harnessing door alarming capacity Excessive door alarms are an indication of either a user or system problem Excessive door alarms are an indication of either a user or system problem or all alarms should be investigated to determine root cause and corrective action needed. Organisations who fail to harness door alarming capability are giving away up to 50 percent of the system's potential benefit. Ensuring the integrity of the access control database is of prime importance. The failure to manage this can lead to unauthorised access and serious security incidents. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but in the majority of risk assessments they have conducted over the years, it is common to find separated employees and contractor records with active credentials in the database. Ways to mitigate this risk include: Integrating your access control database with active directory (works for employees, not so well for contractors); Utilising expiration dates on contractor credentials; Periodically manually auditing contractor and employee active badge reports for anomalies, which may indicate process weaknesses in the change management process; Utilising the ‘use it or lose it’ feature in many software programs that automatically disable a credential after a set period of non-use (e.g., 90 days); and Establishing processes to limit the removal of certain badges from the site (e.g., those issued to contractors or temporary employees). ‘First Card Unlock’ feature Irregular schedules, holidays and natural disasters can result in access vulnerability. For instance, if access-controlled doors at a site are programmed to open on a timer and something prevents persons from arriving at work (e.g., snowstorm), a site may be left exposed. A mitigation technique against this type of risk would be to employ a concept called ‘First Card Unlock’. Under this feature, a lobby entrance to an office, for instance, would not enter into an unlocked state, until the first authorised employee presented a card and entered the workplace. Changing holiday programming in security systems Holiday programming in some systems needs to be changed on an annual basis Holiday programming in some systems needs to be changed on an annual basis. Managing holidays in an access control system results in doors staying secure which would otherwise be unlocked on a normal business day. Similarly, intrusion detection, duress devices and video surveillance systems can let users down without the proper care and feeding. Examples would include: A panic device fails to communicate an emergency situation because it was not properly reset or the wiring has been damaged due to poor installation. Panic devices should be regularly tested and ideally the activation during testing should be by a person who would be required to use the device in an actual incident. The objective here is to build competency in the persons who may need to activate a device discretely. Similarly, intrusion detection systems should be carefully tested to ensure that all devices are properly reporting to the panel and that the panel is communicating properly to the central station. If there are redundant communications channels, each should be verified. In the same way someone would conduct audits of active credentials in an access control system, it is strongly recommended that users perform a similar review with PIN codes, which have been assigned and would allow for an unauthorised person to disarm a system. Utilising the failure-to-close feature to ensure that through collusion or negligence, if the last person out of a restricted area fails to arm the panel, the central station will notify a responsible party about the omission. Further, reviewing opening and closing reports might well detect inappropriate entries by authorised personnel which are indicative of suspicious or illegal activity. These features and reports will likely be at an additional cost, but they are important insurance to protect against insider threat. It is not uncommon to hear about an incident happening and during the investigation, the owner of the system discovers that the needed camera was not recording. Where video is not under routine observation, it is recommended to determine if your video management system can send an alarm in the event of video loss. This would allow for rapid remediation before the video loss is discovered in the course of an investigation. Avoiding degraded video quality over time In almost every case, degraded video quality is directly related to resource saturation With respect to video surveillance, as systems grow and evolve over the life of the system, organisations may experience degradation. Darren Giacomini of BCDVideo has studied this issue extensively and concludes that in many cases, installers or others are simply putting too many devices on a VLAN, which results in latency and other conflicts. Degraded video quality has a finite number of potential root causes. In almost every case, degraded video quality is directly related to resource saturation. The resources on a surveillance network consist of IP cameras, network switches, network uplinks, viewing stations, database management and archives. Resource depletions According to Giacomini, each of the resource shares a common thread. And, at the basic level, each of those items is nothing more than a purpose-built computer with limited CPU, memory and network capacity. When any of these resources exceed their capacity, the quality of service delivered will degrade. The following are common resource depletions that can degrade video quality and require a much deeper dive, but are included here as a starting point: IP camera CPU utilisation is in excess of 85 percent; CPU elevation in the decoder or workstation decoding the video; and Network congestion or CPU elevation in the network switch. Maintaining the integrity of archived video data Giacomini indicated that the majority of the time degraded video is associated with resource depletion Giacomini indicated that the majority of the time degraded video is associated with resource depletion in one of these key components. Investigation of the potential causes can save time and effort, and prevent a video management software application from unduly being blamed for poor performance during its lifecycle. Also, on the topic of video, John Kampfhenkel, Director of Technical Sales at Veracity discussed the challenges that organisations face when video management system storage is undersized and the need to carefully plan for video retention of existing recorded data when the video system has to be expanded. This can be a problem organisations face and when they do, it is best to involve a video storage expert to determine options, costs and potential legal requirements for maintaining the integrity of archived video data. Selecting the right security technology Dependent on the level and type of integration between various systems, another challenge may be to preserve the integration between the two systems. System owners will need to coordinate carefully with installer(s) to ensure that a software revision to one system will not result in a disruption to a software level integration. This type of integration may require a delay in being able to upgrade one or the other application software versions until the integration can again be certified. Selecting the right security technology is an important element of an organisation's security risk management. However, experts would argue that in terms of getting measurable results from technology, there needs to be a keen focus on sustaining activities after the installer closes the doors and drives away. By adhering to the consultant and manufacturers' guidance in this article, organisations can substantially reduce the risk to people, assets and information, and prevent criminal and terrorist incidents in the workplace.
ALE, operating under the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise brand, introduced a smart-device application to help businesses simplify and automate the configuration and deployment of video surveillance networks worldwide. ALE, along with strategic technology partner BCDVideo, co-developed the BCDVideo Provisioning Assistant Application. BCDVideo, a trusted provider of innovative, purpose-built IP video storage solutions designed for security integrators, is working with ALE to deliver a more comprehensive networking and security solutions enabling integrators to deliver network configuration more effectively to businesses of all types. The new application tool provides pre-defined configurations eliminating the need for high level video surveillance networking knowledge. The BCDVideo Provisioning Assistant app takes the complexity out of setting up the network and provides security integrators with benefits like faster configuration and lower manpower requirements that add to customer satisfaction and profitability of the deployment. BCDVideo Provisioning Assistant Together with BCDVideo, ALE is changing the way businesses approach video surveillance deployment" “The BCDVideo Provisioning Assistant empowers security integrators with an innovative and powerful tool to rapidly and repeatedly deploy video optimised networks. The Provisioning Assistant provides a level of efficiency and security to video surveillance networks that previously required time consuming and complex configurations. This optimisation process is now simplified for any security integrator to deploy,” indicated Darren Giacomini, BCDVideo’s Director of Advanced Systems Architecture and co-creator of the application. Based on the Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch and Alcatel-Lucent OmniVista portfolios, the application automates discovery and deployment of layer two and layer three networking. This enables cameras to be assigned IP addresses automatically, removing the potential error associated with manual intervention, while also delivering the high availability and performance necessary for a surveillance network. The Provisioning Assistant app ensures technicians correctly set up network configuration the first time, minimising the cost of additional follow ups or truck rolls for adjustments. Learned Port Security (LPS) feature With the application, staff can lockdown a switch, adding to network security, via a simple slide control called the Learned Port Security (LPS) feature. This prevents individuals from adding rogue devices to the network. In addition, the application makes it easy to replace switches on the network. If a problem occurs, replacement switches can be given the same configuration and be up and running in the time it takes to connect the cables. Thanks to Shortest Path Bridging (SPB), the video network is always available, on, and recording. “Together with BCDVideo, ALE is changing the way businesses approach video surveillance deployment. With the Provisioning Assistant app we deliver a level of provisioning that allows IT administration to scale resources and ensures the network is set up correctly from the start”, said Stephan Robineau, ALE Network Business Division Executive Vice President. Automation of the network deployment Additional capabilities and benefits include: Automation of the network deployment, eliminating potential network configuration errors that results in lost profits due to repeated site truck rolls. Automated provisioning of DHCP, saving integrators time and money. No need to statically configure IP addresses on IP cameras. Reduction in network provisioning timeline. Very large networks can be provisioned in a matter of minutes rather than hours. Network switches are optimised for real time traffic and video flows. Automation of port security for IP cameras at the switch level. Removes need for time-consuming training. Application only assumes entry level network experience.
Earlier this month, BCDVideo attended ISC West in Las Vegas. One of the most popular topics of the show was BCDVideo’s certified hyperconverged solution (HCI-VS), a virtualised, video optimised, and highly available infrastructure. The argument for hyperconvergence for physical security - “The key to hyperconvergence and virtualisation for the physical security market hinges on the effective utilisation of resources." "Regardless of the platform you run on, server resources are rarely used efficiently or to their full potential,” said Darren Giacomini, BCDVideo’s Director of Advanced Systems Architecture. "Leveraging virtualisation and hyperconvergence allows integrators to not only better utilise bare-metal resources but also combine server resources for surveillance, access control, and building management while reducing the overall footprint of the solution,” he said.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and BCDVideo, a provider of innovative, purpose-built IP video storage solutions, announces they are working together to address the growing demand of businesses to enhance public security and safety via video surveillance and networking. Advances in video surveillance are helping cities, hospitals, hotels, sporting and entertainment venues focus on improving public safety, deterring crime and helping police solve crimes, and providing first responders with situational awareness during emergencies. These enterprises recognise accessing video surveillance systems, files, analytics and applications requires a stable network with reduced network downtime and increased network reliability. Massive data transfer ALE’s unique offering in the surveillance market delivers built-in, easy provisioning and integration of surveillance equipment for more flexibility The two companies are aligning to offer customers and integrators best in breed technology via a simplified infrastructure and an award-winning surveillance system. Leveraging Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) technology offered on the Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch family of products, the joint offer creates a highly available network that exceeds speed and management requirements to support the massive data transfer and file volume of a surveillance system. ALE’s unique offering in the surveillance market delivers built-in, easy provisioning and integration of surveillance equipment for more flexibility, while reducing the cost of implementing and maintaining the network. Video surveillance networks often suffer high latency issues from legacy switching solutions. SPB reduces the latency time to deliver data packets and enables high network availability for maximum use of all physical connections and routed services resulting in greater network stability. Resilient surveillance network ALE and BCDVideo worked closely to ensure each piece of the solution was tested for high availability leveraging SPB technology. Businesses and integrators gain a resilient surveillance network with a simplified infrastructure, which optimises the surveillance system performance and results. ALE switches provide high system resiliency with redundant hot-swappable power supplies and virtual chassis capability. With support for SPB-M, ALE switches offer a scalable network architecture, with fast convergence, resilient and easy to manage IP multicast network for video surveillance. Darren Giacomini, Director of Advanced Systems Architecture at BCDVideo commented, “Improper network configurations are the root of most technical issues with surveillance systems. As technology advances, BCDVideo recognises video content is only as good as the ability for the viewer to attain access to the files over the network.” Highly reliable system Surveillance solutions have changed immensely over the last decade and, in many ways, networking for these solutions has not changed with them" “It has become imperative for various government bodies and business owners to deploy video surveillance systems to effectively monitor and record activities within and around the premises. Aligning our systems to build a best of breed network with a switch vendor like Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, enables us to jointly deliver a highly reliable system to customers in a range of specialised environments.” Matt Overstreet, Channel Lead at ALE, North America – “Surveillance solutions have changed immensely over the last decade and, in many ways, networking for these solutions has not changed with them. Many businesses are now recognising the need to upgrade their underlying network to achieve the performance needed to utilise their surveillance solution appropriately.” “This new joint offering from ALE and BCDVideo transcends what surveillance networks were capable of in the past by taking our companies’ two most reliable solutions and providing reliability and optimisation that neither can deliver alone. Our OmniSwitch core and edge switches are optimised to move traffic over SPB and provide critical connectivity between servers and network devices.”
BCDVideo announces the addition of their new Pro-Lite Server Switch Bundles featuring Zero Touch Provisioning. Designed to reduce errors and labor expenses the configuration will provision cameras in your network automatically, with minimal manual intervention. Pro-Lite Server Switch Bundles Each bundle can accommodate up to 7, 16 or 24 cameras providing security integrators with a simplified and affordable solution for small to mid-size video surveillance projects. Staying true to BCDVideo’s system building philosophy, these bundles are equipped with the latest generation Intel processors and Video Surveillance Grade Hard Drives. As customer satisfaction has always been a priority for BCDVideo, these bundles come standard with their 5-year, On-Site, Next Business Day, Keep Your Hard Drive Warranty. The Server Switch Bundles features include: Available Server Form Factors include a Mini, Small Form Factor, and 1U Rackmount Storage options range from up to 2TB, 10TB, or 30TB depending on chassis size Models include processors ranging from Intel Core i3 to Intel Xeon E3 Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro Hard Drive Technology: SSD / Video Grade SATA “Zero Touch Provisioning significantly reduces systems integrator’s labor installation costs allowing them to be more competitive on smaller jobs, from on average 8 minutes per camera, to a near instant set up,” says Darren Giacomini, Director of Advanced Systems Architecture at BCDVideo.
BCDVideo is finding success at the intersection of IT and security, focusing on the video surveillance market. The Hewlett-Packard OEM partner has seen yearly revenue increases of 25 percent for the past three years. Rapid growth resulted in a desperate need for more space to expand. Global HQ grand opening Now a new 51,000-square-foot global headquarters in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, a northwest Chicago suburb, will provide an abundance of room for the company to “stretch our legs,” says Jeff Burgess, CEO/President of BCDVideo. He cut the ribbon at a grand opening event for the corporate headquarters. “Our organic growth has been good, and this is another evolution for the company,” says Burgess. “It’s incredible what we did in such a tight space.” The new facility includes the BCDVideo Innovation Center, where each system is configured and customised to order. The centre has 90 stations with simultaneous imaging capability for up to 332 video servers. Hardware and software components are combined uniquely to each customer order number, and systems are private-labelled for a variety of manufacturers and integrators, with branding affixed by BCDVideo. BCDVideo history BCDVideo has evolved from its roots in the IT market, where expectations of service are high. Ten years ago, when security industry veteran Tom Larson came on board as Director of Sales and Engineering, the company pivoted to focus on the video surveillance market, bringing that higher level of service to security integrators making the transition to IP systems. “You have to build a better mousetrap, and ours is on the service side, because that’s what gets you repeat business,” says Burgess. “When we brought this to the video market in 2008, they weren’t used to that kind of service. It has always been our edge.” BCDVideo now has 50,000 systems running worldwide, he says. Risk insurance for integrators Among its innovative approaches, BCDVideo offered integrators “risk insurance” and took the guesswork out of configuring computer systems to accommodate a specified camera count. Instead of an integrator calculating (or “guesstimating”) the types of IT systems he would need for a certain camera count, BCDVideo does the calculations, configures the system and then guarantees that it will accommodate the system requirements. BCDVideo has maintained a close working relationship with Genetec over the last three years “That was the decisive point for us with integrators,” says Burgess. BCDVideo does business with all the national integrators, and Burgess expects growth to continue, expanding business with each integrator, driven by Perry Levine, Director of Strategic Alliances. New sales will also result from stretching into other product areas. In addition to servers and storage, BCDVideo now provides networking and professional services, led by Darren Giacomini, Director of Networking. Expanded Genetec relationship BCDVideo has maintained a close working relationship with Genetec over the last three years, in effect providing hardware components that work in lockstep with Genetec’s software systems. Previously, larger solutions sold to Genetec customers were branded BCDVideo. Moving forward, branding everything Genetec will overcome any unintentional channel conflict, says Burgess. That Genetec relationship has expanded and BCDVideo produces all of Genetec’s branded hardware products, including the SV-16 and SV-32 as well as the larger solutions. Now Genetec can provide a “unified” hardware/software solution that is “bundled” with software licences and cybersecurity technology unique to Genetec-branded products. If the Genetec relationship continues to evolve, there is 9,000 square feet of empty space in the new facility that can accommodate any growth. Burgess especially sees growth in the market for systems with under 40 cameras, which will build on BCDVideo’s success in the larger enterprise market. What comes next? Burgess is careful to warn against complacency and emphasises the need for the company to “bring it every day.” He’s clearly looking to the future: His sons have joined the business – Alex Burgess is Manager of Supply Chain Operations and Max Burgess is Global Accounts Manager. “There’s nothing like coming to work and having two of your sons working with you,” he says. “It means a lot to me.”