Articles by Erez Goldstein
Today, almost every employee carries with them a smart device that can send messages, capture, and record images and increasingly live-stream video and audio, all appended with accurate location and time stamping data. Provide a way for staff to easily feed data from these devices directly to the control room to report an incident and you have created a new and extremely powerful ‘sensor’, capable of providing accurate, verified, real-time multi-media incident information. You need only to watch the television when a major incident is being reported. The images are often from a witness at the scene who recorded it on their device. It is madness that it has until now been easier for people to share information around the world via Facebook and YouTube etc, in a matter of minutes, than it is to transmit it to those that need to coordinate the response. The public as an additional security and safety sensor In the UK, a marketing campaign designed by government, police and the rail industry is currently running. Aiming to help build a more vigilant network on railways across the country and raise awareness of the vital role the public can play in keeping themselves and others safe, the ‘See It. Say It. Sorted’ campaign urges train passengers and station visitors to report any unusual items by speaking to a member of rail staff, sending a text, or calling a dedicated telephone number. Essentially, the campaign is asking the public to be an additional safety and security sensor. However, with the help of the latest mobile app technology, it is possible to take things to a whole new level and this is being demonstrated by a large transport network in the US. This organisation recognised that the ideal place to begin its campaign of connecting smart devices to the control room as an additional sensor, was by engaging its 10,000 employees (incidentally, this is approximately twice the number of surveillance cameras it has). These employees have been encouraged to install a dedicated app on their mobile devices that enables them to transmit important information directly to the control room, as well as a panic button for their own safety. This data can be a combination of images, text, audio, video and even live-streaming, to not only make the control room aware of the situation but give them eyes and ears on the ground. For the control room operator, the insights being fed to them from this ‘sensor’ have arguably more value than any other as they provide pinpoint accurate and relevant information Combatting control room information overload For the control room operator, the insights being fed to them from this ‘sensor’ have arguably more value than any other as they provide pinpoint accurate and relevant information. For example, if an alert comes in about a fire on platform 3, the operator doesn’t necessarily require any of the information from the other sensors, nor does he need to verify it’s not a false alarm. He knows that the information received has been ‘verified’ in-person (it is also time and location stamped) and that there is an employee located in the vicinity of the incident, who they can now directly communicate with for a real-time update and to co-ordinate the appropriate response. Compare this to a 24/7 video stream from 5000 cameras. It is in stark contrast to the typical issue of sensors creating information overload. The employee only captures and transmits the relevant information, so in essence, the filtering of information is being done at source, by a human sensor that can see, hear, and understand what is happening in context. So, if an intruder is climbing over a fence you no longer need to rely on the alert from the perimeter alarm and the feed from the nearest camera, you simply send a patrol to the location based on what the person is telling you. Furthermore, if the control room is operating a Situation Management/PSIM system it will trigger the opening of a new incident, so when the operator receives the information they are also presented with clear guidance and support regarding how to best manage and respond to that particular situation. Transport networks are using staff and the public as additional safety and security sensors Application of roaming smart sensors To be clear, this is not to suggest that we no longer need these vitally important sensors, because we do. However, one major reason that we have so many sensors is because we cannot have people stationed everywhere. So, in the case of the US transit company, it has been able to add a further 10,000 roaming smart sensors. This can be applied to other industries such as airports, ports, warehouse operations, stadiums, and arenas etc. Now, imagine the potential of widening the scope to include the public, to truly incorporate crowdsourcing in to the day-to-day security function. For example, in May, it was reported that West Midlands Police in the UK would be piloting an initiative that is asking citizens to upload content relating to offences being committed. Leveraging existing hardware infrastructure Typically, when introducing any form of new security sensor or system, it is expected to be an expensive process. However, the hardware infrastructure is already in place as most people are already in possession of a smart device, either through work or personally. What’s more, there is typically an eager appetite to be a good citizen or employee, just so long as it isn’t too much of an inconvenience. Innovations in smart mobile devices has moved at such a pace that whilst many security professionals debate if and how to roll-out body-worn-cameras, members of the public are live-streaming from their full HD and even 4K ready phones. The technology to make every employee a smart sensor has been around for some time and keeps getting better and better, and it is in the pockets of most people around the world. What is different now is the potential to harness it and efficiently bring it in to the security process. All organisations need to do is know how to switch it on and leverage it.
Real-time search analytics addresses one of the most important control room tasks - locating a person of interest If you have been to any of the many security industry tradeshows this year you will undoubtedly have seen and heard the phrase ‘next generation video analytics’. Is it just a catchy marketing phrase or is there more substance behind it? Video analytics as a technology has been with us for many years, but there has always been an air of confusion and mystery around it, in large part created by Hollywood movies, where every camera is connected, an operator can search the network and locate the villain in a matter of seconds. In many ways, I am pleased to say that in many respects fact has caught up with fiction, with the newest video analytics solutions that are now on the market focusing on search and specifically real-time search. These solutions have been tried, tested and proven to help reduce search time from hours to minutes and even seconds. Real-time search analytics Real-time search analytics addresses one of the most important control room tasks - locating a person of interest. Put simply, by reducing the search time you significantly improve the chances of a favourable outcome. Whether it is working in real-time to reunite a lost child with their parents, aiding in the apprehension of a terror suspect, or working with the authorities following a major incident, every second counts. Knowing where a person of interest is at the current moment is vital, but in certain situations you may also want to know when and where they entered the estate However, the technology goes one-step further than pinpointing where on the CCTV network that person currently is. Yes, knowing where a person of interest is at the current moment is vital, but in certain situations you may also want to know when and where they entered the estate, the precise route they took, who they were with and what they did before arriving at their current location. FAQ of real-time search analytics With the introduction of any new technology there will always be some confusion around what it is, what it can do and whether you have the infrastructure in place to consider deploying it. With that in mind here are the top ten questions I have been asked many times about real-time search analytics… Who can I search for? Any person of interest What is the search based on? Full body image, textures, colours and unique characteristics What can I use as a reference? Upload photo, video image or human composite Does it require mega-pixel cameras? Suspect Search is camera type agnostic. Images need to be in colour CIF-Full HD resolution and a frame rate of QRT or higher How does it help me reduce my search time? It filters out 95% of irrelevant images How can I learn the suspect’s locations and movements? The suspect’s route is displayed on a map What is the recommended environment? The technology can be used indoor or outdoor Does it work in real-time? Yes, real-time search can be initiated in seconds What are the common use cases? Intruder search, lost child, unattended bag owner, locating a witness Where is the technology currently in use? Transport hubs, airports, city centres, hospitals, government facilities and sporting events Next-generation video analytics is very much in the here and now Practical application So, how can it be used in day-to-day security operations? To best explain how it works in practice here is an example… It is a Saturday afternoon and a family are attending a sporting event. The stadium holds 60,000 people and the concourses surrounding the entry gates are getting very crowded, with 30 minutes before the match is due to start. The family queue to go through the turnstiles and upon entering the stadium they soon get separated from their six-year-old son. Panicked, they ask the nearest steward for help, who arranges for an announcement to be made over the public-address system and, also notifies the control room. The steward gives the control room operator a description of the young boy (short blonde hair, a light blue jacket and a small yellow backpack). He quickly enters this information in to the system by creating a human composite (otherwise known as an avatar) and in less than five seconds he is looking at a series of images where a person matching the description appeared on a surveillance camera. The rapid speed of the search is made possible because the system is capturing, indexing and storing data in real-time, from every camera located in and around the stadium complex. The rapid speed of the search is made possible because the system is capturing, indexing and storing data in real-time Upon confirming that it is the boy in question the operator selects the camera feed of his last known location and the real-time feed shows him clearly at concession stands looking distressed. The nearest steward is notified and he waits with the boy until he is reunited with his parents. All of the information relating to this incident and others is logged both for training and to help the stadium staff make improvements to reduce the likelihood of incidents recurring. This is a common scenario at a sporting event or shopping complex, but the same process can be applied to estates with hundreds or thousands of cameras across single or multiple sites, such as a sea or airport transportation hub or medical facility. What is more, the sports stadium in this example did not require any expensive camera upgrades in order to deploy real-time search analytics, as it worked with the infrastructure already in place. Next-generation video analytics at present Next-generation video analytics is very much in the here and now - in fact it is in real-time! What is more, it isn’t just for handling rare incidents but also daily occurrences that can absorb a lot of the control room operators’ time, and I make the point again that time is the number one critical factor when handling any incident. The movie-makers of tomorrow are going to have to up their game in a big way, if they want to impress or maybe even inspire the security industry.
There has been a lot of investment in safe city projects around the world in 2016, particularly in India, where Qognify is currently involved in a number of major initiatives, as well as upgrading of security systems at major public transportation hubs and international airports. At Qognify, we have seen a continual trend towards organisations wanting their security systems to deliver operational efficiency and effectiveness to the wider business. Here are some notable trends we see playing out in 2017: Searchable video With deep learning technology already in play, we can tell what is a person, a car, a child or a tree. Even distinguishing between different individuals is already accurate enough for practical use. Social data fusion in security, safety and operations We already see some solutions that harvest social media posts and aggregate the data into usable information. When it comes to security and safety the combination of social data richness with correlated analysis to geography and time will provide a winning solution. Further into the future, predictions will let security personnel be aware of potential risks before they materialise. Internet of Things IoT introduces new sources of data, connecting units previously not used in the scope of security management and the control room. Also, as devices and sensors become cheaper and more common, we need to be able to handle much more of them, analyse them and get conclusions out fast. The fusion of this information with traditional security data will help organisations be more knowledgeable and effective in identifying and addressing their risks. Armed with our smartphones, we are now capable of providing huge amounts of information that can become useful Crowd sourcing The best visual and the smartest sensor is still the human. Armed with our smartphones (we are all in possession of a smart video system packed with GIS location capabilities, communication tools and collaboration abilities), we are now capable of providing huge amounts of information that can become useful for law enforcement, enterprise security and operational improvement. 2016 was a very busy year for Qognify with major projects ongoing at customer sites around the world, including Miami International and Hefei Xinqiao Airports, TIM Brasil, Navi Mumbai Metro and Denver RTD, to name just a few. It has also been an important year for bringing new products to market, such as the launch of Version 8.0 of our Situation Management solution – Situator, which now provides proactive actionable intelligence through its Operational Intelligence Center module. We also unveiled the next-generation Video Management System – VisionHub, which won several awards. Qognify also opened its new EMEA head-office in London. With many large projects on the horizon, we are looking forward to an even stronger 2017. See the full coverage of 2016/2017 Review and Forecast articles here Save Save
Today, we find ourselves in a world where we all need to talk less about products and more about solutions The security industry has changed a lot in recent years. Many will remember a time not so long ago when it was about buying boxes/pieces of tin, opening them up and installing them. Today, we find ourselves in a world where we all need to talk less about products and more about solutions. Despite this, there is still an inclination to put everything in a ‘box’ and as a result the message often gets lost in translation. Difference between VMS and PSIM system Nowhere has this been more evident than in the marketing of PSIM. When the first ‘true’ PSIM solutions appeared on the market there was a lot of excitement and hype (and rightly so). As a consequence, many vendors large and small seized the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and began labelling their VMS as PSIM. People quickly became confused thinking PSIM was just another name for security system-integration. So, the question began being asked “What is the difference between a VMS and a PSIM system?” To compound things further, the latest generation of VMS will offer a number of key elements that will be included within PSIM such as the aforementioned system integration (video, access control, fire alarms etc), as well as form of visual representation, and the ability to deploy workflows to help manage security situations better. The key difference between these powerful new VMS systems and PSIM is essentially a simple one – a VMS is a video-centric security system. It helps to tackle daily security challenges where video is relied upon as the predominant system. While PSIM does in most instances everything a VMS can, it is focused on making sense of ‘all’ the data coming into the control room (every system and every sensor) for use by security but also increasingly operations. With recent convergence between IT and security, it is perhaps no surprise that how technology is specified and sold has needed to change Break free of the box mentality However, continuing to distinguish VMS and PSIM is not the key point. To combat the confusion, we need to break free of the box mentality. Do you really care what the solution is called? All most people know is that they have a specific set of challenges that they need to address. From a vendor’s perspective, solution selling may be a harder and longer process than ‘box shifting’, but it produces far better and lasting results. It is a similar transition that those in the IT industry had to go through, and as there has been so much convergence between IT and security in recent years, it is perhaps no surprise that how technology is specified and sold has needed to change. For a vendor, solution selling may be a harder and longer process than ‘box shifting’, but it produces far better and lasting results When I travel to places such as India (where there is a mega trend in Safe City projects right now) there isn’t the same level of fixation on whether to specify a VMS or PSIM, as there is currently in the US and Europe. They have project to deliver to a budget and timeline and they want to know that you have an offering that meets their needs, today and in the future. It may well be that they start with a VMS and ultimately migrate to a true PSIM solution but to them it is by and large immaterial. Time to focus on the merits The great news for organisations is that today you have never been better catered for when it comes to technology. However, it is the collective responsibility of those that design, develop and deploy them to cut out the jargon, to help you get beyond the branding and positioning statements such as VMS, PSIM, Incident Management and Situation management, and focus on the merit of the solution and to what extent it caters for your needs and pain points. We need less focus on boxes and more on tangible benefits.
SourceSecurity.com’s most trafficked articles in 2017 reflected changing trends in the market, from facial detection to drones, from deep learning to body worn cameras. Again in 2017, the most well-trafficked articles posted at SourceSecurity.com tended to be those that addressed timely and important issues in the security marketplace. In the world of digital publishing, it’s easy to know what content resonates with the market: Our readers tell us with their actions; i.e., where they click. Let’s look back at the Top 10 articles posted at SourceSecurity.com in 2017 that generated the most page views. They are listed in order here with the author’s name and a brief excerpt. MOBOTIX is increasingly positioning itself as a specialist in high-quality IP surveillance software 1. MOBOTIX Aims High with Cybersecurity and Customer-Focused Solutions [Jeannie Corfield] With a new CEO and Konica Minolta on board, MOBOTIX is set for expansion on a global scale. But how much growth can we expect for a company like MOBOTIX in an increasingly commoditised surveillance market, where many of the larger players compete on price as a key differentiator? While MOBOTIX respects those players, the German manufacturer wants to tell a different story. Rather than competing as a camera hardware manufacturer, MOBOTIX is increasingly positioning itself as a specialist in high-quality IP surveillance software – camera units are just one part of an intelligent system. When MOBOTIX succeeds in telling this story, partners understand that it’s not about the price. 2. ‘Anti-Surveillance Clothing’ Creates a New Wrinkle in Facial Detection [Larry Anderson] The latest challenge to facial recognition technology is “anti-surveillance clothing,” aimed at confusing facial recognition algorithms as a way of preserving “privacy.” The clothing, covered with ghostly face-like designs to specifically trigger face-detection algorithms, are a backlash against the looming possibility of facial recognition being used in retail environments and for other commercial purposes. 3. Drone Terror: How to Protect Facilities and People [Logan Harris] Already, rogue groups such as ISIS have used low cost drones to carry explosives in targeted attacks. Using this same method, targeting high profile locations to create terror and panic is very possible. Security professionals and technologists are working furiously to address the gaps in drone defence. Compact Surveillance Radar (CSR) is a security technology addressing the problems with other types of detection. CSR, like traditional radar, has the benefit of being able to detect and track foreign objects in all weather conditions, but at a fraction of the size and cost. The last couple of years have seen a tremendous surge in research and advances surrounding a branch of Machine Learning called Deep Learning 4. Deep Learning Algorithms Broaden the Scope of Video Analytics [Zvika Anshani] Until recently there have been minimal applications of Machine Learning used in video analytics products, largely due to high complexity and high resource usage, which made such products too costly for mainstream deployment. However, the last couple of years have seen a tremendous surge in research and advances surrounding a branch of Machine Learning called Deep Learning. The recent increased interest in Deep Learning is largely due to the availability of graphical processing units (GPUs). GPUs can efficiently train and run Deep Learning algorithms 5. Body Worn Cameras: Overcoming the Challenges of Live Video Streaming [Mark Patrick] Most body camera manufacturers, that are trying to stream, attempt to use these consumer technologies; but they don’t work very well in the field, which is not helpful when you need to see what is happening, right now, on the ground. The video must be of usable quality, even though officers wearing the cameras may be moving and experiencing signal fluctuations – most mobile video produces significant delays and signal breakups. Video and audio must always remain in sync so there’s no confusion about who said what. Therefore, special technology is required that copes with poor and varying bandwidths to allow a real-time view of the scene and support immediate decision-making by local and remote team members and support teams moving to the scene. 6. QinetiQ Demonstrates New Privacy-Protecting Body Scanner for Crowded Places [Ron Alalouff] QinetiQ has developed a scanner that can be used in crowded places without having to slow down or stop moving targets. The body scanner, capable of detecting hidden explosives or weapons on a person, has been demonstrated publicly in the United Kingdom for the first time. SPO-NX from QinetiQ – a company spun out of the UK’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 2001 – can quickly screen large groups of people for concealed weapons or explosives in a passive, non-intrusive way, without needing people to stop or slow down. 7. ISC West 2017: How Will IT and Consumer Electronics Influence the Security Industry? [Fredrik Nilsson] A good way to predict trends [at the upcoming ISC West show] is to look at what’s happening in some larger, adjacent technology industries, such as IT and consumer electronics. Major trends on these fronts are the most likely to influence what new products will be launched in the electronic security industry. Proof in point is H.264, an advanced compression technology ratified in 2003 and adopted as the new standard by the consumer industry a few years later. By 2009, it became the new compression standard for the video surveillance industry as well. By drawing data from a number of different sources and subsystems, it is possible to move towards a truly smart environment 8. Integrating Security Management into Broader Building Systems [Gert Rohrmann] Security solutions should be about integration not isolation. Many organisations are considering their existing processes and systems and looking at how to leverage further value. Security is part of that focus and is a central component in the move towards a more integrated approach, which results in significant benefits. By drawing data from a number of different sources and subsystems, including building automation, it is possible to move towards a truly smart environment. 9. How to Use Video Analytics and Metadata to Prevent Terrorist Attacks [Yury Akhmetov] How we defend and prevent terrorism must be based on intelligent processing of information, and an early awareness of potential threats – and effective preventive action – may eliminate most attacks. Video analytics, automated surveillance and AI decision-making will change the rules of the struggle between civilians and terrorists by making attempted attacks predictable, senseless and silent. To what extent can technology investigate and prevent terror crimes considering the latest technology innovations? 10. Next Generation Video Analytics: Separating Fact from Fiction [Erez Goldstein] ‘Next generation video analytics’ is a catchy marketing phrase, is how much substance is behind it? Video analytics as a technology has been with us for many years, but there has always been an air of confusion and mystery around it, in large part created by Hollywood movies, where every camera is connected, an operator can search the network and locate the villain in a matter of seconds. I am pleased to say that, in many respects, fact has caught up with fiction, with the newest video analytics solutions that are now on the market focusing on search and specifically real-time search. These solutions have been tried, tested and proven to help reduce search time from hours to minutes and even seconds.