Articles by Mark Patrick
Can you imagine what it would be like if you could only look at your CCTV cameras eight hours after an incident, when your security team finish their shift? That is what 99% of current body cameras offer. Most body cameras can only record video, which limits them to settling arguments after the fact – who said what first in an altercation with the police? What sparked an incident with the door security team at a nightclub? This leads to a curious asymmetry of video and immediacy between members of the public and body camera users such as police officers. Whilst they are dealing with an incident, dutifully recording their work, everyone around them is streaming live video and audio direct to services such as Facebook and Periscope. Challenges of streaming live video So why don’t most body cameras stream? Mostly because it is very challenging to move video reliably over cellular which may seem counter-intuitive to those regularly watching streaming services like Netflix on their daily commute. However, receiving video is much simpler than transmitting video – just try video conferencing on the move. When you view media-generated content, there are mature approaches to handling disparities in signal quality and therefore the bandwidth available. These services buffer up video on your device; even a few seconds of buffering can smooth out delivery; and they move you seamlessly through one of up to a dozen different quality profiles. The use of content stores by the networks allows the video to be transmitted from servers likely to be geographically closer to you. Finally, networks are optimised to transmit large quantities of data to your smartphone – less focus is placed on large quantities of data being uploaded from the smartphone. Travelling at high speeds, or switching between WiFi, 3G or 4G, can cause interruptions in the smooth delivery of video Despite all of this, watching Netflix or iPlayer on your phone can be an exercise in frustration. As one example, when your train pulls into a busy station you’ll see a “buffering” indicator. The smooth delivery of video has been interrupted by heavy congestion from other mobile users. Travelling at high speeds, or switching between WiFi, 3G or 4G, also causes interruptions in the stream. Need for real-time video transmission 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. Police command needs real-time, zero latency video – delays are unacceptable. 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. The ability to see what is happening allows command to make informed decisions – what backup is required? Is the situation escalating or calming down? Do I need to make radio contact with the officer? Are other first responder teams required? Controllers may have only 90 seconds to make a decision about the resources to send to an incident. Live video can help them get it right the first time. The video must be of usable quality, even though officers wearing the cameras may be moving and experiencing signal fluctuations Added capabilities with connected devices Once the body worn camera becomes a connected device then streaming video is not the only new capability. For example, the current location of every officer can be seen on a map. Or, our experiences integrating our facial recognition systems into body worn systems have shown us that there is tremendous operational benefit from allowing the officer or guard to initiate a recognition request from a simple camera button press – with the control team making a final assessment on whether to ask the officer to make an arrest if a match is made – for example if one of the people in view is breaching a restriction order. Security is also critical to ensure that sensitive footage isn’t leaked or intercepted – compromising the privacy of the people involved. Balancing operational efficiency, sharing video with all relevant first responder agencies, and security is a very hard problem to solve requiring a competent application of industry-standard cryptography, role-based access control, and good procedures. Evaluating the right technology IHS Markit identified live video streaming as one of their top video surveillance trends for 2017 and more body camera vendors are promising to bring live streaming capability to market in response to growing demand from agencies and buyers. They’ll find these promises challenging to deliver unless they change their approach. So, how do you know whether you are proceeding along the right lines? I recommend that people trialling the technology and that of other vendors in the market ensure they address the following ten key questions in their evaluations: How well does the video perform in multiple locations across the area under control – not just conveniently near a cellular tower? How well does the video perform when the wearer is walking, running or in a moving vehicle? How well does the video perform inside buildings? What delay am I seeing in the video? If I am in radio contact with the wearer am I seeing what they are describing now or what they could see five seconds ago? What are the likely data running costs and can I control them to keep within plan limits? Can I get the video back out to teams in the field? Can I remotely retrieve segments of recorded video from the archive on the device? E.g. can I see what the wearer saw 30 minutes ago? What is the security architecture? How can I be sure that the video, audio and location data cannot be intercepted? Are their versions of the software available on smartphones for streaming and viewing – for ad-hoc users who don’t normally carry a body camera? Are there other capabilities available such as facial recognition from the device? With these capabilities you’ll be in control, with access to live video and recorded evidence at any time. Without them, you’ll be in the dark and won’t see video until the camera returns to base – hours after other footage has already been spread on social media.
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.