Articles by Vince Ricco
It amazes me how in a few short years security systems have gone from simple, dumb cameras witnessing events to intelligent eyes, ears, speech and touch solutions that boost situational awareness far beyond human capabilities. It seems the only senses missing from the equation now are smell and taste. And who knows, someone might be working on those in a lab somewhere right now. But what’s really fascinating to me is how the Internet of Things (IoT) has opened a world of possibilities for transforming security technology into something new yet again. With IoT we’re able to push and pull nuggets of intelligence from sources we never considered before: environmental sensors, pressure plates, door lock timers and much more. It’s helped us break through the constraining mindset that security systems are strictly single-purpose. With interconnectivity at the core, we’re starting to imagine myriad ways to apply these tools to challenges outside the realm of security. Here are just a few examples. Flood management assistance Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate remotely As recent hurricanes and floods have shown, water damage can be devastating to a community. That’s why some municipalities are using their city surveillance cameras in conjunction with water sensor to proactively address the problem. Water sensors collect data from multiple sources such as rain gutters, sewer systems and pump stations, in order to monitor fluctuations in water levels and water quality. If an alert triggers, having a network camera in proximity to visually verify the situation helps responders determine the best course of action. For instance, if multiple water detection sensors trigger alerts simultaneously or sequentially over a large area it’s probably due to natural runoff from recent rainfall. But without eyes on the scene, how can you be sure? Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate and identify the cause of a trigger remotely. It might be a fire hydrant spewing water, a water main break or even a chemical spill. With video streaming live to the command center, staff can remotely inspect the area, determine the cause of the trigger and decide whether remediation is required, thus avoiding the expense of dispatching an investigative crew to a non-event. Some municipalities are using their city surveillance cameras in conjunction with water sensor to proactively address the problem Environmental control assistance Data centers house the lifeblood of a business so it’s no wonder why companies work hard to protect them. We’re all familiar with the integration of network cameras with access control systems to visually verify who is actually using the credentials. Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate and identify the cause of a trigger remotely But there’s another aspect to protecting data centers and that’s environment control. Data centers need to maintain optimum humidity and temperature for the racks of electronics. When environmental sensors in the facility detect out-of-norm ranges technicians can remotely command a network camera to zoom in on the gauges and help them determine whether remediation might be necessary. Coupling network cameras with other sensors in the data center can provide visual confirmation of other conditions as well. For instance, every time a data rack door-open-close sensor detects an event it can trigger the camera to pan to the location and stream video to security. Some data centers employ weight sensors at the doorway to weigh personnel and equipment as they enter the room and when they exit to ensure no additional hardware is being taken out of the facility or left inside without permission. Any discrepancy would trigger the camera to zoom in for a close-up of the individual’s face and send a visual alert and ID information to security. Roadway management and parking assistance Network cameras have long played a part in city-wide traffic management. Adding video analytics and integration with network sensors, makes those cameras that much smarter and versatile. They can detect cars driving in bike lanes or driving in the wrong direction and capture license plates of offenders. Their ability to detect anomalous traffic flow patterns can be integrated with car counting sensors, networked electronic road signs and traffic light systems to automatically redirect vehicles to alternate routes. They make great, intelligent parking lot attendants, too. Working in conjunction with weight sensors network cameras can count vehicles coming into and leaving a lot or garage and verify when the facility has reached capacity. License plate recognition and video analytics can be used to ascertain that a vehicle entering a reserved parking space doesn’t match the credentials and vehicle attributes in the database. With the addition of noise sensors and audio analytics, network cameras can improve roadway and parking facility safety by detecting and identifying specific sounds – breaking glass, car alarms, gun shots, and aggressive speech – and triggering a visual alert to first responders. Network cameras can improve roadway and parking facility safety by detecting and identifying specific sounds and triggering a visual alert to first responders Shopper experience assistance In the early days of online shopping, e-tailers designed their sites to replicate the in-store customer experience. In an ironic turn of events, today brick-and-mortar stores are trying to mirror the online shopping experience. To do so, they’re turning their security systems into adjunct sales assistance. With network video and audio system automation they can recognise and acknowledge loyal customers with personal greetings. Retailers are applying people counting video analytics to checkout activity to create rules-based consistency in customer service With heatmapping analytics they can measure how much time a customer spends in a specific department or observe how they walk through the aisles of the store. They can track shopping behaviors such as items looked at that made it into the cart or didn’t, or whether a customer actually checked out or left the merchandise behind. By capturing these shopping patterns and trends retailers can shape a more positive, more profitable customer shopping experience. For instance, integrating video analytics with point of sale systems and RFID sensors on merchandise tags can result in timely alerts to sales associates to recommend additional merchandise. This is a case of emulating how e-tailers let the customer know that other customers who bought X often also purchased items Y and Z. Or to avoid disappointing customers due to stock outages, retailers are linking weight sensors and video analytics to make sure their shelves are well-stocked and if not, quickly alert associates to what items need to be restocked. Capturing business intelligence Retailers are also using video cameras to monitor checkout queues and trigger automated announcements over the public-address system, closed system such as smartphones or other wireless communications devices that checkers are needed rather wait for a person to call for backup. IoT laid the groundwork for network security solutions to seamlessly integrate with other IP-based technologies, sensors and programs They’re applying people counting video analytics to checkout activity to create rules-based consistency in customer service. While retailers will always use their surveillance camera for loss prevention, they’re finding that integrating traditional technology in new ways can yield even bigger returns. Linking network video surveillance, video analytics, network communications system and sensors with point-of-sale systems and customer loyalty databases, retailers are capturing the business intelligence they need to get back in the game and make brick-and-mortar a greater overall experience than online shopping. A natural cross-over technology This trend towards integration has forever changed how organisations view their investment in security technology. The intelligence and versatility of a tool that can see, verify and analyse what’s happening in real-time is spurring users to tap its cross-over potential for a host of other tasks that could benefit from more astute situational awareness – everything from manufacturing and equipment maintenance to logistics, inventory control and beyond. IoT laid the groundwork for network security solutions to seamlessly integrate with other IP-based technologies, sensors and programs. How we capitalise on that connection is only limited by our imagination.
Remember the old adage “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts?” Nowhere is that truism more evident than when you add network video to the current generation of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Whether we’re talking about industrial IoT applications, “Smart – X” (city, building, parking etc.) or retail operations, integrating network video into the solution provides value far beyond simple situational awareness. Optimising sophisticated video technology When video systems first moved from analogue to digital and then became part of the IoT world, they were primarily used to provide visual validation of sensor-detected events. For instance, if an industrial controller sensed an environmental issue such as a temperature exceeding set threshold maximum limits, the sensor would trigger the management software to notify the operator that this event had occurred. The operator could then pull up the video feed of the closest camera and observe the area remotely. While this application is simple, it shows how video enhances sensor management. As edge devices, such as sensors and network video become more intelligent, the interactions between systems are growing in sophistication and generating even greater value than each system could provide on its own. To appreciate how these smart applications are being used to improve overall efficiencies and profitability, let’s delve into three areas where they’re being deployed: intelligent buildings, smart cities, and smart retailing. By overlaying intelligent operational sensors with intelligent video, it’s now possible to automate lighting levels based on motion detection Video-based operational analytics Applying intelligent monitoring to environmental equipment (HVAC) makes it easy for building owners and property managers to determine existing operating costs based on current equipment performance. They can then compare that amount to the cost of upgrades and potential cost savings over time. Lighting is another significant operating cost within building management. By overlaying intelligent operational sensors with intelligent video (light sensors), it’s now possible to automate lighting levels based on motion detection. Lights can automatically turn on or off, brighten or dimmed, to eliminate wasteful energy consumption. With the addition of occupancy analytics via intelligent video, property managers can determine what caused the motion and learn other operational details such as occupancy counts. Did someone walk through and area causing lighting to turn on or up? Did they dwell in this area? These specifics can help managers efficiently optimise lighting controls and reduce the overall operating cost of the property. Businesses are also using smart applications to optimise allocation of desk space and conference areas. For instance, intelligent video can determine conference room occupancy (in use, number of people in room, free space even though showing booked) far better than stand-alone motion sensors. When tied to automated room assignment systems, the additional statistics provided by video analytics might suggest room changes based on room size and number of attendees through back-office applications such as Microsoft Outlook. These examples are just a few of a growing list of available video-based operational analytics currently on the market. Video analytics in smart cities Initial forays into smart city technologies such as smart lighting, smart grid, smart parking and so on relied on standalone sensor technologies. Their capabilities were good but limited. Smart Lighting for instance would use basic light detectors to turn street lighting. Smart Parking and traffic systems would use weight sensors to trigger vehicle counts, traffic signal changes or determine if a parking space was in use and paid for. Augmenting these applications with intelligent video and analytics, however, opens up a whole new world of additional details. In Smart Lighting, the video sensor can now trigger a change in lighting based on rules such as vehicular and pedestrian events. Video analytics can yield additional metadata such as vehicle type (commercial versus public use). Smart Parking becomes much more effective when you can begin to provide vehicle detail such as vehicle type or other information based on licence plate recognition. These additional details can help parking lots operate more efficiently and offer value-added services like space reservation and open space location notifications. Augmenting smart city applications with intelligent video and analytics opens up a whole new world of additional details Smart Grid offers some less obvious but equally valuable system augmentation capabilities. We often associate Smart Grid with simple automated meter reading but these systems also traverse critical power infrastructure. Solution providers in this arena are now offering heightened asset and perimeter protection via integration of network-based radar detection with video and audio analytics. This strategic mix of technologies can be used to minimise false detection alarms, turn on/off or change lighting levels and point cameras to areas of interest for extremely effective and cost-effective perimeter security. Network video for retail intelligence Retailing was one of the earliest adopters of smart device integration with network video and video analytics to support loss prevention and customer safety. They’ve been using video to analyse customer traffic and behaviour in order to improve product placement, increase product sales, as well as cross-sell related items. Adding programmable “Digital Signage” to the mix created new opportunities to display targeted messages based on viewer demographics about additional products and services of potential interest. Integrating network video with point-of-sale terminals to reconcile cash register receipts, adding heat mapping analytics to study customer foot traffic patterns, measuring check out wait times to increase employee productivity and efficiency as well as improve the customer experience are just some of the ways retailers have applied the principles of IoT to their advantage. Overlay intelligent building controls and you can see the exponential power of integrating intelligent video with other IoT devices and systems. Retailing was one of the earliest adopters of smart device integration with network video and video analytics to support loss prevention and customer safety Minimising metadata overload Smart application integration produces an enormous amount of metadata. Collecting, transporting and synthesising this data into meaningful business intelligence can be daunting. It requires disciplined use of resources from the network infrastructure transporting the data locally to the various cloud technologies (private cloud, hybrid cloud, public cloud) storing and disseminating it securely. Generally smart sensor data is fairly light weight in terms of actual data transmitted. Adding video elements can significantly increase bit-rate (bandwidth and storage) requirements. This highlights the need for the video to be more intelligent and interactive with the intelligent sensor and edge device technologies so that resources can be used more efficiently. Smart applications let you do that. You can fine tune video rules and optimise transmission based on retention value. You can program the video to sensor triggers or events, transmitting lower frame rate and resolution video for less interesting video and increasing the video settings when higher quality video is more relevant and valuable based on these sensor triggers. The back-end collectors of sensor metadata are becoming more mainstream and easier to operate. In many sectors, service providers are offering management of this sensor output “As a Service.” As smart IoT technology continues to mature, the benefits of integration between network video systems and other network solutions will only get better. We’re already seeing greater efficiency in operations as well as higher quantifiable returns on investment through cost savings and more in-depth, usable business intelligence.
The V5 CAP provides security outdoors, even in areas where there is no connection to the electrical grid V5 Systems a provider of wireless portable security units, has formed a partnership with Axis Communications, the provider of networked video surveillance, to create a self-powered solution that can protect people in the outdoors. V5 Camera Adaptive Platform (V5 CAP) V5 Systems, located in Fremont, CA, has developed a solar-powered security platform that is designed for 3rd-party camera integration. Called the V5 Camera Adaptive Platform (V5 CAP), it provides an ideal portable platform for Axis surveillance cameras. It can transform virtually any Axis camera into a unit for outdoor surveillance that is not tied to the electrical grid. "It is our mission to continue to make outdoor environments safer, such as schools, sporting venues, campuses and downtown areas," stated Mazin Bedwan, President of V5 Systems. "Working with Axis allows both of our teams to enhance the security and quality of life in all the areas in which our joint solution will be deployed." Axis, which is based in Sweden, invented the world's first network camera in 1996. Since then, the company has been leading the way in video surveillance, providing security for millions of people worldwide and helping to meet the critical need for a smarter, safer world. In addition to network security cameras, the company makes video encoders, accessories and application software. Extending reach of outdoor surveillance "We are excited about our newly formed partnership with V5 Systems," said Vince Ricco, Business Development Manager, TPP, Axis Communications, Inc. "We're looking forward to collaborating to extend the reach and capability of outdoor surveillance." The V5 CAP brings security to wherever people gather outdoors, even in areas where there is no nearby connection to the electrical grid. It also brings security to areas like school campuses, city parks and large parking lots that have existing security infrastructure but have blind spots and other vulnerabilities. "Combining our technologies into a single product offering now makes it possible to deploy sophisticated security solutions in any outdoor environment worldwide" Recent trending conversations about Safe Cities have highlighted the importance of providing security in specific areas like campuses. The V5 CAP paired with Axis cameras can now provide a safer environment for students and teachers, without the costly disruption of trenching to wire the system to the grid. V5 CAP features Here are more highlights of the V5 CAP: It's a perpetual power platform weighing less than 25 pounds, making it the smallest of its kind. It can be integrated with virtually any existing camera, enabling it to monitor any outdoor area 24/7. Since the V5 units do not need to be wired to a power grid, they eliminate the need for trenching, reducing costs and saving implementation time. The units can be used to enhance existing security infrastructure or as a standalone security device that can be moved freely in outdoor environments. Communications from the platform are in real time via Wi-Fi or cellular to any smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. The platform can be rapidly deployed. Installation and configuration take less than 30 minutes. ISC West 2017 Mazin Bedwan continued, "At V5 Systems, we are eager to launch our new V5 CAP ongoing power source with our partners at Axis Communications. Combining our technologies into a single product offering now makes it possible to deploy sophisticated security solutions in any outdoor environment worldwide." As part of the new partnership, V5 Systems exhibited the V5 CAP at the Axis Sales Kickoff Event in January 2017, in Iberostar, Cancun. In attendance were over 3,000 employees and partners of Axis and employees of V5 Systems. V5 Systems will also be exhibiting with Axis at ISC West security industry trade show in April 2017
Siklu’s wireless connectivity handles demanding cameras that require more bandwidth Siklu, the global market provider of millimeter-wave solutions, announces it was selected to provide a wireless connectivity solution to ensure flawless streaming for a city-wide surveillance system in downtown Fort Myers, Florida. Siklu’s capacity-rich radios connect a range of Axis Communications multisensory 4K and advanced high definition PTZ cameras and an advanced video management system from IPVideo Corp., which have been strategically deployed throughout the city to monitor pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Zombicon shooting The city of Fort Myers, Fla., decided to install the surveillance system following a shooting during Zombicon, a zombie-themed art and music festival, held in October of 2015. A+ Technology & Security Solutions, based in Bay Shore, New York, completed the whole trailblazing system in just three weeks to meet the city’s deadline to ensure that the new video surveillance system in place would be in place for its New Year’s Eve celebrations. “We are excited to be a part of this project and to help keep the residents of Fort Myers, Florida., safe and secure,” said Vince Ricco, Business Development Manager, Technology Partner Programme, Axis Communications. “Siklu’s technology is easy to articulate and truly shows the value of technology.” Unique capabilities Siklu’s multi-gigabit, 60GHz radios were selected for this install due to a number of unique capabilities; High bandwidth, required by the multiple-stream cameras, ERPS redundancy to ensure 24/7 video coverage, and small and aesthetic form, a crucial factor in city deployments. The millimeter wave radios have proved to be ideal for urban surveillance projects, especially those requiring multi-hop relaying, as the hops serve to improve the communication between source and destination. “We were delighted that our solution was chosen to reliably secure real-time video to help protect Fort Myers from further violence and criminal activities. Transmitting on uncongested bands, our low latency, interference-free radios are especially suited to video surveillance networks and are already instrumental in connecting video to a number of police departments around the US,” said Zeev Farkash, VP Global Sales at Siklu. According to Jonathan Antar, Chief Operating Officer at True Security Design, a consultant for the project, Siklu’s wireless connectivity is designed to handle demanding cameras that require more bandwidth outside of the common 6GHz bands. “Siklu’s products offer a high throughput and a small form factor, which has its place in the market,” he said.
The project included building a wireless network that could extend the BPD video surveillance system to the Trestle Siklu's world’s smallest backhaul radios were selected by Bethlehem Police Department (BPD) and Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to provide Gigabit capacity and interference-free operation to help secure and protect the new Hoover Mason Trestle at SteelStacks, a ten-acre campus dedicated to arts, culture, family events that was once home to Bethlehem Steel, the second largest steel manufacturer in the nation. Axis Communications, the global leader in network video, provided cameras, while LTW (Let’s Think Wireless, LLC) provided system integration, design and installation services. Speedy deployment and easy integration “When it came to selecting a solution, I do not recall any real competition to the speedy deployment and easy integration of Siklu’s powerful EH-600T and 1200FX radios,” said Peter Lutz, VP Government and Public Safety, LTW. LTW has already deployed Siklu’s connectivity solutions in a number of projects throughout Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey for both the Police Department and City IT Departments. The Hoover Mason Trestle is the new elevated pedestrian way in the artsy zone, at an old steel factory site turned music and event venue in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, known as SteelStacks. The elevated walkway opened in June, and scheduled events in the zone, in addition to the new walking path are expected to draw significant crowds to the area, both of which create a need for connectivity. The project included building a wireless network that could extend the BPD video surveillance system to the Trestle, in an effort to ensure the safety and well-being of potential visitors. Siklu’s 60, 70/80GHz radios were selected as they transmit on different frequencies than WiFi, and would therefore be able to assure reliable operation of the CCTV delivery system, even in potentially congested areas with much anticipated WiFi activity, such as the Trestle. Partnering with Axis Communications LTW set up the network utilising Axis cameras with Siklu EH-600Ts deployed at street-level in a daisy-chain configuration. Video from these cameras is aggregated to a rooftop Siklu EH-1200F. Video footage from the aggregation point is transmitted to the local police department, the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority, and to additional Siklu links throughout the city. "When it came to selecting a solution, I do not recall any real competition to the speedy deployment and easy integration of Siklu’s powerful EH-600T and 1200FX radios," says Peter Lutz, VP Government and Public Safety, LTW The network needed to be up and running prior to the commencement of ‘Musikfest,’ the City’s major music festival. Project integration went smoothly, and deployment was ultra-swift, taking only seven days. “Axis is very excited to partner with Siklu to provide solution architecture for physical security,” said Vince Ricco, Business Development Manager of Axis’ Technology Partner Program. “Siklu’s ease of deployment and scalability make an ideal solution to solve these types of wireless requirements quickly and easily.” The surveillance system at the Hoover Mason Trestle provides continuous monitoring of a public walkway that is part museum, a community recreation resource and local attraction. The trestle is 46 feet tall and is 2,000 feet long. Now a local attraction, the narrow gauge railroad was once used carry the metals and minerals needed from the ore yards to the blast furnaces where they made iron. “Siklu is excited to be part of this promising redevelopment project. LTW’s integration team’s understanding of Siklu’s unique technology benefits, such as extremely low delays enabling extended cascading, and predictably reliable performance, prove they listen to the customer’s pain points,” added Ilan Moshe, GM of Siklu Communication NA.