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Video printers - Expert commentary

Redefining access control with NFC-enabled smartphones
Redefining access control with NFC-enabled smartphones

Comprehensive and robust security programmes and policies are required for adequate data security Over the last decade, we have entered a new era of physical and logical access control. We are now living in an increasingly mobile world where our phones do more than just make a simple call – employees can now open doors and enter secure areas, as well as access computers, corporate data networks and associated information assets with just a single mobile device.  Furthermore, the cloud, and access to cloud-based services is becoming almost a fundamental requirement for businesses. This, combined with advanced personal mobiles such as Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled ones increasingly being used beyond conventional uses, is naturally driving a change in how organisations view, deliver and manage security, explains Alan Davies VP Sales – EMEA, Identity Assurance, HID Global.  A big change pertaining to security management is that identity no longer needs to be restricted to a single plastic card or security token. We often think about identity solely in terms of the card or token that carries it; however with more and more companies placing accessible data in the cloud and allowing employees to use NFC-enabled smartphones for physical access purposes in the workplace, ‘identity’ is now taking many different shapes. For example, a smartphone being used as a ‘digital key’ to open doors and tag-in to work locations eliminates the need for employees to carry any other credentials. Of course, this raises questions about how to ensure that any assigned identities can be trusted. Fortunately, the issue of managing virtualised credentials in the business environment is achievable. Take mobile for example. This can be done by implementing a trusted identity framework that creates a secure boundary within communications between the devices, such as when a smartphone interacts with an NFC reader or NFC enabled end-point device. It acts as a secure vault, which delivers the agreed corporate security policy to the devices in use. If this is accepted, then it is deemed to be trusted and the user is allowed access. Another benefit is that NFC-enabled physical access control makes it easier to track who is entering and exiting monitored access points throughout the workplace. Employers can then be assured that all endpoints and all of the systems in between are valid before allowing entry into the building. Data protection and management in the cloud For organisations investing in the cloud, in order for them to unlock its true value, they need to address exactly where Security strategies should be customised to fit an organisations unique data protection needs sensitive data is stored and consider the user risk factor, including the way in which they wish to access the information. Though the rise of the cloud for enterprise data storage and application-hosting has changed the way IT professionals interact with their users, their networks and their data, the fundamentals of data protection remain the same.  What many organisations fail to realise is that a one-size-fits-all approach to data protection is insufficient. Traditionally, enterprises have focused on securing the network perimeter, and relied on static passwords to authenticate users internally, within the firewall or externally via a virtual private network (VPN).  However, taking into account the diverse nature of modern threats – from Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) to ad hoc hacking and the internal risks that come with the mass adoption of BYOD– organisations are increasingly re-evaluating and re-assessing their IT security strategy to adapt to these changing needs.   Two-factor authentication measures have typically been confined to physical devices like one-time password (OTP) tokens and display cards, but thanks to a variety of technological advancements these are being replaced by ‘soft tokens’ that can be held directly on the user device such as a mobile phone or tablet, or alternatively as browser-based tokens. Additionally, these mobile tokens can be combined with cloud app single-sign-on capabilities, not only fulfilling the same function of more classic two-factor authentication models but also providing convenient streamlined access to multiple cloud apps – all from one device. Merging management of logical and physical security infrastructure Ultimately, the security landscape is constantly evolving and mobile access control, as well as remote data access to cloud based applications, is growing in significance, making the right security investment a more important decision than ever before.  It is critical for enterprises to have an extremely secure mobile and cloud identity environment so that transactions between the employee-owned phones or corporate-issued devices and the door they intend to unlock, or network they access, are conducted in a secure manner. Merging the management of both logical and physical security infrastructures, so that their operations are conducted via one platform, is integral to keeping pace with the paradigm shift that technological advancements such as  NFC have made possible in the workplace. Furthermore, by deploying just one security device for both logical and physical access control , enterprises will not only realise cost savings, but will gain greater security control, as there will be a single point of revocation for all access rights.  Building security systems that take into account the many routes to confidential data – whether it is at the physical door, on the network or in the cloud – is essential. Only by implementing comprehensive and robust and layered security programmes and policies that cover all three areas, while allowing for new technologies and applications, will organisations be confident that their data is adequately secure.

Why surveillance applications need high resolution images
Why surveillance applications need high resolution images

  Resolution quality must be considered when assessing surveillance effectiveness Surveillance cameras are becoming more and more commonplace, especially in busy metropolitan locales. Police and detectives hope to reduce crime rates by keeping a watchful eye on civilians but CCTV has only been helpful in solving a small percentage of crimes. Mike Lewis, Country Manager UK for CCTV manufacturer MOBOTIX AG, highlights key considerations for improving the efficiency of existing surveillance systems.In May of 2008, Detective Chief Inspector Mike Neville, head of Scotland Yard's Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) became the UK's first senior police officer to challenge the misconception around CCTV's role in reducing crime. Speaking at Security Document World Conference in London, the Chief Inspector said: "Billions of pounds have been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It's been an utter fiasco."  Neville also pointed out that only 3 per cent of London's street robberies had been solved using CCTV images. A low figure considering the capital is one of the most densely populated areas of CCTV coverage anywhere in the world. Identifying problems with existing CCTV surveillance systems Mike Lewis, UK Country Manager for CCTV manufacturer Mobotix AG believes that the problem stems from a fundamental issue of image quality. "For many organisations CCTV is treated as a ‘check-box' item with little thought given to how a CCTV installation can help the police solve crimes. Criminals are not stupid and a deterrent is simply not enough; the technology has to be able to gather evidence to help the police secure convictions." Lewis points out that the majority of CCTV installations in the UK still use old analogue technology with barely a fifth of the resolution found in a basic camera phone. "If a CCTV system, say covering a street outside a jewellers', captures a car pulling up and three men brandishing shotguns marching into the shop - unless you have the resolution to capture the license plate, or some distinguishing features of each masked robber, or audio capture to get a voice print - the system is pretty worthless." Mandating changes in surveillance video resolution requirements The industry also is "less than opaque"  when it comes to selling CCTV in his view. "Many vendors will play down high resolution as not necessary or too expensive to implement without actually explaining that it is exactly these high resolution images and audio capture that will help police make successful prosecution where a grainy image would simply be thrown out of court." "Billions of pounds have been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court" Lewis points to the continent as an example of where UK CCTV market needs to learn from.  In France for example, under anti-terrorism laws pioneered after the 7/7 tube bombings in London, all government building and high risk areas are legally required to have CCTV of a high resolution and retain data for up to 30 days. In Germany, all banks are required to deploy high resolution CCTV to monitor customers, staff and financial transactions in every branch.  [It will be very useful to define what is classified as "high resolution" or the minimum resolutions that are acceptable in these countries] MOBOTIX, which only sells fully-digital high resolution CCTV camera systems believes that the potential of CCTV to reduce crime won't be fulfilled unless either the government, police or even third parties such as insurers, licensing boards or trade associations insist that end users deploy a better resolution capture, coverage and video storage and retrieval. "There will be another wave of CCTV installation heading up to the Olympics, so as a nation, we have a perfect opportunity to set a CCTV standard that meets the needs of police, local government and end users to help us reduce crime and secure more prosecution off the back of CCTV evidence,"comments Lewis. Lewis believes CCTV would be able to help solve more crimes if they had higher resolutions "The technology is not the barrier and newer CCTV systems with hemispheric (360 degree) fields of view will allow end users to actually deploy fewer security cameras while maintaining better resolution and wider coverage - the problem is still trying to persuade people that CCTV can catch criminals and not just scare them away." Optimising CCTV for solving and prevention of crime Lewis offers some constructive suggestions on how to improve CCTV's effectiveness as a crime prevention and evidence gathering tool. "There are an estimated 4 million CCTV cameras in the UK but where they all are, what they record and accessibility to these video archives is mostly unknown - having a register of CCTV for use by the police would help them to quickly gather post incident evidence." The idea of CCTV built into the environment was the theme of the 200 Secured by Design' (SBD) initiative that has been adopted by parts of the building industry to promote crime prevention measures like CCTV in development design. The initiative was endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and has the backing of the Home Office Crime Reduction Unit. However, for police gathering information after an incident, there is no easy way to locate CCTV installations in any given area. The industry also is "less than transparent" when it comes to selling CCTV in his view Most CCTV systems installed in the UK use a centralised approach. Each surveillance camera is effectively dumb with the image processing, access to footage and storage taking place at a remote location. In smaller environments, this could be a DVR simply recording everything on a 24-hour loop. In larger campuses or city centres, this is often a dedicated control room monitored 24 hours a day. Instead Lewis argues that a decentralised approach that places more intelligence into the CCTV camera would allow greater accessibility by third parties such as the police and emergency services. "With a decentralised system, private companies could allow the police to quickly add their local cameras into a centrally managed grid." In this method, if an incident occurs, the police CCTV control centre could patch an instant video feed from the nearest available CCTV camera. With a decentralised approach, each CCTV camera becomes an access point on an IP network and can be shared by multiple agencies in a more cost effective approach. "This might sound a bit hi-tech, but it is technically possible," explains Lewis. To give an analogy, when the police receive a 999 call, the dispatcher is automatically informed of the location of the caller from the Caller Line Identification system which cross references a database of addresses of each of the 25 million public and private landlines installed in the UK. "A similar system where the police type in a post code and are presented with secure access to video feeds from all decentralised CCTV installations in an area would be a potentially society changing tool for fighting crime." High risk areas in France were legally required to have high resolution CCTV following London Tube bombings Considerations for realising CCTV's full security potential Lewis also believes: "All CCTV cameras should have a minimum mandated image quality with all information stored in a digital format for a minimum of 7 days that can be easily accessed by the police for evidence gathering." Many police forces around the country already have voluntary guidelines for business deploying CCTV and several have made CCTV installation a condition of alcohol or gaming licences. However this policy has successfully been challenged by landlords and upheld by Information Commissioner as potentially in conflict with the data protection act. Unfortunately, Lewis believes for any of these measures to work, there needs to be stronger backing from the government: "There is obviously a fear of creating an oppressive surveillance society but we have regulation for other areas like fire prevention, road safety, disabled access and a host of other health and safety issues - why CCTV, which has the potential to protect lives, is treated differently is a complete mystery to me."   Mike LewisUK ManagerMobotix  AG

Estimating bandwidth requirements for modern surveillance systems
Estimating bandwidth requirements for modern surveillance systems

  Bandwidth is an important consideration for CCTV systems to reach their full potential Most surveillance systems today transmit data over IP networks. As manufacturers continue to improve the capabilities of CCTV systems, the amount of traffic travelling on a network becomes increasingly large. Bandwidth is a key consideration in managing surveillance systems and ensuring their full potential is reached. In this article, Bosch discusses the importance of bandwidth and how to estimate the amount of bandwidth needed for a particular CCTV system. What is bandwidth and why is it important? Modern-day CCTV systems increasingly use IP networks to send video from one point to another (for example, from a camera to a Video Management System typically running on a PC). IP networks are an attractive medium for transporting video because one cable can carry the video from many cameras. These networks also serve a multi-functional purpose because the same cable can carry video as well as two-way audio, alarm signals, relay signals, PTZ commands, and serial data. With Power over Ethernet, the cable can even carry power to the camera. This greatly simplifies the multitude of cables usually required. However, the network is limited by the amount of traffic it can carry - known as bandwidth, which is measured in bits per second (bps). The table below shows the three kinds of star-topology Ethernet networks in common use today.       Name Also known as Bandwidth 10Base-T  Standard Ethernet 10 Mbps (Megabits per second) 100Base-T Fast Ethernet 100 Mbps 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet 1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps Video over IP consumes a large amount of bandwidth. As a rough guide, one camera might consume between 100 kbps and 2 Mbps - compare this to audio, which typically consumes only 80 kbps. This explains the immediate success of Voice over IP. The factors that affect bandwidth consumption are described in the table below. Factor Description Examples Video compression method Typically temporal or spatial compression MPEG-4, M-JPEG, Wavelet, and MPEG-2 Frame rate Images per second 1-30 IPS Image resolution The number of horizontal and vertical pixels QCIF, CIF, 2CIF, 4CIF (also known as full D1) Scene activity level The amount of activity in the camera's field of view  Low, medium, and high Quiet time The fraction of time where there is no movement (important for temporal compression algorithms like MPEG-4 because neglibible bandwidth is consumed during quiet time) 8:00 pm - 6:00 am Monday - Friday, all day Saturday and Sunday, equates to about 50% quiet time If you run out of bandwidth on your network, you will start to experience the following: Video artefacts (e.g., blocks in MPEG and M-JPEG, and increased fuzziness in Wavelet) Frames may get dropped, making the video appear choppy The video resolution may drop from 4CIF to 2 CIF or even CIF, making the picture less clear The video may freeze entirely and lose the connection temporarily What is the relationship between bandwidth and disk storage? A single IP network cable can carry video from many surveillance cameras and also carry out multiple functions They are directly related. If video is being transmitted at a certain bit-rate across a network to be stored, then it will consume disk space at exactly the same rate. For example, a 1 Mbps video stream will use 1 Mb (Megabit) of space in one second, or about 1/8 = 0.125 Megabytes per second, which equates to 0.125 x 3,600 = 450 Megabytes per hour (about 11 GB per day or 75 GB per week).   How do I know how much bandwidth I need? This is an excellent question, particularly because it is unanswerable with any certainty. As explained earlier, it depends on so many factors that you can really only estimate your bandwidth and/or rate of disk-space consumption. This initial guess is based on your experience with previous projects and it is useful - but the best way to  predict your needs is to run the actual test.  For example, consider planning an IP-based CCTV system for a school. How much bandwidth will the network need to carry for approximately 16 cameras, and how much disk space is required for seven days of recording?     View larger image Graph showing results gained by capping the bit rate Capping the bit rate You can ‘cap' the bit rate of each IP camera or encoder so that it never uses more than that specified amount. Note that when capped, the actual bit-rate at any particular moment may be well below the ‘cap' limit. Advantage: Once you know the available disk space, you are guaranteed to get a predictable number of days of video. This is especially important for regulated environments. It is also good news for IT departments who want to know how much you are going to stress the network. Disadvantage: To not exceed the allowed bit rate, the IP camera or encoder has to do something if it finds itself over-stretched. Normally it has the option to either drop some of the frames or reduce the video resolution of the frames - but this can be an issue when the video quality you need has to be degraded under any circumstances.   Unlimited bit rate  View larger imageGraph showing the results of unlimited bit rate You can let the IP camera or encoder help itself to whatever bandwidth it needs. Advantage: Image quality never deteriorates. Disadvantage: Under certain conditions, the peak load on the IP network may cause problems. This "help yourself" policy also may allow disk space to be consumed faster than you anticipated, so you may not have as many days of video as you expected. Summary With conventional VCRs, it is easy to predict the amount of disk space required for a specified number of days of recording time. With DVRs and IP-based CCTV, it can also be easy to predict (by capping) - as long as you are comfortable with the possibility that the video quality may degrade under certain circumstances. If you overestimate your bit rates, you will end up paying for more storage than you need. The best way to predict your real needs is to pilot a small IP surveillance system (perhaps just one camera). Run it for a short while, then review the video and make any necessary adjustments. This is the most reliable way to get what you need and plan your infrastructure accordingly. In addition to better estimating, it is also important to remember the enormous value of Recording at the Edge, which keeps video off the network for recording. In such a scenario, the network is only used for live streaming and playback.View the Bandwidth quick reference guide Bosch Security Systems