Intercom Systems - Expert commentary

Building Security: How Audio Tells the Whole Story
Building Security: How Audio Tells the Whole Story

Every building starts with the entrance. A solid enterprise risk mitigation and security strategy include protecting that entrance. Often, risk mitigation strategies protecting the entrance have included high-resolution video surveillance cameras, video management systems, and access control solutions. But that strategy and set of security solutions only tells part of the story. Imagine a security guard who is protecting a facility after hours, when an individual approaches the entrance and seeks to gain access. The security guard can pull up the video surveillance feed and see the individual and his movements, which appear to be suspicious. But he also needs to hear him in order to decide the next decisions and actions. Does he escalate the situation, calling for backup and for first responders’ response, or does he allow the individual access to the building because he works there and is authorized to enter?   Meet high-definition voice What the security guard needs is to be able to hear and to communicate with that individual. All enterprise security systems need three primary components in order to successfully protect the entrance and to mitigate risk – access control, video surveillance, and the ability to hear and communicate. Each component plays an integral role in supporting a unified security system, and without all three, the security system is not complete. Access control can be thought of as the brains of a security system by holding data and permissions. It serves as the arms and hands of the system; it can either keep someone out or invite them in. IP video allows a security team to remotely position a set of eyes anywhere an IP camera can be placed on a network. With a video management system, security teams can see what is happening and decide how to respond. However, with remote viewing, the event may be over by the time security physically responds.  Audio adds interactivity That three-component enterprise security system – comprising IP video, access control, and high-definition voice working together mitigates risks and provides value. It also means that security is interactive. Security teams talk and listen to the person that’s seen on a video surveillance system, no matter where the location or how remote. If the person is lost or simply needs assistance, security personnel can talk to them and provide direction and reassurance. Even more, in an emergency, an interactive solution becomes a critical life-saving tool, as it provides data that can be shared between security, police, emergency services, and more. Audio can also detect voices, noises, breaking glass, or other sounds that are not within direct view of a video camera. An interactive security system creates an informed response, by providing real-time situation awareness management. Post-event, it supports forensics and investigations to mitigate future security incidents.  Audio and COVID-19 We are living in extraordinary times. As businesses begin to reopen and stay open, they are looking for any tools that can help them overcome the enormous challenges they face. In buildings and facilities, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new security perimeter, one that demands contactless access with entry and exit, and that has also created a new duty of care for security professionals. Now more than ever is the need to interact and communicate with individuals moving in and out of doors and spaces without physical intervention. Intelligent communications, integrated with contactless access control, can help a business to comply with pandemic safety guidelines and ultimately, reopen for business and stay open.  COVID-19 has also increased the need for clean-room isolation and quarantine spaces, sometimes in areas not originally intended for that use, where risk of infection is high, and equipment must be easily disinfected between patients. Here, purpose-built cleanroom intercoms, providing clear touchless communications despite the noisy environment, have emerged as critical tools for enabling patient care while reducing the need to enter the contaminated space. For example, voice communication can enable hospital staff to verify identity and to communicate with patients without entering the isolated and infectious environment, which can save on personal protective equipment (PPE) and reduce the amount of exposure to the virus. In non-emergency healthcare facilities, such as medical centers, voice can effectively relay information to building occupants and visitors for screening purposes. Visitors can be seen and heard. For example, a patient who seeks access to a medical center for an appointment can hear important instructions from a nurse via the intercom solution. Seeing the person that you talk to is one thing but hearing them conveys a much better sense of closeness, making it possible to maintain a high level of security and customer service.  The whole story Today’s security systems should no longer simply involve video surveillance cameras generating feedback and images to a security guard. Instead, a new ecosystem for enterprise security and risk mitigation has emerged, and it’s one that involves video surveillance, access control, and high-definition voice. That ecosystem can ensure well-rounded and responsive information management and security platform, all communicating with each other and offering actionable insight into risks and potential physical breaches. Audio is the new value hub of the connected and intelligent school, campus, building, correctional facility, and more. Simply put, a silent security system cannot be an effective security system. In every situation, it is crucial for all security professionals to mitigate risk, no matter what they are protecting. This emphasizes the need to hear, be heard, and be understood in virtually any environment.  

Thermal screening: The Technology That Will Lead Us Out of Lockdown
Thermal screening: The Technology That Will Lead Us Out of Lockdown

Across the world, the impact of the current pandemic has majorly disrupted how we function in our everyday lives, as a society, and the ways in which we do our jobs. Throughout, our personal safety and wellbeing, as well as that of our families, neighbours and colleagues, has been paramount - and adapting our day-to-day lives to meet social distancing measures has been a learning curve for us all. As we start to reassemble normal life, precautionary measures will continue to be put in place to achieve the universal aim of mitigating the spread of the virus as much as possible. As different countries reach new stages of this process, some parts of the world continue to live and work in lockdown, while some are beginning to open up. This means governments, as well as businesses and organizations, will need to think beyond one-way systems and sanitation stations to contain the risk of infection as more people begin to return to the outside world. Tracing the spread of COVID-19 Of course, this will need to be driven by higher-level support from leaders in government, healthcare and technology to develop innovative ways of tracking and tracing the spread of COVID-19. From contact tracing solutions, to self-reporting apps and thermal screening cameras – governments and businesses across Europe have a new responsibility to seek and reinforce the most effective ways to ensure people’s safety. These measures are particularly pertinent to those reopening their doors as lockdown eases, and those returning to a daily routine of commuting to and serviced office spaces. As more and more people begin to move through public and commercial areas, we will rely more on technology to run in the background to ensure safety and wellbeing is monitored - much like that of the everyday CCTV camera. Thermal temperature screening cameras One piece of technology that we can expect to see as more commonplace is the thermal temperature screening cameras and monitoring system. An example of this kind of device, is D-Link’s recently launched all-in-one, intelligent fever screening kit – which includes a dual-lens thermographic camera, blackbody calibrator, as well as integrated management software. Governments, as well as businesses and organizations, will need to think beyond one-way systems and sanitation stations to contain the risk of infection The premise of temperature screening cameras like this one, is to harness thermal imaging technology coupling it with AI to identify if a person is experiencing elevated temperatures, and raise the alarm automatically when someone at risk of spreading is detected. To monitor the progression or depletion of COVID-19, technologies such as AI facial recognition will play an important role in mitigating the risks of the virus spreading. Thermal cameras that use AI can easily capture and manage employee’s temperature and stop their entrance if a fever is detected. For this reason, such devices are normally installed in a doorway or entrance to a building to quickly detect and identify those displaying symptoms before entering a building. This type of surveillance will be detrimental to the management of COVID-19 in the world of a ‘new normal’ – as companies feel their way out and learn as they go along with people’s health and wellbeing continuing to be center of the mind. Just as lockdown has had an impact on physical as well as mental health, so too will the adjustment to living life post-pandemic. Not only in getting used to and dealing with the emotional and mental pressures of life on the ‘outside’ as they leave lockdown, but they also face the very real risk of contracting the virus and the worries they may have of spreading it. Appropriate installation of temperature screening Companies and organizations have a responsibility in these times to play a supportive role towards employees, such as allowing them to continue working from home until they feel comfortable to work in an office setting. Equally, as restrictions ease, employers have a duty to make the workplace a safe place that is able to uphold the wellbeing of staff, which is where, as we wait for a vaccine, we must make use of the available technology. However, in the case of the thermal camera, in order for it to deliver effective results, it must be installed appropriately. To support this, we have outlined some key points to consider when deploying a temperature screening camera here: Choose a solution that features a blackbody calibrator – a vital part for any temperature screening device. A blackbody calibrator is the basis for accurate calibration of infrared thermography devices and allows the device to accurately detect a fever. Check for facing windows or doorways and heat sources such as radiators as these increase the risk of stray heat or cold sources throwing off readings according to the ISO standard associated with this type of equipment Be wary of weather and changes in climate as the device will need time to acclimatise – in order for readings to be clear individuals coming in from outside must wait five minutes before being screened When mounted, the camera must face individuals head-on and in parallel with their face to capture the inner eye area which is crucial for temperature reading Consider an option using AI which will automatically recognize individuals based on photos in the system Check applicability and legality of temperature screening cameras before deploying There’s a long way to go before life will fully return to normal. In the meantime, and to help everyone along the way, it’s essential that the right measures are in place to protect the physical and mental wellbeing of those we are responsible for. For anyone who is exploring options, know that there is help out there to provide guidance and expertise on the solutions that will be right for you and your business - now, as we go through the remainder of lockdown, and as we slowly move back into everyday lives.

The Digital Transformation Of Modern Access Control Solutions
The Digital Transformation Of Modern Access Control Solutions

The safeguarding of premises through the monitoring of entrance and exit points has traditionally been a very manual aspect of security. Human operators have been relied on to make decisions about who to admit and deny based on levels of authorization and the appropriate credentials. The access control business, like many industries before it, is undergoing its own digital transformation But the access control business, like many industries before it, is undergoing its own digital transformation; one where the protection of premises, assets and people is increasingly delivered by interconnected systems utilising IoT devices and cloud infrastructure to offer greater levels of security and protection. Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification, right through to complex networks of thermal cameras, audio speakers and sensors. These systems, connected through the cloud, can be customized and scaled to meet the precise requirements of today’s customer. And it’s the ease of cloud integration, combined with open technologies and platforms that is encouraging increasing collaboration and exciting developments while rendering legacy systems largely unfit for purpose. Remote management and advanced diagnostics Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution.Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution. For example, as the world faces an unprecedented challenge and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption, the ability to monitor and manage access to sites remotely is a welcome advantage for security teams who might otherwise have to check premises in person and risk breaking social distancing regulations. The benefits of not physically having to be on site extend to the locations within which these technologies can be utilised. As an example, within a critical infrastructure energy project, access can be granted remotely for maintenance on hard to reach locations. Advanced diagnostics can also play a part in such a scenario. When access control is integrated with video surveillance and IP audio, real-time monitoring of access points can identify possible trespassers with automated audio messages used to deter illegal access and making any dangers clear. And with video surveillance in the mix, high quality footage can be provided to authorities with real-time evidence of a crime in progress. Comprehensive protection in retail The use of connected technologies for advanced protection extends to many forward-looking applications. Within the retail industry, autonomous, cashier-less stores are already growing in popularity. Customers are able to use mobile technology to self-scan their chosen products and make payments, all from using a dedicated app. From an access control and security perspective, connected doors can be controlled to protect staff and monitor shopper movement. Remote management includes tasks such as rolling out firmware updates or restarting door controllers, with push notifications sent immediately to security personnel in the event of a breach or a door left open. Remote monitoring access control in storage In the storage facility space, this too can now be entirely run through the cloud with remote monitoring of access control and surveillance providing a secure and streamlined service. There is much to gain from automating the customer journey, where storage lockers are selected online and, following payment, customers are granted access. Through an app the customer can share their access with others, check event logs, and activate notifications. With traditional padlocks the sharing of access is not as practical, and it’s not easy for managers to keep a record of storage locker access. Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers. The elimination of manual tasks, in both scenarios, represents cost savings. When doors are connected to the cloud, their geographical location is rendered largely irrelevant. Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers They become IoT devices which are fully integrated and remotely programmable from anywhere, at any time. This creates a powerful advantage for the managers of these environments, making it possible to report on the status of a whole chain of stores, or to monitor access to numerous storage facilities, using the intelligence that the technology provides from the data it collects. Open platforms powers continuous innovation All of these examples rely on open technology to make it possible, allowing developers and technology providers to avoid the pitfalls that come with the use of proprietary systems. The limitations of such systems have meant that the ideas, designs and concepts of the few have stifled the creativity and potential of the many, holding back innovation and letting the solutions become tired and their application predictable. Proprietary systems have meant that solution providers have been unable to meet their customers’ requirements until the latest upgrade becomes available or a new solution is rolled out. This use of open technology enables a system that allows for collaboration, the sharing of ideas and for the creation of partnerships to produce ground-breaking new applications of technology. Open systems demonstrate a confidence in a vendor’s own solutions and a willingness to share and encourage others to innovate and to facilitate joint learning. An example of the dynamic use of open technology is Axis’ physical access control hardware, which enables partners to develop their own cloud-based software for control and analysis of access points, all the while building and expanding on Axis’ technology platform. Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification Opportunities for growth Open hardware, systems and platforms create opportunities for smaller and younger companies to participate and compete, giving them a good starting point, and some leverage within the industry when building and improving upon existing, proven technologies. This is important for the evolution and continual relevance of the physical security industry in a digitally enabled world. Through increased collaboration across technology platforms, and utilising the full range of possibilities afforded by the cloud environment, the manufacturers, vendors and installers of today’s IP enabled access control systems can continue to create smart solutions to meet the ever-changing demands and requirements of their customers across industry.

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Videx VX2200 System Touch Free Entry Protects Patients, Visitors And NHS Workers At Milton Keynes University Hospital
Videx VX2200 System Touch Free Entry Protects Patients, Visitors And NHS Workers At Milton Keynes University Hospital

Milton Keynes University Hospital has installed a Videx VX2200 system, one of the UK’s renowned access control manufacturer’s flagship door entry systems with 5178 hands free audio units and touch free entry points. Through opting for a touch free entry solution, the hospital has been able to reduce physical contact between people to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Four independent units were installed by ST Fire and Security in different buildings of the hospital. One was installed at The Campbell Center, a 38-bed acute inpatient mental health unit, another system fitted at the hospital’s dental surgery, a system fitted at the entrance of urgent care and a final one at Eaglestone Health Center which is a specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) facility. Audio apartment station Simon Turpin, Owner of ST Fire and Security, said: “The Videx VX2200 system with hands free audio apartment station and touch free entry points delivers huge benefits to the hospital by safeguarding patient, visitor and NHS staff safety as well providing easy and convenient access. The new system reduces waiting times as when a visitor uses it, someone in the building is immediately notified and will come to see them to complete entry.” “The Videx kit is the only one on the market currently that can offer convenient access in a touch-free way - they’re highly useful in helping the hospital ensure people stick to the designated one way system in place.” Touch free access Proximity access control can be added allowing authorized personnel to enter buildings touch free" As well as providing touch free access, the Videx system has replaced an existing system that had failed, affecting secure and convenient access to and from The Campbell Center. The Videx solution means no patient or member of staff is waiting for access into the secure mental health unit, safeguarding patients and employees. Ben Davies, South East Sales Manager, Videx UK, said: “Our touch free access control range has proved hugely popular in recent months as minimal contact remains key to reducing the spread of the coronavirus. The range offers both exit buttons and entrance panels in a touch free format using infrared sensor technology, providing a no touch solution for businesses as they focus on creating a COVID secure environment for their employees, partners and customers.” Bespoke entry panels “Proximity access control can be added allowing authorized personnel to enter buildings touch free, which is particularly useful for hospitals and other NHS buildings such as GP surgeries and urgent care facilities. We can also provide fully customized options, offering bespoke entry panels and exit buttons that are in keeping with the surroundings of the building whether that’s a specific hospital ward, GP surgeries, or dentist practices.”

Access Control and Door Entry Management: How Technology is Driving Change
Access Control and Door Entry Management: How Technology is Driving Change

Access control and door entry is a huge responsibility, and challenge, for local authorities and housing associations UK wide. For councils, they’re accountable for the security and safety of many public facilities such as leisure centers, libraries as well as residential housing developments which are often large scale and home to hundreds of people. Housing associations manage affordable rental housing which also means they’re responsible for the appropriate access control management for each individual house or apartment. Technology developments have enabled better entry systems that are far more secure yet also more convenient and easier to manage. For example, with modern intercom and access control systems, remote management and communication is something that offers local authorities and housing associations features that enable them to reduce costs and cut their carbon footprints by managing multiple sites from one place. On the other hand, such technological innovation has meant that local authority and housing association specifiers and consultants now have a wide range of systems and products to choose from which can cause issues in ensuring the right system for a specific building or development is chosen. Choosing an appropritate access control system In choosing an appropriate system, local authorities and housing associations need to opt for a cost effective solution that can be easily maintained with excellent support from the manufacturer and guarantees that the system and system parts will remain supported for the duration of its expected life cycle. It is also important that the chosen system is flexible to cater for the varying needs of the tenants and visitors. Of increasing importance is the reduction of anti-social behavior which new technology can help by providing the use of data loggers which track the use and events of a door entry system, allowing specific evidence to be located by integrating with CCTV. Using technology to our advantage Through advancements in management systems and services, we can gain a much better visual representation of the events and general usage of an intercom entry system and not just its proximity access control. Systems, for example, can now send email alarms or notifications to the administrator or management. We are now able to modify user rights and access levels on the go from a mobile app which enables a much greater control over service and maintenance engineers, such as making sure they have full access when required via an app, rather than arriving to site with the incorrect keys or access fob. Systems, for example, can now send email alarms or notifications to the administrator or management Dealing with tenant’s lost and stolen keys has never been so easy either. The blocking or deletion of lost fobs and adding a new fob can be carried out in minutes while at the same time removing the cost of sending an engineer to the development to program new fobs. This greatly reduces the carbon footprint of the whole task as fobs can now be sent out via mail to a secure location for collection. Technology has also helped local authorities and housing associations to overcome the issue of not being able to have a concierge or building manager available 24/7 at some developments. Now with internet communication, it’s possible for tenants and visitors to get in touch with someone should they need assistance, whether that’s from within the apartment or from an entrance point. For example, lets take the Videx VX2200 with IP concierge integration. This system is exceptionally flexible, enabling calls to be answered on Videx intercoms and also mobile phones if required. With the integration of the IP concierge each block can be either standalone or networked via the internet back to a central control room. Reduced maintenance costs and carbon footprint We work with a wide range of local authorities and housing associations to help them overcome access control and door entry challenges. One organization we have recently partnered with is The Living Group to help them greatly reduce their maintenance costs and carbon footprint by installing the MiAccess offline proximity system on many of their developments across the North East. Technology developments have enabled better entry systems that are far more secure yet also more convenient and easier to manage By installing an appropriate system, The Living Group has managed to overcome issues caused by the existing system’s limitations and also enabled much more flexibility when it comes to effectively managing the access control system of all their included developments. For those responsible for effective and appropriate access control, the management of the systems are easier, quicker and there’s no delay or on-going costs for needing a specialist program to modify fobs and access rights as this can now all carried out in-house. Improved security legislation Further advancements in programmes such as Secured by Design (SBD), a police initiative that improves the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings to provide safe places to live, work and visit, means that there’s more security legislation being implemented that’s making intercoms and access control more secure, without affecting ease and convenience. Videx holds an SBD accreditation and we know, from first-hand experience, how it’s making a difference in keeping tenants safe. When you combine the safety features promoted by an SBD member company like ourselves with the likes of the Videx event logging, image capture and ability to modify access users on the go, for example, we can help to create a very safe and secure environment. Personally, I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on the role of security legislation Technology has completely transformed the way local authorities and housing association are able to choose, install and manage door entry and access control systems for tenants and visitors alike. Personally, I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on the role of security legislation such as Secured by Design to ensure all councils and housing association consultants are up to date with what constitutes a robust and secure system that’s also cost effective too. In my role, I see weaknesses in systems and constant ongoing costs that could easily be avoided. For instance, features such as timed remote entry means local authority and housing association management no longer need to worry about keys being lost, the wrong keys being supplied or locks needing to be changed. With new systems such as the Videx MiAccess and Videx WS4 range, we can help to massively reduce a housing association’s or council’s carbon footprint and engineer costs by allowing them the access to management and control from an offsite location. Crime prevention We can also use live and logged events to help prevent crime in different ways, from antisocial behavior growing around a tenant being called or visited much more regularly than others, to knowing a tenant is currently still living at a property but isn’t paying rent or answering to any correspondence. Technology enables local authorities and housing associations to receive detailed data and therefore behavioral insights on the people under their management and care. If consultants and specifiers are advised on the most appropriate systems that meet their specific entry needs, they can ensure greater, safer and more convenient access control that meets the requirements of both the end user and the those responsible for its effective management.

Videx Security Equips Hicking Building Ltd’s Residential Flats With Its GSM 4812 Intercom System For Assisted Access Control
Videx Security Equips Hicking Building Ltd’s Residential Flats With Its GSM 4812 Intercom System For Assisted Access Control

Hicking Building RTM Company Ltd has teamed up with Videx Security and Joes UK Limited to solve a major door entry issue for a large residential complex. The Hicking Building Ltd. is a Nottingham-based development comprising 329 self-contained flats, managed by property agents Walton and Allen. Many residents were struggling with a call issue because the existing intercom system developed a fault which meant residents weren’t receiving calls from the system panels. Because of this, tenants were missing visitors and deliveries with people thinking they weren’t home.  Videx GSM 4812 intercom system Installer Joes UK Ltd. was tasked with finding a suitable intercom system Installer Joes UK Ltd. was tasked with finding a suitable intercom system that would also work in conjunction with the existing access control system, where the fob entry element of this was working normally. Joe, who owns and manages Joes UK Ltd., said “The system installed is a very old system and we were struggling to source the repair parts needed to fix the calling issue tenants were experiencing. To fix the problem and reduce the risk of the issue happening again, I recommended the installation of a digital audio GSM 4812 intercom system by Videx that could work concurrently with the fob entry function of the existing solution.” He adds, “With the Videx GSM 4812, when someone calls a specific apartment the call is automatically directed to a registered phone number of the tenant’s, which is usually their smartphone. They now will never miss that important visitor or delivery and are made aware of who has visited even when they are not there and can authorize entry if they wish, while away from their home.” Parallel operations with software-based fob entry solution The Videx system works alongside the existing software-based fob entry solution that residents have used for many years. Mobile phones are now the handset of choice for the majority of people and as they are enabled with Wi-Fi calling, there’s no need to worry about poor mobile signal. If the existing fob system also developed a fault and stopped working, the Videx GSM system includes a preinstalled fob reader so it would be easy to switch this over to the GSM solution. Mark Gibbon, Sales Manager at Videx Security, said “The GSM system is the ultimate entry system of convenience that also provides maximum security too. There’s no infrastructure or wiring involved; it’s very easy to set up and use.” The GSM system is the ultimate entry system of convenience that also provides maximum security Mark adds, “It’s a win-win situation for both the resident and management company because it means residents won’t have to stay home waiting for a delivery, or miss a visitor, as they can answer the call to their apartment from anywhere in the world. For management companies, our GSM solution offers a fixed cost and minimizes the risk of call outs because there’s no handset maintenance involved.” Remote event log with online access A really useful feature of the GSM system is that it also carries a new remote event log that can be accessed online, allowing events to be viewed in real time, on the move via a phone, tablet/laptop. It’s a great security feature because it’s where a record is kept of calls, gate/door openings and much more. What’s also useful is that alerts can be programmed where an email will be sent should that alert be triggered. For example, if the gate or door is opened out of normal hours or if the registered number for a flat or property is changed too frequently - any unusual activity is flagged.

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