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James Twigg is the Managing Director of Total Integrated Solutions (TIS), an independent life safety, security and communication systems integrator, specializing in design & consultancy, technology and regulatory compliance. Total Integrated Solutions work primarily with retirement villages, helping to ensure the safety of residents in numerous retirement villages across the country. In this opinion piece, James shares how smart technology is helping security teams and care staff alike in ensuring the safety and security of their spaces, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Impact of smart technology Smart technology is having an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives Smart technology is having an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives. From how we travel, to how we work, to how we run our homes. It’s not unusual to have Alexa waking us up and ordering our groceries or Nest to be regulating the temperature and energy in our homes. And while there’s a popular misconception that people in their later years are allergic to technology, retirement villages and care homes are experiencing significant innovation too. And the result is not only improved quality of life for residents, but also improved safety and security systems for management teams. Switching to converged IP systems I’ve been working in the life safety and security industry for over fifteen years. When I first joined TIS, much of the sector was still very analog, in terms of the technology being installed and maintained. Slowly but surely, we’ve been consulting and advising customers on how to design, install and maintain converged IP systems that all talk to each other and work in tandem. I'm excited to say retirement villages are some of the top spaces leading the way, in terms of technological advancement. Improving the quality of life for residents A move into a retirement village can be daunting and one of the key concerns that we hear about is the loss of independence. No one wants to feel like they are being monitored or to have someone constantly hovering over them. One of the ways we’ve used smart technology to maintain residents' independence is through devices, such as health monitors and motion sensors. For example, instead of having a member of staff check-in on residents every morning, to ensure they are well, sensors and analytics can automatically detect changes in routine and alert staff to possible problems. Similarly, wearable tech, such as smart watches give residents a chance to let staff know they are okay, without having to tell them face-to-face. As our retirement village customers have told us, a simple ‘I’m okay’ command can be the difference between someone feeling independent versus someone feeling monitored. Simplifying and improving security systems Smart technology gives care staff and security oversight of the needs of residents For the teams responsible for the safety of the people, places and spaces within retirement villages, smart technology is helping to improve and simplify their jobs. Smart technology gives care staff and security oversight of the needs of residents, and ensures rapid response if notified by an emergency alert, ensuring they know the exact location of the resident in need. And without the need to go and physically check-in on every resident, staff and management can ensure staff time is being used effectively. Resources can be distributed where they are needed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those residents who need extra consideration. 24/7 surveillance When planning the safety and security for retirement villages, and other residential spaces, it’s no use having traditional systems that only work effectively for 12 hours a day or need to update during the evening. Surveillance needs to be 24/7 and smart technology allows that without the physical intrusion into people’s spaces and daily lives. Smart technology ensures that systems speak to each other and are easily and effectively managed on one integrated system. This includes video surveillance, which has also become much more effective as a result of advanced video analytics, which automatically warn staff of suspicious behavior. Securing spaces amid COVID-19 This year has, of course, brought new challenges for safety. COVID-19 hit the retirement and residential care sectors hard, first with the initial wave of infections in mid-2020 and then, with the subsequent loneliness caused by the necessary separation of families. As essential workers, we worked closely with our customers to make sure they had everything they needed As essential workers, we worked closely with our customers to make sure they had everything they needed during this time, equipping residents with tablet devices to ensure they could stay connected with their families and friends. It allowed residents to keep in touch without risking transferring the virus. Thermal cameras and mask detection And now that we’re emerging out of COVID-19 restrictions and most residents can see their families again, we’re installing systems like thermal cameras and mask detection, so as to ensure that security will be alerted to anyone in the space experiencing a high temperature or not wearing proper PPE. Such steps give staff and families alike, the peace-of-mind that operational teams will be alerted at the earliest possible moment, should a COVID-19 risk appear. Thinking ahead to the next fifteen years, I’m excited at the prospect of further technological advancements in this space. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about how complex your security system is or how you compete in the industry. It’s about helping teams to protect the people, spaces and places that matter. I see smart technology playing a huge role in that for years to come.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes and sporting venues open-up to full capacity, a new disturbing trend has hit the headlines - poor fan behavior. Five NBA teams have issued indefinite bans on fans, who crossed the line of unacceptable behavior, during the NBA playoffs. Major League Baseball stadiums have a recurring problem with divisive political banners being strewn over walls, as part of an organized campaign, requiring fan ejections. There was a brawl between Clippers and Suns fans after Game 1 of their playoff series. And, the U.S. vs. Mexico Nations League soccer game over the Fourth of July weekend had to be halted, due to fans throwing objects at players and screaming offensive chants. Cracking down on poor fan behavior Security directors are consistently reporting a disturbing uptick in poor fan attitude and behavior With players across all major sports leagues commanding more power than ever before, they are demanding that sports venues crack down on poor fan behavior, particularly when they are the targets of that behavior. Whether it’s an extension of the social-media divisiveness that’s gripped society, or people unleashing pent up negative energy, following 15 months of social isolation, during the COVID-19 global pandemic, security directors are consistently reporting a disturbing uptick in poor fan attitude and behavior. They’re also reporting a chronic security guard shortage, like many businesses that rely on relatively low-cost labor, finding candidates to fill open positions has been incredibly difficult. Low police morale To add the third component to this perfect storm, many police departments are struggling with morale issues and officers are less likely to put themselves into positions, where they could wind up in a viral video. According to the Police Executive Research Forum, police officer retirements in the U.S. were up 45% in the April 2020 - April 2021 period, when compared to the previous year. Resignations were up 18%. In this environment, officers may be less likely to undertake fan intervention unless it’s absolutely necessary. This can seem like the worst of times for venue security directors, as they need more staff to handle increasingly unruly patrons, but that staff simply isn’t available. And, because the security guard staffing industry is a commoditized business, companies compete almost solely on price, which requires that they keep salaries as low as possible, which perpetuates the lack of interest in people participating in the profession. Digital Transformation There is only one way out of this conundrum and that is to make security personnel more efficient and effective. Other industries have solved similar staffing and cost challenges through digital transformation. For example, only a small percentage of the total population of restaurants in the U.S. used to offer home delivery, due to cost and staffing challenges of hiring dedicated delivery personnel. Advent of digital efficiency tools But with the advent of digital efficiency tools, now virtually all restaurants can offer delivery But with the advent of digital efficiency tools, such as UberEATS and DoorDash, now virtually all restaurants can offer delivery. Likewise, field-service personnel are digitally connected, so when new jobs arise, they can be notified and routed to the location. Compare this to the old paper-based days, when they wouldn’t know about any new jobs until they picked up their work schedule at the office, the next day and you can see how digital transformation makes each worker significantly more efficient. Security guards and manned guarding The security guard business has never undergone this kind of digital transformation. The state-of-the-art ‘technology’ has never changed - human eyes and ears. Yes, there are video cameras all over stadiums and other venues, but behind the scenes is a guard staring at a bunch of monitors, hoping to identify incidents that need attention. Meanwhile, there are other guards stationed around the stadium, spending most of their time watching people who are doing nothing wrong. Think about all the wasted time involved with these activities – not to mention the relentless boredom and ‘alert fatigue’ from false-positive incident reporting and you understand the fundamental inefficiencies of this labor-based approach to security. Now think about a world where there’s ubiquitous video surveillance and guards are automatically and pre-emptively notified and briefed, when situations arise. The fundamental nature of the security guards profession changes. Instead of being low paid ‘watchers’, they instead become digitally-empowered preventers. AI-based screening and monitoring technology This world is happening today, through Artificial Intelligence-based screening and monitoring technology. AI-powered weapons-detection gateways inform guards, when a patron entering the venue is carrying a gun, knife or other forbidden item. Instead of patting down every patron with metal in their pockets, which has been the standard practise since walk-through metal detectors were mandated by sports leagues following 9/11, guards can now target only those who are carrying these specific items. Video surveillance and AI-based analytics integration Combining surveillance video with AI-based advanced analytics can automatically identify fan disturbances Combining surveillance video with AI-based advanced analytics can automatically identify fan disturbances or other operational issues, and notify guards in real time, eliminating the need to have large numbers of guards monitoring video feeds and patrons. The business benefits of digitally transformed guards are compelling. A National Hockey League security director says he used to have 300 guards manning 100 walk-through metal detectors. By moving to AI solutions, he can significantly reduce the number of scanning portals and guards, and most importantly redeploy and gain further operational efficiencies with his overall operational strategy. Changing staffing strategy This changes the staffing strategy significantly and elevates the roles of guards. Suddenly, a US$ 20-per-hour ‘job’ becomes a US$ 40-per-hour profession, with guards transformed into digital knowledge workers delivering better outcomes with digitally enabled staffs. Beyond that, these digitally transformed guards can spend a much higher percentage of their time focused on tasks that impact the fan experience – whether it’s keeping weapons out of the building, pro-actively dealing with unruly fans before a broader disruption occurs, or managing business operations that positively impact fan patron experience. Digitally transforming security guards Perhaps most important, digitally transforming security guards elevates the profession to a more strategic level, which means better pay for the guards, better service for clients of guard services, and an overall better experience for fans. That’s a perfect storm of goodness for everyone.
The UK Government has set out an ambitious ten-point plan, known as the green industrial revolution, with an aim “to forge ahead with eradicating its contribution to climate change by 2050.” This makes our government the first major economy to embrace such a legal obligation. Green recovery Acknowledging climate change and meeting net-zero is a demanding challenge especially for those affected by the pandemic. But the UK Government, with the launch of its aspiring strategy, is investing everything in its power to promote a ‘green recovery.’ Here, Reece Paprotny, Commercial Manager and Sustainability Champion at Amthal, highlights how the fire and security industry has an opportunity to use the current recovery period to explore its own sustainable journey and embrace the significance of environment, economic and social collaboration, transparency, and accountability. Employing sustainable technologies Pressure is mounting on construction to find ways to reduce emissions and help meet net-zero targets The perception is that COVID-19 presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-write the existing rulebook. This is riding on the significance of changing public support for more environmentally friendly living opportunities, with associated cost savings, efficiencies, and cleaner industries. Innovative sustainable technologies are the key to kickstart this route to success. Nowhere can this be seen more than in the built environment, which currently contributes to 40% of the UK's carbon footprint. Pressure is mounting on construction to find ways to reduce emissions and help meet net-zero targets. This is through the entire life cycle of a building, to reduce their impact on the environment from planning stages, through build and demolition. Building the right environment By creating the right policy environment, incentives for innovation and infrastructure, the Government can encourage companies to seize the sustainable opportunities of new technologies and value chains linked to green sectors. They can accelerate the shift of current carbon-intensive economic and industrial structures onto greener trajectories, enabling the UK to meet global climate and development goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Transparent working practices Each industry sector is expected to engage and pledge its support to achieve the significant deadlines. Every company can make a difference, even with small steps towards a sustainable future. So while elements such as safety and security represent just one component of building the right sustainable environment, it paves the way to opening up our sector to greater efficiencies, transparent working practices, and encourages collaborative use of resources. Sustainability in security The security sector has a significant opportunity to incorporate ‘going green’ into its practices In fact, the security sector has a significant opportunity to incorporate ‘going green’ into their processes, and practices. This is right from product lifecycles to more environmentally friendly work practices when it comes to maintenance and monitoring services. When integrating environmentally friendly practices, starts with the manufacturing and production of the wide variety of systems in operation for the security sector. And some certifications and guidelines can be achieved, such as the ISO 14000 which looks into eliminating hazardous materials being used which in turn will reduce carbon footprint. Upgrading supply chain process Observing the complete supply chain and working with partners to reduce unnecessary travel, shipments, and transportation of products, can all contribute and create sustainable processes. In the maintenance and monitoring of products, it is essential installers and security specialists consider their own environmental impacts. Simple changes such as switching company vehicles to electric options for site visits can make a significant difference to climate change and improving air quality. Presenting sustainable ways of disposing of products at the end of their natural lifecycle is key to change in our sector. This is especially in the security industry where many customers will need a complete overhaul of outdated solutions or need systems upgrading due to changing threat levels. Sustainable evolution Progress is being made, specifically in the fire and security industry, in its sustainable evolution. Businesses are trying to develop a reputation for “sustainability” or “good corporate citizenship.” And it has gone well beyond the theory to the practical, where companies recognize activities have an impact on the environment and are also reviewing the social and economic influences. Three pillars of sustainability In a recent interview, Inge Huijbrechts, the Global Senior Vice President for safety and security and Responsible Business at Radisson Hotel Groups sees her vision to combine safety, security, and sustainability. Inge focuses on three pillars, namely, Think People, Think Community, and Think Planet. Think People means that we “always care for the people in our hotels and our supply chain.” So, in outwards communications, safety and security were always part of the Think People focus area. Think Community is caring and contributing in a meaningful way to communities where we operate. Finally, Think Planet makes sure that “our footprint on the environment is as light as it can be in terms of energy, water, waste, and carbon, and making sure that we incorporate sustainability into our value proposition.” Moving forward Apprenticeship schemes are integral to ‘think people’ and have a role to play in the social impact on the security industry There are immediate actions that can be taken by companies in the security industry to support sustainable development, working right from within a company to supporting industry-wide initiatives. From a social perspective, at a foundation level, “Think People’ can see the Living Wage Foundation as an example of a commitment to a team. This is for businesses that choose to go further and pay a real Living wage based on the cost of living, not just the Government minimum. Apprenticeship schemes are also integral to ‘think people’ and have a pivotal role to play on the social impact on the security industry. It addresses the sector-wide issue of finding employees with the right mix of skills to collaborate and meet discerning consumer demands for increasingly smart security solutions for homes and businesses. Impact of the full lifecycle of products From an environmental view, or ‘think planet,’ we need to collectively look at all elements of our industry, with a desire to analyze the impact of ingredients used, supply chain, or manufacturing alone, and also consider the full lifecycle of our selected products from creation to end of life. As Jamie Allam, CEO Amthal summarises, “This is a long-term, sustainable investment in our people, our products, and our business based on our values.” “When put together, a social team which feels empowers and operates in environmental optimum working conditions is in a position to provide a great experience to our customers, creating an economic positive difference. It forms the basis of a sustainable sector vision for the security industry-wide to adopt.” Taking action Amthal is taking action based on the ready-made universally agreed UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Also known as Global Goals, these are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member states. This agenda is a plan of action for people, the planet, and prosperity. By being an early adopter, we believe we can engage with customers, partners, and suppliers on these issues and generate opportunities to innovate for mutual and industry sector benefit. Together, we can contribute to building a more sustainable security sector and future, and contribute to the UK Government’s green industrial revolution.
Vicon Industries, Inc., a subsidiary of Cemtrex Inc., designer, and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware, and components fills the supply gap caused by NDAA compliance and the emerging FCC ban on certain Chinese surveillance cameras and components with a sophisticated portfolio of compliant solutions. Since Congress passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) more than two years ago, many U.S. businesses have been faced with the adversity of removing and replacing numerous components of their security system. National security risks Recently, the Federal Communications Commission proposed a ban on the use of certain telecommunications products and other electronics made by Chinese companies. The order, which cites alleged national security risks, also seeks to forbid future U.S. sales and could revoke prior authorizations. Many companies in the industry kept moving forward selling banned technology" “Prior to the recent FCC ruling, many companies in the industry kept moving forward selling banned technology because it only impacted Federal opportunities. This new FCC ruling is an upheaval event bound to once again cause a major transformation in the industry impacting every space in the market” explained Bret McGowan, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Vicon. Competitive surveillance technology The ban’s enactment will create many challenges for integrators, specifiers, and end-users. The first, finding compliant and competitive surveillance technology that does not utilize any SoC (System on Chip) components from these now-banned Chinese companies. Once dealers, integrators, and specifiers identify compliant technologies, then price, quality, and time to implement them add to the complexities. As new and stricter laws began taking effect, the engineers at Vicon worked diligently to create a camera line specifically dedicated to solving the issues their government customers and prospective clients were facing. Moreover, they wanted to ensure delivering premium quality cameras at value price points. Delivering exceptional quality Vicon’s NDAA-compliant Roughneck Camera Series is designed to deliver exceptional qualityTo overcome this challenge, Vicon developed the Roughneck Series. Vicon’s NDAA-compliant Roughneck Camera Series is designed to deliver exceptional quality and performance at competitive pricing. Vicon recognized that to become a potential alternative to these value brands, a new pricing strategy was needed and that’s what Vicon implemented. “Vicon is pleased to have the ability to solve the challenge of compliance with our fully NDAA-compliant Roughneck Camera Series. From vandal-proof micro-domes to robust outdoor domes, these Roughneck cameras include a variety of form factors, making them an ideal solution for any market,” shared Bob Germain, Director, Hardware Product Management, Vicon. Time-Consuming installations All Roughneck cameras boast a range of distinctive features, including smart IR, durable IP67/IK10 construction, and smart H.265 encoding to reduce bandwidth and storage costs. For more cutting-edge capabilities, the Pro series adds advanced AI-driven analytics, adaptive IR for clearer images in darkness, and Starlight low-light color imaging in the 2, 5, and 8MP dome and bullets. Vicon understands the urgency in finding solutions that integrate without stressful time-consuming installations regardless of the VMS. In addition to being certified with most major VMS systems, the Roughneck Camera Series is also ONVIF certified and seamlessly transitions into any video surveillance security operation.
Vicon Industries’ V1020-WIR-360 multi-sensor camera is designed to provide users with the straightforward installation while delivering powerful performance and quality. This exceptional camera is comprised of four independently adjustable sensors that eliminate blind spots so that users can monitor extremely wide areas, with just a single IP address and cable. V1020-WIR-360 camera The V1020-WIR-360 camera is a great addition to Vicon’s camera line, providing the widest coverage area. This powerful camera is perfect for indoor and outdoor use such as parking lots, airports, stadiums, correctional facilities, commercial building corridors, warehouses, and more. The multi-sensor is available with 5 MP sensors, creating a 20 MP model, providing exceptional image quality The multi-sensor is available with 5 MP sensors, creating a 20 MP model, providing exceptional image quality for any application. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, this durable, reliable, and flexible multi-sensor camera is IK10 rated for vandal protection and IP66 to withstand the toughest of environments. Easy installation and remote configuration These multi-sensor cameras are engineered to save installers time, money, and frustration. Traditional non-repositionable multi-sensor cameras typically require at least two individuals for installation and tedious manual adjustments of the modules to obtain the desired FOV. The V1020-WIR-360 multi-sensor camera is designed to be effortlessly configured remotely from a PC and eliminate the need of requiring multiple people for an installation. Users are provided with the freedom to change their FOV as needed, without having to worry about manual installation changes. PTZ control and 360º coverage The camera offers preset for 270⁰ or 360⁰ views, along with which, users can also create custom views through each sensor’s independent PTZ control. Additionally, they can also save up to two user-defined presets, with each camera module independently positioned and zoomed as required, providing optimal surveillance. The 270º view is commonly used in corners, such as the corner of a building. Typical installation practice for a 270º setup is to mount on the corner of a building, allowing users to view directly in-front of them and to their left and right. The fourth sensor can then be positioned as desired to provide additional coverage such as looking straight down to eliminate blind spots. Integration with Valerus and other VMS platforms The ONVIF-compliant multi-sensor cameras integrate with most major VMS platforms and Vicon’s acclaimed Valerus A 360º is ideal for wide areas and is typically mounted to a pole and used in settings such as intersections and parking lots. This view’s FOV takes all angles, also eliminating the potential of any blind spots. The ONVIF-compliant multi-sensor cameras integrate with most major VMS platforms and Vicon’s acclaimed Valerus. When integrated with Valerus, the multi-sensor camera also supports Museum Search to streamline security investigations. Starlight technology for exceptional color images These powerful cameras also deliver fantastic detail, day or night. With True WDR, the cameras can overcome challenging lighting conditions during the day, while 131 ft of IR illumination ensures that users can see every detail, even in the darkness of the night. The standout feature of this multi-sensor camera, when compared to the competition, is the advanced starlight imaging capabilities. Starlight illumination allows users to see vivid colors and sharp details that would otherwise go unnoticed. Operators can see critical forensic details that they would otherwise miss in traditional IR black-and-white images. PoE source The camera can be powered by 24 VAC, 24 VDC, or with either IEEE 802.3at (PoE+) or IEEE 802.3bt Class 5 (PoE++) Power over Ethernet. The PoE source is automatically detected with the only performance difference being the IR distance of up to 131 ft (40 m) on PoE++ and up to 98 ft (30 m) on PoE+.
Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware and components, announced the availability of Valerus version 20.2, which brings improved cybersecurity and streamlined maintenance to the forefront. This latest release offers features including mobile video streaming, geo mapping, snapshot, robust health dashboard, audit log, and a thick client solution. Valerus’ addition of mobile video streaming allows users to send live or recorded footage directly from their Android or iOS smart devices into Valerus. This helps operators better document patrols or events outside the range of traditional cameras. Strategically monitoring geographical locations The geo mapping feature allows operators to strategically monitor geographical locations with a live geo map. Users simply enter a physical address or coordinates to access the true location, add cameras and create an easy-to-understand live map of their facility. Another exciting update we further developed is our robust health dashboard. This update not only provides an improved user experience, but also new business-critical features to help operators diagnose potential problems before they become catastrophic. New features include remote RAM and CPU resource monitors for both App Servers and NVR, an NVR latency monitor to troubleshoot potential network issues and a new cybersecurity dashboard that monitors potential threats like duplicate logins to better protect the system. Save and store images Valerus 20.2 also now offers a Thick-Client solution for operators that prefer not to use browsers Another new feature is the snapshot tool that allows users to quickly save and store images from live or recorded playback video. This is especially helpful when trying to document suspects or incidents. Valerus 20.2 also now offers a Thick-Client solution for operators that prefer not to use browsers or require a program startup with preconfigured settings or screens. This is a key feature for instances when operator control is limited. Presets allow for easy restoring all previously programmed settings, saving time and allowing you to focus on what’s important. Lastly, the improved new audit log allows designated users to monitor activities within the system so administrators can keep track of who logs in and out of the system, what they view and what actions they have taken. If a failure or critical setting is changed, not only can one reverse the action but also see who made it. Free Valerus Enterprise license To take advantage of this new release introduction, Vicon has launched a promotional campaign that allows one to experience this version firsthand. Replace one’s old competing VMS for Valerus and receive a free Valerus Enterprise license. And if one doesn’t already have a VMS, Vicon is giving out free Valerus starter software, so one can experience what everyone loves about Valerus. “Vicon’s Valerus VMS platform has proven to be widely embraced in enterprise applications, and we anticipate that the features we are introducing with Valerus version 20.2 will do much to further that trend,” said Bret McGowan, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing.
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