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Surveillance cameras - Expert commentary

Back To School: Best Practices For A Holistic Approach To Security
Back To School: Best Practices For A Holistic Approach To Security

In the past decade, we’ve seen an unfortunate increase in gun-related incidents on school campuses, making security and policy efforts a top priority for educational facilities nationwide. While the causes for this increase are hotly debated in and around the education community, the facts remain that specific steps can be taken to mitigate risks. To tackle this issue, officials from campus stakeholders, law enforcement officials, architects, and security personnel, have met to find solutions for protecting educational facilities. Further complicating matters, educational campuses are again tasked with mitigating health risks associated with COVID-19, as we head into the third pandemic school year. Video communication tools To safely reopen, new technologies and policies in many K-12 and higher education institutions have been released, with many searching for a way to leverage existing security infrastructure. Achieving both health safety and physical security requires an integrated approach—from all-around best practices, to video communication tools and enhanced security infrastructure. The simple intercom has been a security staple in the education market for many years A holistic approach is best to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors. The simple intercom has been a security staple in the education market for many years, but now in a pandemic-centric world, these devices provide a new set of required capabilities. Intercoms, once thought to be a basic security tool, can now be combined with video, offering users the ability to solve multiple pain points associated with COVID-19. Controlled access points In this article, we’ll discuss some best practices for educational decision-makers, as well as how video intercoms can enhance overall security architecture. A school’s first opportunity to mitigate threats lies in its ability to deter threats entering in the first place. This begins with ensuring policies, procedures, and equipment are all up to standard. Most campus shootings and other violent acts occur once the individual has made it through the front door of a building; putting the emphasis on controlled access points at key entries to add an extra barrier of safety between threats and students. While written policies help staff understand how visitors are approved for entry, they should also be informed of more simple items, such as why doors can’t be left propped open, when to lockdown, or how to evacuate during an emergency. Physical security solutions The security industry has also created effective physical security solutions for protecting a campus Another best practice would be training staff to spot signs of distressed and potentially violent students, while providing ways to get help for them. When it comes to campus security, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, which is why security integrators should also be included in planning processes to tailor a custom solution for each campus to address its unique security needs. While best practices, including mental health screenings, stricter discipline codes, and faster law enforcement responses are all crucial to campus safety, the security industry has also created effective physical security solutions for protecting a campus—which includes enhanced two-way video and audio/visual communication solutions such as a video intercom. For years educational facilities have utilized intercoms to manage access, but now, it’s more important than ever to ensure the safety of students and staff by thoroughly vetting all those who enter a building. Providing visual verification Long gone are the days of asking visitors to check in manually using a sign-in book, or simply walking into a school. Best practices now require the presence of a visitor management system (VMS), which is a more accurate and seamless way to manage access. Using a VMS, a campus could add its own custom watch list, which when properly implemented, can provide protection from abuse orders, custodial issues, and offer names and pictures of disgruntled former employees and students. Using a VMS, a campus could add its own custom watch list, which when properly implemented As security technology has become more sophisticated, so have intercom capabilities—extending far beyond what they used to be. Going further than a simple button and speaker system, when used in conjunction with an IP video system, intercoms provide visual verification that the person requesting access into a school building does indeed belong there. Contact tracing solutions Whether it’s a student, parent, or staff member, verifying a person’s identity and ensuring that the individual has proper credentials is key. Pairing an intercom with a camera allows for this important, real-time visual and audio communication between the front office and those requesting access. Additionally, intercoms can be used as contact tracing solutions by leveraging an audit trail in case of an outbreak. For example, if a number of students at a college or university all use a mobile app to gain access to a dormitory through an intercom system, in the event that someone tests positive for COVID-19, they are able to contact all students, staff, or visitors who frequent that building. IP video intercoms can assist in pandemic related and security use cases by limiting unnecessary human-to-human interaction and replacing that with remote management capabilities. Remote monitoring station Remote monitoring allows for eyes on a facility while personnel are not physically present There is increased flexibility when working from a mobile app, or remote monitoring station, especially for security directors or officers on educational campuses. For example, if a campus is not able to staff a lobby of a building or a dormitory, they can remotely manage access from a mobile device. This enables security personnel to access video feeds and directly communicate with students or staff requesting access into a building. Remote monitoring allows for eyes on a facility while personnel are not physically present, thus increasing overall security. It can also give the appearance of the building being occupied at all times, even when it’s not. Another way an educational facility can leverage their video intercom system is to shift to mobile applications that offer a touchless way to gain access. Mobile application credential A mobile application removes the need for a physical key card and eliminates the potential of loss or theft of that access credential. It also allows for easy updating to credential status. For example, if a student, staff member or visitor is added to an ‘access denied’ list, security personnel can simply revoke a mobile application credential, versus having to track down a physical key and run the risk of copies or other issues. The importance of visual confirmation cannot be stressed enough when it comes to educational campuses The importance of visual confirmation cannot be stressed enough when it comes to educational campuses. Not only for security purposes to visually confirm identity, or screen for suspicious behaviors or other anomalies, simply having the ability to have a conversation with someone requesting access is vital. Better audio feedback There’s been a shift in recent years, in some cases spurred by the pandemic, to focus on how existing technologies can meet the unique needs of students, staff and visitors. For example, intercoms allow for two-way video which is crucial for an individual who is deaf, or hearing impaired, who needs to communicate using sign language. Additionally, intercoms can be integrated with t-coil features, to allow for better audio feedback for those with hearing aids. The past few years have taught us that while best practices, attention to the mental wellbeing of students, enhanced security at main entry points, and exits are all important focuses, educational security needs to be holistic and comprehensive. From physical security risks, to potential pandemic-related outbreaks, to the regular day-to-day communication needs of all individuals, decision-makers recognize intercom systems easily address each unique need.

Data Explosion: Futureproofing Your Video Surveillance Infrastructure
Data Explosion: Futureproofing Your Video Surveillance Infrastructure

Video surveillance systems are producing more unstructured data than ever before. A dramatic decrease in camera costs in recent years has led many businesses to invest in comprehensive surveillance coverage, with more cameras generating more data. Plus, advances in technology mean that the newest (8K) cameras are generating approximately 800% more data than their predecessors (standard definition). Traditional entry-level solutions like network video recorders (NVRs) simply aren’t built to handle massive amounts of data in an efficient, resilient and cost-effective manner. This has left many security pioneers grappling with a data storage conundrum. Should they continue adding more NVR boxes? Or is there another, better, route? Retaining video data In short, yes. To future proof their video surveillance infrastructure, an increasing number of businesses are adopting an end-to-end surveillance architecture with well-integrated, purpose-built platforms for handling video data through its lifecycle. This presents significant advantages in terms of security, compliance and scalability, as well as unlocking new possibilities for data enrichment. All of this with a lower total cost of ownership than traditional solutions. Security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks Previously, security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks. However, thanks to increasingly stringent legal and compliance demands, many are now required to retain video data for months or even years. There’s no doubt that this can potentially benefit investigations and increase prosecutions, but it also puts significant pressure on businesses’ storage infrastructure. Data lifecycle management This necessitates a more intelligent approach to data lifecycle management. Rather than simply storing video data in a single location until it’s wiped, an end-to-end video surveillance solution can intelligently migrate data to different storage platforms and media as it ages. So, how does this work? Video is recorded and analyzed on a combination of NVR, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and application servers. Then, it’s moved to resilient file storage for a pre-determined period, where it can be immediately retrieved and accessed for review. Finally, based on policies set by heads of security, data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage such as an object, tape or cloud. Data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage Long-Term storage This process is known as tiering. It allows businesses to use reliable, inexpensive long-term storage for most of their data, whilst still enabling security pioneers to retrieve video data when the need arises, such as during a compliance audit, or to review footage following a security breach. In a nutshell, it offers them the best of both worlds. Scaling your video surveillance infrastructure can be a headache. Businesses that rely on NVRs – even high-end units with 64 or even 96 hard drives – are finding themselves running out of capacity increasingly quickly. In order to scale, security pioneers then have to procure new boxes. With NVRs, this inevitably involves a degree of guesswork. Should they go for the largest possible option, and risk over provisioning? Or perhaps a smaller option, and risk running out of capacity again? Common management console Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together As businesses add new cameras or replace existing ones, many end up with inadequate surveillance infrastructure made up of multiple NVR boxes along with several application servers for running other surveillance functions such as access control, security photo databases, analytics, etc. This patchwork approach leaves security pioneers scrambling for capacity, maintaining various hardware footprints, repeating updates and checks across multiple systems, and taking up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere. By contrast, flexible HCI surveillance platforms aggregate the storage and ecosystem applications to run on the same infrastructure and combine viewing under a common management console, avoiding ‘swivel chair’ management workflows. Plus, they offer seamless scalability. Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together. Data storage solutions Over time, this ensures a lower total cost of ownership. First and foremost, it removes the risk of over provisioning and helps to control hardware sprawl. This in turn leads to hardware maintenance savings and lower power use. Many security pioneers are now looking beyond simple data storage solutions for their video surveillance footage. Meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed Instead, they’re asking themselves how analyzing this data can enable their teams to work faster, more efficiently and productively. Implementing an end-to-end video surveillance architecture enables users to take advantage of AI and machine learning applications which can tag and enrich video surveillance data. These have several key benefits. Firstly, meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed. Object storage platform For instance, if security teams are notified of a suspicious red truck, they can quickly find data with this tag, rather than manually searching through hours of data, which can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Plus, meta tags can be used to mark data for future analysis. This means that as algorithms are run over time, policies can be set to automatically store data in the right location. For example, if a video is determined to contain cars driving in and out of your premises, it would be moved to long-term archiving such as an object storage platform for compliance purposes. If, on the other hand, it contained 24 hours of an empty parking lot, it could be wiped. These same meta tags may be used to eventually expire the compliance data in the archive after it is no longer needed based on policy. Video surveillance architecture Continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses Even if your organization isn’t using machine learning or artificial intelligence-powered applications to enhance your data today, it probably will be one, three, or even five years down the line. Implementing a flexible end-to-end video surveillance solution prepares you for this possibility. With new advances in technology, the quantity of data captured by video surveillance systems will continue rising throughout the coming decade. As such, continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses. Looking forward, when moving to an end-to-end video surveillance architecture, security pioneers should make sure to evaluate options from different vendors. For true futureproofing, it’s a good idea to opt for a flexible, modular solution, which allow different elements to be upgraded to more advanced technologies when they become available.

Changing The Landscape Of Event Security With Martyn’s Law
Changing The Landscape Of Event Security With Martyn’s Law

Martyn’s Law (also known as ‘Protect Duty’) could forever change the landscape of event security if changes to legislation are passed. Some would argue it already has. In 2017, just as concertgoers were leaving the Manchester Arena, a terrorist detonated an improvised explosive device in a suicide attack killing 22 and injuring more than 250. The mother of one of the victims, Martyn Hett, has tirelessly campaigned for tighter security and a duty of care to be placed upon venues to protect their patrons. As a result, Martyn’s Law (‘Protect Duty’) has been proposed in UK legislation to protect the public from terrorism. At the same time, other global trends have indicated the need for action on this front. Labor-Intensive task The Global Terrorism Index 2020, for instance, reported a steep increase in far-right attacks in North America, Western Europe, and Oceania, stating a 250% rise since 2014, with a 709% increase in deaths over the same period. But, how do we implement the measures proposed by Martyn’s law without intruding on our lives through mass surveillance? The Global Terrorism Index 2020, reported a steep increase in far-right attacks in North America Traditionally, cameras and CCTV have been the go-to solution for monitoring. However, maintaining a comprehensive view of locations with complex layouts or venues that host large crowds and gatherings can be a challenging and labor-intensive task for operatives. Camera outputs have been designed to be interpreted by people, which, in turn, requires a significant human resource that’s liable to inconsistent levels of accuracy in complex environments where getting things wrong can have a catastrophic impact. Highly accurate insights Fortunately, technology is evolving. AI-based perception strategies are being developed alongside advancements in 3D data capture technologies – including lidar, radar, and ToF cameras - that are capable of transforming surveillance with enhanced layers of autonomy and intelligence. As a result, smart, automated systems will be able to work alongside the security workforce to provide an always-on, omniscient view of the environment, delivering highly accurate insights and actionable data. And, with the right approach, this can be achieved without undue impact on our rights as private citizens. While much of this innovation isn’t new, it has been held back from at-scale adoption due to the gaps that remain between the data that’s captured and the machine’s ability to process it into an actionable insight. High traffic environments It’s crucial that they are able to detect all individuals and track their behavior as they interact In security, for example, this gap is most present when it comes to addressing occlusion (in other words, recognizing objects that move in and out of view of the sensors scanning a space). For security systems to provide the high levels of accuracy required in high traffic environments, such as concert venues, it’s crucial that they are able to detect all individuals and track their behavior as they interact with a space and those within it. This, of course, is possible using multiple sensor modes. However, without the right perception platform to interpret the data being captured, the risk of missing crucial events as a result of the machine misinterpreting a partially concealed individual as an inanimate object, for instance, is significant. Identifiable personal data This gap is narrowing, and thanks to the first wave of sensor innovators, this shift in dependence from video read by people to 3D data point clouds read by machines have meant that we are now able to capture much richer information and data sets that can precisely detect and classify objects and behaviors – without capturing biometric and identifiable personal data. But what we need to fully close the gap are perception strategies and approaches that can adapt to the ever-changing nature of real-world environments. This gap is narrowing, and thanks to the first wave of sensor innovators Until now, this has been a lengthy and costly process requiring those implementing or developing solutions to start from scratch in developing software, algorithms, and training data every time the context or sensor mode is changed. But, by combining proven 3D sensor technologies like lidar with the deep learning first approach, this needed to be the case. Edge processing platform That’s why we are developing an adaptive edge processing platform for lidar that’s capable of understanding the past and present behavior of people and objects within a given area. Through deep learning, it can predict the near-future behavior of each object with some degree of certainty, thereby accurately and consistently generating real-time data and tracking the movement of people in the secured environment at scale. This approach has value beyond security. Facilities teams, for example, can extract a wealth of information beyond the primary function of security to support other priorities such as cleaning (tracking facility usage so that schedules can be adjusted), while retailers can optimize advertising and display efforts by identifying areas of high footfall. Likewise, health and safety teams can gather much deeper insights into the way spaces are used to enhance processes and measures to protect their users. Programming limitless scenarios Martyn’s Law will leave them with no option but to rethink their approach to security and safety As we’ve explained, perception is reaching new levels of sophistication through deep learning. By continually programming limitless scenarios, our approach can provide consistently accurate and rich data that users can trust. This will ultimately change the way we manage environments at a time when liability comes with ever-increasing consequences. For venue providers, Martyn’s Law will leave them with no option but to rethink their approach to security and safety. But, with new, smarter, more accurate tools at their disposal that will enable them to predict and protect, rather than just react, risks – both human and commercial – can be addressed. Meanwhile, the public can take comfort in knowing that measures to keep them safe needn’t mean sacrificing their privacy.

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