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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.
Prices and delivery times for essential components in video surveillance systems are being driven up as demand soars from other industries. Secure Logiq’s Robin Hughes explains the current state of the market. Challenges Component shortages and supply chain challenges are a hot topic in just about every industry based on semi-conductors and silicon chips right now, and security is no exception. It’s common knowledge that the global Covid lockdown caused a shutdown in the mining of silicon and spherites as large industries such as motor manufacturing canceled or postponed their chip orders – this has caused a supply gap that every industry is feeling. However, there is a second challenge that is hitting the security sector particularly hard, and it may not be one you are expecting – cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies and security When people discuss cryptocurrencies and security, thoughts often turn to cybersecurity and ransomware payment tracking. But the issue for the majority of the security industry comes from crypto mining. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, GPUs are intrinsic for ‘proof of work’ mining GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) are a key component in video surveillance, they decode images and display them onto screens. With the increase of video analytics, these have also become key to running the complicated algorithms required for creating the metadata and presenting it in a meaningful way for end-users. However, when it comes to cryptocurrencies, GPUs are intrinsic for ‘proof of work’ mining. Demand for GPUs When Bitcoin prices were relatively low, it was hard to justify the cost of a GPU and the associated power consumption for Bitcoin mining applications. But as the price of Bitcoin has increased exponentially, demand for GPUs to do the number-crunching has grown dramatically causing a major shortage and huge price hikes. This rise in prices is not correlated with an increase in technological performance on the new GPUs, it is entirely a case of demand outstripping supply and a resulting bidding war. To put this in context, cards are currently going new for around twice the original price and manufacturers simply cannot keep up with the demand. Chia On top of this, there is a new cryptocurrency creating a new threat to a different part of the video surveillance industry. A new ‘environmental’ cryptocurrency called Chia has dispensed with the processing power and electricity demands of traditional GPU mining, instead of utilizing the spare storage space on hard drives (HDD) to verify blockchain transactions (‘proof of space’). The demand for this particular cryptocurrency has to date called on 30 Exabytes of storage since May this year – that’s 30 Billion Gigabytes of data, and it’s not just HDDs, high-capacity SSDs are also in demand. This is causing massive hard drive supply issues globally, thus rocketing prices for those that are available. HDD consumption The security industry sits comfortably in the ‘Big data’ category and with storage retention times running from 30 days to 6 months Of course, this has a particularly large knock-on for the video surveillance market. There is nothing more data-intensive than video, other than multiple streams of HD video. With this in mind, the security industry sits comfortably in the ‘Big data’ category and with storage retention times running from 30 days typically up to 6 months and longer in some regions/applications, the video surveillance market consumes more HDDs than many other markets. Growth of data centers While you would think that this would make security an important area for HDD manufacturers, our market is a relatively small player. IT vendors will always focus on their core customers, and the rise of the gaming market, as well as the growth of data centers due to remote working in the pandemic, has created a more important sector to serve – and these customers will always come first. Imagine the daily storage space required if 5 Billion people uploaded just one image a day to ‘the cloud’! Component manufacturers These factors combined with the lack of raw materials leading to longer lead times for component manufacturers mean that the prices for hard drives and GPUs are likely to remain inflated well into 2022 while factories play catch up on the backlog. The market for IT hardware is currently strong enough to continue even with the increase in component prices and the extended lead times for products. If you can get your hands on any HDDs, the delivery times from most distributors are around 6-8 weeks. Increased delivery times All of this has had a serious impact on the security industry. Video surveillance projects are now facing the combined issue of increased delivery times and higher costs. Many manufacturers, integrators, and distributors are doing their best to absorb the price increases where they can, but this is unsustainable over the long term. So what can be done? Second-hand applications Some people are getting more creative by purchasing from the second-hand market Some people are getting more creative by purchasing from the second-hand market. However, it is unlikely that commercial applications will be willing to risk potential downtime or data losses by using second-hand components that have been pushed hard for months on end mining cryptocurrencies. Making early purchases While I can’t comment on what other manufacturers have done, at Secure Logiq we have been watching this market trend closely. We always try to keep a close eye on anything that has the potential to significantly impact our manufacturing capabilities and try to offset any potential challenges with early purchases before the impact is fully felt. As such, we have been able to secure enough products to continue manufacturing as normal for more than six months. Increased demand as a challenge While we have this existing stock to meet current and anticipated orders, we continue to scour the market for any available stock to make sure we are at the top of the list when any fresh products come on the market. This has meant that throughout our 10-year history we have never failed to deliver a customer order within 7-10 working days. The delays with component manufacture and the ongoing increased demand will continue to present a huge challenge to the video surveillance and wider security industry. However, good planning and intelligent design will allow projects to remain on track. Security technology manufacturers are not alone in this challenge, but the dual-threat is perhaps unique. It will take a while for this threat to be overcome, but with robust planning and by paying close attention to the market forward-thinking video surveillance manufacturers can still deliver projects for their clients.
Digital Watchdog (DW™), the industry leader in digital recorders, surveillance cameras and related management software, announces the release of the latest update for DW Spectrum™ IPVMS. The new v2.5 software adds powerful new features including a bookmarks engine and storage backup, performance improvements and improved support for multi-sensor cameras. Easy Approach To HD Surveillance DW Spectrum IPVMS is an elegantly easy cutting-edge approach to HD surveillance, addressing the primary obstacles and limitations of managing enterprise-level HD video while offering the lowest total cost of deployment and ownership of any solution on the market. The software offers advanced search features to help you quickly find incidents or instantly review an exact date and time. The software is cross-platform, installs quickly and provides instant network mapping and discovery to start viewing your entire security system in minutes. DW Spectrum IPVMS is a perfect solution for any application that requires ease, speed, efficiency, and unprecedented image quality. “With the timely release of DW Spectrum 2.5, it continues to deliver unprecedented return on investment without the need for an annual maintenance agreement.” said Patrick Kelley, Director of IP Sales – North America, Digital Watchdog. “These new features are seamlessly incorporated into the DW Spectrum user interface, providing a dramatically easier user experience for all user levels than any other video management solution on the market.” DW Spectrum™ IPVMS Features: New Mobile Apps - Brand new cross-platform mobile apps for iOS and Android with better performance, revamped design and consistent user experience across both Apple iOS and Google Android devices. Bookmarks - Users can create bookmarks for specific segments of archived video with names, descriptions, and tags either manually or via the Rules & Events engine. Storage Backup - Users can now set up scheduled or real-time archive backup of high-res, low-res, or all streams from selected cameras to local, NAS, or even cloud-based storage locations (e.g. ftp sites, Amazon Prime Storage, etc). PTZ Preset as an Action - Users can now set up rules to trigger a PTZ preset as an action (e.g. create a motion event on a fixed camera that triggers the PTZ to look at the spot where motion occurred). Alarm Layout - allows users to set display-camera-on-Alarm-Layout as an action (aka pop-up video on alarm). Live Video Text Overlay - allows users to create custom text overlays-as-an-action (including Generic Event API). New Device Support: Axis F44 Main Unit Axis Q6000E panoramic camera ACTi V23 4 Channel Encoder (with I/O Support) Messoa IP Cameras (with I/O Support) Hikvision DS-6704HFI 4 Channel Video Server Implemented "Advanced" Settings for DWC-BVI2IR cameras Improved support for DWC-PZV2M72T cameras Vista VK2-1080XVRDPTPMF camera now mapped for advanced PTZ Arecont RTSP camera support implemented Digital I/O support for Arecont cameras implemented Improvements To Management Software: Added "Connect" button to the "Test" dialog during dialog Updated viewing cell icons and improved styling for "info" data Calendar widget can now be pinned Added layout background support for video wall Transcoding is now enabled by default for video export from multi-sensor cameras (e.g. DWC-PZV2M72T) Added warning before export if export will result in video downscaling (applies only to very high resolution or multi-sensor cameras) "Timeline mode" renamed to "Time Mode". Change can be seen in timeline, timestamps in Event Logs, Audit Trail and Bookmark Log Added ability to sort Alarm/Event Rules by any column Improved "Server Settings" and "System Administration" dialogs - now changes can be applied without closing dialog Storage Analytics improvement - storage utilised by deleted/moved out cameras is displayed separately Storage usage optimisations and improvements Improved time synchronization mechanism between Servers Improved error messages for some cases of push updates failure "Free Storage Space" is increased from 5Gb to 50Gb for NAS Server SSL can now be disabled API documentation is improved and extended General Server stability improvements based on anonymous usage and crash statistics
MESSOA Technologies Inc. recently announced the launch of the LPR606, the industry’s first 3-megapixel IR Bullet LPR/ANPR network camera. The newest addition to MESSOA’s existing IP traffic camera lineup was specifically engineered for overview and access control LPR applications at car parks, toll booths, gated communities, and a variety of low-speed environments. Designed with access control in mind, the LPR606 is ideal for applications of capturing vehicles with reflective license plates traveling at moderate speeds up to 60km/h. The 3MP resolution of the LPR606 allows for a much wider view and more details compared to VGA, covering up to 2 traffic lanes with just a single camera. Not only does it reduce the total cost of ownership, the camera delivers much enhanced image quality, which ensures plate recognition results are up to the high standards. The LPR606 is equipped with a 30m IR LED unit that generates adequate, even illumination needed for the high megapixel images at difficult lighting conditions. Thanks to MESSOA’s low light expertise and the camera’s LPR-oriented specifications, such as configurable shutter speed, iris, and illumination control, the LPR606 is able to deliver unparalleled imaging performance that yields superior LPR rates. Deployment-wise, the 3-axis cable management bracket and external lens adjustment significantly facilitates installation of this outdoor-ready LPR/ANPR camera. “We are excited to be the first one to provide a 3MP IP LPR camera to the market,” said Ervin Wang, Sales Director of MESSOA. “LPR application is becoming a more prevalent segment in video surveillance. It is vital to use cameras that are specifically designed for LPR and can offer reliably accurate capture at all times. The LPR606 is a revolutionizing solution that advances fixed LPR to a new IP era.” The LPR606 is duly compliant with the latest ONVIF standards and can be fully integrated with major LPR/ANPR platforms, such as Milestone and Genetec. It also comes with the SDK tool for easy integration with other 3rd party software. The LPR606 is available for sample orders now and scheduled for shipment in February.
The collaborated display will show enhanced image quality and system versatility MESSOA Technologies Inc. will be teaming up with NUUO to make its debut appearance at the upcoming ISC East on November 20 in New York City, USA. The two long-term partners together will showcase intelligent video management solutions that combine superior image quality and system versatility for various applications in front of the crowd. Through the ONVIF open-platform standards and SDK integrations, the NUUO NVR and software, ranging from the Titan Series to the NVRSolo Series, are seamlessly interoperated with MESSOA IP cameras, which include the following models: The PRO Series, 2MP models featuring superior HDTV video quality up to 30fps with H.264 codec support 5MP models delivering maximum detail for large covered areas Traffic cameras, such as 2MP LPR network camera NCH517 and CatchAll Technology embedded SCR505 The NIC900 Series Speed Dome, such as NIC990 featuring 1080p, 20X optical zoom, and WDR capability These models, featuring superior HDTV video quality and low light performance, will be showcased at the stand along with live demonstration. The collaborated display will show customers how they could benefit from the enhanced image quality and the system versatility provided by the two leading brands. Join us in the Big Apple where our sale representatives will be available for discussions on the stand. The NUUO-MESSOA booth will be located at Stand No. 301 in the brand new venue of Javits Center.
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