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Fighting Illicit Trade With Artificial Intelligence
Fighting Illicit Trade With Artificial Intelligence

AI has opened doors to many transformation opportunities and increasingly minimised many risks  -- personal and economic -- that are alarming today. And illicit trade is one of those pains AI can offer a promising solution against. Illicit trade is a serious threat and problem that affects governments and societies on every level. While governments lose financial funds in tax revenues, thriving businesses are losing potential customers, and customers are getting tricked into purchasing counterfeit, low-quality products. Transnational organized crime generates revenue of $2.2 trillion through transnational criminal organizations, complicit corrupt facilitators, and other threat areas. The list of criminal activities is long and involves such horrific crimes as trafficking of narcotics, opioids, arms, humans, fake medicines and other counterfeit and pirated goods; illegal tobacco and alcohol; illegally-harvested timber, wildlife, and fish; pillaged oil, diamonds, gold, and other natural resources and precious minerals; stolen antiquities; and other contraband or valuable items sold across streets, social media, online marketplaces, and the dark web. In short, illicit trade is a contributing cause to large-scale insecurity and instability across markets. AI-driven technologies Here is where revolutionary AI-driven technologies come in, with their capability to fight illicit trade across markets. AI technologies in this specific application promise to help build safer and more secure communities in the future. There are a few ways that AI can support the ongoing fight against illicit trade on a global scale in a tangible way. Transnational organized crime generates revenue of $2.2 trillion For financial transactions at risk of fraud and money laundering, tracking has become an increasing headache if done manually. As a solution to this labour-intensive process, AI technology can be trained to follow all the compliance rules and process a large number of documents -- often billions of pages of documents -- in a short period of time. Among these documents widely in circulation, most have an unstructured and inconsistent format -- from invoices to insurance documentation -- are a complex system to tackle; in this whirlwind of pages, the likelihood of non-compliant and misrepresented figures to go by unnoticed. But this is also where AI can thrive as solutions become a necessity, enhancing humans’ capabilities of identifying fraud risks in the early stages. Relying on natural language processing, the technology can begin interpreting the text from the scanned and digitised documents in order to process trade information at high speed. In this context, AI-powered solutions are capable of comparing, contrasting document information and identify anomalies worth looking into further. By automating a large portion of the process, AI-driven technology allows the staff to focus on more pressing, high-involvement issues that require human judgement while saving time on the time-consuming manual work of analyzing documents by hand. Identifying covert interactions between criminals As criminal networks become increasingly intricate in their illegal operations, cutting-edge AI technology is crucial in the battle against it. In 2019, EU launched a project with the goal to deploy advanced AI technology and robots to identify smuggling across the borders of Portugal, Estonia, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.  With the help of AI, it will be possible to send drones and autonomous vehicles to the most dubious border areas in order to enforce border control and detect smugglers quickly and efficiently. Illicit trade triggers a chain reaction of negative impact across industries, governments and individuals The issues the EU is trying to address through the project include drug and weapon smuggling, as well as human trafficking. From tight border control tracking crossings to communication monitoring to identify covert interactions between criminals on both sides of the border, the project is one among many that will expand the scope of solutions to the illicit trade problems today. AI’s contribution is significant on many levels: from predicting crime and threats to safeguarding public health and safety (in face of human trafficking, counterfeit medicines, and toxic products), these are simply inklings of major shifts that AI technology promises for the future of the battle against illicit trade. So why is fighting illicit trade so crucial? Here are a few reasons why AI’s role in fighting this global issue is crucial. In a world where customers run the risk of being deceived and tricked into buying counterfeit products, companies who provide the original products suffer through the loss of revenue and market share. The same companies are also robbed of their intellectual property and proprietary data. Furthermore, people who are employed in these companies run the risk of losing their jobs as a result of revenue and market share loss. And finally, the last straw is the loss of brand integrity and reputation to the need to compete with low-quality, sometimes even dangerous counterfeit products. Just like a domino effect, illicit trade triggers a chain reaction of negative impact across industries, governments and individuals. And it’s time for AI to step in and stop it.

Edge Computing, AI and Thermal Imaging – The Future of Smart Security
Edge Computing, AI and Thermal Imaging – The Future of Smart Security

Smart security is advancing rapidly. As AI and 4K rise in adoption on smart video cameras, these higher video resolutions are driving the demand for more data to be stored on-camera. AI and smart video promise to extract greater insights from security video. Complex, extensive camera networks will already require a large amount of data storage, particularly if this is 24/7 monitoring from smart video-enabled devices. With 4K-compliant cameras projected to make up over 24% of all network cameras shipped by 2023 – there is a fast-growing desire for reliable storage on-board security cameras. The question for businesses is: do they look to break up their existing smart video network, by separating and compartmentalising cameras to handle data requirements, or do they increase its storage capabilities? As some people begin to venture out and return to work following initial COVID-19 measures, we are also seeing demand for thermal imaging technology increase. New technology like this combined with more of these always-on systems being rolled out, means organizations will need to carefully consider their smart video strategy. Newer edge computing will play an important role in capturing, collecting, and analyzing data and there are some key trends you can expect to see as a result of this evolution. There are many more types of cameras being used today, such as body cameras, dashboard cameras, and new Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors. Video data is so rich nowadays, you can analyze it and deduce a lot of valuable information in real-time, instead of post-event. Edge computing and smart security As public cloud adoption grew, companies and organizations saw the platform as a centralized location for big data. However, recently there’s been opposition to that trend. Instead we are now seeing data processed at the edge, rather than in the cloud. There is one main reason for this change in preference: latency. Newer edge computing will play an important role in capturing, collecting, and analyzing data Latency is an important consideration when trying to carry out real-time pattern recognition. It’s very difficult for cameras to process data – 4K surveillance video recorded 24/7 – if it has to go back to a centralized data center hundreds of miles away. This data analysis needs to happen quickly in order to be timely and applicable to dynamic situations, such as public safety. By storing relevant data at the edge, AI inferencing can happen much faster. Doing so can lead to safer communities, more effective operations, and smarter infrastructure. UHD and storage AI-enabled applications and capabilities, such as pattern recognition, depend on high-definition resolutions such as 4K – also known as Ultra High Definition (UHD). This detailed data has a major impact on storage – both the capacity and speeds at which it needs to be written, and the network. Compared to HD, 4K video has much higher storage requirements and we even have 8K on the horizon. As we know, 4K video has four times the number of pixels as HD video. In addition, 4K compliant video supports 8, 10, and 12 bits per channel that translate to 24-, 30- or 36-bit color depth per pixel. A similar pattern holds for HD — more color using 24 bits or less color using 10 or 12 bits in color depth per pixel. Altogether, there is up to a 5.7x increase in bits generated by 4K vs. 1080 pixel video. Larger video files place new demands on data infrastructure for both video production and surveillance. Which means investing in data infrastructure becomes a key consideration when looking into smart security. Always-on connectivity Whether designing solutions that have limited connectivity or ultra-fast 5G capabilities, most smart security solutions need to operate 24/7, regardless of their environment. Yet, on occasion, the underlying hardware and software systems fail. In the event of this, it is important to establish a failover process to ensure continued operation or restore data after a failure, including everything from traffic control to sensors to camera feeds and more. Consider the example of a hospital with dozens or even over a hundred cameras connected to a centralized recorder via IP. If the Ethernet goes down, no video can be captured. Such an event could pose a serious threat to the safety and security of hospital patients and staff. For this reason, microSD cards are used in cameras to enable continuous recording. Software tools – powered by AI – can then “patch” missing data streams with the content captured on the card to ensure the video stream can be viewed chronologically with no content gaps. Thermal imaging Health and safety is the number one priority for all organizations as people return to work and public spaces. Some organizations are deploying thermal imaging to help screen individuals for symptoms as they return. Organizations that operate with warehouses, depots and assembly lines will traditionally have large amounts of cameras located outside of the entrance. With thermal imaging smart video in place, these cameras can now serve a dual purpose as a screening device. The thermal imaging technology is capable of detecting elevated body temperatures, with 10-25 workers being scanned in one shot, from one camera – making it an efficient and accurate process. This way, staff can use the information to help identify people who may need further screening, testing, and/or isolation before returning to work. There are many more types of cameras being used today, such as body cameras, dashboard cameras, and new Internet of Things (IoT) devices While this may not increase data storage requirements, it can change your retention policies and practices. Smart security today is about utilising AI and edge computing, to deliver an always-on, high-resolution video provision that can help keep people safe 24/7. These trends increase the demands and importance of monitoring, which means requirements of the supporting data infrastructure improve to match that, including the ability to proactively manage the infrastructure to help ensure reliable operation. Companies need to make sure they have considered all the storage and policy challenges as part of their smart security strategy for the future.  

The New Marriage Between AI and Stadiums
The New Marriage Between AI and Stadiums

Stadiums around the world are still paralyzed from the effects of COVID-19. Fans and spectators in masses have been absent from stadiums since April and there doesn’t seem to be a concrete plan on how or when they’ll be able to return to near capacity. The NBA recently opted to form a bubble philosophy concept in Disney’s facilities, although it’s been a relative success, it’s also been a $200 million temporary solution. This then begs the question: How long can stadiums survive like this without spectator’s present? History tells us that stadiums, venues and sport recover from disasters, so what can stadiums do to speed up the process? This is the catalyst for AI to be integrated on mass level to stadiums around the world. AI is the answer AI’s role in getting fans and spectators back is huge, through capabilities such as: Social Distance Monitoring Crowd Scanning/Metrics Facial Recognition Fever Detection Track & Trace Providing Behavioural Analytics Technologies such as IREX.ai is now working alongside National Leagues, Franchises and Governing Bodies to implement AI surveillance software into their CCTV/surveillance cameras. This is now creating a more collaborative effort from the operations team in stadiums, rather than purely security. Stadiums around the world are still paralyzed from the effects of COVID-19 AI surveillance software such as IREX.ai when implemented into the surveillance cameras can be accessed by designated users on any device and on any browser platform. Crowd metrics Arming stadiums with AI-powered surveillance tools can detect crowd metrics such as “people counting” and “group statistics”. This ensures stadium personnel can monitor social distancing with precision, accuracy and immediately. Alerts can be set up throughout parts of the stadium to alert senior staff members when overcrowding can appear with real time videos, analytics and photos to their hand-held device, such as a smartphone. Fever detection Thermal cameras have been implemented throughout facilities including stadiums and are helping assist to spot people with elevated temperatures. What IREX.ai implements is an alert system, coupled with facial recognition of any individual(s) that read an elevated body temperature. This alert system then provides security and health officials with a photo of the individual with the elevated body temperature, meaning staff can react quicker to the situation prevent this individual from entry. Pandemic monitoring by facial recognition  Thermal cameras have been implemented throughout facilities including stadiums and are helping assist to spot people with elevated temperatures Through facial recognition, staff members will be able to locate individuals through simply uploading a photo. It has never been easier to find a person of interest. With masks becoming an everyday part of society, facial recognition has come under scrutiny regarding the accuracy when a mask is worn. Irex.ai still maintains a 96% accuracy with individuals wearing masks and can set up alerts for any individuals not wearing a mask. Another important aspect of facial recognition is finding persons of interest quickly through technology like IREX.ai’s “searchveillance”. The future is here. Designated staff can track a person from when they enter the stadium by simply uploading their photograph. An example of how this can assist stadium personnel is to help relocate lost children inside the stadium with their guardians/parents when they are separated. Another attribute would be any individuals banned from entering the stadium would trigger alerts once they appear under surveillance, a fantastic collaborative tool to use with Law Enforcement.    Return on investment With security solutions, one of the biggest issues with any security investment is a lack of an ROI. This is where AI security is breaking the mould. The ability to provide business analytics, consumer/fan behaviours, traffic patterns, etc, allows other departments within the organization to gain vital information that can assist with their strategies and practices. Stadium security will never be the same in a post-COVID world, so why will its practices stay the same? AI & Stadiums is no longer the future, it’s the 2020 solution.

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AMAG Introduces Symmetry CompleteView 4.5 VMS And PowerProtect NVRs
AMAG Introduces Symmetry CompleteView 4.5 VMS And PowerProtect NVRs

AMAG Technology announces the release of Symmetry CompleteView Video Management System version 4.5 and four new Symmetry PowerProtect NVRs. Earlier this year AMAG announced a deepened partnership with Salient Systems, Inc. where AMAG now offers Salient’s CompleteView VMS, PowerProtect NVRs and TouchView Mobile App video solutions as part of the Symmetry product line. This is the first software upgrade and NVR addition since the initial announcement in March. Symmetry CompleteView 4.5 “Symmetry CompleteView 4.5 delivers advanced capabilities such as dynamic video management tools to support and streamline complex enterprise deployments, yet remains affordable to provide a powerful standalone system for any size organization,” said AMAG Technology, Senior Product Manager-Video, Jim Murray. Symmetry CompleteView VMS 4.5 includes a suite of software tools called Dynamic Video Management. Designed to increase efficiency and enhance the end user’s experience, the suite offers: Dynamic Resolution Scaling - DRS sizes the video stream to match the display size of the viewing client, (monitor, tablet or phone) reducing bandwidth consumption. Dynamic Video Decoding - DVD saves CPU usage by controlling server processing for camera streams based on live viewing or server motion detection settings. Dynamic Frame Throttling - DFT allows the server to monitor camera video queues balancing load and latency without affecting recorded video. Symmetry CompleteView 4.5 also offers a new Web Client that is HTTP/HTTPS capable with native H.264 live and playback support with enhanced viewing features for the ultra-fast display of video feeds. Users can view multiple cameras simultaneously from multiple Symmetry PowerProtect NVRs located throughout the globe via a single web client video matrix. The Web Client also provides cross browser support, including: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari; increasing access to the video management software from virtually anywhere on any device. It will also support multiple languages including: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Symmetry TouchView Mobile App Symmetry TouchView Mobile app’s new cross platform capability allows users to create configurations in the app and transfer them to the Web Client for use, providing flexible configuration compatibility. Users can export the web client configuration, which could contain saved video server connections, camera layouts, and video matrix window setup and quickly import it into a mobile iOS or Android mobile device. When you combine Dynamic Resolution Scaling with Symmetry TouchView Mobile apps, Symmetry CompleteView delivers the fastest call up of megapixel resolution video over remote internet connections in the industry today. Symmetry CompleteView 4.5 Also Supports: Http/Https capability Fisheye cameras and dewarping feature set Mac devices, including Safari browser Camera based motion detection with Symmetry, Arecont, Axis, Bosch, HikVision, Samsung, Sightlogix and VideoIQ (Avigilon) New Symmetry PowerProtect NVRs Introducing the new Symmetry PowerMicro NVR with ultra-compact chassis. The Symmetry PowerMicro NVR is powered by an Intel Core i3 series CPU with 4GB memory and a 1TB hard drive. It is the smallest form factor in the Symmetry PowerProtect platform line, and is designed to address space constrained deployments. It is perfect for desktop use, mounting under a counter or securing to a video monitor. Symmetry PowerPro-R, Symmetry Power Plus, and Symmetry PowerUltra NVRs, all two unit rack mounts, offer faster performance and more storage capacity at a reduced cost. Each NVR contains 40% - 47% higher storage capacity with up to 66TB of RAID 5 video storage. Quad NICs allow users to isolate office networks from IP camera networks for added security, setup dual NICs in tandem to boost transfer speed or set up multiple IP camera networks. Also, the Symmetry PowerPro-R’s chassis size was decreased from a 4 unit to 2 unit rack mount, increasing efficiency in installation and real-estate. AMAG Technology, a G4S company, delivers access control and video management solutions to companies of all industries and sizes. G4S provides a wide array of products and services to solve any security need.

The Year In Mergers And Acquisitions: Top 10 Of 2014
The Year In Mergers And Acquisitions: Top 10 Of 2014

2014 was a year for eye-popping merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the security space. The big deals of the year included some of the largest names in the industry. One name is larger than any in the security market – Google, which made not one but two acquisitions this year that could impact the future security market. It was also the year that a smaller player in the video camera market (although a huge familiar brand overall) bought a large, open systems VMS company (to almost everyone’s surprise).  There was major activity on both sides of the Atlantic, impacting a wide range of industry sectors, from video to access control to home security. It was a year for acquisition and reinvention, for mergers and management refocus. And it was the year that Samsung stopped owning Samsung Techwin. Let’s take a look at the Top 10 M&A stories of 2014 … 1.       Canon Acquires Milestone When Canon, a fairly small player in the video surveillance market, announced plans for its European subsidiary to buy open systems company Milestone Systems, it sent shock waves through the market. Obviously Canon is signaling its intent to become a larger player in surveillance, but what does the move mean for the long-term viability of Milestone’s open systems approach? Can an open systems company be owned by a camera company and keep its business approach intact? Yes, according to the Milestone announcement: “Canon respects how we built our business with our partners and supports our strategy of providing open platform solutions.”  2.       Vanderbilt Acquires Siemens' Security Products Siemens’ Security Products is well known in Europe, including familiar and established brands such as Bewator and Cotag in access control and Alarmcom and Europlex in the intrusion alarm sector. But who is Vanderbilt Industries? It's a fairly new U.S. company created around the acquisition in 2012 of the Schlage Security Management Systems (SMS) access control product line from Ingersoll Rand. The Siemens acquisition makes them instantly a global player. The move expands the global reach of Vanderbilt’s parent company, ACRE Ltd., and greatly enhances its technology capabilities and product portfolio.  3.       Avigilon Acquires VideoIQ 2014 began with news that HD surveillance company Avigilon Corp. had agreed to buy video analytics company VideoIQ for cash consideration of $32 million. Avigilon moved quickly to incorporate VideoIQ's technology into its product line, highlighting video analytics (including the Rialto analytics appliances) along with other technologies at ISC West,  IFSEC and trade shows throughout the year. Avigilon is positioning its "adaptive" analytics as a way to simplify total system operation, delivering only the information an end user needs rather than a flood of video images. 2014 saw major activity on both sides of the Atlantic, impacting a wide range of industry sectors, from video to access control to home security  4.       HID Global Acquires Lumidigm HID Global is an undisputed worldwide leader in secure identity solutions, so it was big news when HID acquired a biometrics company in February. More accustomed to interfacing with biometrics technologies than owning them, HID’s acquisition of Lumidigm reflects a high level of confidence in the company’s  multispectral imaging technology, which uses multiple light spectrums and advanced polarisation techniques to extract unique fingerprint characteristics from both the surface and subsurface of the skin. The system can authenticate identities with a high degree of certainty (and even in non-ideal environments where fingers can get dirty or greasy.)  5.       Vicon and IQinVision Merge Vicon Industries and IQinVision announced a merger agreement in the spring to create a global provider of integrated solutions to the video security market. Vicon has long been known for designing and producing (mostly proprietary) video security and surveillance systems. IQinVision designs and produces high performance HD megapixel IP cameras. There are high hopes for the combined company, including continuing a camera line branded IQinVision and transitioning to an open systems approach with an emphasis on extracting business information from video streams.  6.       Anixter Acquires Tri-Ed It was a milestone for Anixter International, the largest acquisition in the global distributor’s 57-year history. When Anixter bought Tri-Ed for $420 million, the acquiring company emphasized the opportunity to accelerate implementation of IP video and access control by the new Tri-Ed customer base, previously more focused on analog. Tri-Ed, independent distributor of security and low-voltage technology products, sells 110,000 different products to 2,000 active dealers and integrators through 61 branches and two technical sales centers located throughout North America. Anixter is a global distributor of communications and security products, electrical and electronic wire and cable, fasteners and other small components.  7.       Google Acquires Nest Labs It makes headlines when Google does anything, and Google’s entry into the home systems market is no different. Therefore, everyone noticed when Google acquired Nest Labs, a designer and manufacturer of sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled, self-learning, programmable thermostats and smoke detectors. Many observers saw the $3.2 billion transaction as providing a critical foothold into the home systems market. Announced in January and closed the following month, the acquisition set the stage for another acquisition that would serve as further evidence of Google’s intent to be a dominant player in the home systems market ...  The big deals of 2014 included some of the largest names in the industry  8.       Nest Labs Acquires Dropcam Google-owned Nest Labs, Inc announced that it had entered into an agreement to buy Dropcam for $555 million in cash, subject to adjustments. DropCam provides do-it-yourself IP video cameras for the home environment – and another foothold for Google.  9.       Kaba Holding Acquires Keyscan Emblematic of the continuing consolidation in the access control market was acquisition of Keyscan Inc., a Canadian provider of networked access control solutions, by Kaba Holding AG, based in Switzerland. The Keyscan brand presence will be maintained, operating as a separate division of Kaba’s ADS Americas Group.  10.   Hanhwa To Buy Largest Interest in Samsung Techwin When Samsung sells its interest in Samsung Techwin, it’s bound to be news, even as the company’s management insists everything is business as usual. It was just a stock transaction (they say), and Samsung Techwin (which was always separate from the larger Samsung Electronics) will continue on its successful course in the video surveillance market. Korean conglomerate Hanwha Holdings announced in late November its 32.4 percent ownership in the video surveillance company (as part of a larger sale of Samsung Techwin’s defense and chemical affiliates). What about the Samsung name? Management assures the market the valuable and well-known brand will remain intact. See the full coverage of 2014/2015 Review and Forecast articles here

Needed: Attention-grabbing Technology In An Emergency
Needed: Attention-grabbing Technology In An Emergency

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” So said Herbert A. Simon, American Political Scientist, Economist, Sociologist, Psychologist, and Professor. I heard that quote at the Avigilon presentation at IFSEC, repeated by Ian Povey, Avigilon’s director of product marketing and product management. He used the quote to support the need for more (accurate) video analytics. In other words, without analytics, there is so much video information that the operator’s attention is lost within minutes, so an end user’s whole security stature breaks down. It certainly relates well to video analytics, but what a great quote for so many things in our modern world! Aren’t we all flooded every day with more information than we can ever process? In the security market, there are more cameras than ever, more alarms, more data points, more security threats, more, more, more.  No surprise therefore that we turn to companies like Avigilon to help us out. Their presentation at IFSEC told how they do just that. In addition to new video analytics capabilities (a consequence of their acquisition of Video IQ earlier this year), Avigilon also promoted the idea of an end-to-end system that can help security end users deal with the “wealth of information.” The fast-growing manufacturer touted new, closer integration between their new Access Control Manager (ACM) product, which they embraced (and then rebranded) with their acquisition in 2013 of Red Cloud Security. The browser-based system, available in Enterprise, Virtual or new Professional versions, now allows access control alarms to be associated with video and managed either within the ACM system or inside the Avigilon Control Center video software. How alarms are managed is completely configurable and customizable between the two systems. In addition to greater functionality, Steven Lewis, Avigilon’s ACM senior product manager, also offered an economic argument for use of an end-to-end solution from one manufacturer: “Since it’s all our products, we don’t charge extra to bring them together. Many manufacturers have a fee associated with connecting with another manufacturer’s system, whether it’s access to video or video to access. When you use our products, there isn’t any additional fee for integration. It’s even less expensive and works better than those other integrations are ever going to.” About functionality, he continues: “You can choose how you respond to events. The reality is we have hours and hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Something happens, what do I do? You need there to be a process that you know what to do. You don’t have to think. It pops up and tells you, it gives you the data, it gives you the instructions, and then you respond to that. When something happens, then people respond and they’re not trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do.” That’s a good way to get anyone’s attention.

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