Can you imagine what it would be like if you could only look at your CCTV cameras eight hours after an incident, when your security team finish their shift? That is what 99% of current body cameras offer. Most body cameras can only record video, which limits them to settling arguments after the fact – who said what first in an altercation with the police? What sparked an incident with the door security team at a nightclub?

This leads to a curious asymmetry of video and immediacy between members of the public and body camera users such as police officers. While they are dealing with an incident, dutifully recording their work, everyone around them is streaming live video and audio direct to services such as Facebook and Periscope.

Challenges Of Streaming Live Video

So why don’t most body cameras stream? Mostly because it is very challenging to move video reliably over cellular which may seem counter-intuitive to those regularly watching streaming services like Netflix on their daily commute. However, receiving video is much simpler than transmitting video – just try video conferencing on the move. When you view media-generated content, there are mature approaches to handling disparities in signal quality and therefore the bandwidth available.

These services buffer up video on your device; even a few seconds of buffering can smooth out delivery; and they move you seamlessly through one of up to a dozen different quality profiles. The use of content stores by the networks allows the video to be transmitted from servers likely to be geographically closer to you. Finally, networks are optimized to transmit large quantities of data to your smartphone – less focus is placed on large quantities of data being uploaded from the smartphone.

Travelling at high speeds, or switching between WiFi, 3G or 4G, can cause interruptions in the smooth delivery of video

Despite all of this, watching Netflix or iPlayer on your phone can be an exercise in frustration. As one example, when your train pulls into a busy station you’ll see a “buffering” indicator. The smooth delivery of video has been interrupted by heavy congestion from other mobile users. Traveling at high speeds, or switching between WiFi, 3G or 4G, also causes interruptions in the stream.

Need For Real-time Video Transmission

Most body camera manufacturers, that are trying to stream, attempt to use these consumer technologies; but they don’t work very well in the field, which is not helpful when you need to see what is happening, right now, on the ground. Police command needs real-time, zero latency video – delays are unacceptable. The video must be of usable quality, even though officers wearing the cameras may be moving and experiencing signal fluctuations – most mobile video produces significant delays and signal breakups. Video and audio must always remain in sync so there’s no confusion about who said what. Therefore, special technology is required that copes with poor and varying bandwidths to allow a real-time view of the scene and support immediate decision making by local and remote team members and support teams moving to the scene.

The ability to see what is happening allows command to make informed decisions – what backup is required? Is the situation escalating or calming down? Do I need to make radio contact with the officer? Are other first responder teams required? Controllers may have only 90 seconds to make a decision about the resources to send to an incident. Live video can help them get it right the first time.

Special technology is required that copes with poor and varying bandwidths to allow a real-time view of the scene and support immediate decision making
The video must be of usable quality, even though officers wearing the cameras may be moving and experiencing signal fluctuations

Added Capabilities With Connected Devices

Once the body worn camera becomes a connected device then streaming video is not the only new capability. For example, the current location of every officer can be seen on a map. Or, our experiences integrating our facial recognition systems into body worn systems have shown us that there is tremendous operational benefit from allowing the officer or guard to initiate a recognition request from a simple camera button press – with the control team making a final assessment on whether to ask the officer to make an arrest if a match is made – for example if one of the people in view is breaching a restriction order.

Security is also critical to ensure that sensitive footage isn’t leaked or intercepted – compromising the privacy of the people involved. Balancing operational efficiency, sharing video with all relevant first responder agencies, and security is a very hard problem to solve requiring a competent application of industry-standard cryptography, role-based access control, and good procedures.

Evaluating The Right Technology

IHS Markit identified live video streaming as one of their top video surveillance trends for 2017 and more body camera vendors are promising to bring live streaming capability to market in response to growing demand from agencies and buyers. They’ll find these promises challenging to deliver unless they change their approach. So, how do you know whether you are proceeding along the right lines? I recommend that people trialing the technology and that of other vendors in the market ensure they address the following ten key questions in their evaluations:

  1. How well does the video perform in multiple locations across the area under control – not just conveniently near a cellular tower?

  2. How well does the video perform when the wearer is walking, running or in a moving vehicle?

  3. How well does the video perform inside buildings?

  4. What delay am I seeing in the video? If I am in radio contact with the wearer am I seeing what they are describing now or what they could see five seconds ago?

  5. What are the likely data running costs and can I control them to keep within plan limits?

  6. Can I get the video back out to teams in the field?

  7. Can I remotely retrieve segments of recorded video from the archive on the device? E.g. can I see what the wearer saw 30 minutes ago?

  8. What is the security architecture? How can I be sure that the video, audio and location data cannot be intercepted?

  9. Are their versions of the software available on smartphones for streaming and viewing – for ad-hoc users who don’t normally carry a body camera?

  10. Are there other capabilities available such as facial recognition from the device?

With these capabilities you’ll be in control, with access to live video and recorded evidence at any time. Without them, you’ll be in the dark and won’t see video until the camera returns to base – hours after other footage has already been spread on social media.

Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

What Are New Trends In Residential Security?
What Are New Trends In Residential Security?

Residential security and smart homes are rapidly changing facets of the larger physical security marketplace, driven by advances in consumer technology and concerns about rising crime rates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people spent more time at home and became more aware of the need for greater security. As workplaces opened back up, returning workers turned to technology to help them keep watch over their homes from afar. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the trends in residential security in 2021?

How Businesses Can Protect Their People In The New Age Of Work
How Businesses Can Protect Their People In The New Age Of Work

Ensuring employee health and safety remains a key priority for organizations this year, especially as we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise in different areas of the world. As an ongoing challenge, COVID-19 has shifted the priorities of many organizations. In fact, “improving health and safety for employees” is the top strategic goal this year of manufacturing and logistics organizations in the U.S. and U.K., according to research conducted by Forrester on behalf of STANLEY Security. But as we think about reopening and as hybrid workforce models and “workspace-on-demand” approaches rise in popularity, leaders need to consider implementing the right technologies to help ensure a safe return to the office. This means investing in health, safety, and security solutions that can help leaders protect their people. The intersection of security technology and health and safety There’s no doubt that the scope of security has expanded in the wake of the global pandemic. What was once an area governed by a select few security or IT professionals within a business has now become a crucial company investment involving many key stakeholders. The role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses Additionally, the role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses. Fortunately, security technologies have made significant strides and many solutions, both existing and new, have been thrust forward to address today’s biggest business challenges. Investment in security technology It’s important to note that businesses are eager to adopt tech that can help them protect their people. Nearly half (46%) of organizations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering an increasing investment in technology solutions that ensure employee safety. Technologies like touchless access control, visitor management systems, occupancy monitoring, and installed/wearable proximity sensors are among some of the many security technologies these organizations have implemented or are planning to implement yet this year. Facilitating a safe return to work But what does the future look like? When it comes to the post-pandemic workplace, organizations are taking a hard look at their return-to-work strategy. Flexible or hybrid workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment More than half (53%) of organizations surveyed by Forrester are looking to introduce a flexible work schedule for their employees as they make decisions about returning to work and keeping employees safe post-pandemic. Such flexible – or hybrid – workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment for all who traverse a facility or work on-site. One of the central safety and security challenges raised by these hybrid models is tracking who is present in the building at any one time – and where or how they interact. Leveraging security technology With staggered schedules and what may seem like a steady stream of people passing through, it can be difficult to know who’s an employee and who’s a visitor. Access control will be key to monitoring and managing the flow of people on-site and preventing unauthorized access. When access control systems are properly integrated with visitor management solutions, businesses can unlock further benefits and efficiencies. For instance, integrated visitor management systems can allow for pre-registration of visitors and employees – granting cellphone credentials before people arrive on-site – and automated health screening surveys can be sent out in advance to help mitigate risk. Once someone reaches the premises, these systems can also be used to detect the person’s temperature and scan for a face mask, if needed.  We will likely see these types of visitor management and advanced screening solutions continue to rise in popularity, as 47% of organizations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering requiring employee health screening post-pandemic. Defining the office of the future A modern, dynamic workforce model will require an agile approach to office management. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring Businesses want to create an environment in which people feel comfortable and confident – a space where employees can collaborate and be creative. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring them that the necessary security measures are in place to ensure not only their safety but also their health. In many cases, this balancing act has created an unintended consequence: Everyone now feels like a visitor to a building. Protocols and processes With employees required to undergo the same screening processes and protocols as a guest, we’ve seen a transformation in the on-site experience. This further underscores the need for seamless, automated, and tightly integrated security solutions that can improve the employee and visitor experience, while helping to ensure health and safety. Ultimately, the future of the office is not about what a space looks like, but how people feel in it. This means adopting a “safety-always” culture, underpinned by the right technology, to ensure people that their safety remains a business’ top priority. 

Access The Right Areas - Making A Smart Home Genius With Biometrics
Access The Right Areas - Making A Smart Home Genius With Biometrics

Household adoption of smart home systems currently sits at 12.1% and is set to grow to 21.4% by 2025, expanding the market from US$ 78.3 billion to US$ 135 billion, in the same period. Although closely linked to the growth of connectivity technologies, including 5G, tech-savvy consumers are also recognizing the benefits of next-generation security systems, to protect and secure their domestic lives. Biometric technologies are already commonplace in our smartphones, PCs and payment cards, enhancing security without compromising convenience. Consequently, manufacturers and developers are taking note of biometric solutions, as a way of leveling-up their smart home solutions. Biometrics offer enhanced security As with any home, security starts at the front door and the first opportunity for biometrics to make a smart home genius lies within the smart lock. Why? Relying on inconvenient unsecure PINs and codes takes the ‘smart’ out of smart locks. As the number of connected systems in our homes increase, we cannot expect consumers to create, remember and use an ever-expanding list of unique passwords and PINs. Indeed, 60% of consumers feel they have too many to remember and the number can be as high as 85 for all personal and private accounts. Biometric solutions strengthen home access control Biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control Doing this risks consumers becoming apathetic with security, as 41% of consumers admit to re-using the same password or introducing simple minor variations, increasing the risk of hacks and breaches from weak or stolen passwords. Furthermore, continually updating and refreshing passwords, and PINs is unappealing and inconvenient. Consequently, biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control. Positives of on-device biometric storage Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint recognition uses personally identifiable information, which is stored securely on-device. By using on-device biometric storage, manufacturers are supporting the 38% of consumers, who are worried about privacy and biometrics, and potentially winning over the 17% of people, who don’t use smart home devices for this very reason. Compared to conventional security, such as passwords, PINs or even keys, which can be spoofed, stolen, forgotten or lost, biometrics is difficult to hack and near impossible to spoof. Consequently, homes secured with biometric smart locks are made safer in a significantly more seamless and convenient way for the user. Biometric smart locks Physical access in our domestic lives doesn’t end at the front door with smart locks. Biometrics has endless opportunities to ease our daily lives, replacing passwords and PINs in all devices. Biometric smart locks provide personalized access control to sensitive and hazardous areas, such as medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, safes, kitchen appliances and bike locks. They offer effective security with a touch or glance. Multi-tenanted sites, such as apartment blocks and student halls, can also become smarter and more secure. With hundreds of people occupying the same building, maintaining high levels of security is the responsibility for every individual occupant. Biometric smart locks limit entry to authorized tenants and eliminate the impact of lost or stolen keys, and passcodes. Furthermore, there’s no need for costly lock replacements and when people leave the building permanently, their data is easily removed from the device. Authorized building access Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door, but also throughout the entire building, such as washing rooms, mail rooms, bike rooms and community spaces, such as gyms. Different people might have different levels of access to these areas, depending on their contracts, creating an access control headache. But, by having biometric smart locks, security teams can ensure that only authorized people have access to the right combination of rooms and areas. Convenience of biometric access cards Additionally, if building owners have options, the biometric sensors can be integrated into the doors themselves, thereby allowing users to touch the sensor, to unlock the door and enter. Furthermore, the latest technology allows biometric access cards to be used. This embeds the sensor into a contactless keycard, allowing the user to place their thumb on the sensor and tap the card to unlock the door. This may be preferable in circumstances where contactless keycards are already in use and can be upgraded. Smarter and seamless security In tandem with the growth of the smart home ecosystem, biometrics has real potential to enhance our daily lives, by delivering smarter, seamless and more convenient security. Significant innovation has made biometrics access control faster, more accurate and secure. Furthermore, today’s sensors are durable and energy efficient. With the capacity for over 10 million touches and ultra-low power consumption, smart home system developers no longer have to worry about added power demands. As consumers continue to invest in their homes and explore new ways to secure and access them, biometrics offers a golden opportunity for market players, to differentiate and make smart homes even smarter.