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Rodrigue Zbinden, CEO at Morphean, discusses the business benefits from merging video surveillance and access control technologies as demand for ACaaS grows. The big question facing businesses today is how they will use the data that they possess to unlock new forms of value using emerging technologies such as the cloud, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. Some data is better utilized than others: financial services were quick to recognize the competitive advantages in exploiting technology to improve customer service, detect fraud and improve risk assessment. In the world of physical security, however, we’re only just beginning to understand the potential of the data that our systems gather as a part of their core function. Benefits of ‘Integrated access control’ The first thing to look for is how multiple sources of data can be used to improve physical security functionsWhat many businesses have yet to realize is that many emerging technologies come into their own when used across multiple sources of data. In physical security, for example, we’re moving from discussions about access control and CCTV as siloed functions, to platforms that combine information for analysis from any source, and applying machine learning algorithms to deliver intelligent insights back to the business. ‘Integrated access control’ then looks not just to images or building management, but to images, building management, HR databases and calendar information, all at the same time. And some of the benefits are only now starting to become clear. The first thing to look for, of course, is how multiple sources of data can be used to improve physical security functions. For example, by combining traditional access control data, such as when a swipe card is used, with a video processing platform capable of facial recognition, a second factor of authentication is provided without the need to install separate biometric sensors. CCTV cameras are already deployed in most sensitive areas, so if a card doesn’t match the user based on HR records, staff can be quickly alerted. Making the tools cost-Effective In a similar vein, if an access card is used by an employee, who is supposed to be on holiday according to the HR record, then video data can be used to ensure the individual’s identity and that the card has not been stolen – all before a human operator becomes involved. This is driving growth in ‘access control as a service’ (ACaaS), and the end-to-end digitalization of a vital business functionThese capabilities are not new. What is, however, is the way in which cloud-based computing platforms for security analytics, which absorb information from IP-connected cameras, make the tools much more cost effective, accessible and easier to manage than traditional on-site server applications. In turn, this is driving growth in ‘access control as a service’ (ACaaS), and the end-to-end digitalization of a vital business function. With this system set up, only access control hardware systems are deployed on premise while the software and access control data are shifted to a remote location and provided as a service to users on a recurring monthly subscription. The benefits of such an arrangement are numerous but include avoiding large capital investments, greater flexibility to scale up and down, and shifting the onus of cybersecurity and firmware updates to the vendor. Simple installation and removal of endpoints What’s more, because modern video and access control systems transmit data via the IP network, installation and removal of endpoints are simple, requiring nothing more than PoE and Wi-Fi. Of all the advantages of the ‘as a service’ model, it’s the rich data acquired from ACaaS that makes it so valuable, and capable of delivering business benefits beyond physical security. Managers are constantly looking for better quality of information to inform decision making, and integrated access control systems know more about operations than you might think. Integrating lighting systems with video feeds and access control creates the ability to control the lightsRight now, many firms are experimenting with ways to find efficiencies and reduce costs. For example, lights that automatically turn off to save energy are common in offices today, but can be a distraction if employees have to constantly move around to trigger motion detectors. Integrating lighting systems with video feeds and access control creates the ability to control the lights depending on exactly who is in the room and where they are sitting. Tracking the movement of employees Camera data has been used in retail to track the movement of customers in stores, helping managers to optimize displays and position stocks. The same technology can be used to map out how employees move around a workspace, finding out where productivity gains can be made by moving furniture around or how many desks should be provisioned. Other potential uses of the same data could be to look for correlations between staff movement – say to a store room – and sales spikes, to better predict stock ordering. What makes ACaaS truly exciting is it is still a very new field, and we’re only just scratching the surface of the number of ways that it can be used to create new sources of value. As smart buildings and smart city technology evolves, more and more open systems will become available, offering more ways to combine, analyze and draw insights from data. Within a few years, it will become the rule, rather than the exception, and only grow in utility as it does.
With the recent news headlines about store closures and the collapse of well-known chains, alongside clear adjustments in business strategy amongst established high street favorites, there is no denying that the UK retail industry is under huge pressure. A recent report suggests growing issues are leading some retailers to increase risk-taking in the supply chain. But here, Steve Bumphrey, Traka UK Sales Director, looks at ways to help retailers embrace the storm, including paying attention to security, management processes and efficient customer focus. Challenges plaguing retail industry It’s been an awful year to date for UK retail if you believe the cacophony of negative headlines about the health of the UK economy and the confidence levels of the UK consumer. The sector is facing huge challenges in dealing with the evolution in on-line and smart mobile retailing The sector is undoubtedly facing huge challenges in dealing with the evolution in on-line and smart mobile retailing. Further concerns include an unwillingness of policymakers to address the changing retail environment and how business rates and general business taxation and regulation is making a difficult situation worse. Supply Chain Risk Report According to the latest Global Supply Chain Risk Report, published by Cranfield School of Management and Dan & Badstreet, those under pressure, are now facing increased exposure to risk if they are forced to cut costs in their supply chain. The report cites data for the retail sector that shows increased levels of risk-taking since Q4 2018, with retailers reporting high levels of dependency on suppliers and indicating a propensity to off-shore to low-cost, high-risk countries where suppliers are more likely to be financially unstable. In-Store technology revolution The underlying evolution of technology taking hold of the retail industry and consequential changing consumer behavior is what is really forcing the industry to step up and act. This is not only in the shift to online and smart mobile purchases, but also with the increased use of technology in store. Self-scanning and checkouts In a bid to enhance the physical shop experience, especially in supermarket outlets across the UK, retailers are increasingly giving customers autonomy with self-scanners and checkouts and need to be able to trust them to ensure an honest transaction. And for the shoppers, this dependency on technology and not human interaction to complete a shop means scanners must be instantly available and ready for use. Many different underlying competing challenges impact the retail industry Compensators At the recent British Retail Consortium’s ‘Charting the Future’ conference, looking at retail crime and security, Dr Emmeline Taylor, a criminologist at the City University of London identified in self -service shops, several new types of ‘offenders’ such as so-called ‘compensators’ including the atypical ‘frustrated consumer’ who, “fully intended to pay but were unable to scan an item properly”, adding to the security challenge. There are clearly many different underlying competing challenges impacting the retail industry. Arguably, the increase in technology and autonomous shopping, where less staff are present (or staff cuts planned) throws up more vulnerabilities, such as the opportunity for store theft. Use of body cameras Staff needs emerging technology such as body cameras to act as a deterrent to crime and keep employees safe Furthermore, staff may need greater use of emerging technology such as body cameras to act as a deterrent to crime and help keep employees safe. In essence, prevention is better than cure, and it’s certainly cheaper. Whether combating crime physically or online, or looking to find ways to counter the high street trends, working together, sharing information and taking a more holistic approach will help the development of a shared language between retailers. Retail Banking It is also here where common approaches can help to deliver on efficiencies, in time, resource and budget that can serve to operate right through the supply chain, and minimize, or even negate the need to take any risks. It can even serve to enhance the customer experience, increasing confidence in the shopping environment. Of course, when discussing the high street, it is not just the department stores and chains that are feeling the impact. Well known banks are also having to redefine their priorities and role on the high street, with customers (especially younger generations) demanding a more efficient service than ever before. Well known banks are also having to redefine their priorities and role on the high street Asset protection Leading the way is Nationwide, globally renowned building society, which prides itself on being one of the largest savings providers and mortgages provider in the UK, promoting itself as running purely for the benefit of its customers, or ‘members.’ Richard Newland, Director of Branch & Workplace Transformation at Nationwide said, “Even more than getting a good ‘deal’ from a building society, the quality of our welcome, or our renowned level of service, we make sure our members feel safe with us, enough to trust us with their greatest assets. We are doing everything we can to evolve our business and focus our efforts on providing the best and most secure services that people value.” Key management systems Traka has supported Nationwide with the introduction of dedicated key management systems So committed to its branch network, it has pledged to its 15 million members that every town and city with a Nationwide branch, will still have one for at least the next two years. A bold statement in today’s climate. Traka has supported Nationwide with the introduction of dedicated key management systems, moving its branch network into a more digital system. Keys no longer need to leave site and the audit trail capability has helped to remove the manual paper recording, allowing status of keys to be established instantly, at any time. Changes in retail market This example, together with Traka’s portfolio of high street brands and globally renowned department stores that cannot be named for security reasons, demonstrates the need for retailers to embrace the need for change, both from a product offering and operational running perspective to achieve aspirations of resonating with customers. They also prove the opportunities for success, in an unquestionable difficult market environment. If retailers can listen to customers and respond accordingly, taking into consideration staff safety and security, alongside an ability to respond quickly to personalized enquiries and expectations. This way, perhaps, the current environment can be seen as an opportunity to innovate and embrace technology to form the high street of the future.
Critical infrastructure facilities that must secure large areas with extended outer boundary and numerous entry points, present a particularly difficult challenge when it comes to perimeter protection. As such, true end-to-end perimeter protection calls for the utilization of a sophisticated, multi-layered solution that is capable of defending against anticipated threats. Integrated systems that incorporate thermal imaging, visible cameras, radar and strong command and control software are crucial for covering the various potential areas of attacks. Let’s look at these technologies and the five key functions they enable to achieve an end-to-end solution that provides intrusion detection, assessment and defense for the perimeter. 1. Threat Recognition The first step in effectively defending against a threat is recognizing that it’s there. By combining state-of-the-art intrusion detection technologies, facilities can arm themselves with a head start against possible intruders. An exceptionally important aspect of effective perimeter protection is the ability to conduct 24-hour surveillance, regardless of weather conditions, environmental settings, or time of day. Visible cameras do not perform as well in low light scenarios and inclement weather conditions. However, thermal imaging cameras can provide constant protection against potential intruders, regardless of visual limitations, light source or many environmental factors. In fact, facilities such as power stations located near bodies of water can use thermal cameras to create what is known as a “thermal virtual fence” in areas where they are unable to utilize the protection of a physical fence or wall. Deterring suspicious activity can be achieved through real-time two-way audio, a simple but powerful tool Critical infrastructure applications require not only continuous video surveillance and monitoring, but also a solution that yields highly reliable intrusion detection, with fewer false alarms. This need makes advanced video analytics a must for any adequate surveillance system. Features like dynamic event detection and simplified data presentation are game changing in supporting accurate intrusion analysis and facilitating a proactive response. Advanced analytics will provide multiple automated alarm notification options, including email, edge image storage, digital outputs or video management software (VMS) alarms. Incorporating high quality, unique and adaptive analytics can virtually eliminate false alarms, allowing security personnel to respond more efficiently and effectively, while also lowering overall cost for the end user. While surveillance technologies such as radar, thermal imaging and visible cameras, or video analytics work well on their own, utilizing all of these options together provides an advanced perimeter detection system. For example, ground surveillance radar can detect possible threats beyond the fence line as they approach and send a signal to pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, triggering them to slew to a specific location. From there, embedded analytics and visible cameras can further identify objects, notify authorized staff, and collect additional evidence through facial recognition or high-quality photos. 2. Automatic Response Systems Once an intrusion attempt is discovered, it is important to act fast. Organizing a response system that can initiate actions based on GPS location data, such as the slewing of PTZ cameras, automated intruder tracking or activated lighting sensors, greatly increases staff’s situational awareness while easing their workload. For instance, thermal imagers deployed in conjunction with video analytics can be used to generate an initial alarm event, which can then trigger a sequence of other security equipment and notifications for personnel to eventually respond to. Having all of this in place essentially lays the entire situation out in a way that allows responders to accurately understand and evaluate a scene. Power stations located near bodies of water can use thermal cameras to create a “thermal virtual fence” in areas where they are unable to utilize the protection of a physical fence or wall 3. Deterring Suspicious Activity After the designated auto-response mechanisms have activated and done their job, it is time for responders to acknowledge and assess the situation. From here, authorized personnel can take the next appropriate step toward defending against and delaying the threat. Deterring suspicious activity can be achieved through real-time two-way audio, a simple but powerful tool. Often, control room operators can diffuse a situation by speaking over an intercom, telling the trespasser that they are being watched and that the authorities have been notified. This tactic, known as ‘talk down’, also allows officers to view the intruder’s reaction to their commands and evaluate what they feel the best next step is. If individuals do not respond in a desired manner, it may be time to take more serious action and dispatch a patrolman to the area. 4. Delay, Defend, Dispatch And Handle The possible danger has been identified, recognized and evaluated. Now it is time to effectively defend against current attacks and slow down both cyber and physical perpetrators’ prospective efforts. Through the use of a well-designed, open platform VMS, security monitors can manage edge devices and other complementary intrusion detection and response technologies, including acoustic sensors, video analytics, access control and radio dispatch. A robust VMS also enables operators to control functions such as video replay, geographical information systems tracking, email alerts and hand-off to law enforcement. With the right combination of technologies, facilities can take monitoring and evidence collection to the next level The primary purpose of the delay facet of the overall perimeter protection strategy is to stall an attempted intrusion long enough for responders to act. Access control systems play a key role in realizing this objective. When a security officer sees a non-compliant, suspicious individual on the camera feed, the officer can lock all possible exits to trap them in one area all through the VMS. 5. Intelligence: Collect Evidence And Debrief More data and intelligence collected from an event equals more crucial evidence for crime resolution and valuable insight for protecting against future incidents. With the right combination of technologies, facilities can take monitoring and evidence collection to the next level. One innovative resource that has become available is a live streaming application that can be uploaded to smart phones and used for off-site surveillance. This app gives personnel the power to follow intruders with live video anywhere and allows operators to monitor alarm video in real-time. Geographic Information System (GIS) maps are computer systems utilized for capturing, storing, reviewing, and displaying location related data. Capable of displaying various types of data on one map, this system enables users to see, analyze, easily and efficiently. Multi-sensor cameras, possessing both visible and thermal capabilities, provide high-contrast imaging for superb analytic detection (in any light) and High Definition video for evidence such as facial ID or license plate capture. Integrating these two, usually separated, camera types into one helps to fill any gaps that either may normally have. Still, in order to capture and store all of this valuable information and more, a robust, VMS is required. Recorded video, still images and audio clips serve as valuable evidence in the event that a trial must take place to press charges. Control room operators can use data collection tools within their VMS to safely transfer video evidence from the field to the courtroom with just a few clicks of their mouse. More advanced video management systems can go a step further and package this data with other pertinent evidence to create a comprehensive report to help ensure conviction.
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