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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.
Steven Kenny, Axis Communications, looks at the benefits of physical access control systems within smart environments, and how knowledge gaps and dated methods can inhibit adoption. Physical security is becoming more dynamic and more interconnected, as it evolves. Today’s modern access control solutions are about so much more than simply opening doors, with digitalization bringing multiple business benefits, which would simply not be possible using traditional models. Digital transformation While the digital transformation of processes and systems was already well underway, across many industries and sectors, it is the transformation of physical security from a standalone, isolated circuit, to a network-enabled, intelligent security solution that brings many benefits to the smart environment. Yet, with more organizations now looking to bring their physical security provision up to date, there are many considerations that must be addressed to maximize the potential of access control and video surveillance. Not least of which is that connecting physical security devices to a network presents risk, so it is increasingly important for IT teams to play a role in helping to facilitate the secure integration of physical and network technologies, as these two worlds increasingly converge. Improved access control in smart environments These urban constructs are capable of reducing waste, driving efficiencies and optimising resources The smart city offers significant benefits, reflected in the US$ 189 billion that is anticipated to be spent on smart city initiatives globally by 2023. These urban constructs are capable of reducing waste, driving efficiencies, optimizing resources and increasing citizen engagement. Technology, which is increasingly being incorporated to protect access points within the smart environment, can take many forms. These range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems, using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification, right through to complex networks of thermal cameras, audio speakers and sensors. Frictionless access control During the COVID-19 pandemic, frictionless access control has provided an effective ‘hands free’ means of accessing premises, using methods such as QR code readers and facial recognition as credentials to prove identity. Frictionless access control brings health and safety into the equation, as well as the security of entrances and exits, minimizing the risk of infection, by removing the need to touch shared surfaces. Such systems can be customized and scaled to meet precise requirements. Yet, an increasing integration with open technologies and platforms requires collaboration between the worlds of physical security and IT, in order to be successful. Barriers to adoption Traditional suppliers and installers of physical security systems have built up a strong business model around their expertise, service and knowledge. Network connectivity and the IoT (Internet of Things) present a constantly shifting landscape, requiring the traditional physical security vendor to learn the language of IT, of open platforms, IP connectivity and software integration, in order to adapt to market changes and remain relevant. Many are now beginning to realize that connected network-enabled solutions are here to stay Those who cannot adapt, and are simply not ready for this changing market, risk being left behind, as the physical security landscape continues to shift and demand continues to increase. With end users and buyers looking for smarter, more integrated and business-focused solutions from their suppliers, it is clear that only those who are prepared will succeed in this space. Time will not stand still, and many are now beginning to realize that connected network-enabled solutions are here to stay, particularly within smart constructs which rely on such technology by their very nature. The importance of cyber hygiene Connecting any device to a network has a degree of risk, and it is, therefore, imperative that any provider not only understands modern connected technologies, but also the steps necessary to protect corporate networks. Cameras, access control systems and IP audio devices, which have been left unprotected, can potentially become backdoors into a network and used as access points by hackers. These vulnerabilities can be further compromised by the proliferation of connected devices within the Internet of Things (IoT). While the connection of devices to a network brings many advantages, there is greater potential for these devices to be used against the very business or industry they have been employed to protect when vulnerabilities are exploited. Cyber security considerations Cyber security considerations should, therefore, be a key factor in the development and deployment of new security systems. Access control technologies should be manufactured according to recognized cyber security principles, incident reporting and best practices. It is important to acknowledge that the cyber integrity of a system is only as strong as its weakest link and that any potential source of cyber exposure will ultimately impact negatively on a device’s ability to provide the necessary high levels of physical security. The future of access control There is a natural dispensation towards purchasing low-cost solutions There is a natural dispensation towards purchasing low-cost solutions that are perceived as offering the same value as their more expensive equivalents. While some have taken the decision to implement such solutions, in an attempt to unlock the required benefits, while saving their bottom line, the limited lifespan of these technologies puts a heavier cost and reputational burden onto organizations by their association. The future of access control, and of physical security as a whole, will, therefore, be dependent on the willingness of suppliers to implement new designs and new ways of thinking, based around high-quality products, and to influence the installers and others in their supply chains to embrace this new world. Cyber security key to keeping businesses safe In addition, cyber security considerations are absolutely vital for keeping businesses safe. The integration of cyber secure technologies from trusted providers will provide peace of mind around the safety or corporate networks, and integrity of the deployed technologies. As we move forward, access control systems will become data collection points and door controllers will become intelligent I/O devices. QR codes for visitor management and biometric face recognition for frictionless access control will increasingly be managed at the edge, as analytics in a camera or sensor. The future of access control presents an exciting and challenging time for those ready to accept it, to secure it and to help shape it, offering a true opportunity to innovate for a smarter, safer world.
Eagle Eye Networks, the global pioneer in cloud video surveillance, showcases solutions for its reseller partners serving enterprise and multisite customers at ISC West 2021. The show will take place from July 19-21. Eagle Eye Networks resellers comprise small independents, regionals, as well as larger nationals. “Our resellers brought more enterprise and multisite customers during the pandemic, and we are seeing this trend continue unabated in the first half of 2021 as vaccination rates rise and North America returns to work,” said Dean Drako, CEO of Eagle Eye Networks. Investments in cloud surveillance solutions According to a report from research organization Gartner, businesses around the globe are expected to spend $304.9 billion on public cloud services in 2021, representing an 18.4% increase over 2020. Organizations are hastening their digital business transformation plans spurred on by on-demand, scalable cloud models that achieve cost efficiency and business continuity, the report said. At ISC West, current and prospective customers are invited to stop by Booth 11047, where the Eagle Eye Networks team will be on hand to discuss how a true cloud video surveillance platform can reliably meet the requirements of enterprise customers while delivering cybersecurity assurance, business intelligence, and importantly, the flexibility to change and scale systems to ensure investments are future-proof. AI and surveillance offerings Eagle Eye offers: Technical, cybersecurity, customer service, and sales expertise and support from a global organization. Eagle Eye’s knowledgeable staff and resources are in regions across North America and around the globe to serve our valued customers. Video surveillance with artificial intelligence (AI) which offers limitless possibilities for keeping communities secure and engaged, helping business improve operations and customer service, and enabling manufacturers to build higher quality products in safer environments. New products such as the Eagle Eye 4G, Direct-to-Cloud Body Camera for the commercial market which extends a video surveillance system to improve staff safety and accountability, trigger an immediate response and provide valuable evidence, all while protecting assets and keeping communities safe. Eagle Eye Networks Open API platform that enables integration such as License Plate Recognition so users can easily manage access to gates and barriers, and search images, videos, and information with a centralized system, and access control so that security professionals can manage events in real-time with streamlined access control and video surveillance from a single user interface.
Eagle Eye Networks, the globally renowned company in cloud video surveillance solutions, has introduced the first-of-its-kind 4G, direct-to-cloud body camera, designed specifically for commercial use. This new offering provides commercial customers with affordable access to feature-rich, professional-grade body camera services, which improve staff safety and accountability, triggers an immediate response, and provides valuable evidence, all while protecting assets and keeping communities safe. Eagle Eye Body Cameras are now available for order with delivery in Q3. 4G, direct-to-cloud body cameras Body cameras dissuade aggression, improve accountability, and reduce false accusations Body cameras dissuade aggression, improve accountability, and reduce false accusations. Employees from private security guards to retail staff, in-home service providers, and delivery workers feel safer and more valued, when wearing body cameras. Global research organization, Omdia has identified body cameras in non-law enforcement applications as a top trend in 2021, saying the potential addressable market for commercial body-worn cameras dwarfs that of law enforcement. In the U.S. alone, Omdia estimates private security guards outnumber police officers 2-to-1 and says new commercial body camera users, in retail, for example, are rapidly emerging. Commercial body-worn cameras “The commercial body-worn camera market is ripe for new entrants,” said Paul Bremner, Principal Analyst in Omdia's critical communications group, adding “Features such as cloud connectivity, 4G, live streaming, GPS, and price, are important to retailers, delivery services, guards, and others in the commercial sector.” Paul Bremner adds, “New body cam providers who can break the old law enforcement body camera mold with reasonably priced, feature-rich, professional-grade body cameras are positioning themselves to fill a growing need the commercial market is searching for,” Eagle Eye CameraManager platform Fixed IP cameras integrated with 4G-enabled body cameras represent the extension of video cloud services" Resellers are welcoming the arrival of body cameras that meet their needs. Jaime Abad Valdenebro, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at OmniCloud, said he is excited that Eagle Eye Networks is launching commercial body camera support to its Eagle Eye CameraManager platform. Jaime Abad Valdenebro said, “Fixed IP cameras integrated with 4G-enabled body cameras represent the extension of video cloud services in a real mobile environment, providing a new disruptive video surveillance solution.” Enhanced protection for security guards Valdenebro adds, “In a smart city application, Eagle Eye's new 4G, direct-to-cloud body cams will provide extra protection for security guards and ensure patrols are completed on time. The 4G is important, because it gives the user live access to body camera video. It will make a high performance true cloud video surveillance system even more powerful.” With Eagle Eye body cameras, users can: Use 4G or Wi-Fi for live streaming, real-time remote viewing, and direct-to-cloud recording. Blend fixed, mobile, and body-worn cameras, making it easier for your entire surveillance system to work together. Stream to a monitoring or security operations center and use geo-tagging for immediate response and support. Experience a larger viewing area with fish-eye capabilities that are dewarped in the Eagle Eye Cloud Management Application. Manage a large number of cameras in the Cloud and watch from a control room. Use two-way audio to clearly communicate. Protect people at work and in the community. Future-proof investment with hardened cameras that offer ‘law enforcement-level’ durability and quality at an affordable price. Gain flexibility for live streaming and video retrieval during docking with rapid recharge capabilities. Body cameras connecting to the Cloud “The demand for high-quality body cameras that connect to the Cloud has been growing for several years, accelerating even more with the pandemic, social unrest, and the shift to providing more in-home, curbside, and remote services,” said Dean Drako, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Eagle Eye Networks. Dean adds, “Traditional law enforcement body cameras use a high-dollar subscription model, which is too steeply priced for commercial customers. Eagle Eye Networks will support the new Eagle Eye Body Cameras at the same low subscription cost of fixed cameras, making the solution affordable for commercial customers accustomed to paying up front for advanced cameras with affordable long-term subscriptions.” Rapid replacement service Body cameras are initially available on the Eagle Eye Networks CameraManager platform, with availability on the Eagle Eye Cloud Video Management System (VMS) in 2022. The Eagle Eye body cams can also be protected with Eagle Eye Networks industry-renowned rapid replacement service.
Eagle Eye Networks, the pioneer in cloud video surveillance, and CONXTD, an innovative security management solution provider, announces a unified solution that solves the disconnect between video surveillance and intrusion (burglar) alarm systems. The integration creates a platform where Eagle Eye Networks’ VSaaS solution brings video verification, live video, and cloud storage to CONXTD’s risk management and monitoring solution. Video surveillance system This platform allows security managers to manage sites, collaborate with their teams, and view real-time reports and notifications. “Eagle Eye Networks and CONXTD share a vision, which includes making security easier and more accessible for users,” said Rishi Lodhia, Managing Director of Eagle Eye Networks. Eagle Eye Networks and CONXTD share a vision, which includes making security easier" “Our open API (application processing interface) platform offers endless possibilities and makes it feasible to transform your video surveillance system into an even more powerful tool. It creates a great partnership from which our joint customers experience exceptional value.” Reducing false alarms Users can configure CONXTD to access video in the Eagle Eye platform when an event is received from an alarm system. For example, the user may want to monitor video when a door access event or burglar alarm occurs. In addition to enhancing security, the system also reduces false alarms. “Our end users want to easily manage the performance and security of their premises. In the past, this would be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring the security team to use different manufacturers’ receivers and applications,” said Chris Carter-Brennan, Founder and CEO of CONXTD. “By integrating with Eagle Eye’s open, secure API, we’ve created a platform for integrators who install and maintain security solutions without the need for multiple apps, receivers, or special software.”
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