Vicon have manufactured video management solutions for airports and ports throughout the world.Vicon have manufactured video management solutions for airports and ports throughout the world.  For St. Paul International Airport, Minneapolis, simply wanting a high performance CCTV system wasn't enough.  They wanted a system that could be expanded over an extended period of time without replacing the existing infrastructure.  They found that solution in the Vicon family of video products and a business relationship that began almost 10 years ago is still going strong.

Building a better airport

As part of an ongoing airport improvement project in the early 1990s, Minneapolis International Airport embarked on a video expansion program that began with 16 cameras and has now grown to more than 800 cameras.

To do this, they called on a Minnesota security system integrator, Pro-Tec Design. "We were asked if we could provide services on their existing system of 16 cameras," recalls Tom Hagen, president of Pro-Tec Design.  "The desired goal was to expand the camera security system throughout the airport facility into multiple buildings located at multiple locations throughout the 3300 acre site.  They wanted to be able to expand camera security into those locations, yet have the ability to view any camera from multiple monitoring areas, regardless of where the camera was located."

"We were offered the opportunity to bring in our recommendations," Tom Hagen said.  One of the performance tests was to set up live cameras to view outdoor activity at dusk.  "We tested several different cameras.  The selection team was viewing the camera pictures on a monitor inside one of the concourses.  One particular camera produced an outstanding picture in the low-light conditions.  The monitor view appeared to be from an earlier time of the day during normal daytime conditions.  It was one of the Vicon cameras that was the reason Vicon have manufactured video management solutions for airports and ports throughout the world.they selected Vicon," Tom Hagen recalls.  Another was the design of the system using a concept of distributed architecture, which at the time was quite unique.

This design allowed airport personnel to accomplish one of their main goals, which was to be able to view a camera from any viewing location, even if the camera was on the opposite side of the airport.

Another benefit was the ability to assign priorities or "seize levels" to each camera.  "If we have one controller that is a higher priority, they would automatically take control of the camera over someone else who may be using it at the time," explains Tom Germundson, Security Consultant for the airport.

Expanding the Vicon system

Once the initial Vicon system was in place, the airport gradually added on, upgraded and incorporated new technologies as their needs changed.

One prime example of evolving technology was the migration from analog VCRs to digital video recorders (DVRs).  "Originally the recording was done on VCRs connected to 16-channel multiplexers," said Tom Hagen.  "Now that has all been migrated into a distributed, networked architecture of digital video recorders, using ViconNet software to view live and recorded video from cameras located throughout the facility.  That has been a very important and useful improvement for people who use the system.  It replaced a method of finding recorded video that was so cumbersome.  The new system is much, much easier to use."

Beginning about two years ago, the airport migrated from the old VCRs to Vicon's newest DVR technology, the Kollector Elite.  "The move to DVRs was the airport's most recent, significant upgrade," added Tom Vicon have manufactured video management solutions for airports and ports throughout the world.Germundson.  "We waited for the Elite so we could gain that technology."

What they gained by waiting for the technology that best fits their needs was the ability to have truly user-friendly documentation and the ability to quickly access the video information they need.

"We've had incidents where oversized vehicles have entered the parking garage and knocked the video out of the ceiling," Tom Germundson said.  "We can now locate that vehicle, and when the person comes back, they get a notice that they owe x amount for damages.  Finding and using video evidence on VCRs is difficult.  You can't share information as easily.  It's a lot more cumbersome.  It's not usually worth the time, so people would avoid doing it."

The system in use

The system today features 800 plus fixed or pan-tilt-zoom cameras.  Live and recorded video is available on a network of fifty-four DVRs where camera views can be pulled up by authorized personnel, in a prioritized manner.

"If we are looking for an individual, we can quickly gain access to the video information," Germundson says.  "We also have a graphical user interface.  We can easily find the right camera to use if an individual went down a specific concourse.  We can see an incident to determine what happened.  If there is damage to property, we can locate the video and see what caused it."

Of course, no system is perfect, and almost no installation goes off without a hitch. Over the years, there have been desired improvements, some of which could only be remedied as technology itself advanced.  The Vicon have manufactured video management solutions for airports and ports throughout the world.Kollector Elites are a prime example.

The original DVRs had a 440 Gigabyte hard drive.  "The ones we had originally had too little storage for our needs," said Tom Germundson.  "They did not give us enough recording time.  We weren't really able to fix it except as time moved on and Vicon provided larger storage capacities."  The current DVRs contain a 1.2 Terabyte hard drive.

Going forward, the airport has plans to continue the expansion of their system. "We are possibly looking at things like perimeter detection, maybe incorporating software-enhanced video, which we could set up so if a person crossed a certain location in a certain direction, it would trigger an alarm."

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

The Post-Pandemic Mandate For Entertainment Venues: Digitally Transform Security Guards
The Post-Pandemic Mandate For Entertainment Venues: Digitally Transform Security Guards

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.

Why Visualization Platforms Are Vital For An Effective Security Operation Center (SOC)
Why Visualization Platforms Are Vital For An Effective Security Operation Center (SOC)

Display solutions play a key role in SOCs in providing the screens needed for individuals and teams to visualize and share the multiple data sources needed in an SOC today. Security Operation Center (SOC) Every SOC has multiple sources and inputs, both physical and virtual, all of which provide numerous data points to operators, in order to provide the highest levels of physical and cyber security, including surveillance camera feeds, access control and alarm systems for physical security, as well as dashboards and web apps for cyber security applications. Today’s advancements in technology and computing power not only have increasingly made security systems much more scalable, by adding hundreds, if not thousands, of more data points to an SOC, but the rate at which the data comes in has significantly increased as well. Accurate monitoring and surveillance This has made monitoring and surveillance much more accurate and effective, but also more challenging for operators, as they can’t realistically monitor the hundreds, even thousands of cameras, dashboards, calls, etc. in a reactive manner. Lacking situational awareness is often one of the primary factors in poor decision making In order for operators in SOC’s to be able to mitigate incidents in a less reactive way and take meaningful action, streamlined actionable data is needed. This is what will ensure operators in SOC truly have situational awareness. Situational awareness is a key foundation of effective decision making. In its simplest form, ‘It is knowing what is going on’. Lacking situational awareness is often one of the primary factors in poor decision making and in accidents attributed to human error. Achieving ‘true’ situational awareness Situational awareness isn’t just what has already happened, but what is likely to happen next and to achieve ‘true’ situational awareness, a combination of actionable data and the ability to deliver that information or data to the right people, at the right time. This is where visualization platforms (known as visual networking platforms) that provide both the situational real estate, as well as support for computer vision and AI, can help SOCs achieve true situational awareness Role of computer vision and AI technologies Proactive situational awareness is when the data coming into the SOC is analyzed in real time and then, brought forward to operators who are decision makers and key stakeholders in near real time for actionable visualization. Computer vision is a field of Artificial Intelligence that trains computers to interpret and understand digital images and videos. It is a way to automate tasks that the human visual system can also carry out, the automatic extraction, analysis and understanding of useful information from a single image or a sequence of images. There are numerous potential value adds that computer vision can provide to operation centers of different kinds. Here are some examples: Face Recognition: Face detection algorithms can be applied to filter and identify an individual. Biometric Systems: AI can be applied to biometric descriptions such as fingerprint, iris, and face matching. Surveillance: Computer vision supports IoT cameras used to monitor activities and movements of just about any kind that might be related to security and safety, whether that's on the job safety or physical security. Smart Cities: AI and computer vision can be used to improve mobility through quantitative, objective and automated management of resource use (car parks, roads, public squares, etc.) based on the analysis of CCTV data. Event Recognition: Improve the visualization and the decision-making process of human operators or existing video surveillance solutions, by integrating real-time video data analysis algorithms to understand the content of the filmed scene and to extract the relevant information from it. Monitoring: Responding to specific tasks in terms of continuous monitoring and surveillance in many different application frameworks: improved management of logistics in storage warehouses, counting of people during event gatherings, monitoring of subway stations, coastal areas, etc. Computer Vision applications When considering a Computer Vision application, it’s important to ensure that the rest of the infrastructure in the Operation Center, for example the solution that drives the displays and video walls, will connect and work well with the computer vision application. The best way to do this of course is to use a software-driven approach to displaying information and data, rather than a traditional AV hardware approach, which may present incompatibilities. Software-defined and open technology solutions Software-defined and open technology solutions provide a wider support for any type of application the SOC may need Software-defined and open technology solutions provide a wider support for any type of application the SOC may need, including computer vision. In the modern world, with everything going digital, all security services and applications have become networked, and as such, they belong to IT. AV applications and services have increasingly become an integral part of an organization’s IT infrastructure. Software-defined approach to AV IT teams responsible for data protection are more in favor of a software-defined approach to AV that allow virtualised, open technologies as opposed to traditional hardware-based solutions. Software’s flexibility allows for more efficient refreshment cycles, expansions and upgrades. The rise of AV-over-IP technologies have enabled IT teams in SOC’s to effectively integrate AV solutions into their existing stack, greatly reducing overhead costs, when it comes to technology investments, staff training, maintenance, and even physical infrastructure. AV-over-IP software platforms Moreover, with AV-over-IP, software-defined AV platforms, IT teams can more easily integrate AI and Computer Vision applications within the SOC, and have better control of the data coming in, while achieving true situational awareness. Situational awareness is all about actionable data delivered to the right people, at the right time, in order to address security incidents and challenges. Situational awareness is all about actionable data delivered to the right people Often, the people who need to know about security risks or breaches are not physically present in the operation centers, so having the data and information locked up within the four walls of the SOC does not provide true situational awareness. hyper-scalable visual platforms Instead there is a need to be able to deliver the video stream, the dashboard of the data and information to any screen anywhere, at any time — including desktops, tablets phones — for the right people to see, whether that is an executive in a different office or working from home, or security guards walking the halls or streets. New technologies are continuing to extend the reach and the benefits of security operation centers. However, interoperability plays a key role in bringing together AI, machine learning and computer vision technologies, in order to ensure data is turned into actionable data, which is delivered to the right people to provide ‘true’ situational awareness. Software-defined, AV-over-IP platforms are the perfect medium to facilitate this for any organizations with physical and cyber security needs.

Gunshot Detectors Shorten Response Times And Make Cities Safer
Gunshot Detectors Shorten Response Times And Make Cities Safer

Gunshot detectors use digital microphones installed on (or in) buildings or along streets that listen for evidence of gunshots, provide near instantaneous notification, triangulate the location of shooters and direction of a shot, detect the type of gun and ultimately aid in catching fleeing suspects and solving crimes. Gunshot detection is just one technology playing a role in the larger trend by city agencies to improve core city services. Cities are turning to what are referred to as ‘smart city’ solutions – new, innovative technologies that improve and maintain a high quality of life and ‘liveability’ for citizens. Several cities in the United States have implemented gunshot detection systems. Identifying And Deterring Gun Violence ShotSpotter, a provider of gunshot detection solutions that help law enforcement officials and security personnel identify, locate and deter gun violence, announced that seven new cities have deployed ShotSpotter technology in their communities. Gunshot detection systems can shorten the response time in an active shooter situation The new cities include Cincinnati, OH; Jacksonville, FL; Louisville, KY; Newburgh, NY; Pittsfield, MA; Syracuse, NY and St. Louis County, MO – joining the more than 90 jurisdictions that rely on ShotSpotter to ensure a fast, accurate response to gunfire incidents. Three existing ShotSpotter cities, New York City, Chicago and Birmingham have also recently expanded their coverage areas. Gunshot detection systems can shorten the response time in an active shooter situation. Early detection should be a primary aim, second only to prevention. Security professionals must be part of both of these areas, working in partnership with relevant administrators, local government, law enforcement, first responders and the community to help prevent and better respond to gun violence. Gunshot Localization Solution In addition, active shooter events – large or small – are almost always sudden and unexpected, which places a burden on security personnel to manage these risks without creating a prison-like environment. A gunshot localization solution can turn a video camera system into a real-time safety system in the event of an active shooter A gunshot localization solution can turn a video camera system into a real-time safety system in the event of an active shooter. Called ShotPoint, the system is completely automated. Working with a video management system (VMS), it can enable a video image of an active shooter to be provided in seconds based on the location of a gunshot. ShotPoint is a network of sensors which can be mounted on walls, ceilings, streetlight poles or other indoor or outdoor locations. Using a ‘sensor mesh approach’, ShotPoint reliably detects and localizes the source of gunfire; ranging from small handguns to high caliber rifles. The system can cover large indoor or outdoor areas such as schools, office buildings, retail centers, campuses, and parks. Accurately Provides Gunshot Location Each sensor has an array of four acoustic channels (microphones) that can locate the source of a gunshot sound, the time of arrival and the time distance of arrival. ‘Hearing’ shots from several vantage points (using multiple sensors) enables the system to take into account the angle and time of the sound, which vary in different environments, thus accurately providing the location of the gunshot. A ‘fusion processor’ box (at the edge) listens to the various sensor nodes and computes the location of the gunshot, relative to a floorplan and/or based on global positioning system (GPS) location. In an outdoor location, additional information may also be inferred, such as the trajectory of the gunshot and/or the caliber of the firearm.