The latest surveillance offering from Magpie can be spotted in the Nottingham area
The solution includes a pair of surveillance vans deployed with
guards to patrol high risk sites

When Mercury Fire & Security was asked to create a fully mobile CCTV solution for Nottingham-based client Magpie Security, it turned to Hikvision to confront the triple perils of dust, vibration and the British weather. Lewis Foster, Mercury's General Manager, and Sam Futer, Technical Operations Manager at Magpie Security, provide more details on the UK's speediest surveillance solution

The Client: Magpie Security

Magpie Security is one of the UK's leading security and training companies, providing its clients with comprehensive security services specially tailored to their requirements. With a client base of businesses both large and small throughout the UK, the company's projects are highly diverse and often require equipment sourced from several different hardware producers.

The latest offering from Magpie can be spotted in the Nottingham area: a pair of surveillance vans deployed with guards to patrol sensitive and high risk sites where a strong security presence is required. The vans were developed with Mercury Fire & Security, which supplied the Hikvision cameras and Network Video Recorders that lie at the heart of this unique CCTV solution. Mercury also installed a solar panel and batteries to power the system without continuously running the vehicles' engines and sourced a 3G router from Eseye Communications. Depending on the success of the project over an initial trial period, the new solution will be rolled out to additional vehicles in the near future.

Pushing The Limits of Mobile Security

The process of constructing a fully mobile security solution rather than the usual stationary system presents a different kind of challenge for implementation teams. Both vehicles are fitted with 4 HD turret cameras, with one van also equipped with a PTZ camera and NVR to act as a kind of mobile HQ. But this equipment faces an environmental and durability challenge far beyond the majority of conventional stationary CCTV solutions.

"Vibration is the main challenge with this setup but, so far, the Hikvision cameras have withstood several months without a hiccup"

Lewis Foster, General Manager at Mercury Fire & Security, says, "Being vehicle mounted, the cameras and recorder are obviously in a harsh environment. The vehicle is expected to still drive at 70mph, to withstand the usual potholes and speed bumps, and to be operable 24 hours a day. Vibration is the main challenge with this setup but, so far, the Hikvision cameras have withstood several months without a hiccup. Obviously the large PTZ camera that we fitted is a little more delicate and so, for reliability, this is strapped during transit. In any case, it has been very reliable and performed faultlessly.

"Magpie Security requested internet access to the cameras meaning a capable 3G router was required and this streams the video live to guards on site on their mobile phones so they can patrol and still utilize the vehicle. Fortunately the IVMS-4500 app allows this to securely be easily set up on a number of guards' phones."

CCTV Capabilities

Lewis says each vehicle is equipped with four DS-2CD2332-I turret cameras. "For us, the EXIR infrared on these cameras is unbeatable," he says. "In trials, we found that dome cameras can suffer from reflection of the IR but the turret cameras are absolutely perfect. They're sealed, so there's no risk of moisture getting into the camera, they're easily adjusted if necessary, and the image quality is fantastic. They give full 360 degree coverage around the van and ensure nothing is missed while tracking with the PTZ for further detail.

"The strong mounting brackets have withstood the vibration from driving without issue, which was critical to the success of the entire project"

"The competitive price of the entry level Hikvision DS-2DE7184-A IP PTZ was the primary reason for using it in this trial system but the image quality, IR range, and optical zoom have blown away our client. At the same time, the strong mounting brackets have withstood the vibration from driving without issue, which was critical to the success of the entire project. The PTZ allows the operative in the vehicle to track targets and to get a detailed view of the surrounding area and of distant objects.

"We were confident that the turret cameras themselves would withstand any vibration and so we have mounted them securely to the vehicle using standard brackets mounted to a bespoke frame created especially for the vehicle. The NVR is a little more sensitive due to the hard drive, so foam insulation was placed around the NVR to offer some cushioning during motion. Care was taken not to block up the vents in the NVR and this solution has proved to be very reliable, which is a testament to the quality of the Hikvision equipment.

"The HERA601 router has proven very reliable and gives solid 3G performance. The main vehicle battery is connected to the independent 200Ah CCTV batteries, which allows charging of all the batteries whenever the engine is running. In addition, the 250w solar panel we selected keeps the 200Ah batteries charged during the day, ready for night usage. All the CCTV equipment is powered through an inverter, including the on-board 40 inch monitor that gives a great view of all the cameras."

Potential For A New Security Market

The new mobile solution suggests a promising future for both Mercury Fire & Security and Magpie Security, with initial trials proving that the equipment is withstanding all the demands placed on a mobile solution. Sam Futer, Technical Operations Manager at Magpie Security, says, "This project has pushed the equipment to the limits in a harsh environment. Ensuring reliable operation of the equipment has been critical and solving the issues with solar power gives an eco-friendly solution, meaning the engine doesn't need to constantly be running. So far the equipment has stood up well to the inherent vibration and gives great quality for a price far below specifically-designed vehicle solutions."

"Hikvision has proven itself to be an exceptional force in the industry, frequently going far beyond the call of duty in helping us to deliver the solution we required"

On the future potential for both the new solution and the use of more Hikvision products within Mercury Security's business endeavors, Lewis Foster says, "This project may be the beginning of a new market for us. Vehicle-mounted CCTV has already been used by the police for years but, until now, the price has been prohibitive, with vehicle-mounted PTZ cameras costing many thousands. Now, we're able to offer quality equipment for a very competitive price. Certainly we hope to continue to partner with Magpie Security, offering additions to their existing vehicles and further CCTV vehicles as their contracts using the vehicles grow.

"Hikvision has proven itself to be an exceptional force in the industry, frequently going far beyond the call of duty in helping us to deliver the solution we required. Their equipment is extremely competitive and in our relatively short time with Hikvision we've noticed regular firmware upgrades and an obvious drive for excellence. There have been some inevitable occasions when something hasn't worked and the support through our distributors, Dynamic CCTV, has been fantastic. If they couldn't solve it, Dynamic have been happy to discuss options with Hikvision directly and tailored firmware has been offered. This just doesn't happen anywhere else and fills us with confidence for our future with Hikvision."

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

In case you missed it

Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security
Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security

At an Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility on Feb. 5, an operator watched a computer screen as someone remotely accessed the system monitoring the water supply and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small concentrations to control acidity in the water. In larger concentrations, the compound is poisonous – the same corrosive chemical used to eat away at clogged drains. The impact of cybersecurity attacks The incident is the latest example of how cybersecurity attacks can translate into real-world, physical security consequences – even deadly ones.Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. The computer system was set up to allow remote access only to authorized users. The source of the unauthorized access is unknown. However, the attacker was only in the system for 3 to 5 minutes, and an operator corrected the concentration back to 100 parts per million soon after. It would have taken a day or more for contaminated water to enter the system. In the end, the city’s water supply was not affected. There were other safeguards in place that would have prevented contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply, which serves around 15,000 residents. The remote access used for the attack was disabled pending an investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 2, a compilation of breached usernames and passwords, known as COMB for “Compilation of Many Breaches,” was leaked online. COMB contains 3.2 billion unique email/password pairs. It was later discovered that the breach included the credentials for the Oldsmar water plant. Water plant attacks feared for years Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attempt to poison the water supply should be treated as a “matter of national security.” “The incident at the Oldsmar water treatment plant is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is continually at risk; not only from nation-state attackers, but also from malicious actors with unknown motives and goals,” comments Mieng Lim, VP of Product Management at Digital Defense Inc., a provider of vulnerability management and threat assessment solutions.The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online “Our dependency on critical infrastructure – power grids, utilities, water supplies, communications, financial services, emergency services, etc. – on a daily basis emphasizes the need to ensure the systems are defended against any adversary,” Mieng Lim adds. “Proactive security measures are crucial to safeguard critical infrastructure systems when perimeter defenses have been compromised or circumvented. We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorized to connect to an organization's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorized devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organizations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organizations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. Fortunately, there were backup systems in place in Oldsmar. What could have been a tragedy instead became a cautionary tale. Both physical security and cybersecurity professionals should pay attention.

What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?
What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?

The COVID-19 global pandemic had a life-changing impact on all of us in 2020, including a multi-faceted jolt on the physical security industry. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see more clearly the exact nature and extent of that impact. And it’s not over yet: The pandemic will continue to be top-of-mind in 2021. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What have been the positive and negative effects of Covid-19 on the physical security industry in 2020? What impact will it have on 2021?

Maximising Supermarket Safety With Real-time Surveillance Solutions
Maximising Supermarket Safety With Real-time Surveillance Solutions

Supermarket employees have been the hidden key workers of the past year, keeping shelves stocked and queues under control as panic buying gripped the nation. As a result of being expected to enforce face covering and social distancing regulations, they also been asked to act as de-facto security guards alongside their existing duties. This is problematic as many employees have never had to deal with this kind of responsibility before, let alone received any conflict de-escalation training. In order to maintain the safety and security of their staff retailers must take additional steps to uphold their duty of care, with the NPCC recently specifying that it is the responsibility of retailers ‘to manage entry to their stores and compliance with the law while customers are inside’. Supermarkets in particular need to be aware of this requirement, as the big four recently announced that their employees would now be challenging customers shopping in groups and those not wearing masks. Verbal abuse from the public Crime against retail employees has already been a major issue over the course of the pandemic, confirmed by research from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers that found 90% of retail staff in the UK experienced verbal abuse last year. The Co-op has recently been vocal about the effects of the pandemic and lockdown-related frustrations on its employees.90% of retail staff in the UK experienced verbal abuse last year The supermarket reported a 140% increase in crime within its stores over the past year, with many of the 200,000 cases related to verbal and physical abuse experienced by employees. Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food chief executive, confirmed that the number of issues has already increased drastically as a result of staff enforcing COVID-secure guidelines. So, what steps must retailers take to ensure their duty of care remains intact as employees take on new enforcement responsibilities? Introducing real-time surveillance technology to support security guards and shop floor employees alike is vital. Bolstering front line defences Security guards posted at supermarket entrances are the first line of defense against shoppers determined to break the rules. However, they are now being pulled in multiple directions with queues to monitor and occupancy to manually keep track of, along with the usual security alarms to respond to. With one person usually posted at the entrance at any one time it’s simply impossible to have eyes everywhere, which is where automated video surveillance comes in. COVID-specific technologies, such as mask detection and occupancy management systems, are now the golden bullet to retail safety and security.Mask detection and occupancy management surveillance tools can automatically alert a shopper Mask detection and occupancy management surveillance tools can automatically alert a shopper whether or not they are allowed to enter the store on their approach to the door. The system surveys the person and a screen will automatically display different instructions depending on the situation: whether they must put a mask on before they enter, wait until capacity is low enough to enable social distancing or, if the previous criteria are fulfilled, that they are free to enter. COVID-secure safety This stand-off technology minimizes the need for contact between security personnel and shoppers, allowing security guards to complete their usual duties, safe in the knowledge that the store is being managed in a COVID-secure way. With a hands-off approach enabled by surveillance technology, the potential for tense confrontation is greatly diminished as customers will usually comply to the reminder shown to them and put on a mask or wait without further prompting from staff. With security personnel able to better focus their attention on the stubborn rule-breakers,It is crucial that retailers choose a solution embedded in real-time connectivity this responsibility will no longer land with staff on the shop floor who are often ill-equipped to deal with this situation. It is crucial that retailers choose a solution embedded in real-time connectivity that will allow all store entrances to be screened simultaneously. Nobody can be in multiple places at once, but this connectivity allows alerts to be streamed instantly to any connected device that can be monitored by just one employee, meaning they can review the alerts that require their attention without needing to be physically present or re-tasked away from their day-to-day duties. Instant reassurance with body worn tech As a customer-facing role, there can be no guarantee that shop workers will never experience a potentially violent confrontation with a customer, which is where the presence of live streaming body worn cameras can help. While they may not always be trained to de-escalate a risky situation, being able to discreetly call for assistance can provide the reassurance employees need to feel safe and supported at all times. If an employee asks a customer to put a mask on while they’re in the store or step back from another shopper and the situation turns abusive – verbally or physically – a live streaming-enabled body worn camera can be triggered to stream a live audio and video feed back to a central control room manned by trained security personnel.A live streaming-enabled body worn camera can be triggered This real-time footage gives security staff exceptional situational awareness, allowing them to fully assess the situation and decide on the best course of action to support the employee in distress, whether that is going to the scene to diffuse the situation or contacting the police in more serious circumstances. Bolstering front line security This goes one step further than record-only body worn cameras, the capabilities of which these next generation devices match and exceed. Record-only cameras are well-suited to provide after-the-fact evidence if a customer interaction turns sour, but they do little to provide reassurance to out of depth employees in the moment. The duty of care grocery retailers must provide to their employees has never been more important, with staff taking on new mask and social distancing enforcement responsibilities and managing interactions with frustrated customers. Bolstering front line security and giving staff extra reassurances with the introduction of real-time video surveillance technology is a crucial step for retailers striving to keep employees and shoppers safe during these challenging times.