Johnson Controls, the pioneer for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, announces that it has been awarded a $91 million project with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to improve facilities and energy efficiencies of landmark buildings.
As part of the National Deep Energy Retrofit (NDER) program, the GSA is upgrading building technologies in the pursuit of net zero energy consumption while achieving energy goals prescribed in various federal Energy Acts.
Support systemic management
Johnson Controls portfolio of smart building systems provides the physical components for the upgrades as well as OpenBlue software solutions that support systemic management of building operations, providing memory, intelligence and unique identity to spaces. This infusion of physical systems with award-winning artificial intelligence that helps systems learn over time automates changes that drive maximum energy and resource efficiency.
Johnson Controls Federal Systems’ team will perform much of the work
Buildings receiving facility improvements over the next three years include the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (RRBITC), the New Executive Office Building (NEOB), the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), Jackson Place, the Winder Building and the Civil Service Building. Johnson Controls Federal Systems’ team will perform much of the work associated with the project. Execution of these projects is anticipated to begin on May 1, 2021.
Creating healthier places
“Sustainability, energy efficiency and working toward the goal of net zero are top of mind for government leaders across the United States. This is reflected in the Biden-Harris Administration’s recent infrastructure bill as well as our nation’s re-joining of the Paris Agreement,” said George Oliver, chairman and CEO at Johnson Controls.
“Partnering with the GSA to make these historic buildings more environmentally friendly and energy efficient is an honor and we look forward to upgrading more buildings around the U.S. in the coming years to create healthier places and do our part to support a healthier planet.”
Overall project objectives include:
Reducing energy and water consumption
Improving efficiency of lighting, water and HVAC systems
Transforming building automation systems
Implementing cost-effective retrofits with paybacks of 25 years or less
Completing construction with minimal disruption to tenants
A comprehensive and integrated whole-building approach to the various energy conservation measures
Achieving energy resilience
It is a privilege to work with General Services Administration on infrastructure projects"
“We are proud to help the GSA achieve energy resilience in the Nation’s Capital through Johnson Controls legacy of building expertise and our intimate understanding of the agency’s technology and security needs,” said Nate Manning, President of Building Solutions North America at Johnson Controls.
“It is a privilege to work with GSA on infrastructure projects that deliver transformational sustainability solutions for iconic landmarks. These buildings are critical locations for the federal government and include parts of the White House Complex and a National Historic Landmark used by the Executive Office of the President including the Office of the Vice President, Office of Management and Budget, and the National Security Council.”
Energy conservation measures
The NDER program demonstrates GSA’s commitment to driving energy savings beyond that of an ordinary energy savings project without a detrimental effect on occupant comfort and agency mission. GSA’s NDER program is achieving greater than 34 percent energy savings over its portfolio of buildings included in the program. The cornerstone of success in NDER projects is the holistic and interactive consideration of energy conservation measures.
The GSA was able to more quickly finalize the contract and award the work to Johnson Controls
For the RRBITC and the NEOB projects alone, energy conservation measures are projected to reduce combined energy consumption by 42% and water consumption by 50%. This initiative leveraged the Department of Energy’s Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) in conjunction with GSA’s innovative NDER program to achieve transformative infrastructure outcomes. By following an ESPC approach, the GSA was able to more quickly finalize the contract and award the work to Johnson Controls with minimal up-front capital costs or special appropriations from Congress.
Accelerated sustainability commitments
This approach to contracting simplified finalization of agreements, paving the way for facility improvements to begin and energy savings to be realized as soon as possible. Sustainability is an integral part of Johnson Controls vision and values. Since signing the United Nations Global Compact in 2004, the company has remained fully committed to aligning its operations and strategies with the U.N. Global Compact's Ten Principles.
In January 2021 the company announced ambitious and accelerated sustainability commitments. Further, in March, the science-based targets initiative approved Johnson Controls ambitious emissions reduction targets. These commitments not only reflect internal action being taken across the company, but also the way that Johnson Controls works with and supports customers, partners, vendors and supply chain participants.
EUSAS recently organized a successful online European Conference on the topic ‘Artificial intelligence in fire detection and security – without the hype’. It showed once again the importance of technological development for an industry that endeavored to protect lives with particular relevance to the fire and security industry.
The conference opened with a discussion on what Artificial Intelligence (AI) is. The general concepts as well as the history and starting blocks of AI were discussed. Also, the current application fields for AI in Smart Living, as well as important requirements for the realization of intelligent Smart Living services, were presented. Focal point for the fire industry were the presentations during the session on the benefits and opportunities of AI for fire detection and security.
Artificial Intelligence and Fire Safety
In his presentation, Guillermo Rein of the Imperial College London presented an innovative fire protection system that combines building sensors, computer modeling, and artificial intelligence (AI). It is called The Fire Navigator and aims to forecast the movement of a fire inside a large building, providing the fire brigades with essential information about flames and smoke ahead of time. It bridges the gap between fire safety and Building Information Modeling by making use of the data already produced by high-rise building sensors such as smoke and heat sensors.
A fast and simple cellular automata model assimilates sensor data, and via inverse modeling and genetic algorithm techniques, it uncovers the ignition location, time, flame spread rate and smoke velocity. A test case with synthetic data was shown for a real iconic building in London. The Fire Navigator concept would be specially suited for the protection of higher-risk buildings like high-rise and hospital, or key infrastructure like tunnels and power plants.
Paul van der Zanden, General Director of Euralarm, elaborated on the connection between AI and the fire industry. He took a holistic approach by defining AI as ‘’Technology used to add value and/or improve the outcome of an existing or new process/system’’. The fire industry has a wide scope and covers many aspects. Within Euralarm fire safety is seen as an ecosystem and therefore fire safety should be part of the development process.
The question is if one can use other future spin-off developments from the AI world for the fire safety world
Assuming that everything is done in the design to prevent a fire from starting there still is a chance that a fire incident will happen. A key factor that defines the impact of this incident is time. Timely detection and sensitivity for unnecessary alarms have a relation with each other. Both factors can be improved by using new technologies including AI technologies.
The question is if one can use other future spin-off developments from the AI world for the fire safety world. The introduction of new sensor technologies available could be one of these spin-offs. With an example from AI sensor technology development, Paul van der Zanden showed how future fire detection can be brought to the next level.
In his presentation, Ibrahim Daoudi of CNPP presented the vulnerabilities related to the use of artificial intelligence on security/safety products. There are mainly 3 categories of vulnerabilities. The first category consists of adversarial attacks where the aim is to generate data sufficiently modified to mislead the model. The second category concerns physical attacks.
It is in fact based on adversarial attacks but applied to real objects. The third category is the traditional attacks on information systems leading to the poisoning of the model itself or its training data. All three the vulnerability categories were discussed and explained.
Temporal Deep Learning
A new way to detect and localize smoke within such sequences was presented, called cell-wise classification
Utilizing temporal information is crucial to detect smoke in video sequences. In his presentation, Andreas Wellhausen of Bosch Sicherheitssysteme GmbH presented the work on temporal approaches based on Deep Learning that are applied to Video Smoke Detection. Two methods were elaborated. Firstly, a combination of convolutional neural networks (CNN) and long-short-term-memory networks (LSTM), secondly the inflated 3D architecture (i3D), which consists of 3D convolutions.
These are two state-of-the-art approaches to extract spatial and temporal information out of video sequences. A new way to detect and localize smoke within such sequences was presented, called cell-wise classification. Furthermore, the advantage of temporal approaches over CNN methods, which are commonly used for detection problems in Computer Vision, was shown.
Training AI on synthetic data
Philip Dietrich of Bosch Sicherheitssysteme analyzed the idea of using synthetic data to train Deep Learning Systems for Video-Based Smoke Detection algorithms. Compared to real data, gathering a large-scale database is significantly easier for synthetic data. It was shown how Deep Learning networks can be trained on synthetic videos. The results were compared with real data.
Experimental results support the hypothesis, that domain adaptation improves the generalization of real data
As a means of bridging the domain gap between real and synthetic data, the concept of domain adaptation will be introduced. By forcing networks to extract similar features from real and synthetic data respectively, potential artifacts in synthetic data may not be learned by the network. Experimental results support the hypothesis, that domain adaptation improves the generalization of real data.
Legislation and outlook
While the rapid adoption of AI creates exciting new opportunities for industry and individuals alike, it also poses an important question: does current laws apply to AI? Tadas Tumėnas of Orgalim discussed if and how this new technology should be regulated. He outlined the state of play of AI in Europe. He focused on the definition of AI which should be the essence of the EU legislative framework and presented the Commission’s work related to AI.
In the last presentation Lance Rütimann, chair of the Fire Section of Euralarm, said that if the fire safety industry does not take on the task of working with legislators, regulators, and standardization bodies in defining the aforementioned regulatory landscape, then someone else will.
This is because the use of Artificial Intelligence to protect lives and assets makes good sense. Understandably, the path ahead is not clear, and there are many, many questions. The fact that the results of the work of the fire safety industry makes the world a safer place for millions of people is the best motivation to set the focus on a new horizon.
SAFR from RealNetworks, Inc. announced that its SAFR facial recognition system for live video is now integrated with the Geutebrück G-Core VMS (Video Management System). SAFR for Geutebrück is an AI layer that runs on top of the G-Core VMS which provides advanced video analytics that saves time and increases the efficiency of surveillance operations.
The best-in-class integration features live video overlays that display event details, streamlined enrollment of individuals appearing on the Geutebrück VMS directly into the SAFR identity database, and custom alarms and notifications that notify security personnel of SAFR events directly within the VMS.
Face matching in live video feeds
With so many cameras deployed, it’s impossible for security staff to monitor them effectively. SAFR matches faces appearing in live video feeds against watchlist images more effectively (99.87%), and with less bias, than humans. This enables security personnel to prioritize feeds that require review while providing them the key information they need to respond to persons of interest more quickly.
SAFR also recognizes individuals wearing masks with remarkable accuracy (98.85%). The enrolled or reference image is displayed side by side with the face detected in the VMS video. Operators have instant access to the enrolled person’s face image to confirm match events.
The integration automatically enroll faces into the SAFR database via Geutebrück G-Core VMS “Manual monitoring is expensive and inefficient. AI can perform real-time, automated identification of persons of interest, and identify previous offenders the moment they return and before they cause new incidents,” said Brad Donaldson, VP, Computer Vision & GM, SAFR.
“Our powerful API and plugin architecture makes industry leading integrations such as the one achieved with Geutebrück possible.”
The tight integration enables operators to automatically enroll faces into the SAFR database by simply drawing a marquee around a face in the Geutebrück G-Core VMS. Operators can use SAFR’s information overlays within the VMS video feeds, making it easy to quickly and accurately separate unknown people and potential threats from authorized personnel.
System admins can easily configure which face recognition information is captured and recorded in the VMS. Additionally, operators have the ability to search Geutebrück video feeds for alerts using a person’s name, watchlist name, or ID class (threat, no concern, concern, stranger).
"As a world class provider of video security software solutions in mission critical environments, we are thrilled to offer SAFR’s superior technology for face recognition as part of a comprehensive solution.”
“The seamless integration of SAFR’s AI-powered analytics together with Geutebrück’s ultra-robust video management software makes day-to-day operational tasks an effortless experience with the highest reliability," comments Norbert Herzer, Product Manager, Geutebrück.
Check Point Research (CPR), the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd., a pioneering provider of cyber security solutions globally, has published its latest Global Threat Index for March 2021. Researchers report that the IcedID banking trojan has entered the Index for the first time, taking second place, while the established Dridex trojan was the most prevalent malware during March, up from seventh in February.
First seen in 2017, IcedID has been spreading rapidly in March via several spam campaigns, affecting 11% of organizations globally. One widespread campaign used a COVID-19 theme to entice new victims into opening malicious email attachments; the majority of these attachments are Microsoft Word documents with a malicious macro used to insert an installer for IcedID.
Once installed, the trojan then attempts to steal account details, payment credentials, and other sensitive information from users’ PCs. IcedID also uses other malware to proliferate and has been used as the initial infection stage in ransomware operations.
“IcedID has been around for a few years now but has recently been used widely, showing that cyber-criminals are continuing to adapt their techniques to exploit organizations, using the pandemic as a guise,” said Maya Horowitz, Director, Threat Intelligence & Research, Products at Check Point.
“IcedID is a particularly evasive trojan that uses a range of techniques to steal financial data, so organizations must ensure they have robust security systems in place to prevent their networks being compromised and minimize risks. Comprehensive training for all employees is crucial, so they are equipped with the skills needed to identify the types of malicious emails that spread IcedID and other malware.”
CPR also warns that “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” is the most commonly exploited vulnerability, impacting 45% of organizations globally, followed by “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” which impact 44% of organizations worldwide. “Dasan GPON Router Authentication Bypass (CVE-2018-10561)” is on third place in the top exploited vulnerabilities list, with a global impact of 44%.
Top malware families
*The arrows relate to the change in rank compared to the previous month.
Recently, Dridex is the most popular malware with a global impact of 16% of organizations, followed by IcedID and Lokibot affecting 11% and 9% of organizations worldwide respectively.
↑ Dridex - Dridex is a Trojan that targets the Windows platform and is reportedly downloaded via a spam email attachment. Dridex contacts a remote server and sends information about the infected system. It can also download and execute arbitrary modules received from the remote server.
↑ IcedID - IcedID is a banking Trojan spread by email spam campaigns and uses evasive techniques such as process injection and steganography to steal user financial data.
↑ Lokibot - Lokibot is an Info Stealer distributed mainly by phishing emails and is used to steal various data such as email credentials, as well as passwords to CryptoCoin wallets and FTP servers.
Top exploited vulnerabilities
Currently, “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” is the most commonly exploited vulnerability, impacting 45% of organizations globally, followed by “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” which impacts 44% of organizations worldwide. “Dasan GPON Router Authentication Bypass (CVE-2018-10561)” is in third place with a global impact of 44%.
↑ HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756) - HTTP headers let the client and the server pass additional information with an HTTP request. A remote attacker may use a vulnerable HTTP Header to run arbitrary code on the victim machine.
↑ MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution - remote code execution vulnerability exists in MVPower DVR devices. A remote attacker can exploit this weakness to execute arbitrary code in the affected router via a crafted request.
↑ Dasan GPON Router Authentication Bypass (CVE-2018-10561) - authentication bypass vulnerability exists in Dasan GPON routers. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow remote attackers to obtain sensitive information and gain unauthorized access into the affected system.
Top mobile malwares
Hiddad took first place in the most prevalent mobile malware index, followed by xHelper and FurBall.
Hiddad - Hiddad is an Android malware, which repackages legitimate apps and then releases them to a third-party store. Its main function is to display ads, but it can also gain access to key security details built into the OS.
xHelper - A malicious application seen in the wild since March 2019, used for downloading other malicious apps and display ads. The application is capable of hiding itself from the user, and can even reinstall itself after being uninstalled.
FurBall - FurBall is an Android MRAT (Mobile Remote Access Trojan) which is deployed by APT-C-50, an Iranian APT group connected to the Iranian government. This malware was used in multiple campaigns dating back to 2017 and is still active today. Among FurBall’s capabilities are; stealing SMS messages and mobile call logs, recording calls and surroundings, collecting media files, tracking locations, and more.
Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index and its ThreatCloud Map is powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence, the largest collaborative network to fight cybercrime which delivers threat data and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors. The ThreatCloud database inspects over 3 billion websites and 600 million files daily and identifies more than 250 million malware activities every day.
The global pandemic has triggered considerable innovation and change in the video surveillance sector. Last year, organizations around the globe embraced video surveillance technologies to manage social distancing, monitor occupancy levels in internal and external settings, and enhance their return-to-work processes.
Forced to reimagine nearly every facet of their operations for a new post-COVID reality, companies were quick to seize on the possibilities offered by today’s next-generation video surveillance systems. Whether that was utilizing motion sensing technologies to automatically close doors or switch on lighting in near-deserted office facilities. Or checking if people were wearing masks and adhering to distancing rules. Or keeping a watchful eye on streets and public spaces during mandated curfew hours.
Beyond surveillance and monitoring use cases, organizations also took advantage of a raft of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications to undertake a range of tasks. Everything from automating their building management and optimizing warehouse operations, to increasing manufacturing output and undertaking predictive maintenance.
Behind the scenes, three key trends all contributed to the growing ubiquity of video surveillance observed in a variety of government, healthcare, corporate, retail, and industry settings.
Video surveillance takes to the Cloud
Last year the shift to digital working led organizations to rapidly embrace cloud-enabled services, including cloud-hosted Video Surveillance As A Service (VSaaS) solutions that provide tremendous economies of scale and flexibility. Alongside significant cost savings, these solutions make it easier for organizations to enhance their disaster recovery and manage their video surveillance estate in new and highly effective ways.
Surveillance cameras with audio recording were used more than 200% by customers between 2016 and 2020 For example, in addition to enabling remote access and maintenance, today’s cloud-powered systems eliminate any need to invest in local storage technologies that all too often fail to keep pace with an organization’s growing data storage requirements.
Indeed, data from our worldwide customer base survey reveals how in 2020 an impressive 63% of organizations had abandoned using any on-premises storage option and were instead only storing all their video surveillance recordings and data in the Cloud. A deeper review of the global stats shows that the average cloud recording retention period for this stored data was 28.2 days, with organizations in Asia topping the global average at 38 days – 33% higher than was observed in any other region.
Improvements in bandwidth and scalability engendered by the Cloud have also helped boost the growing utilization of audio recordings in addition to visual image capture. Indeed, our research found the number of surveillance cameras with an audio recording facility used by customers jumped more than 200% between 2016 and 2020.
Making sense of Big Data
The enhanced ease of connectivity and scalable bandwidth made possible by the Cloud is stimulating more companies to connect a lot more video surveillance cameras to their networks. The top motivation for doing so is to generate live metrics and data that can be utilized to deliver enhanced business insights and operational intelligence.
In recent years, a rich choice of video analytics solutions have been developed for a variety of industry verticals. The range of functionalities on offer is impressive and covers a variety of applications. Everything from making it easy to classify and track objects and behavior patterns in real-time, to undertaking anomaly detection, or generating predictions based on past and present events/activities.
Data collected via today’s cloud connected cameras can now also be used to feed deep learning training and AI analytics, utilizing the unparalleled virtualized processing capacity of the Cloud to convert Big Data into usable information quickly. By integrating this information with data from other enterprise data capture systems, organizations are now able to gain a 360-degree view of their operations – in almost real-time.
IT is now in the driving seat
No longer the sole preserve of on-site security staff, the wider application and business use of video surveillance means that IT is increasingly taking the lead role where the management and control of these systems are concerned. IT is asked to integrate video surveillance into key enterprise platforms to generate the data that business leaders need
Aside from the fact that IT has a vested interest in addressing the cybersecurity implications that come with attaching a growing range of IoT devices to the enterprise network, they’re also increasingly being asked to integrate video surveillance into key enterprise platforms to generate the data that business leaders need.
As organizations expand their integration of video with other business applications, such as point of sale, access control, process control, and manufacturing systems, this trend is only set to accelerate.
Looking to the future
Right now, the video surveillance industry is at a key tipping point, as video systems become increasingly strategic for enabling the enterprise to boost productivity, stay compliant, and fulfill its obligations to protect employees and customers.
As the technology’s contribution to enhanced data-driven decision-making and problem solving continues to increase, expect the adoption of IP connected video cameras to burgeon as organizations look to capture more data from their day-to-day business operations.
Organizations faced a number of unforeseen challenges in nearly every business sector throughout 2020 – and continuing into 2021. Until now, businesses have been on the defensive, reacting to the shifting workforce and economic conditions, however, COVID-19 proved to be a catalyst for some to accelerate their long-term technology and digitalization plans.
This is now giving decision-makers the chance to take a proactive approach to mitigate current and post-pandemic risks. These long-term technology solutions can be used for today’s new world of social distancing and face mask policies and flexibly repurposed for tomorrow’s renewed focus on efficiency and business optimization.
For many, this emphasis on optimization will likely be precipitated by not only the resulting economic impacts of the pandemic but also the growing sophistication and maturity of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), technologies that are coming of age just when they seem to be needed the most.COVID-19 proved to be a catalyst for some to accelerate their long-term technology and digitalization plans
Combined with today’s cutting-edge computer vision capabilities, AI and ML have produced smart cameras that have enabled organizations to more easily implement and comply with new health and safety requirements. Smart cameras equipped with AI-enabled intelligent video analytic applications can also be used in a variety of use cases that take into account traditional security applications, as well as business or operational optimization, uses – all on a single camera.
As the applications for video analytics become more and more mainstream - providing valuable insights to a variety of industries - 2021 will be a year to explore new areas of use for AI-powered cameras.
Optimizing production workflows and product quality in agriculture
Surveillance and monitoring technologies are offering value to industries such as agriculture by providing a cost-effective solution for monitoring of crops, business assets and optimizing production processes. As many in the agriculture sector seek to find new technologies to assist in reducing energy usage, as well as reduce the environmental strain of modern farming, they can find an unusual ally in smart surveillance. Some niche farming organizations are already implementing AI solutions to monitor crops for peak production freshness in order to reduce waste and increase product quality.
For users who face environmental threats, such as mold, parasites, or other insects, smart surveillance monitoring can assist in the early identification of these pests and notify proper personnel before damage has occurred. They can also monitor vast amounts of livestock in fields to ensure safety from predators or to identify if an animal is injured.
Using video monitoring in the growing environment as well as along the supply chain can also prove valuable to large-scale agriculture production. Applications can track and manage inventory in real-time, improving knowledge of high-demand items and allowing for better supply chain planning, further reducing potential spoilage.
Efficient monitoring in manufacturing and logistics
New challenges have arisen in the transportation and logistics sector, with the industry experiencing global growth. While security and operational requirements are changing, smart surveillance offers an entirely new way to monitor and control the physical side of logistics, correcting problems that often go undetected by the human eye, but have a significant impact on the overall customer experience. Smart surveillance offers an entirely new way to monitor and control the physical side of logistics, correcting problems that often go undetected by the human eye.
Video analytics can assist logistic service providers in successfully delivering the correct product to the right location and customer in its original condition, which normally requires the supply chain to be both secure and ultra-efficient. The latest camera technology and intelligent software algorithms can analyze footage directly on the camera – detecting a damaged package at the loading dock before it is loaded onto a truck for delivery.
When shipments come in, smart cameras can also alert drivers of empty loading bays available for offloading or alert facility staff of potential blockages or hazards for incoming and outgoing vehicles that could delay delivery schedules planned down to the minute.
For monitoring and detecting specific vehicles, computer vision in combination with video analysis enables security cameras to streamline access control measures with license plate recognition. Smart cameras equipped with this technology can identify incoming and outgoing trucks - ensuring that only authorized vehicles gain access to transfer points or warehouses.
Enhance regulatory safety measures in industrial settings
Smart surveillance and AI-enabled applications can be used to ensure compliance with organizational or regulatory safety measures in industrial environments. Object detection apps can identify if employees are wearing proper safety gear, such as facial coverings, hard hats, or lifting belts. Similar to the prevention of break-ins and theft, cameras equipped with behavior detection can help to automatically recognize accidents at an early stage. For example, if a worker falls to the ground or is hit by a falling object, the system recognizes this as unusual behavior and reports it immediately.
Going beyond employee safety is the ability to use this technology for vital preventative maintenance on machinery and structures. A camera can identify potential safety hazards, such as a loose cable causing sparks, potential wiring hazards, or even detect defects in raw materials. Other more subtle changes, such as gradual structural shifts/crack or increases in vibrations – ones that would take the human eye months or years to discover – are detectable by smart cameras trained to detect the first signs of mechanical deterioration that could potentially pose a physical safety risk to people or assets.
Early recognition of fire and smoke is another use case where industrial decision-makers can find value. Conventional fire alarms are often difficult to properly mount in buildings or outdoor spaces and they require a lot of maintenance. Smart security cameras can be deployed in difficult or hard-to-reach areas. When equipped with fire detection applications, they can trigger notification far earlier than a conventional fire alarm – as well as reduce false alarms by distinguishing between smoke, fog, or other objects that trigger false alarms.
By digitizing analog environments, whether a smoke detector or an analog pressure gauge, decision-makers will have access to a wealth of data for analysis that will enable them to optimize highly technical processes along different stages of manufacturing - as well as ensure employee safety and security of industrial assets and resources.
Looking forward to the future of smart surveillance
With the rise of automation in all three of these markets, from intelligent shelving systems in warehouses to autonomous-driving trucks, object detection for security threats, and the use of AI in monitoring agricultural crops and livestock, the overall demand for computer vision and video analytics will continue to grow. That is why now is the best time for decision-makers across a number of industries to examine their current infrastructure and determine if they are ready to make an investment in a sustainable, multi-use, and long-term security and business optimization solution.
Once upon a time, providers had end-to-end control when deploying a physical security platform, which is not the case anymore when we consider the modernization to IP.
When considering the move to IP physical security, the provider needs to ensure the customer has a robust PoE backbone to connect the IP security device back to the application. Network readiness requirements have complicated IP security deployments, making it challenging for current providers while opening the door to new competitors.
Competition is increasing
Network providers see the move to IP as an opportunity to expand their wallet share. As the trusted advisors to IT teams, network providers leverage their position to win over the physical security business.
As the time, cost, and complexity increases to move a customer to IP; providers need to expand their offering, considering the decline in endpoint revenue margins (the "race to the bottom").
Unfortunately, PoE networks are becoming increasingly complex as IoT endpoints are continually introduced to the network. Before the IP/IoT deployment can occur, the network provider (now your competition as well) will have the opportunity to edge you out and offer an IP/IoT solution with the network.
The traditional approach is outdated
They have standardized this cookie-cutter solution that may work for some, but not for all
While we accept that we are collectively relying on our networks to support an increasing number of devices and applications, many have not considered the local area network's evolution. Organizations no longer only connect data terminals and printers to the network - they connect all manner of intelligent devices, including Wi-Fi access points, cameras, phones, access control, lighting, intercoms, and more.
Many traditionalists will recommend the rip-and-replace of existing infrastructure while layering all IoT devices on the same network. They have standardized this cookie-cutter solution that may work for some, but not for all. What if there was a better way?
Create the best outcome for you and your customer
Let's start by thinking about the customer's desired outcome. The customer wants new capabilities within an acceptable ROI. Given the complications surrounding COVID-19, these organizations may require solutions very quickly to operate safely and within governmental guidelines.
However, these organizations first need to establish a LAN framework without high costs, disruption to business, or complexity. They do not want to compromise network security or their business. They do not want network requirements to account for the majority of their budget as there is no ROI in infrastructure. The infrastructure supports the ROI gained from the devices and applications it enables.
How do we provide a network solution that addresses both the customer and the provider's needs? Customers need a network that:
Eliminates competitive pressures, giving providers end-to-end control over the network and the entire digital transformation experience.
Shorten sales and deployment cycles to simplify network readiness and reduce the budget allocation towards infrastructure.
Focus on device and application implementation and adoption to improve the customer's ROI.
Build a physically separate PoE backbone for IP/IoT applications to maximize network security and performance while simplifying ongoing management.
Eliminate the dependency on other providers.
Advice from Albert Einstein
We cannot solve a problem using the same kind of thinking we used when we created it"
To help achieve these outcomes, I encourage you to accept some advice from Albert Einstein. Einstein once said, "The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education." Sometimes we are unwilling to accept new ideas because of preconceived notions about how things "ought to be done." We must embrace innovation and challenge our best practices that are based on past education.
Einstein also said, "We cannot solve a problem using the same kind of thinking we used when we created it." Sometimes we must challenge ourselves to think differently by using innovations to create better outcomes for our businesses and customers. Consider this for a second: are you focused on the problem rather than finding a unique alternative solution?
Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Your customers are all unique with different digital transformation challenges and objectives. The cookie-cutter, rip-and-replace method has not worked for all. If it did, every organization would have all the IP and IoT solutions they need. It's time to consider a fresh new approach that may challenge your education. Don't let our education get in the way of your learning!
Looking to innovation and modern solutions
The idea of The Modern LAN, introduced by Frost & Sullivan, aims to present a paradigm shift in LAN design for IP and the IoT. The whitepaper, available for free using the link above, offers an enhancement to traditional LAN design to address IP and IoT devices' specific needs. Today, we connect more than just data terminals, and we must design our networks accordingly. Instead of starting with the network, Modern LAN design suggests starting with the endpoint requirements and building a network to address these considerations.
One of the foundations of Modern LAN design is to consider all networking innovations available. NVT Phybridge PoE innovations allow you to leverage different cable types, including coax, single-pair UTP, and multi-pair UTP cabling, to enable IoT devices at much greater distances than traditional switches. Aligned with Modern LAN design, you can transform the existing network into a robust and secure PoE backbone instead of removing and replacing the reliable infrastructure.
PoE switch solutions
PoE switch solutions leverage different core technology that vary in capability and effectiveness
I know what you may be thinking: Am I compromising on network performance by leveraging these innovations? The answer is: it depends on the technology. PoE switch solutions leverage different core technology (Homeplug, VDSL, ADSL, Ethernet, etc.) that vary in capability and effectiveness.
For more than 15 years, NVT Phybridge has been a global pioneer in long-reach PoE technology. We were the first company to develop a switch that delivered Ethernet and PoE over a single pair of UTP wire with up to 1,200ft (365m) reach, which is four times the reach of standard switches. We have spent the last 15 years surprising the industry with our capabilities and satisfying customers with our technology.
Performance is paramount
We understand that innovation is met with scrutiny and skepticism. We also know that some companies make claims that they cannot back up, which can sometimes shed a negative light on an entire industry or product category. However, our enterprise-grade networking solutions have helped thousands of customers modernize to the next generation of intelligent devices without high costs, complexity, or disruption to their business.
For example, our CLEER24 switch is a 24-port Ethernet over Coax innovation that delivers Ethernet and PoE+ over a single coax cable with up to 6,000ft (1,830m) reach, which is 18-times the reach of a standard switch.
Transform network readiness requirements into an opportunity to grow your business! Be a thought leader, leverage Modern LAN design, and introduce NVT Phybridge PoE innovations to your customers. It's time to change the conversation around LAN design and improve the outcome for you and your customers.
Growth is accelerating in the smart cities market, which will quadruple in the next four years based on 2020 numbers. Top priorities are resilient energy and infrastructure projects, followed by data-driven public safety and intelligent transportation.
Innovation in smart cities will come from the continual maturation of relevant technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), fifth-generation telecommunications (5G) and edge-to-cloud networking. AI and computer vision (video analytics) are driving challenges in security and safety, in particular, with video management systems (VMSs) capturing video streams and exposing them to various AI analytics.
Adoption of disruptive technologies
“Cities are entering the critical part of the adoption curve,” said Kasia Hanson, Global Director, Partner Sales, IOT Video, Safe Cities, Intel Corp. “They are beginning to cross the chasm to realize their smart city vision. Cities are taking notice and have new incentives to push harder than before. They are in a better position to innovate.”
“Safety and security were already important market drivers responsible for adoption of AI, computer vision and edge computing scenarios,” commented Hanson, in a presentation at the Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS) 2021. She added: “2020 was an inflection point when technology and the market were ripe for disruption. COVID has accelerated the adoption of disruptive technologies in ways we could not have predicted last year.”
Challenges faced by cities
Spending in the European Union on public order and safety alone stood at 1.7% of GDP in 2018 Providing wide-ranging services is an expanding need in cities of all sizes. There are currently 33 megacities globally with populations over 10 million. There are also another 4,000 cities with populations over 100,000 inhabitants. Challenges for all cities include improving public health and safety, addressing environmental pressures, enabling mobility, improving quality of life, promoting economic competitiveness, and reducing costs.
Spending in the European Union on public order and safety alone stood at 1.7% of GDP in 2018. Other challenges include air quality – 80% of those living in urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed World Health Organization (WHO) limits. Highlighting mobility concerns is an eye-opening statistic from Los Angeles in 2017: Residents spent an average of 102 hours sitting in traffic.
“The Smart City of Today can enable rich and diverse use cases,” says Hanson. Examples include AI-enabled traffic signals to help reduce air pollution, and machine learning for public safety such as real-time visualization and emergency response. Public safety use cases include smart and connected outdoor lighting, smart buildings, crime prevention, video wearables for field agents, smart kiosks, and detection of noise level, glass breaks, and gunshots.
Smart technology will make indoor spaces safer by controlling access to a building with keyless and touchless entry. In the age of COVID, systems can also detect face mask compliance, screen for fever, and ensure physical distancing.
2020 was an inflection point when technology and the smart cities market were ripe for disruption, Kasia Hanson told the MIPS 2021 audience.
Video workloads will provide core capabilities as entertainment venues reopen after the pandemic. When audiences attend an event at a city stadium, deep learning and AI capabilities analyze customer behaviors to create new routes, pathways, signage and to optimize cleaning operations. Personalized digital experiences will add to the overall entertainment value.
In the public safety arena, video enables core capabilities such as protection of people, assets, and property, emergency response, and real-time visualization, and increased situational awareness. Video also provides intelligent incident management, better operational efficiency, and faster information sharing and collaboration.
Smart video strategy
Intel and Milestone provide video solutions across many use cases, including safety and security Video at the edge is a key element in end-to-end solutions. Transforming data from various point solutions into insights is complicated, time-consuming, and costly. Cities and public venues are looking for hardware, software, and industry expertise to provide the right mix of performance, capabilities, and cost-effectiveness.
Intel’s smart video strategy focuses around its OpenVINO toolkit. OpenVINO, which is short for Open Visual Inference and Neural network Optimization, enables customers to build and deploy high-performing computer vision and deep learning inference applications.
Intel and Milestone partnership – Video solutions
“Our customers are asking for choice and flexibility at the edge, on-premises and in the cloud,” said Hansen in her presentation at the virtual conference. “They want the choice to integrate with large-scale software packages to speed deployment and ensure consistency over time. They need to be able to scale computer vision. Resolutions are increasing alongside growth in sensor installations themselves. They have to be able to accommodate that volume, no matter what causes it to grow.”
As partners, Intel and Milestone provide video solutions across many use cases, including safety and security. In effect, the partnership combines Intel’s portfolio of video, computer vision, inferencing, and AI capabilities with Milestone’s video management software and community of analytics partners.
Given its complex needs, the smart cities market is particularly inviting for these technologies.
Following its recent acquisition, Vidsys will continue to operate, now as an ‘An ARES Security Company’. The Vidsys brand is known worldwide for its PSIM (physical security information management) solution and the acquisition will accelerate the next generation of products that incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance their value to Vidsys clients and the overall market.
ARES Security Corporation has developed and deployed security and public safety software solutions for the past 20 years, solving complex physical security challenges. Their AVERT security software solution supports the full lifecycle of physical security operations: risk and technology assessment and design, training, and intelligent real-time incident response.
AVERT security software
AVERT security software helps clients by increasing security effectiveness and reducing cost
AVERT security software helps clients by increasing security effectiveness and reducing cost. Clients are in many market segments including Corporate, Military, Government, Power, Data Centers, Transportation and Ports. Vidsys’ PSIM will immediately be improved by incorporating AVERT C2 (Command & Control), allowing clients access to expanded capabilities and an advanced technical roadmap.
“Over time we will migrate the Vidsys technology to our state-of-the-art, multi-tenant SaaS architecture that includes secure, multi-site data sharing, an updated library of connectors, and integration to the AVERT digital twin, artificial intelligence/machine learning and automation capability,” said Ben Eazzetta, ARES Security Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Technical roadmap for upgrading to AI-PSIM platform
“We are a client-centric company, and we will continue to support Vidsys clients,” stated Ben Eazzetta, adding “We will focus initial efforts towards closing any required and promised capability gaps and offer a significantly improved technical roadmap for the platform to be upgraded to AI-PSIM.”
Additional AVERT products will be made available to Vidsys clients in a ‘cost-effective way’. They include technology for assessment and design, virtual tabletop and virtual reality training and enhanced AI and robotics capability surrounding the digital twin. A ‘digital twin’ is a digital representation of a physical object.
Rapid incident response and robotic sentries interfaces
ARES/Vidsys solution offers capabilities with extremely high levels of automation for rapid incident response
ARES has a strong market position in several verticals that require a robust and automated next-generation AI-PSIM. The ARES/Vidsys solution offers capabilities with extremely high levels of automation that enable rapid incident response and incorporate advanced features, such as interfaces to robotic sentries.
“These capabilities, along with a more automated deployment process, will allow Vidsys to scale their acquisition of customers across key verticals in which ARES is already active. This automated deployment process will also open new opportunities to work with system integrators who have shied away from PSIM projects in recent years,” stated Ben Eazzetta.
Optimizing security operations
ARES believes the physical security market is underserved by technology that optimizes operations. Ben Eazzetta adds, “All of our products are designed to optimize security operation, and the acquisition of Vidsys allows us to accelerate the development of the next generation PSIM that is adaptive and intelligent, powered by AVERT’s AI, and Modeling and Simulation system.”
Vidsys pioneered PSIM in the security industry and created a robust library of connectors, providing an integrated real-time incident response system powered by a rules engine. Together, the AVERT/Vidsys solution seeks to transform the way security operations centers (SOCs) operate and respond to emergencies.
Vidsys pioneered PSIM in the security industry and created a robust library of connectors
Managing security at multiple sites
Ben Eazzetta said, “There’s no denying that some in the security industry see PSIM as a four-letter word. But PSIM exists because it meets a need in the security operations center that cannot be met by either video management or incident management systems. It is critical that PSIM evolves to meet the rapidly changing demands of enterprise clients.”
He adds, “Our clients need to manage security at multiple sites, each with different security plans and threats, they need adaptive rules engines to manage complex incidents and emergency responses, and they need automation to seamlessly command and control all security assets, including robotic assets.”
Flexible and intelligent software
Future of command-and-control will need to be flexible, intelligent software with extremely high levels of automation
“The future of command-and-control will need to be flexible, intelligent software with extremely high levels of automation that enables very rapid incident response and incorporates advanced capabilities such as interfaces to robotic sentries,” said Ben Eazzetta.
He adds, “To achieve this, we are replacing the brittle, difficult-to-configure rules engine of today’s PSIM with machine learning and AI capabilities that can produce automated/optimized responses or recommendations in near real time.”
SaaS-enabled and remotely hosted system
The systems will be SaaS-enabled, remotely hosted and easily configurable to reduce the cost and time of deployments for large enterprise implementations and easily supported by end-users, and system integrators.
In a post-Covid-19 world, it is critical that enterprise security software solutions be adaptive, intelligent, automated and offer the ability for disparate teams to share information and collaborate in a meaningful way, while responding to incidents and emergencies in real-time. The ARES/Vidsys offering is a lifecycle solution that meets the needs of enterprise security operations.
Next-generation of AI-PSIM
“ARES has always pushed the needle of what is possible with our AVERT solution, ever since development of our digital twin technology began in 1999 to protect our nation’s nuclear stockpiles,” said Ben Eazzetta, adding “Today, we continue to innovate with the next generation of AI-PSIM.”
So what’s ahead for ARES and Vidsys in 2021? “A lot of Zoom calls!” laughs Eazzetta, adding “We are excited to leverage the decades of hard work that both teams have put into our solutions. We all realize the fantastic opportunity we have been given to create a next-generation AI-PSIM and to open new markets for all of our products and solutions.”
He adds, “Combining the two companies will lead to improved development/support capability and significantly improved roadmaps for our clients. We will provide immediate ROI for clients by lowering deployment costs and leveraging the entire suite of products to provide more immediate value while continuing to deliver as promised, like ARES always does.”
Convergint Technologies’ rapid growth has come through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions — they have acquired 35 companies since 2014. Growth has been a focus since day one when the founders started the systems integration company with 10 colleagues in a basement.
Today, the diverse company includes more than 5,000 employees globally. As technology has advanced and business practices have evolved, Convergint’s core values and beliefs have guided their path forward.
Convergint’s culture is a critical aspect of the company, from the executive level to frontline colleagues. “It is essential that the companies we look to acquire and develop partnerships with directly align with our people-first, customer-centric, inclusive culture centered on colleagues and customers,” says Mike Mathes, Executive Vice President, Convergint Technologies.
“This approach has allowed us to maintain and grow our number of colleagues across our acquisitions and enables us to continue being our customers’ best service provider.”
Many practices have to be form-fitted to each individual acquisition A simple but important consideration as Convergint grows through acquisitions is: No two companies are the same. While some integration practices can be standardized across the company, many practices have to be form-fitted to each individual acquisition, says Mathes. “Our objective is not to come in and immediately implement change. We want to build on what has already been successful within the local market and share our learned experiences. There is plenty we can learn from each other and create a much better organization.”
Mathes says that Convergint’s view of a successful acquisition is that 1+1=3. “The end result is always much more impactful than what we anticipated,” he says. “Every acquisition brings with it an experienced leadership team, dedicated and skilled colleagues, vertical market and technological expertise. Most acquisitions are in geographies where we do not already operate, so with every acquisition, we increase our capability to serve our customers much better.” Also, the network of Global Convergint Technology Centers (CTCs) helps expand clientele, and the Convergint Development Center (CDC) offers new support capabilities allowing acquisitions to grow at a very high rate.
Are there more acquisitions to come? Mathes says Convergint is always open to further expanding its footprint across the globe, improving its ability to service customers, deepening their technical expertise, and continuing to expand service offerings across the current and new vertical markets. However, the current focus remains on several key factors: service to colleagues, customers, and communities.
“While obviously, acquisitions fuel our growth, the addition of these organizations to Convergint has really improved our ability to service clients on a global basis,” says Mathes. Acquiring ICD Security Solutions in Asia, for example, made Convergint a pioneer in that market for U.S.-based multi-national companies.
Meeting customers demand
“Convergint does not weigh market conditions when making an acquisition decision,” says Mathes. Rather, they are primarily focused on meeting or exceeding their customer’s needs on a local to a global level. They see acquisitions as a potential way to extend their geographic reach so they can be closer to customers.
An acquisition might also expand technological or vertical market expertise. “The end goal is for us to enhance our service capabilities by attracting and retaining talented colleagues and leaders to better service our customers,” says Mathes.
Enhancing and expanding services
Convergint identifies how to leverage the expertise to further enhance and expand current service options“Economies of scale” have not been a consideration. They have never sought to acquire companies and restructure them in the process, for example. Rather, each company brings forth a unique skillset, is carefully vetted by the executive team and provides purpose in the company's mission and vision for the future.”
“Frontline colleagues are Convergint’s most valuable assets,” says Mathes. Rather than restructuring and eliminating skilled, knowledgeable colleagues, Convergint identifies how they can leverage the expertise to further enhance and expand current service options for customers. “Our colleagues and their skill sets are our competitive advantage—they remain an essential element to our success,” says Mathes.
Demand for integrator services
“We continue to experience a growing demand for innovative solutions across electronic security, fire alarm, and life safety,” says Mathes. “As companies innovate further and rely on technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, IoT, and cloud solutions, we expect to see an increased demand for integrator services. Our customers demand a local service provider who is responsive and can meet their needs, which is why Convergint aims to be its customers’ best service provider.”
This year, Convergint is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In 2021, they will continue to focus on the same critical components that have dominated since day one taking care of colleagues, customers, and the communities where they operate.
Meeting a challenge is what business is all about. Challenges are beneficial to any company, providing a valuable learning opportunity and a means to demonstrate expertise, skill, and an approach to solving a problem in a unique or innovative way.
Working in partnership with Oslo Airport to install the RTT110 EDS system presented Rapiscan Systems with not just one, but two unique challenges.
Challenges faced by Rapiscan
The first was creating a proprietary water cooling system that worked in tandem with the airport’s green initiatives, and the second a ‘Level 4’ review option running in parallel to the traditional baggage screening process.
Both would be challenges enough for a well-established technology, but the Oslo Airport project came at a formative time in the RTT’s history.
A key step for RTT110
“We had a machine that was very much in its infancy, that still had its fair share of teething problems,” explains Craig Chitty, Head of International Aviation Programmes. “It was a big undertaking at a very early stage of our experience installing the RTT out in the field.”
Steve Revell, Senior Director of Aviation CT at Rapiscan explains that the Oslo Airport project was a key step for the RTT. “The first major airport in Western Europe to take on the RTT was Oslo Airport. It’s a very prestigious and forward-thinking airport, and the operators were not afraid to take pioneering risks.”
Rapiscan's water-cooling solution would allow the RTT to integrate with Oslo’s eco-friendly concept
The standard throughout the industry is for EDS and baggage scanning systems to employ Air Conditioning to cool machinery and manage the thermal load. However, as a result of Oslo Airport’s commitment to environmentally responsible construction (the first Oslo Airport terminal was considered the greenest in the world at the time construction finished in 2017), Rapiscan was tasked with designing an entirely unique water-cooling solution that would allow the RTT to integrate with Oslo’s eco-friendly concept of operations – to think outside the ‘cooling box’.
“The curveball was that ordinarily, you would use air conditioning, but Oslo wanted to use chilled water to help reduce carbon emissions,” Steve Revell explains.
Integrating water cooling system
This was a challenge that sent the Rapiscan design team back to the drawing board, as Craig Chitty recalls. “We had to work with our supplier to come up with a solution that met the airport’s requirement to use reclaimed snow, which is melted down and pumped around the airport. We had to design a method of integrating this water cooling concept into our system, meeting some very stringent criteria that the airport set.”
“It was incredibly challenging because the original design of these water-cooled AC’s needed a specific pressure and temperature, which the airport couldn’t provide us with as their supply fluctuated too much. We had to go back to the drawing board, to redesign our system to make it more robust.”
World’s first RTT system
Rapiscan's flexible RTT technology became the world's first such technology
This innovation put Rapiscan at the forefront of flexible RTT technology, resulting in a world-first; “To this day we are the only company who can provide the RTT as an externally water-cooled system, or an internally cooled air-conditioned system,” Steve Revell summarises.
This example of NRE, or ‘Non-Recurring Engineering’, was not the only instance of Rapiscan’s commitment to working alongside partners to develop bespoke solutions to the challenges of each application. Oslo not only necessitated an original approach in terms of product design but also process implementation – recurrent Level 4 image analysis.
Security screening for baggage
As baggage travels through an airport, it is subjected to multiple levels of security screening and imaging, both by human operators and computer algorithms. Baggage that is deemed to contain a potential security threat is escalated to higher levels of scrutiny by multiple operators, balancing the consistent throughput of baggage and passengers against ensuring constant levels of safety.
Oslo required an extra level added to the normal ‘flow’ of screening. “If a bag is rejected by a Level 3 operator it goes into a Level 4 area within the BHS (Baggage Handling System) of the airport”, explains Craig Chitty. “It shows up on a screen. It is a concept of operations that we don’t employ in any other airport even now; it is still very unique to Oslo.”
Concept of operations
Rapiscan’s Director of Business Development for EDS, Martin Zborovjan, explains further, “We had to do some development to allow that concept of operations to happen. They decided they wanted to re-screen baggage for a second time using the same machine.”
“Usually this would rely on a machine decision, but in this case but the operator sees the second image automatically, right next to the image from the first screening, and the machine does not make a decision. It’s a very unusual concept.”
Benefits of Level 4 function
The Level 4 function enabled processing bags more quickly and more correctly
Steve Revell is quick to identify the benefits the Level 4 function provides both the airport and the passengers, “We were the first to establish a Level 4 system in Oslo. If technology is able to produce a machine decision very quickly, and if that’s a reject decision to get that image off to an operator very quickly, the only two things it can do are to process bags more quickly and more correctly.”
“By default, more bags are getting onto the right airplane, people are standing in queues for less time and the airside customer experience is much improved.”
Going an extra mile
While many companies will consider a project as ‘job done' when equipment is installed and running, for the Rapiscan team the Oslo project was a committed partnership from the initial tender phase, through the design process, and on into the future.
“Oslo was effectively our first competitive tender,” Martin Zborovjan explains. “We were willing to listen to Oslo and to go the extra mile. This behavior was the underlying theme of the interaction with Oslo”. The project was more than just a sales opportunity; “Complex projects allow us to learn something.”
Forming a partnership
The working partnership between Rapiscan and Oslo is something Steve Revell is very proud of. “It [was] and is a very long-established partnership; from the start of engaging with us at contract award, through to going operationally live was just under three years,” he explains.
“There was lots of testing, analysis, and development, lots of joint agreements with the government. We agreed on the final solution which we very much wanted to do as a partnership.”
Delivering a successful project
“There were also problems, which gave us an opportunity to showcase our most important tool which is how we behave when things are going wrong. We never shied away from our responsibilities, we took every problem presented to us and worked together to find the solution.”
“A strong working partnership developed; we were always on the end of a phone with the Oslo team, or on a plane for face-to-face meetings. This partnership continues today and is the backbone to delivering this complex but successful project,” Revell summarises.
Adopting new technology
The aviation industry thrives on partnerships, on service providers working to meet challenging requirements through innovation and cooperation. Taking a technology that was, at the time, still in its infancy and working to adapt this technology to a stringent set of requirements is a clear example of Rapiscan’s dedication to working with its partners – a commitment the company makes to every project, both now and into the future.
Midway Car Rental, the privately-owned car rental company in Southern California, caters to both an exclusive and expansive clientele, including VIPs, high-end hotels, and replacement vendors like dealerships and body shops. The company currently owns and operates 15 locations and has aggressive plans for expansion, with 6 or 7 more sites planned for this calendar year.
With a portfolio that includes Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Jaguars, Midway can have up to a million dollars of assets parked on any of its lots. Some of the company’s newest locations lack secure perimeter fencing. Sean Perez, Midway’s General Manager, says, “We needed to protect our vehicles, but even more importantly, we had to ensure the safety of our employees and clients.”
The problem became acute when Midway opened a new location to provide loaner and replacement vehicles for an adjacent dealership partner. Prior to Midway’s arrival, the lot had been populated by vagrants and the homeless who would sleep in and around the cars parked there. “When we took over the property, we needed to provide a safe and secure environment where we could conduct business,” Perez explains. “There were issues with vandalism and graffiti. Some of the displaced homeless would get aggressive. We needed a proactive solution – a way to stop these incidents from happening rather than trying to prosecute the individuals after the damage was done.”
Traditionally, Midway’s properties have been less exposed, with electronically secure gates or fences that restrict access. However, as Midway’s expansion plans include growing alignment with business partners like dealerships, many future sites will likely face similar security challenges. To address this situation, the company sought:
A scalable system that could grow incrementally with Midway’s expansion
Flexible technology that could be moved to new sites with minimal effort
A technology partner capable of servicing and supporting a long-term solution
The ability to outsource monitoring services in the near future
“I tend to be conservative,” says Perez. “I wanted to start off slow and then, when comfortable that we’d found both the right partner and technology, have the ability to really scale up.”
Midway Car Rental deployed ROSA units, ¬Responsive Observation Security Agents, manufactured by Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD).
“I have to tell you, I was a bit skeptical at first about these ROSA units,” says Perez. “You can stick an armed guard out there, but the idea that a technology device could provide both consistent monitoring and serve as a deterrent system seemed like a stretch. However, our two ROSAs are really helping us protect our assets. In very short order, our problem decreased and our situation has improved dramatically.”
ROSA is a compact, self-contained, security and communication solution that can be deployed in about 15 minutes ROSA is a compact, self-contained, security and communication solution that can be deployed in about 15 minutes. Its AI-driven security systems include human and vehicle detection, license plate recognition, responsive digital signage and audio messaging, and complete integration with RAD’s software suite notification and response library. Two-way communication is optimized for cellular, including live video from ROSA’s dual high-resolution, full-color, always-on cameras.
“The folks from RAD sent out an engineer to help us determine where to mount the ROSA units by identifying areas on our site that are most exposed to potential vandalism or other threats,” says Perez. The devices are highly visible, featuring scrolling LED text, colorful neon ribbons, and two video cameras.
ROSA may be programmed to display welcome messages or marketing messages during business hours, along with a reminder to visitors that the property is under surveillance. When it detects the motion of humans or vehicles on the lot, it sends an alert to Perez and his team along with an associated video clip, keeping them well informed of activity happening in real-time.
During off-hours, ROSA's automated response kicks in. Its friendly daytime messaging is replaced with a more stern warning to trespassers. Upon detecting a human or moving vehicle, ROSA responds with flashing red lights and a visual warning to vacate the property immediately. If ROSA continues to detect a presence, more lights, sirens, and a pre-recorded audio message add a sense of urgency. Monitoring personnel, who have been alerted of the event and have access to live video, can also issue pointed commands over ROSA's loudspeaker. Ultimately, if the police must be summoned, the encounter has been thoroughly documented and recorded.
Perez describes ROSA's effectiveness as a deterrent. "I've watched when people encounter the system. Initially, their reaction is one of shock and awe. When the unit goes off with its lights flashing and they hear those verbal commands, they’re terrified. They look like they've seen a ghost. Literally, in less than ten days after we put those things out, the word had spread to stay away. The vagrants were gone. It was like night and day."
Intuitive and customer-friendly
Currently, Midway's management has chosen to monitor the system themselves. Perez explains, "Initially, I was getting alerts somewhat often, but they quickly tapered off. At this point, they're infrequent. With just these two units in place, plus two more scheduled to go up in Newport Beach in the coming weeks, we can handle the monitoring independently. Within the next year or two, as we open new locations and add more units, we'll take advantage of RAD's monitoring services. We had that in mind when we went this route – that with our continued growth, we would eventually leverage that option."
"The system is very intuitive and customer-friendly," adds Perez. "I've used other systems that are really cumbersome. The RAD SOC dashboard is nothing like that. The ease-of-use is amazing." So is the deployment process. As ROSA requires nothing more than power to operate, it is truly plug and play. "We had them installed and received training all within a few hours on one day," says Perez. "We haven't run into any issues, but if we do, the relationship we've built with the RAD team is so good that I can call on them at any time for assistance. They are very, very customer-centric."
Midway Car Rental quantifies the value ROSA delivers in several ways, including monetarily, a reduction in crime, and improved peace of mind.
Perez elaborates, "Thanks to the ROSA units, we've addressed all sorts of issues. Damage to vehicles, graffiti on the exterior of the building, the homeless tampering with our electrical outlets to charge their phones, trash left around the property – that’s all gone since we put the ROSAs in. There are also important intangibles that you really can't put a price tag on, like an improvement in employee well-being and productivity because our staff now feels safe at work." RAD's cloud-based software simplifies the management of multi-site systems
The system's scalability and flexibility ensure that Midway's investment will continue to pay dividends. Perez says, "We're growing so fast, we're trying to put flagpoles in the markets where we identify a need, but that doesn't mean we're locking ourselves into long-term leases. Down the road, if we decide to move locations, our ROSAs move with us. We heavily factored their ability to easily install, uninstall, and re-install when deciding to go with this technology."
Consistent with Midway's plans, RAD's cloud-based software simplifies the management of multi-site systems. As new Midway locations open and ROSA units are installed, management and monitoring of all devices can occur through one login to the centralized RAD SOC dashboard. Alert notifications include the location of the activated unit.
RAD’s suite of products
In addition to ROSA, RAD offers a suite of other products that share the same platform for delivering automated remote services, including some that are more appropriate for indoor use. Should Midway encounter new security challenges in the future, they can expand their system with other RAD devices. "For now, ROSA is what fits our needs best, but I've seen some of those other units, and they look pretty cool," says Perez."
Midway uses the ROSA units through RAD's subscription model. The company pays a low monthly fee that covers unlimited use of the devices, software and software updates, maintenance, and technical support. Their out-of-pocket equals a small fraction of what hiring a security guard would cost.
When asked whether Perez recommends the system to others, his answer is concise. "It's a no-brainer!" he laughs. "Knock-on-wood, we've been nearly without incident for the four months since the ROSAs went up. I attribute that to the units' effectiveness."
With a mission to recognize the faces of the people entering/exiting premises of the Government Institution in Indonesia, and analyze their attributes in real-time, the authority needed an extremely robust and ‘highly secured’ facial recognition system.
Due to heavy footfall at the premise, it was difficult for staff to manually record information of visiting people and verify their identity on a daily basis. Sometimes, they faced challenge in verifying them due to changes in appearance or features of the visitors.
Videonetics MeraFace, the advanced facial recognition software was selected after a thorough technical evaluation
Videonetics MeraFace, the advanced facial recognition software was selected after a thorough technical evaluation by the partner, as well as government decision-makers. The software was selected for its highest accuracy in recognizing and detecting faces in varied lighting conditions, thereby providing additional attributes of gender, age, and emotions, and comprehensive statistical reporting.
Operating 24x7 for 365 days, on one of the busiest premises, with a heavy footfall of VIPs, citizens, media, and government officials, Videonetics MeraFace was deployed at strategic locations with high human traffic flows, including entry and exit points, and lift lobby area of the institution.
Key features of Videonetics MeraFace include:
Video streams from IP cameras are processed at MeraFace to detect faces in real-time and operators find a probable match with the registered faces. In case, any face that is not registered but has been captured and stored in the system can also be found anytime.
Operators have been keeping records of registered faces and attributes of the person’s face for future search and investigation.
Powered by AI & Deep Learning framework, MeraFace analyzes and delivers more information, such as gender, age, emotion, eventually helpful for officials to make accurate visitors’ analysis.
Now, operators can identify and classify VIP, suspected, blacklisted people in real-time with easy clicks and send the instant notification to the staff, for any swift action.
At the time of any suspicious activity, operators can quickly investigate a person’s face in the given videos or collection of face images. Moreover, this feature has been phenomenally successful as an investigation tool, for conducting post-incident analysis.
Scalable facial recognition system
Videonetics MeraFace has proven to be a reliable and scalable system for the government authority, by delivering fast and highly accurate results. With the system, the security staff can recognize and detect faces in real-time. Furthermore, MeraFace has helped in appointing a smaller number of security guards around the entrance or exit of the premise, thanks to an automated facial recognition system of identifying and validating information. The risk of human errors in face matching has also been eliminated.
“Videonetics has not only delivered a perfect facial recognition solution, but also delivered on its reputation of providing outstanding training and support, to us and customer. Our customer has invested in the future-proof technology that has the ability to grow with their needs,” stated Alfred Bisuk, Technical Manager, Lamjaya Inovasi Komputindo.
ClanTect and ePm have signed a partnership agreement for the sale and servicing of ClanTect’s next generation Motion Detection systems (also referred to as ‘heartbeat’ detection systems) for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Detecting humans in vehicles
ClanTect’s systems are used to detect the hidden presence of people inside vehicles and are deployed within a wide range of organizations in the Border Security, Prisons and Critical Infrastructure markets.
Customers include globally renowned organizations, such as the UK Border Force and Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and Her Majesty’s Prison Service in the United Kingdom. Tens of thousands of clandestine operatives and fugitives are detected by ClanTect each year, with hundreds of lives being saved.
Its ultra-sensitive sensors can detect even the faintest of movements, from anywhere within a vehicle
ClanTect’s systems are based on sound and vibration technology. Its ultra-sensitive sensors can detect even the faintest of movements, from anywhere within a vehicle.
The system is extremely fast (approx. 60 seconds for a vehicle search), it is very easy to use, the search process is fully automated, and, unlike X-Ray and some other technologies, it is completely safe for both the operator and for the stowaway. ClanTect’s system is extremely accurate. It utilizes a unique ‘blocking’ capability, which eliminates any nearby surrounding noise from outside of the vehicle.
Compact 2nd generation systems
With the launch of their 2nd generation systems, ClanTect provides smaller and more compact devices, which are now fully wireless, thereby making them easy to deploy in ad-hoc outdoor roadside locations, even in windy weather conditions.
Professor Steve Daley, Managing Director of ClanTect commented, “Our systems can enable the UAE authorities to meet some of today’s most pressing security challenges, such as human trafficking, the protection of critical infrastructure and the security of custodial facilities.”
Protection of critical infrastructure
Steve Daley adds, “We have also ensured that our systems have been thoroughly tested to meet the challenging environmental conditions faced in the UAE.”
Hadi R Omer, Director of Sales & Marketing (Systems & Solutions) at ePm said, “Here at ePm, we have been serving the needs of government and commercial customers since the 1980’s, including the Ministry of Interior, Abu Dhabi Police, Dubai Police, UAE Armed Forces, Dubai Customs, and ADNOC. We feel that ClanTect’s technology perfectly complements our existing portfolio of security products and offers tremendous operational capabilities for public and private sector organizations across the UAE.”
Security technology has been a vibrant and successful market for decades now, but sometimes the public is not aware of those successes. Awareness in some cases is limited because security technologies work ‘behind the scenes’ to keep everyone safe.
In other cases, the industry may be seen in a negative light, based on misinformation about topics such as surveillance and privacy. How can we get the word out about our industry’s successes? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How can the security industry market and promote itself better?
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) make huge contributions to the economy overall. Considered individually, they may not be as large as companies in the enterprise market, but they have big requirements when it comes to security. SMBs also present unique challenges to security manufacturers and integrators seeking to serve their needs. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of protecting small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)?
Our Expert Panel Roundtable is an opinionated group. However, for a variety of reasons, we are sometimes guilty of not publishing their musings in a timely manner. At the end of 2020, we came across several interesting comments among those that were previously unpublished. Following is a catch-all collection of those responses, addressing some of the most current and important issues in the security marketplace in 2021.