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Chicago McCormick Place enhances surveillance control with Axis solution

Chicago McCormick Place enhances surveillance control with Axis solution

Editor / Provider: Axis | Updated: 10/3/2014 | Article type: Government & Public Services

McCormick Place, the largest convention facility in North America, had been using analog surveillance equipment for more than 25 years. All that changed when they opened the state-of-the-art West Building in 2007. The new exhibit hall boasted more than 300 advanced Axis network cameras covering 800,000 square feet of space. Noting the contrast between the analog and IP-based systems, the convention center began looking for a way to increase the performance of their legacy investment and integrate it with their new digital technology.

With the help of Johnson Controls, an Axis National Systems Integrator partner that provides building security services for McCormick Place, the venue used Axis video encoders to network-enable hundreds of analog cameras in the North and South Buildings and the Lakeside Center. Once the video streams were digitized, the analog cameras could be managed under the same Milestone XProtectR Enterprise video management software (VMS) as the new, high-resolution Axis network cameras.

Even with reusing their existing analog cameras, the video resolution delivered by the Axis encoders far exceeded the image quality security was able to get from its old DVRs. With clearer forensic evidence from their analog cameras coupled with high-resolution video delivered by new Axis cameras, the staff has been better able to investigate incidents and prosecute offenders. Additionally, with an all-IP backbone, McCormick can now utilize more advanced analytics, such as BriefCamR Video SynopsisR software, to compress hours of video into a minutes-long synopsis.

When one head is better than two
McCormick Place is a bustling hive of tradeshow activity. A typical convention attracts 10,000 to 12,000 attendees, and a big tradeshow could draw as many as 100,000. During its busiest season, McCormick Place might be hosting up to four different conventions simultaneously. The security team must remain alert to keep the thousands of attendees and vendors safe. When McCormick Place opened its West Building, the convention center's footprint increased to more than 2.5 million square feet. Though the new wing was equipped with the latest Axis IP surveillance technology governed by Milestone XProtectR Enterprise VMS, the rest of the facility remained reliant on legacy analog cameras attached to DVRs running a separate VMS. “It was ridiculous to have control room operators looking at two different software interfaces to view video,” said Frank Solano, Security Systems Engineer for SMG, the management company that oversees McCormick Place. SMG decided to integrate all the cameras into a single system. They retired their DVRs and network-enabled existing analog cameras with one-channel AXIS Q7401 Video Encoders and four-channel AXIS Q7404 Video Encoders. The digitized video from all cameras now streams live to a massive video wall in the convention center's 24/7 command center. They are also able to store additional video footage in their Dell Quad-10 servers for later retrieval.

A better alternative to “rip and replace”
The Axis video encoders offered a way for McCormick Place to extend the life of its analog investment and provided several added benefits. “The big clincher for us was resolution,” Solano said. “With the DVRs, we couldn't get anything better than 4CIF [704x420] from our analog cameras. With the Axis encoders, we can tweak resolution and frame rate for the cameras in the Milestone VMS to achieve much higher image quality within the bandwidth we've allocated for video traffic.”

Remote management and video intelligence
Using AXIS Camera Management software, security engineers can remotely diagnose and troubleshoot all equipment, including analog cameras, as well as make configuration changes to ensure that surveillance traffic does not affect other network activity. Because the IP system is based on an ONVIF open standards platform, McCormick Place can now leverage sophisticated video analytics across its entire hybrid surveillance network. For instance, BriefCam Video Synopsis software compresses hours of video into just a few minutes enabling security to focus quickly on the key footage. BriefCam is integrated fully with the Milestone XProtectR Smart Client interface. According to Mark Eggerding of Johnson Controls, “The 60:1 compression ratio helps McCormick Place security discover patterns and sometimes forestall incidents of property damage and theft.”

A massive transformation in convention surveillance
With such a massive venue to protect, McCormick Place is continuing to expand their use of Axis network cameras. AXIS P5532 PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) Network Cameras monitor the lobby while 1080p HDTV resolution AXIS Q6035 PTZ Network Cameras watch the busy general concourse. For offices, utility closets and liquor storage cabinets, Johnson Controls installed 720p HDTV-quality AXIS M1054 Fixed Network Cameras, and uses pinhole-sized AXIS P1204 Network Cameras with HDTV video for covert surveillance.

“With manpower alone, it would take an army to keep the buildings secure and provide a safe environment for our exhibitors, attendees and employees,” Solano said. “That's why our surveillance cameras are such vital tools. The more eyes we have on the exhibit floor, front of house, corridors and back hallways, the more vigilant we can be.”

New Milestone Husky models ease the transition from analog to digital

New Milestone Husky models ease the transition from analog to digital

Editor / Provider: Milestone | Updated: 10/1/2014 | Article type: Security 50

Milestone Systems has announcied an easier and more affordable way to make the transition from analog to digital technology. The Milestone Husky™ series of NVRs will now offer versions with integrated encoders that make it simple to connect analog and digital cameras, which run on IP networks, to the same box. Milestone Husky Hybrid NVRs are preinstalled with Milestone VMS and let end users build on their initial investment. The end users can continue to use existing analog cameras and add IP cameras over time for better evidence-quality video and surveillance features.

There is no need to throw out older cameras that are still working, as you add new network devices to your surveillance solution. At launch two configurations of Milestone Husky Hybrid NVRs will be pre-installed with XProtect 2014.

* Milestone Husky M30 Hybrid with 16 analog channels + 4 IP devices 4 TB storage / 8 GB RAM / i5 processor
* Milestone Husky M50 Hybrid with 32 analog channels + 16 IP devices 16 TB storage / 16 GB RAM / i7 processor

EverFocus releases open IP decoder EMX32

EverFocus releases open IP decoder EMX32

Editor / Provider: EverFocus | Updated: 8/28/2014 | Article type: Security 50

EverFocus releases a new product, EMX32, the IP Decoder used for decoding the digital video streams into analog signals, serving as a medium to connect the IP device and an analog monitor. However, EverFocus EMX32 IP Decoder should not be simply perceived as a product only for decoding digital video streams into analog video signals, but rather a display system which can be customized to suit your needs.



No More PC, Less Cost
The EMX32 IP Decoder can be used either in an analog or IP surveillance system whenever there is a need to display video on an analog monitor only without recording. It can simultaneously decode up to 4 high definition (1080P) or 16 standard definition (720P) digital video streams, and display those streams in up to four division screens on an analog HD monitor or television. Therefore, there is no need to spend extra money on the traditional DVR or the expensive PC. Just with a monitor only, you can easily view all the IP or analog video streams and can configure the settings through the user-friendly local display OSD or by the intuitive web-based user interface.

The EMX32 can be integrated with the EverFocus Genie XMS, an open-platform surveillance management system designed with a flexible architecture. Benefitting from this platform, you can use it for wider surveillance applications. Moreover, you can also use our app MobileFocus (Plus) to connect to the EMX32 for monitoring the live view from anywhere at any time.

ONVIF Supported
The EMX32 IP Decoder is able to decode IP streams from EverFocus and the third-party IP cameras which are compatible with ONVIF standards and RTSP protocol, and it can automatically search for ONVIF supported third-party IP devices under the same LAN.

Other Features
The EMX32 provide two video outputs HDMI and VGA, and both video output ports can be used simultaneously. It also has one RS-485 port for connecting joystick or keyboard. This slim, compact and VESA-mountable design is easy to install and can be used anywhere such as retail stores or offices.

Top 3 myths of physical access control technology

Top 3 myths of physical access control technology

Editor / Provider: Ola Jonsson, Business Development Manager, Axis Communications | Updated: 7/21/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics

It is no exaggeration to say that network video has revolutionized the video surveillance market. Now the access control industry is on the verge of a similar development. Once again, it is the transition from analog to IP-based systems and with it the adoption of open standards which provides new opportunities and stimulates market growth.

Since the introduction of the first network camera in 1996, the market share of IP-based video surveillance systems has increased year by year. Today, network video solutions offer a host of benefits and advanced functionalities that cannot be provided by analog video surveillance technology.

There are a number of common misconceptions as the physical access control industry undergoes a similar transition from analog to IP-based technology. In the following, I will address the top 3 of these myths.

Myth #1 - It's not worth upgrading existing analog systems to IP-based technology
A typical analog access control system is dependent on having each device – card reader, handle, door lock, door position switch, etc. – hard wired with RS-485 cable into one central unit or central server. Besides being proprietary systems, which confines the end user to one single provider of hardware and software, these solutions often tend to be very complex and require expert personnel to handle installation and configuration.

Furthermore, when expanding analog systems the process is complicated by the need to consider that a typical central controller is built to accommodate a certain maximum number of doors, normally 4, 8, 16 or 32. Not only does this limitation make the system inflexible but also makes it difficult for the end user to match his requirements with products available, e. g. if there is a need for access control at for example 9 or 17 doors. This lack of flexibility also brings high marginal costs, which can make the addition of one extra door unjustifiably expensive.

Upgrading an analog access control system to IP-based technology therefore allows for more flexibility while lowering costs as the system needs to be expanded to include additional doors. IP networks can be used for more than one application. This way different security systems can use the same infrastructure and can be integrated with each other. Often remote monitoring and management of security systems is a key requirement. This can be easily implemented with IP-based solutions which feature web-based console access.

Myth #2 - Access control systems are only for large installations
Analog access control products and systems are normally designed and optimized for large installations with a lot of doors and maybe thousands of credentials (cardholders). The actual market looks very different. According to the Security Sales & Integrator Gold Book 2013, the average installation consists of 7 doors with less than 130 credentials. Only about 20% of the installations have more than 10 doors.

Without the need for hard wiring to a central control unit or central server, IP-based access control systems enable installations that are very flexible and scalable. This means not only a more versatile solution, but also a more cost efficient one. Freed from the constraints of enlarging the system in certain multiples, a network-based solution can – should it be necessary – be enlarged by one door, and one reader, at a time.

Additionally, IP-based technology enables “edge” solutions. An edge solution has one controller for each door, which is then connected to the existing local Ethernet through a regular network switch without the need for a central server for management. Since IP networks now are ubiquitous in offices, stores, factory plants and similar facilities the cost of adding an IP-based door controller would be minimal, as opposed to multiple serial connections wired back to a central server. Cabling work can be even further facilitated. By employing a PoE (Power over Ethernet) supported controller at each door the need for a separate power cable is eliminated, thereby reducing the total installation cost and time compared to that of an analog access control solution.

Myth #3 - Access control systems are proprietary solutions that can't be integrated with other security systems
Very much like in the video surveillance market the shift from analog to IP-based technology in the access control industry will cause a transition from proprietary systems to open solutions. And these solutions will most likely be based on international industry standards.

Open solutions and standardized interfaces are a prerequisite in any industry that wants to establish its own equivalent of "plug-and-play". There are many gains from such a development also in access control. It will allow end users to freely pick and choose between components – reader, door controller and software – that best satisfy their needs and preferences. This freedom of choice makes the system future-proof and means the end user no longer has to rely on a single brand or supplier. Equally important, it can also enable integration with other security related systems and third party applications, without the need for costly hardware boxes to provide the “bridge” between the different systems. For example, a very common request is to integrate physical access control with video. People entering a building will automatically trigger a camera; the live images can then be used for investigation of incidents or identity control.

In the network security systems market there is already a clear trend to develop open or standardized application platform interfaces (APIs), which can be used by all competing market participants on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Naturally, this will increase supply and promote competition and bring a new level of innovation to the industry, while simultaneously making it even easier for end users, system integrators, consultants and others to take advantage of the different possibilities offered by IP-based solutions.

For example, the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF), which is a global and open industry standards body with the goal to facilitate the development and use of IP-based security products, announced in 2010 an extension of the organization's scope of standardization to cover physical access control. Ideally, access control devices from manufacturers that comply with the ONVIF standards will in the near future interoperate effortlessly and seamlessly with each other, as well as with other video surveillance products and systems conformant with the standard.

Future outlook
According to a market forecast by analyst firm ARC Advisory Group, IP-based access control systems will comprise more than 35% of the market in terms of shipments by 2016. A key factor will be that new buildings are increasingly being equipped with IP-based building control systems. This provides the basis for integration of previously often separate systems such as access control, intrusion detection, fire alarms or video surveillance.

Open standards and the ability to base different security systems on the same IP network architecture allows installers to build solutions based on products from various manufacturers. This way they can better meet customer demand, price projects more competitively and offer custom solutions to particular installation challenges and requirements. End users benefit from a future-proof and adaptable technology that can easily scale to their growing needs without being locked into any one manufacturer.

Avigilon secures health care department in Tampere, Finland

Avigilon secures health care department in Tampere, Finland

Editor / Provider: Avigilon | Updated: 6/6/2014 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Tampere Department of Social Services and Health Care, located in Tampere, Finland, is at the cutting-edge of health care, offering preventative services and solutions that reduce the social costs of poor health. As one of the country's most rapidly developing regions, Tampere City Department of Social Services and Health Care delivers primary care to its 215,000 residents through more than 200 social and health care units, and three hospitals.

With the help of the Avigilon solution, the department was able to lower criminal activity, monitor patients, enhance the services provided and improve onsite safety. In addition, management was able to save significantly on costs related to theft and damage and significantly reduced the number of false liability claims.

Preventing Crime
According to Raimo Rae, Hospital Engineer at the Tampere Department of Social Services and Health Care, the region has experienced a rise in vandalism, theft, and even violent crime since 2000. “We have also seen an increase in the occurrence of diagnosed mental disorders and drug use amongst employees and patients, further compelling us to improve security,” said Mr. Rae. “We are constantly enhancing our services to keep pace with society's escalating security risks.”

The department held a competitive bid and selected the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system based on the recommendation of Divacont Ltd., a local provider of surveillance system design and long-term partner. “Divacont is a very reliable, skilled, and professional partner,” explained Mr. Rae. “We chose the Avigilon solution because nothing else on the market compares in terms of quality and functionality.” Mr. Rae also wanted an all-in-one surveillance solution to minimize complications during installation and to facilitate system management and maintenance.

The Avigilon Solution
Previously, the Tampere Department of Social Services and Health Care had an analog-based surveillance system that only monitored the exterior of its buildings because budget did not allow for an indoor system. “We have learned through experience that it is also very important to cover the corridors and lobbies to effectively track client movement,” noted Mr. Rae. “Our nurses rely on the Avigilon system at night to monitor activity throughout the health centers to ensure their protection.” And with more cameras monitoring a larger area, users have more opportunity to capture a clear image of an individual or incident for positive identification.

The Tampere Department of Social Services and Health Care installed more than 335 Avigilon HD cameras ranging from 1MP to 5 MP across its properties, all of which are monitored 24/7 and managed using the Avigilon Control Center (ACC) software with High Definition Stream Management (HDSM) technology. The department relies on 67 Avigilon analog video encoders to improve the performance of its existing 600 analog cameras. With 13 Avigilon Network Video Recorders (NVRs) and plans to upgrade its remaining 25 servers to Avigilon, the department stores up to two weeks of continuous surveillance footage.

Resolving Crime; Improving Quality of Care
Tampere installed the Avigilon solution with several key goals in mind. Firstly, the department wanted a reliable way to clearly capture and record data about its facilities, patients, and employees to successfully resolve issues and ultimately reduce criminal activity. Secondly, employees needed a system that would assist with patient control, particularly during the evening and night shifts when only a few nurses are on duty. Finally, the department needed to easily review footage to assess and improve customer service levels. “We are committed to providing the highest quality care possible and are always looking for ways to enhance our services,” said Mr. Rae.

Complete Search Control
The Avigilon Control Center software, designed with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, gives users complete control over video playback – a key selling feature for Mr. Rae and his team. “Avigilon delivers the best search and playback functionality I have ever seen and the software could not be any easier to use,” commented Mr. Rae, who also leverages the advanced mapping interface to plot cameras and servers on an imported map for easy navigation. The department utilizes the map feature to track suspects in real time. “The mapping interface simplifies system management – especially important for us because the Avigilon system spans many locations of different design and size.”

Quick Searches for Positive ID
The innovative, user-friendly ACC software allows Rae to quickly and effectively search through footage for near-instant positive identification to speed up investigations. “With exceptional image clarity, we can now find the right evidence in a fraction of the time,” claimed Mr. Rae, who added that Avigilon's pixel search has been invaluable in his work. “In fact, our searches take less than 20% of the time than with our previous system.” He also regularly shares footage with the local police, who have been very impressed with the quality of evidence provided. “Our footage has led to warnings, dismissals, and even conviction in several cases, and we have also noticed a marked increase in confessions because the image quality is truly indisputable.”

Not only does the Avigilon system allow the department to focus on improving security, but it has also helped save some of the costs that stem from property damage and theft. “We have succeeded in reducing the number of serious cases of crime, which consequently reduces the time and cost of dealing with these issues,” said Mr. Rae. Since deploying the Avigilon system, the department has only had three medical room break-ins, all of which were quickly resolved.

The department now has a reliable way to clearly capture data in its facilities to lower criminal activity, monitor patients, enhance the health care service provided, and improve onsite safety. With the user-friendly Avigilon Control Center software, officials can now easily find the right information for quick incident resolution, leading to improved processes and procedures, and convictions, when necessary. The department has also saved tens of thousands of Euros in theft and damage, and has significantly reduced the number of false liability claims.

March Networks NVR integrated Software House access control solution

March Networks NVR integrated Software House access control solution

Editor / Provider: March Network | Updated: 4/14/2014 | Article type: Security 50

March Networks, a global provider of intelligent IP video solutions, announced the integration of its 8000 Series Hybrid Network Video Recorder (NVR) system with the Software House C-CURE 9000 Security and Event Management System. The integration provides customers worldwide with a centralized video surveillance and access control solution that enables faster incident response, improved risk management and more efficient security operations.

"In collaboration with Software House, we are proud to offer our customers this seamless integration, which supports the convenient, remote monitoring of dozens or thousands of locations and the fast visual verification of incidents when needed," said Dan Cremins, Director of Product Management, March Networks.

The certified integration delivers everything organizations need to manage their video surveillance via the C-CURE 9000 system. Analog and IP video feeds are all incorporated into the access control software, allowing customers to instantly monitor, review and access live and archived video from any 8000 Series Hybrid NVR or previous generation 4000 C or 3000 Series recorder. In addition, the integration enables users to control surveillance camera actions associated with C-CURE 9000 triggered alarms, including multi-view video popups, PTZ movement, and video tagging. They can also monitor alarms appearing in the C-CURE 9000 interface, including those represented within maps, and react swiftly to disconnected recorders or camera video synchronization loss.

"We're pleased to be working with March Networks to bring customers an important tool to keep their people and property safe," said Jason Ouellette, Director of Product Management, Tyco Security Products access control solutions. "Integrating the C-CURE 9000 with the March Networks hybrid NVR system gives customers visibility to critical security events, allowing them to react quickly."

March Networks' comprehensive video management solution provides the unparalleled reliability, centralized management and performance organizations need to maintain the highest security standards and operate more efficiently. Able to support both analog and IP surveillance cameras, or run as a pure IP platform with as many as 32 IP cameras, the 8000 Series Hybrid NVRs enable businesses to make a smooth transition to advanced IP video networking. Combined with enterprise-class management and powerful investigation capabilities, the solution saves customers time and resources and is proven in installations worldwide, including more than 450 financial institutions and some of the world's largest retail organizations.

Software House's C-CURE 9000 security and event management system utilizes IT- standard tools and innovative distributed architecture. It offers advanced integration capabilities, advanced alarm routing and remote access for system administration and monitoring via a light client. Leveraging Microsoft's sophisticated .NET 4 technology, C-CURE 9000 provides native encryption and XML data transfer, making it one of the fastest, most secure systems in the industry.

A Checklist for Jumping from Analog to IP Surveillance

A Checklist for Jumping from Analog to IP Surveillance

Editor / Provider: Submitted by Infinova | Updated: 7/20/2010 | Article type: Tech Corner

Organizations have experienced increasing demand for surveillance technology, to protect people as well as private and public assets. Mark Wilson, VP of Marketing for Infinova, explores how recent events, from boarding airlines to protecting embassies, highlight the growing needs for security.

One of the most challenging dilemmas facing security managers is when and how to take the leap from analog to an IP video system. They want to jump to IP surveillance but in a cost-managed way that extends the life of existing equipment. For most sites, this migration will take place gradually. During the process, analog and IP solutions will have to coexist.

A key consideration for security professionals is whether the existing cameras or new IP ones will provide the image quality needed to achieve the functional requirements of the system. Each application has different requirements; some users require the ability to see and track suspects in changing lighting conditions, while others simply need to see that a corridor is clear.

In many migration plans, specific locations of greater vulne r abi l i ty or image detail requirements are ideal places for network cameras, including megapixel and high definition models. One needs to ask if higher resolution cameras can help at
each location.

As part of a coexistence plan, analogto- digital encoders at the camera end can transform images from an analog camera to digital transmission and storage. The analog control room equipment gets scrapped, but the new IP control room equipment controls the already-installed analog cameras.

Another approach holds down the budget at the beginning. The existing analog equipment, including cameras, control room, video wall and cabling remains untouched. VMS software, integrated with the present keyboard, sits on top of the system to manage the new IP equipment and the already-installed analog system.

Transmission Choices
Coaxial, shielded twisted-pair and unshielded twisted pair-cable, fiber optics and a variety of wireless approaches carry most security video. The differences and business advantages of the various transmission schemes are in the cost of installation and cost of maintenance. A question to ask is whether the new network
cameras will eliminate long-distance analog cabling.

One strategy to handle both analog and digital networks is to transmit all signals over a single fiber optic cable that is secure and immune to electrical or environ- mental interference. Installation is simplified by eliminating the need for multiple fibers, transmitters and receivers. Not to be forgotten are power supplies. Following a coexistence plan, power supplies that are multitap, addressable and programmable have advantages.

Other considerations include the increased bandwidth impact on the enterprise's network. This is a tricky assignment and IT can help. Will newer types of compression, decompression or codec, such as H.264, reduce bandwidth traffic load but at a cost of more storage and command center processing? Can the budget afford the increased transmission and storage associated with megapixel cameras?

Storage and Retrieval Challenges
Most security organizations already have DVRs for storage and retrieval. However, storage solutions have their own challenges, thanks to myriad features and benefits. These range from common specifications to helpful elements, such as intelligent PTZ control with preset positions, and e-mail or SMS message notification upon motion detection or event alerts.

At the camera edge, security managers are also deploying SD storage cards. This is important in applications where loss of connection to the rest of the system could lead to lost images.

Regardless, there are several questions to consider before selecting one mode or another on the pathway to IP:
● If the video is being monitored from a remote location, will one get exception reporting?
● Do files ever need to be shared with other departments, including law enforcement, in real time?
● How much does one need to record and how long does one need to keep those recordings?

Command and Control Options
There is a great deal to consider with command and control. Traditional matrix switching and joysticks are workhorses, but in a fast-approaching software world, a solid next step is the consideration of networked video matrix switchers.

Traditionally, in the leap from analog to digital video, organizations convert analog signals to digital signals by buying and installing rack encoders for their bank of analog cameras. They replace the analog control room equipment with new IP control room equipment. This can be expensive at the front end.

Some believe that a better way is to create a coexistent system. In this scheme, the system keyboards connect to a VMS, not the matrix switchers. The analog side of the coexisting system stays untouched.

Nothing is added to it. However, since the VMS sits on top of the system, operators use their traditional keyboard commands to manage both the analog and digital solutions.

That's because the VMS interfaces with both the system's analog matrix switchers as well as the network cameras. As a result, on the combined video wall, the analog and IP solutions coexist but are still separate. Transparent to the operator, with no mouse needed, the system sends network camera images to the digital monitors and analog camera signals to the analog monitors. With this coexistent solution, agencies can use an IP solution simply by adding network cameras, digital monitors and VMS.

True security system integration is a goal of most security operations. Beyond relays and interfaces, seamless integration of security video with electronic access control, intrusion, perimeter and identification systems is a beneficial end-point of any operation and one made simpler through IP.

No matter the speed of migration, a solid plan is one in which both analog and network cameras can coexist. Such coexistence increases security's overall situational and domain awareness, as well as improving its operational effectiveness. A hybrid solution provides a growth plan that extends the life of existing equipment, is affordable and is easy to manage.