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Taiwan creates value through innovation & user experience

Taiwan creates value through innovation & user experience

Editor / Provider: Lingo Lin, a&s SMAhome | Updated: 11/20/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics

For some, user experience is a new catchphrase. Slowly but surely smart home makers in Taiwan are grasping the concept of user experience. Thanks to years of export experience and regular interaction with their customers, they have come to understand that user experience is all the aspects of how people use an interactive product: the way it feels in their hands, how well they understand how it works, how they feel about it while they're using it, and how well it fits into the entire context in which they are using it.

GKB is launching a smart home solution on a camera (SoC) called Aetherlink to its global market. Aetherlink is the result of the integration of reliable software, customized sensors, and app that allows you to have a sense of complete control,” said Anna Hsiung of GKB Security.

According to Philio Technology CEO James Huang, simplicity is very important in smart home. To date, most of smart home products are still complicated to general users in the mass market. “We are in the very early days of smart home. Perhaps only gadget lovers enjoy and understand smart home products. As an original maker, we have to simplify the user experience of smart home product as much as possible.”

Philio designs and manufactures Z-Wave based smart home solutions, ranging from PIR sensors, controller, gateway to software & app design. By far, Philio's products are utilized in DIY kits and professional system integration projects.

Meanwhile, given the breakneck price competition within the DIY markets, some Taiwan makers believe that Taiwan can play a big part in the SI market to create a niche under the notable MIT moniker.

“Due to the stagnant US economy whereby new construction of apartments and condos are springing up everywhere, it is about the right time to enter the market,” said Unitech CEO Pete Chen.

“For integrated smart home, most traditional main players in the US market are still in SIs, for single devices or sub-systems such as security, smart plugs, IP cameras, and so forth.”

Chen said 2015 is another milestone year for Unitech to go global, both product portfolio and market penetration. It is unveiling series of new products targeted at SIs and VADs (value-added distributors.) The products include “Elfin Home & Community”, “Elfin T&A,” “MoboBell” for remote doorbell featuring apps for consumer smartphones and tablets, and “Rainbow”, a system management console.

Also aimed at top tier markets is Lilin, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of IP video cameras, recording devices, and software with over 30 years of experience. The company is currently working with Control4 in the US market.

“Taiwan has its strengths in the project (installer) market, and although our prices are higher, customers in the US and Europe will still consider Taiwan because of our quality,” said Lilin global marketing manager Chris Hsu.

Hsu said thanks to Taiwan maker's international presence over the years, they are able to understand better the demands of overseas markets, and can provide a faster feedback.

     [MIT Feature Selection]
Made-in-Taiwan shines under the spotlight
The best of both worlds – Taiwan hardware & software savvy
Going global with top-tier Taiwan products & services
The powerhouse of product customization by Taiwan suppliers

Milestone integrations with EMC, HP Workstation, NetApp, PROMISE Technology and Seneca

Milestone integrations with EMC, HP Workstation, NetApp, PROMISE Technology and Seneca

Editor / Provider: Milestone Systems | Updated: 11/17/2014 | Article type: Security 50

Milestone Systems, the open platform company in IP video management software (VMS), has fully reported performance certification of five more Milestone Solution Partner integrations with IT infrastructure components such as servers, storage, and workstation products. The companies achieving this comprehensive process with documented results are EMC, HP Workstation, NetApp, PROMISE Technology and Seneca.

The IT infrastructure, server, storage and client platforms are integral parts of a networked video management deployment. Therefore, any miscalculations of the server or storage requirements will impact the success of a system's operation, resulting in system outages and downtime. To address this, Milestone works closely with IT infrastructure vendors to ensure that their systems can be optimized for the Milestone XProtect software portfolio, helping implementations to be specified, built and delivered as optimal systems for each customer's technical environment.

The Milestone Solution Certification for IT infrastructure products gives verification of the components as interoperable and optimized for performance with XProtect VMS. The certification process delivers documentation of a solution's proven maturity and quality as assurance of system integrity and differentiation from non-certified components.

“Integrators and end users can build solutions with confidence when referencing the tested configuration data from the Milestone certification process. The documented proof describes how these video solutions operate within the parameters of the maximum performance tests,” says Christian Bohn, VP Strategic Alliances at Milestone Systems. “We have been doing integration certifications for several years, and these additions continue to build trust in Milestone solutions for both partners and customers.”

Each certification project has three phases, beginning with two scenarios of a benchmark test and a maximum performance test. Statistics from the Milestone XProtect Recording Servers are gathered to judge the performance as a platform for video recording. The analyzed data and findings are presented in a complete report with details on the configuration of the test system and a summary.

These tests identify that the given system integrations meet minimum expected performance thresholds based on known benchmarks for best practice. The certification also measures the maximum number of cameras, at a given frame rate, resolution and codec that can be supported by the server and storage system. A summary report from the Solution Certification includes optimal configuration for a surveillance system using the Milestone XProtect VMS with the solution partner's products. This contains the solution architecture, the performance results, use-case information, detailed system configurations for the XProtect VMS components and the solution partner's products.

The Milestone certification results are valid for the lifecycle of the products tested. Yearly re-certification options mean that whenever new versions are launched by Milestone or the partner, the documentation will prove that the integration continues to be compatible and optimized.

The Milestone Solution Finder displays the wide choice of third-party applications that are compatible with XProtect VMS. Certification also applies to Milestone Solution Partners who develop software or device plug-ins for integration to the XProtect software portfolio.

ADT reports Q4 and Full Year 2014 result

ADT reports Q4 and Full Year 2014 result

Editor / Provider: ADT | Updated: 11/14/2014 | Article type: Security 50

FOURTH QUARTER 2014 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS
* GAAP results: revenue of $883 million, net income of $82 million, diluted EPS of $0.47
* Diluted EPS before special items of $0.55(1); up 19.6% over prior year period
* Recurring revenue of $819 million, up 5.4% or 5.8% in constant currency(1)(2)
* EBITDA before special items of $458 million(1), up $27 million or 6.3%
* BITDA margin before special items of 51.9%(1), up 100 basis points from prior year
* Operating cash flow of $354 million and steady-state free cash flow of $966 million(1), up 3% from prior year

FOURTH QUARTER 2014 BUSINESS HIGHLIGHTS
* ADT Pulse customers grow to over 1 million
* Lowered revenue attrition to 13.5%, a sequential and year-over-year improvement of 40 basis points
* Lowered unit attrition to 13.2%, a sequential improvement of 30 basis points
* Reduced Direct Channel net SAC creation multiple to 30.1x, a sequential improvement of 1.0x
* Customer base reaches 6.7 million, not including wholesale contract monitoring accounts of approximately 95,000
* Completed post-separation transition activities from Tyco
* Completed 83,000 2G conversions in fourth quarter 2014; 221,000 in FY 2014

The ADT Corporation reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2014. The Company reported diluted earnings per share of $0.47. Excluding special items for the separation from Tyco, merger and restructuring costs, 2G radio conversion costs, and discrete tax items, diluted earnings per share was $0.55, a 19.6% increase as compared to diluted earnings per share excluding special items of $0.46 in the fourth quarter of 2013. Using the Company's cash tax rate, diluted earnings per share before special items was $0.79

The Company reported total revenue of $883 million, an increase of 4.4%, or 4.7% in constant currency, compared to the fourth quarter of 2013. Recurring revenue, which made up 93% of total revenue in the quarter, was $819 million, up 5.4% compared to the same period last year and up 5.8% in constant currency. Recurring revenue growth in the quarter was primarily driven by an increase in ADT's organic average revenue per customer, which rose 3.7% over last year to $42.32, and the consolidation of Reliance Protectron for eleven weeks in the quarter. Revenue attrition for the quarter improved 40 basis points sequentially and year-over-year to 13.5%, while unit attrition for residential and small business improved 30 basis points sequentially, and 10 basis points from last year, to 13.2%. ADT closed the quarter with 6.7 million customer accounts, including Reliance Protectron accounts, a 3.6% increase over last year. The customer accounts exclude approximately 95 thousand wholesale contract monitoring accounts. EBITDA before special items increased by $27 million to $458 million, 6.3% higher than the prior year and EBITDA margin before special items was 51.9%, a 100 basis point improvement over the comparable period last year. The year-over-year increase in margins was primarily attributable to recurring revenue growth, productivity improvements and cost efficiencies slightly offset by the consolidation of Protectron in the quarter. Excluding Protectron, EBITDA margin before special items was 52.6%, 170 basis points above fourth quarter of 2013.

Free cash flow before special items was $54 million(1) in the quarter, down from $91 million(1) in the same period last year due to an increase in customer acquisitions and other growth investments, as well as higher interest paid on incremental debt in the quarter. The Company also reported steady-state free cash flow before special items, calculated on a pre-tax and unlevered basis, of $966 million(1), up 3% from last year.

FULL YEAR 2014 RESULTS
For the year ended September 26, 2014, the Company reported net income of $304 million and diluted earnings per share of $1.66. Total revenue was $3.4 billion, a year-over-year increase of 3.0%, or 3.4% in constant currency(1). Recurring revenue was $3.2 billion, up 3.7% compared to the same period last year and up 4.0% in constant currency(1). EBITDA before special items increased by $77 million to $1.8 billion(1), ending 4.6% higher than the prior year and EBITDA margins before special items was 51.8%(1), a 70 basis point improvement year-over-year. EBITDA margins before special items excluding Protectron was 52.0%(1), 90 basis points above 2013, in line with our guidance for margin improvement of at least 50 basis points. Excluding special items, diluted earnings per share for the year was $2.02(1) compared to diluted earnings per share excluding special items of $1.84(1) in 2013. Using the Company's cash tax rate, diluted earnings per share before special items was $2.92(1).

"We ended the year with a solid quarter, consistent with our most recent guidance, positioning us to drive profitable growth in the year ahead," said Naren Gursahaney, ADT's chief executive officer. "I am proud of how our team has responded to the competitive landscape, while continuing to leverage ADT's competitive advantages to deliver a great customer experience and create long term value for our shareholders. We continued to build on the momentum we have seen over the past two quarters, as we drove increases in gross adds, exceeding last year's strong fourth quarter performance, and reduced attrition below prior year and our guidance for the year. Our strong operational results and our continued commitment to cost efficiency fueled improvements in EBITDA before special items(1) and bottom line results(1). Pulse continues to perform well, as we recently added our one millionth Pulse customer, and our overall fourth quarter take rate was 51%. We completed our post-separation transition activities from Tyco, freeing up resources to sharpen the focus on our operations, to improve the customer experience, and to strengthen our competitive position. While we are pleased with our progress this quarter, we recognize we have more to accomplish and I am excited about what our team can accomplish in the year ahead."

PROGRESS ON 2014 PRIORITIES: DELIVERING ON GROWTH INITIATIVES
* Growth investments in ADT Pulse propels Pulse customer base to over 1 million subscribers - The Company continued to extend its position as a leading provider of monitored interactive home automation solutions, achieving strong growth in its ADT Pulse platform. In our residential direct channel, approximately 70% of new customers purchased a Pulse security system, and upgrade units more than doubled from a year ago. Total ADT Pulse surpassed the one millionth customer milestone and now make up 16% of ADT's total customer base.

* Attrition reduction initiatives leading to improved customer retention - The majority of customer attrition is driven by relocations associated with the housing recovery as well as non-pay customers. The Company continued to take action to reduce customer attrition by completing its roll out of tighter credit screening policies and implementing other non-pay initiatives, strengthening resale efforts, customer loyalty programs, and driving increased penetration of ADT Pulse automation services, which currently exhibits better retention characteristics. These actions, along with a more stable housing market, drove improvements resulting in revenue attrition in the quarter of 13.5% -- a 40 basis point improvement sequentially and year-over-year, and unit attrition in our residential and small business channels of 13.2% -- a 30 basis point improvement sequentially and 10 basis points below 2013.

* Increases in dealer channel production surpasses prior year level - Aligned with a key priority to improve productivity in the dealer channel, the Company took steps to strengthen the quality and output of this channel.
* *Customer adds from the dealer channel grew by 20% sequentially and 17% from the fourth quarter last year. ADT dealer production, excluding Protectron, rose 7% sequentially and 5% from the fourth quarter last year. Dealer production has risen every quarter this year and this is the first quarter in 2014 we reported year-over-year growth.
* *The Company expanded its dealer network and drove a 47% take rate in ADT Pulse units in the quarter, up from 23% in the comparable period last year.

* Expanding presence in business interactive security and automation - The Company is executing on growth initiatives in the small business and mid-size commercial space.
* *Following the expiration of the non-compete provisions with Tyco, the Company re-branded its Small Business channel as ADT Business, with an expanded focus into the mid-size commercial space.
* *ADT Pulse take rate in the small business channel continued to improve as 46% of new small business customers added during the quarter adopted Pulse.
* *The Company expanded its video surveillance and analytics offering to include both cloud-based and on-site secure storage solutions, providing small business owners with enhanced visibility into the security of their business premises.
* *The Company continued to execute upon its strategic plan to deliver customized security and automation solutions to address the most common needs and concerns of business owners within a particular industry by announcing the Food and Beverage Solutions Bundle in addition to the previously announced ADT Retail Solutions Bundle.

* Forging new partnerships to achieve future vision - The Company continued to build out its strategic partnerships as it looks to expand beyond its strength in managing and protecting physical assets to protecting digital assets and protecting its customers outside of the home.
* *The Company announced that it will begin marketing its products and services at Best Buy, creating a strong reatil presence for ADT in the US.
* *The Company announced a new relationship with IFTTT, a service that enables consumers to create powerful connections with one simple statement - if this then that. The partnership will enhance the ADT Pulse home automation experience as ADT and IFTTT are planning to test a beta version of an ADT Pulse Channel on IFTTT, connecting a customer's ADT Pulse-enabled home with more than 100 existing Channel partners. Whether it's adjusting the thermostat in reaction to local weather conditions, or arming the security system based on users' GPS data, an ADT Pulse Channell on IFTTT could enable users to put many aspects of their home on auto-pilot.

* Completed Reliance Protectron acquisition positioning Canadian operations for growth - The Company completed its acquisition of Reliance Protectron, expanding and strengthening its position in Canada. The Company has begun integrating Protectron's operations and customer base, which includes approximately 370,000 high quality residential and commercial customers (excluding approximately 30,000 wholesale contract monitoring accounts). Included in the Company's consolidated results are Protectron's operations for 11 weeks of the fourth quarter 2014.

"We delivered another quarter of solid execution and improved operating metrics, while accelerating our investment in growth," said Michael Geltzeiler, ADT's chief financial officer. "In the fourth quarter, we closed the Protectron acquisition, prepared for the launch of expanded commercial capabilities and advanced several new partnerships designed to strengthen our business for the future. We achieved our cost objectives for the year, grew steady-state free cash flow(1), improved EBITDA margin before special items by 90 basis points(1) before Protectron and drove direct subscriber acquisition creation multiples back below 30x for the quarter. For the year, we reported a 10% increase in diluted EPS before special items(1) enhanced by optimizing our capital structure with the repurchase of 35 million shares and increasing leverage. We also increased our quarterly dividend by 60%. With the post-separation transition activities behind us, we have a healthy list of productivity improvements still to be executed in both cost to serve and SAC, providing a runway for increased profitability and investment funding to fuel growth."

PROGRESS ON 2014 PRIORITIES: DRIVING COST EFFICIENCIES
* The Company made progress on its cost efficiency initiatives, improving its EBITDA margin before special items(1) and direct creation multiple excluding the impact of upgrades over the course of the year. Total operating expenses before special items(3) were up only 5.5% over last year despite the acquisitions of Reliance Protectron and Devcon as well as higher depreciation and amortization ("D&A") expenses of 10.5%, as we transition our customer base to Pulse and home automation. Excluding D&A, total operating expenses before special items(3 rose 1.8%.


* Cost to serve / G&A - Cost to serve before special items(3) was up 3.5% compared to last year and increased 6.8% sequentially due to higher product related costs associated with the increase in ADT Pulse accounts and the addition of Reliance Protectron.


* Subscriber acquisition cost (SAC) / Creation multiple - Total net SAC creation multiple, excluding the impact of Pulse upgrades, was 30.6x, a sequential improvement of 0.4x. Direct net SAC creation multiple, excluding the impact of upgrades and Protectron was 29.9x. Sequential improvements in the net creation multiple were driven by SAC improvements, partially due to the higher level of gross additions, rationalization in the installation area and higher ARPU from our new customers. We expect to benefit more from these and other initiatives, including the launch of electronic contracts and planned hardware efficiencies in 2015.

PROGRESS ON 2014 PRIORITIES: CAPITAL STRUCTURE OPTIMIZATION
* Share repurchase - In 2014, the Company has repurchased 35 million shares for $1.4 billion, at an average price of $38.49.
* Debt/Capital Structure - Long-term debt totaled $5.1 billion at the end of the quarter, bringing the Company's leverage ratio, based off of a trailing twelve month EBITDA before special items, to 2.8(1) on a pro-forma basis.
* Quarterly dividend - The Company paid a quarterly dividend of $0.20 per share on August 20th, an increase of 60% versus last year.

FULL YEAR FISCAL 2015 GUIDANCE
The Company is providing the following guidance for full year fiscal 2015:
* Recurring revenue growth in the range of 5% - 6%
* EBITDA before special items growth in the range of $70M - $100M
* Year-over-year increase in gross additions for direct and dealer channels
* Unit attrition below 13%
* Steady-state free cash flow before special items greater than $1 billion

SimCorp Executive hired as Milestone CSMO

SimCorp Executive hired as Milestone CSMO

Editor / Provider: Milestone Systems | Updated: 11/4/2014 | Article type: Security 50

Milestone Systems, the open platform company in IP video management software (VMS), announces Kenneth Hune Petersen as the new Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. He will be based out of the global headquarters in Denmark and as a member of the Executive Management Team will report directly to CEO Lars Thinggaard.

For the last 17 years Petersen has worked with SimCorp, with his most recent position being Senior Vice President, Head of Global Sales. He was responsible for sales leadership to develop the Nordic region and also spent ten years in the United States building up the Americas business unit for SimCorp. He has a Master of Science degree in Economics from Copenhagen University.

“Kenneth is inspiring and passionate about leadership and building business. He will be a great addition to continue expanding our activities that have defined Milestone as a powerful sales and marketing organization. Our reputation has come from constantly fostering innovative solutions to meet our customers' needs, and we have continually raised the bar in our industry for collaboration. Together we will continue to grow our business profitably, and Kenneth's job is to accelerate this growth through his leadership and strengths as a sparring partner and coach. He will help us continue in our role as bridge builder between our customers and technology,” says Lars Thinggaard, CEO, Milestone Systems.

Milestone announces IT distributor partnership with Ingram Micro in Europe

Milestone announces IT distributor partnership with Ingram Micro in Europe

Editor / Provider: Milestone Systems | Updated: 10/29/2014 | Article type: Security 50

Milestone Systems, the open platform company in IP video management software (VMS), announced a new distribution agreement with Ingram Micro to handle distribution of Milestone products in the German-speaking countries of Europe such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland, also referred to as the DACH region.

Ingram Micro is the world's largest wholesale technology distributor and global leader in IT supply chain and mobile device lifecycle services. The new distribution agreement enables Milestone Systems to reach an extensive network of IT and security system integrators through Ingram Micro's extensive distribution network in the region.

“We are certain that our partnership with Ingram Micro will deliver strong opportunities for their customers in terms of solution power and new business. At the same time it will offer an efficient purchasing conduit for our ever-growing partner ecosystem,” says Claus Rønning, Director Southern Europe & DACH, Milestone Systems. “The security market in the region is quickly growing, and video enabling business processes is a natural broadening in scope for IT professionals. Our partnership with Ingram Micro is an important factor in helping IT professionals, IT and security integrators to deliver solutions based on Milestone's market-leading open platform technology.”

“Milestone is the global industry leader in video management software and therefore the ideal business partner for our physical security unit,” says Klaus Donath, Senior Director Value Business DACH, Ingram Micro. “In the US, the partnership of Ingram Micro and Milestone already shows great success, and we are pleased to also provide Milestone broad access to the German market. At the same time, we are happy to complete our portfolio of offerings with such top quality products with high compatibility.”

New opportunities arise in video surveillance for Ethernet switch manufacturers

New opportunities arise in video surveillance for Ethernet switch manufacturers

Editor / Provider: Aaron Dale, IHS Market Analyst | Updated: 10/22/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics

Large Ethernet switch manufacturers have traditionally tailored their products to cater for general information technology (IT) needs. However, this could change as new, fast-growing markets provide Ethernet switch manufacturers the opportunity to diversify. The latest data from IHS shows that 606,000 Ethernet switches were sold for use in video surveillance deployments in 2013. This represents a small proportion of the overall Ethernet switch market right now. However, some 1.6 million switches are forecast to be sold into the video surveillance market in 2018, representing a far more significant proportion of the total market.

These findings are presented in a report that analyzes the opportunities for infrastructure and Ethernet switch providers in video surveillance. Other report findings include:

IHS estimates that 24 port switches are the most widely used in video surveillance applications.


* The market for Ethernet switches used in video surveillance is also being bolstered by the increasing complexity and scale of video surveillance networks. This is leading end-users to invest in higher specification equipment.
* The total market size for Ethernet switches used in video surveillance in terms of product revenue was estimated at $188.2 million in 2013.

A number of Ethernet switch manufacturers have been quick to capitalize on the growth in this market and have started producing solutions tailored specifically for video surveillance. Two such notable moves were the launch of Avaya's Fabric Connect solution and the strategic partnership between Extreme Networks and Milestone Systems. IHS expects that in the coming years more Ethernet switch manufacturers will compete to claim their stake in an increasingly attractive market.

Milestone Systems navigates new sales channels with Netgear and Zucchetti

Milestone Systems navigates new sales channels with Netgear and Zucchetti

Editor / Provider: Milestone | Updated: 10/7/2014 | Article type: Security 50

Milestone Systems has just announced a close relation with Netgear enabling over 10,000 Netgear resellers and more than 2,400 partners to sell solutions with Milestone XProtect. Moreover, Zucchetti is now a certified Milestone access control partner, which allows Netgear partners to deliver complete physical security information management (PSIM) solutions.
Netgear designs the network infrastructure capable of supporting IP security from small-sized businesses to large corporate surveillance systems with up to 1,000 cameras. Solutions based on the Netgear infrastructure are flexible and reliable, offering a solid base for building dependable security solutions. This allows Netgear partners to introduce more powerful solutions to the Italian market based on the benefits of Milestone products:

• Milestone XProtect VMS is powerful, reliable and easy to use, having proven itself in more than 100,000 installations worldwide. Based on a true open platform, XProtect enables integration with the industry's widest choice in cameras and best-in-class business solutions, such as access control and video analytics. The software is compatible with more than 3,000 encoders, IP cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs), from almost 150 different suppliers worldwide. Milestone strives to continuously increase its compatibility with new devices. 

XAtlas , the multi-platform security management system designed by Zucchetti Axess, allows access control integration, workplace security, time and attendance data collection, anti-intrusion and firefighting integration, video surveillance, vehicle transit management and company canteen and parking management.

"This partnership is very exciting to us, as it opens a whole new channel for us. Italian IT professionals will be able to use a world-class network infrastructure component and access control software to build value-filled PSIM solutions using leading open platform video management software," says Claus Rønning, Director Southern Europe & DACH, Milestone Systems. "The ability to integrate Zucchetti's and Netgear's extensive partner network into the Milestone partner ecosystem will expand our combined market reach. This is truly a forward-looking partnership"
The new partnership is already stirring up excitement at Netgear and Zucchetti. "Netgear is synonymous with quality and reliability. We are confident that all Netgear partners will seize the opportunity to increase their skills in the field of security, providing solutions that include Milestone video management system. We are also confident that the market will surely obtain benefit from this collaboration, "says Stefano Barbieri Regional Sales Director CBU, Netgear Italy.
"The benefits for end users will be remarkable, starting with the fact that the access control functionalities of Xatlas software will be directly accessible through the XProtect platform interface, with modular and scalable settings, according to specific requirements" stated Domenico Uggeri, Zucchetti Vice President.

How security enhances metro emergency management

How security enhances metro emergency management

Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 10/6/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics

Taking public transportation has become a normal way of life for people constantly on the go. Yet despite various safety measures implemented by the operator, disasters, whether natural or caused by human, occur from time to time. Luckily, today's security technologies have evolved to enable better emergency management for operators, and passengers can travel with peace of mind.

Public transportation has become a common way for people to commute, travel, or get to wherever they want to go. According to figures provided by UITP in 2013, 148 cities in the world have a metro system, carrying a total of 150 million passengers everyday. As for buses, 32 billion passenger journeys are made in a year worldwide — that's roughly 56% of the 60 billion for the entire public transportation system.

But, while operators around the world work hard to make sure their public transportation systems are safe, major accidents still happen from time to time. Also, due to public transit's open nature and the fact security checks are less stringent than air travel, metros and buses are easy targets for terrorist attacks. The 2004 Madrid train bombings and the 2005 bombings on London's subway and bus systems are two horrific examples in recent times. Against this backdrop, security plays a major role in emergency management. Take the 2005 London bombings as an example. Immediately after the first bombings on July 7, law enforcement officials searched for suspects via videos taken by the roughly 6,000 cameras deployed throughout the London Underground. Four days later, the images were discovered, and the identities and backgrounds of the four suspects were found. They were arrested within a week.

For today's metro operators, they can be aided by the latest developments in security technologies, including PSIM, PA, intercom, and intelligent software such as VCA to deal with emergencies even more efficiently. With these technologies in place, operators can detect threats, act upon them, and respond to incidents quickly.

VCA : Detecting Threats Early
A major component for preventing disasters in public transit is early detection of threats. Unattended bags, individuals loitering on the platform, or unauthorized entry into tunnels may lead to disastrous consequences if not dealt with in time. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security allocates millions of dollars annually to support the deployment of tunnel intrusion detection.

An effective tool that can help operators detect threats early is video content analysis (VCA), also known as video analytics, which has become more advanced and intelligent. Among the things that VCA can do are passenger counting to avoid overload, facial recognition to identify potential terrorists, and detecting objects left behind to prevent bomb explosions. Today's VCA can be embedded directly into surveillance cameras. “This enables the cameras to automatically alert the security center in case of, for instance, unauthorized access at rail yards, bus depots, or tunnels. As a result, the transit authorities can get early warnings for potential incidents such as graffiti, metal theft, sabotage, or tunnel trespassing,” said Patrik Anderson, Director of Business Development for Transportation at Axis Communications.

While VCA is claimed to have various intelligent functions, overreliance should be avoided. “Analytics is in most cases not designed for 100% accuracy and cannot completely replace security staff,” Michael Port, Head of Technology at SeeTec, reminds.

PSI M: Responding to Incidents Faster
Physical Security Information Management, or PSIM, is an effective incident-response tool that has been deployed in numerous public transit systems around the world including those in Washington D.C., London, and Moscow.

PSIM's value is twofold. First, it allows the consolidation of disparate metro command and control subsystems, such as security, operation, emergency, and even maintenance into one centralized room. “This consolidation in which police, emergency forces, and metro operation team share the same room and use PSIM as the glue that provides common operating pictures has proven to have drastic effects on metro organizations' ability to respond quickly in a collaborative manner to unfolding situations,” said Udi Segall, Director of Business Development at NICE Systems.

Secondly, once a threat is detected or an accident has already happened, PSIM provides instructions on how to respond, based on pre-defined standard operating procedures. “It provides operators with step-by-step guidance on what to look for, who to contact, how to respond, and when to escalate an incident. It is also helping to create meaningful reports on long-term trends, so future investments can be targeted to risks,” said Adlan Hussain, VP of Marketing at CNL Software.

According to Hussain, deploying a PSIM platform across an enterprise is unlike any other physical security investment in that it reaches across more stakeholders within an organization. “Time and effort need to be given in order to create the processes for managing incidents. Some of these processes may cross departments, so it is important to work with all stakeholders on their expectation from the system,” he said.

Cameras and Storage
Surveillance cameras are now installed in trains and buses throughout global public transit systems to step up security. In particular, network or IP cameras can offer high-resolution images, some up to 6 megapixels, delivering crystal-clear videos that can help improve surveillance efficiency and enhance targeting of suspicious objects or individuals.

As video data generated by IP cams get bigger, network video recorders (NVRs) in trains or buses must have better storage management capabilities. With event recording, “users can first configure the event tags, such as motion detection in the form of line crossing or intrusion detection. When the event is triggered, the video recording is activated,” said Jianjun Pei, Director of Traffic Solutions at Hikvision.

Soft Power: VMS
Video management software nowadays can automatically detect and configure cameras, analyze and process videos generated by hundreds if not thousands of cameras deployed throughout a metro system, provide centralized control of these videos, and give operators greater situational awareness.

VMS products are also highly integrative and can combine with access control, fire detection, and other building automation technologies. “This way, situational awareness is dramatically improved for safety staff. They will be able to assess a situation much more effectively using live video feeds from the area where alarms are triggered,” said Jens Johansson, Transportation and City Surveillance Sales Manager at Milestone Systems. Despite the advances in network technologies, there is a sense of reluctance for some metro operators to migrate their legacy systems to IP. “It may be a challenge for transit authorities to make sound investment cycles towards the new level of public transport security offered by open network video technology. However, as major cities around the world have begun their journey towards a better way to manage incidents, transit authorities can turn to their fellow peers in other cities to learn,” Anderson said.

Breaking the Sound Barriers
Besides visuals, sounds, such as gunshots, glass breaking, or even passengers gasping in horror, can also indicate something is going wrong.

Consider a recent and less devastating example of how operators can be alerted through sound. On August 26, a woman taking the Taipei metro alleged a male college student of “touching” her. A passenger who saw this pressed the emergency call button and notified the operations command center (OCC) of the incident. When the train rolled into the next stop, police went into the car and took the suspect away.

Today's intercom and public address (PA) systems have become more network-centric and can help enhance incident management for metro operators. According to Simen Kjellberg, Commercial Product Manager for Rail and Metro at Zenitel Group, modern intercoms or emergency call points (ECPs) have become more complex yet powerful. Supported with audio analytics, they can detect gunshots, glass breaks, and various forms of aggression, and then trigger cameras and send the feeds back to the command central. Active voice cancelling filters out background noises, which can be louder than people talking. “This way, the elderly with weak voices can be heard even if a train is passing,” Kjellberg said.

With open duplex conversations, both sides can communicate simultaneously rather than one person speaking over a uni-direction link. Automatic gain control automatically adjusts the volume level of people's voice even if they are up to five meters away. “In case of a conflict, with people being pushed away from the ECP or injured people lying on the ground, they can still be heard,” Kjellberg said. As for PA, one of the most important breakthroughs is its integration with radios carried by field personnel, who can listen to PA broadcasts through their devices or better, make announcements through their radios that can be used like a microphone.

Increasingly Wireless
Wireless technologies have advanced significantly and can allow transmission of huge amounts of video data to the OCC seamlessly, even from moving trains. Charlie Chen, Sales Engineer at Oring Industrial Networking, said for ground rail systems, wireless transmission is easier to implement. “Access points can be put in the train and every 300 meters along the track to make sure that transmission is smooth and uninterrupted,” he said.

Yet concerns have been raised over connection dropouts in tunnels, especially at sharp turns. Cosimo Malesci, VP of Sales and Marketing at Fluidmesh Networks, said this is a non-issue, as long as the implementation is done correctly. “We have done a lot of tests in tunnels on moving metro vehicles, and it works properly. Of course, the number of radio in curvatures should be higher than in straight lines,” he said.

Sit Back and Relax
Security technologies nowadays are evolving to help prevent and respond to emergencies. While they are not 100% effective, and while challenges still remain, they are being deployed in a growing number of metro systems and have proven effective in helping operators gain situational awareness and protect passengers' lives and assets. To make sure passengers can sit back and relax on metros and buses, investment in security overhaul and upgrades is justified.

Tips on Surveillance Deployment on Trains or Buses
The most ideal spots to install cameras are entrances and exits of buses and trains, since “every suspect has to enter or leave the vehicle,” said Michael Port, Head of Technology at SeeTec, adding cameras should also be distributed equally along the vehicle axis. In general, four to six cameras are the ideal number for installation on each bus or metro car.

When purchasing cameras, the user should identify their overall objective. “Should a particular camera make it possible to identify individuals? Or recognize? These two use cases result in different requirements on the camera in terms of resolution and low-light characteristics,” said Jens Johansson, Transportation and City Surveillance Sales Manager at Milestone Systems.

“The selection of lenses and field of view of each camera should be considered so that one can clearly identify the person. Several lenses may be needed in various locations in the vehicle,” said Patrik Anderson, Director of Business Development for Transportation at Axis Communications.

Panoramic cameras are ideal, as they are able to cover a wider range of a given area. As an example, Dallmeier's panoramic solution was deployed by South Africa's metro system, which faced the problem of vandalism and theft on trains parked at the rail yard at night. With the solution, which uses several lenses with different focal distances, more areas can be monitored and suspects identified, resulting in a reduction in crime.

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

Mission
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.

Solution
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.

Result
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.”

Samsung Techwin WiseNetIII series integrated with Milestone XProtect VMS

Samsung Techwin WiseNetIII series integrated with Milestone XProtect VMS

Editor / Provider: Samsung Techwin | Updated: 10/2/2014 | Article type: Security 50

Samsung Techwin WiseNetIII network camera series has been successfully integrated with Milestone XProtect video management software. Milestone XProtect VMS is powerful, reliable, easy to use and proven in more than 100,000 installations worldwide. Based on a true open platform, XProtect VMS enables integration with the industry's widest choice in cameras and best-in-class business solutions, such as access control and video analytics.

All of the 1.3, 2 and 3 megapixel IP network cameras and domes with the WiseNetIII series have been integrated with Milestone XProtect, including the recently launched SNP-6320 and the 1.3MP SNP-5430, the 43x PTZ network video surveillance dome camera with intelligent auto-tracking.

“A key element of our product development strategy is based on the understanding that customers are looking for easy to implement and easy to operate integrated video surveillance solutions,” said Peter Ainsworth, Head of Product and Marketing for Samsung Techwin Europe Limited. “Integration with independently developed video management software such as Milestone XProtect is therefore essential in order to provide the option for the latest generation of Samsung Techwin WiseNetIII cameras and domes to be controlled and monitored alongside devices and systems produced by other manufacturers, as well as facilitate a gradual transition from an existing analogue system to a full IP network based surveillance solution.” Samsung Techwin is a member of the Milestone Systems' Camera Partner Programme enabling a tight collaboration with Milestone for developing new and innovative solutions.

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