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Your Business's Best Friend

Your Business's Best Friend

Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 6/29/2011 | Article type: Tech Corner

Anyone who hasever taken notes on a regular basis understands how limiting handwritten notes can be; finding specific information in a notebook can be time-consuming and frustrating. In the past, video archives were nothing more than a collection of footage waiting to be reviewed. With the advent of intelligent surveillance systems, raw video has been transformed into actionable information.

Video content analysis (VCA) has been plagued by bad business practices and unrealistic expectations, but the technology is, in many ways, still evolving and there have already been tried and tested real-life success stories that benefit from it.

The key for VCA to provide maximum value is having a clearly defined problem and realistic expectations of a solution. “There have been successful projects installed all across Europe,” said Gerard Otterspeer, CCTV Product Marketing Manager, Bosch Security Systems. “In Greece, for example, they use video analytics in tunnels to detect if someone is driving the wrong way or at the wrong speed.

That's directional detection coupled with speed detection. If a car stops in the tunnel for a certain amount of time, which is object loitering, the local authorities can be notified. Furthermore, a clear distinction is made between size and object shape, so the system knows if it's looking at a person or a car.”

Quality Comes With a Tag
What exactly is intelligent video? It is a system that analyzes millions of pixels at blazing speeds, Otterspeer said. “No matter what detection you choose, as simple as it may seem, all of it depends on the underlying algorithm. The first step is to analyze all those pixels and then identify objects. Only when you have the objects can you set the rules. So, it all starts with the quality of the algorithm, and this varies greatly from provider to provider.”

For example , in a complex environment where there are objects walking past one another in the background and foreground, the object IDs may be merging and splitting constantly since the camera is not aware of depth in the scene. “A lot of time and efforts have gone into optimizing ID tracking to ensure there is a right balance. If this is not done properly and two objects merge into one, it messes up the detection,” Otterspeer explained.

Many camera companies are giving away their software at low or even zero costs. However, you get what you pay for, which is nothing, cautioned Ivy Li, cofounder and MD of iOmniscient. “System integrators sometimes complain that the products they were using did not work — if they bought them based on price rather than quality and functionality, they should not be surprised.” Developing VCA algorithms requires a tremendous amount of time and resources. When a provider is giving them away for free, it is possible that they did not put in that much effort to begin with. Came r a s , DVRs a n d o t h e r hardware devices are becoming commodities with reasonable quality, leaving price the only thing to compete on, Li said. “This is not yet true for video analytics. The huge difference in quality drives the market and solution prices.”

Most companies already offer reliable, basic solutions such as line crossing, zone entry/exit and tampering detection. Price per channel for these is dropping since most companies can deliver, said Thejaswi Bharadwaj, Head of Civilian Technologies at Delopt. “However, for analytics that involve significant R&D and intellectual property such as people counting, PTZ tracking and ALPR, the prices will stay steady for quite a while.” Today, many camera and DVR manufacturers give away their software for free to sell their other products, Li said. “If you want a good, working product, you would have to pay for it. It's the same with transportation. You can get a bicycle very cheaply. However, it will not get you from Beijing to Paris quickly.”

"Many VCA solutions on the market today use video motion detection. Today's VCA uses advanced technology which applies machine vision to video scenarios in security and business intelligence applications," said Ed Troha, MD of Global Marketing at ObjectVideo. "Video motion detection is often used in products as an added component to drive hardware sales. These are not truly intelligent analytics and can have limited reliability."

The algorithms determine how intelligent the VCA is, said Patrick Lim, Director of Sales and Marketing for Ademco Far East. “There are products that use entrylevel processors but perform very intelligent functions without a problem. However, having a more powerful processor gives you some space to accommodate future firmware upgrades that can bring more complex algorithms and smarter features.”

VCA algorithms are very computationally intensive, and any increase in available processing power results in the ability to deploy more accurate algorithms without increasing solution prices, said Zvika Ashani, CTO of Agent Video Intelligence. “Computerized vision is a science that has many applications other than security, and advances are slowly applied to VCA, resulting in an increase in solution accuracy.”

Organizations that have the luxury of applying their algorithms to different industries have the greatest advantage since they can adapt and apply their algorithms to different applications, achieving economy of scale and knowledge-sharing among different projects, Otterspeer added. "For example, algorithm R&D could be centralized and later utilized across divisions such as automotive and security."

Play Nice
Different vendors take different approaches, but the underlying concept is the same. Classifying different rules based on accuracy helps. According to Bharadwaj, there are three categories:
1. Moving objects: people counting, line crossing, zone entry/exit;
2. Static/semi-static objects: object removal, unattended object, dwell time detection (not based on face detection), loitering, crowd counting, object classification; and
3. Special rules: camera tampering, PTZ tracking of moving/stationary objects, ALPR, face detection.

Solutions for the first and third categories are mature, Bharadwaj said. “With the second, we believe more R&D investment is needed for a foolproof solution that works in all situations to surface.” However, Li feels that the question is not about whether an application is ready, but rather if a particular supplier has a product that can work robustly in different environments.

There are four VCA rules that most users are familiar with, namely people counting, directional detection, camera tampering detection and object removal. “The concept can be easily communicated to customers, and the benefits are easily understood,” said Jukka Riivari, CEO of Mirasys.

People Counting
The largest marketfor people counting is retail, Bharadwaj said. “Presently, most retail locations do not have a way to measure footfall traffic and correlate it with sales numbers. A real-life scenario is one in which a store has counting systems installed at all entrances, aisles and exits. These systems can provide various statistics about flow rate, occupancy and other information that can help optimize operations.” In terms of operational efficiency, people counting helps stores maximize staffing levels at both peak- and low-traffic periods, said Steve Gorski, GM for the Americas, Mobotix. “Hospitality is another vertical that also finds significant value through the use of VCA.”

The traditional method for retail counting was highly inaccurate and costly, requiring extensive wiring and many sensors, Lim added. “New top-down intelligent video devices come fully packaged. For chain stores looking to collect data centrally, IP network connectivity also saves a lot of money. Crowd counting for traffic flow in shopping malls is also a growing trend.”

Accurate people counting requires good processing power. “More often than not, multiple cameras are needed for a wide door/passage way. These cameras need to function as a single integrated sensing entity and generate a single count. It is also important to handle overlap between camera views to avoid over/under counting,” Bharadwaj said.

People counting is very valuable for indoor usage, especially in conjunction with access control. However, the greatest potential lies in commercial and retail settings where people want to know how many people are standing in a certain aisle at a certain time. For security and safety applications, there is increased use of crowd density detection, allowing for an alarm if a train platform reaches, for example, 80 percent of its capacity. Line checking, such as in airports, is another area that can greatly improve operational efficiency, Otterspeer said. “One of the things that can reduce false alarms is head detection. The shape of a human head and its relation to the shoulder is always a certain geometry. Detecting that greatly reduces false alarms from dogs or other animals.”

With the right camera placement and good software, you can do high-quality counting anywhere, Li said. “More sophisticated counting applications can be used for queue management to determine average waiting times.”

Counting and crowd management are slightly different, Lim cautioned. “Counting is expected to be more than 90-percent accurate while crowd management looks at the speed of a crowd formation and area of formation. Count accuracy in crowd management is usually not expected to be more than 85 percent.”

For Coastalwatch , people counting is most practical from a high-mounted camera in an area where background noise is less likely, said Tim Chandler, President of CoastalCOMS Division. “Our focus is to assign a risk variable to a risk index — the ‘count' or number of people is assessed to indicate that the number of people has significantly increased or decreased over a predefined amount of time. Our system ends up reporting 'load' rather than 'count,' which works best in beach areas where safety is a concern.”

Directional Detection
Directional detection and tampering detection are basic functions that many cameras include and most customers enable, Otterspeer said.

“Directional movement detection is used for triggering alerts when a person or vehicle is moving in an area and direction that they should not be moving in. This is used, for example, in protection of critical infrastructure and in airports,” Ashani said.

Real-life scenarios for directional detection involve perimeter surveillance and wrong-way movement detection for vehicles and people, Bharadwaj added. “This is a motionbased algorithm; false alarms arise when the line drawn includes objects such as trees that move due to wind.”

Directional detection can also be applied to beaches as a further indication of risk. “The ability to draw a virtual line in the sand and see if folks are stepping across the line to move into or out of the water is useful, as it can modify a risk calculation's results,” Chandler said. “The idea is to support the risk manager with useful decision support metrics that they can evaluate in real time, especially for remote or unmanned areas of responsibility.”

Directional movement detection can be very accurate, so long as the environment is not overly crowded. Outdoor scenarios are more challenging as there are environmental conditions that can lead to false positives or negatives, Ashani said. “Modern VCA algorithms are able to robustly handle outdoor scenarios in many common cases. Another challenge is the ability to distinguish between target types. For example, the system can fail to distinguish between a group of people and a slow moving vehicle if the algorithm is not sophisticated enough.”

Typical sources of false alarms are moving shadows, changing lights and incorrect object/target classification. Each of these can be minimized by developing additional algorithmic components, Ashani said.

Tampering Detection
Like with all video analytics, tampering can be a simple application, Li said. “The system can tell if someone has sabotaged the camera or covered the lens. More sophisticated systems can also tell if the system can see clearly. So even if the camera has not been tampered with but has lost focus or can't see because it's raining too hard or if the camera has moved due to vibrations, the system will let the operator know.”

Tampering detection is a must-have for any surveillance installation. A tampered camera directly defeats the purpose of video surveillance, Bharadwaj said. “Accuracy depends on design. A good solution needs to detect tampering due to camera defocusing, blocked camera and view change. At the same time, it needs to disregard camera shakes/vibrations due to environmental conditions.”

Camera-tampering detection is applicable to any surveillance camera and enhances the operational readiness of cameras in surveillance installations, Ashani said. “For some solutions, camera tampering is not limited to only video loss or image blocking but also detects insufficient lighting or oversaturated images which result in poor video quality.” This application is generally very accurate and generates very few false alarms, Ashani added.

Object Loitering/Removal
Object loitering and object removal are essentially the same thing. The targeted object is identified, but the alarm goes the other way around, Otterspeer said.

At the moment, object removal rules are probably most effective in places where the traffic is not too dynamic, Lim said. “Object loitering is not as magical as some would claim. If a camera is placed over a crowded airport and a crowd forms up covering one another and an unattended bag, there is no way the VCA will work.” Successful applications are likely in museums and exhibitions rather than airports and transport terminals. “I've heard stories about a public transport operator that tried to implement unattended-bag detection for trains, buses and even the stations. It was a complete failure,” Lim added.

Object removal detection is not practical if the object in question is too small, not in a well-lit area or occluded from the view of the camera for very long periods of time, Ashani added. “There was a large warehouse that installed 150 cameras, all of which carried video analytics. The customer wanted to be notified when cargo went missing, and to be able to use forensic search to find the cargo. This was not that difficult,” Otterspeer said. “However, the director of that establishment wanted to know when one little box of a cellular phone went missing, and wanted the system to follow it through all 150 cameras. That was simply not possible — and still isn't — with the current state of the technology.” Once the director was shown how to set up the right detection lines and proper rules, he was still impressed by how much it could help his operations.

Baggage abandoning is a different matter, as the system needs to understand when one object splits into two and establish a connection between the person and baggage.

Boxed solutions are generally not tailored for specific applications. If a customer is looking for one niche solution, it may still be a centralized solution because of the flexibility. It will also be more expensive because the system needs to be trained by engineers, Otterspeer said.

However, meeting customers' real-life needs is an increasingly popular requirement, Li said. “Solutions tailored for industries, ranging from oil and gas to prisons, maximizes value and reliability. For example, solutions for banking provide detection of skimming devices on ATMs, and solutions for airports provide metering of aircraft to tell precisely how long each is parked at the air bridge.”

Another example would be how people counting is used in coastalarea management. “For safety applications, people counting seems to be most interesting for remote ‘pocket beaches,' which are areas that are often off the beaten path and unguarded by lifesavers,” Chandler said. “If a large number of people suddenly appear in an unguarded or remote beach area, that may equate to higher risk if the ocean or water conditions also match up. This type of VCA, which requires accuracy within a range rather than identification of a single human form, is a great example of VCA working in tandem with business rules and VMS-actuated work flows.”

The power of analytics is greatly enhanced when alarms or events are correlated with those from other functions, such as access control or video management. A unified security platform allows the end user to view information from all the different systems, correlate it and report on it through one interface, said Jumbi Edulbehram, VP of Business Development at Next Level Security Systems. “The combination of this data enables the user to have a fully comprehensive view of security and business operations, and that is what the end user is seeking.”

The challenge in integrating with VMS is that suppliers are focused on storing information and displaying it, Li said. “They're not familiar with the sophistication of VCA metadata, so they don't have the ability to display it. For example, the VCA software may have a function that allows the user to track an individual and know which camera he has passed through over a period of time. However, most VMS systems are just focused on showing raw image scenes; they don't have the capability to ask complex questions nor to display the answers.” To complicate matters, most metadata today is still proprietary, but fortunately there will be a standardized set of metadata in ONVIF 2.0, making it easier to interact and to integrate VCA into other systems, Otterspeer added.

User interface is another problem area. “If the VCA software allows the user to go back to the beginning of an event when the need arises, the metadata to achieve this can be requested from the video analytics system,” Li said. “However, if the VMS's user interface doesn't have a button to activate this function, the user can't get this information.”

VMS integration, thus, requires software developers to work closely to ensure all functionalities can be accessed through a common user interface, and major standards bodies need to pick up their pace in addressing their clients' needs.

Geutebruck Video System Supports Security at Ljubljana Airport

Geutebruck Video System Supports Security at Ljubljana Airport

Editor / Provider: Geutebrück | Updated: 7/7/2011 | Article type: Infrastructure

Aerodrom Ljubljana which operates Joze Pucnik Ljubljana Airport has long term plans for it to become the aviation hub for the whole region. With Slovenia's entry into the EU and admission to Schengen in 2007 came the need to increase airport capacity. In the first stage of a two-stage project, the existing passenger terminal (T1) has been renovated and a whole new 6,000 square metre storey added. The extra space together with four new jetways now facilitate the separation of Schengen and non-Schengen traffic and make boarding easier. Part 2 of the project due to start in 2011 involves the construction of a new T2 terminal adjoining T1 to provide capacity for a further 2.5 million passengers per year. 

In fact piece by piece over the last two decades the airport has been completely rebuilt. And with each new construction project the security systems have had to expand and develop. The airport's chosen video security system supplier for the original T1 building, the new garage and outdoor car parks as well as for the recent T1 renovation and additional storey was Geutebruck Adria. This business relationship has now been a long and satisfactory one. 

Technological migration
Since 2006 all new additions to the video security systems have been pure IP. Around 100 new IQeye IP cameras and Axis IP SpeedDome cameras now work alongside the original 160 analog ones. Late in 2008 some new powerful GeViScope video platforms were introduced. Besides increased performance these also brought exceptional video motion detection capabilities and enormous flexibility for future adaptation. In 2009/10 the need to relocate the control room to a new building provided the ideal opportunity to upgrade its facilities. The old analog matrix and analog monitor wall were replaced with a virtual digital matrix and an array of wide plasma monitors.

From the new security operations center staff monitor the whole site. They control the entrances to the airport, the car parking facilities, areas in and around the general aviation and passenger terminals, the VIP areas, the apron and runways.They alert colleagues ‘on the ground' to parking violations, loitering and other suspicious behaviour as well as unattended baggage. Their monitoring also ensures that pick-pockets or other small time criminals are not tempted to take advantage of unsuspecting travellers amid the hustle and bustle. The integration of the video system with the airport's access control system is key to the strict control of movements through the doors and gates which form the crucial air-side/land-side interface. Air-side cameras allow security operations center staff to check that the apron and runways remain unobstructed, safe and secure, and of course enable them to alert and manage emergency or other services if required. 

System selection
Before the contract was awarded for the most recent T1 terminal expansion the airport authority evaluated and compared video security solutions from three major European suppliers. As Dusan Sofric,Ljubljana airport's security manager reports, the Geutebruck equipment was chosen because of its performance and proven reliability. 

This latest GeViScope-based system which uses GscView display software and MBeg control units was designed by Koda and Siemens and installed by PAN electronic and G7. “It is very reliable and easy to use” explains Dusan Sofric. “It is operated by staff in security operations center who have had basic training on GscView.The system has performed very well, exactly as it was initially demonstrated to us.”

Philadelphia International Airport Deploys NABCO Suspect Luggage Containment Vessel

Philadelphia International Airport Deploys NABCO Suspect Luggage Containment Vessel

Editor / Provider: NABCO | Updated: 6/20/2011 | Article type: Infrastructure

NABCO, announced that Philadelphia International Airport has purchased a NABCO Suspect Luggage Containment Vessel (SLCV), an innovative security solution that will strengthen the facility's defense capabilities against explosive threats.

The NABCO SLCV will improve the airport's ability to protect both travelers and facility personnel against threats discovered during baggage and passenger screening. The SLCV's explosive containment capabilities, compact size and ease of mobility make it an effective solution for meeting Philadelphia International Airport's specific safety and security requirements.

Philadelphia International Airport is the only major airport serving the 5th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Owned and operated by the city, the airport is located seven miles from downtown Philadelphia and last year served more than 30 million passengers.

An approved U.S. Department of Homeland Security anti-terrorism technology, the NABCO SLCV is used to safely contain a potentially dangerous item discovered during screening, and transport it away from people and screening machines until a bomb squad responds. NABCO's line of Suspect Luggage Containment Vessels can be operated remotely, are compatible with many portable X-ray systems, and can be fully integrated with in-line and conveyance systems.

“The SLCV can help reduce the number of disruptions and evacuations that are usually required when a suspicious item is found in a busy, public area,” said NABCO CEO Frank Tobin. “Not only does this technology protect the safety and well being of the traveling public, but it also sustains uninterrupted performance as a vital transportation and economic hub for the Philadelphia area. Any facility that wishes to increase protection and keep commerce moving can benefit from this capability.”

Philadelphia International Airport is one of hundreds of high-security facilities and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and around the world that rely on NABCO solutions to safeguard personnel, facilities, communities and the environment against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) threats.

Agent Vi Video Analytics Streamline Logistics Work

Agent Vi Video Analytics Streamline Logistics Work

Editor / Provider: Agent Vi | Updated: 5/31/2011 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Founded in 1991, KDL Trans is a globally-oriented logistics provider that specializes in electronic and computer equipment, offering services such as air freight, ocean freight, packing, storage, customs brokerage and more. The company is based out of a new 11,000-square-meter facility close to Brussels airport, which offers access to important trans-European highways. The facility is home to a fleet of some 100 trucks and vans, and includes a range of loading docks, storage warehouses and areas for sorting and other logistical activities.

KDL Trans sought to provide the highest level of security at the new premises, and therefore offers the best service to their range of customers, comprised of both local and international high-profile businesses and organizations. Recognizing that the high value of the goods passing through the facility could attract intrusions by thieves, KDL Trans looked for the way to undertake early detections of unauthorized people in their facility. KDL Trans sought a perimeter detection solution that connected with its monitoring station, to cut down costs associated with employing multiple guards stationed around the premises on weekends when the site is less busy.

After testing for an optimal solution, KDL Trans decided to deploy Agent Vi's real-time video analytics solution, with Axis cameras. The challenging environmental conditions, among them outdoor areas with natural vegetation, harsh weather and extreme changes in lighting, led to a decision to employ Axis thermal cameras, which eliminate these parameters to a large degree. Together with Agent Vi's analytics, the thermal cameras offer range and deliver accurate detection results.

Specifically, the site's eight Axis thermal cameras, which are strategically located around the building's perimeter, were enabled with Agent Vi's embedded video analytics component to allow the following real-time detection rule to be active on each camera: Person moving in an area to detect and alert to unauthorized personnel entering the premises and moving freely in restricted areas.

KDL Trans employs Milestone VMS recording and viewing application, which is integrated with Agent Vi's software. Therefore, events detected by Agent Vi's platform generate an alert which is displayed in the Milestone video management.

The deployment at the site has lifted the level of security by allowing the early detection of intruders entering the site. In fact, a number of perimeter intrusions have been picked up by theolution, and the lead time gained by these early detections enabled a more effective response by the security guards.

The added layer of security offered by the system has been instrumental in KDL Trans' efforts to build business relations with new and existing clients, as they can point to the superior level of security offered at their site.

"We are very happy with Agent Vi's real-time video analytics solution. The integration with Axis thermal cameras offers detection rates at all times of day, and in all lighting conditions," said Jurgen Laet, Operations Manager at KDL Trans. "The real-time alerts generated by the system and sent to the monitoring station have allowed us to decrease the number of security guards stationed around the perimeter, effectively cutting our costs without lowering our level of security."

"We tested a range of solutions, including active IR beams, radars and video analytics, to identify the option for the site. We compared the products, level of security offered, added value and price. On all levels, video analytics had the highest score," said Toon Eeckelaert, Co-owner of ESSC.

Nice Security Management Descends at Los Angeles Airport

Nice Security Management Descends at Los Angeles Airport

Editor / Provider: Nice Systems | Updated: 5/26/2011 | Article type: Infrastructure

Nice Systems, announced that the City of Los Angeles' Department of Airports (also known as Los Angeles World Airports, or LAWA) has completed its implementation of Nice open-platform situation management offering. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) selected Nice solution in 2010 for its new consolidated Airport Response Coordination Center (ARCC) at the LAX. The LAX ARCC is the coordination hub for all LAX airport operations and response activities.

LAX is considered to be the seventh busiest airport by passenger traffic. Nice management is fusing various safety and security operations systems into a cohesive platform, analyzing and correlating data to streamline operations and help LAX enhance its situational awareness and response capabilities to address multiple types of operational challenges, emergency situations, aviation incidents and security threats in real time. Nice open architecture will be leveraged to integrate more than a dozen third-party systems in the new ARCC. These include video surveillance systems, access control, radio and telephony communications systems, video walls, surveillance, computer aided dispatch, geographic information system, emergency/mass notification, PDA servers, a global aviation notification system, life safety/security command software, an airport Part 139 compliance system, and The National Center for Crisis and Continuation Coordination solutions for 24/7 proactive incident information.

Nice solution will enable LAX officials to view multilayered information on an intuitive map-based interface. The system is capable of distilling complex sets of information into a common operating picture and then overlaying it on a map, so LAX officials will be able to get a real-time visual of what's going on, by simultaneously viewing the different "plots" of an incident, whether it involves aircraft on a runway, vehicles on an airfield, or other tracked assets in terminals or on airport roadways. ARCC personnel are also able to interact with objects on the map-based interface to access real-time information to respond immediately and effectively.

"LAX is a major airport for one of the most populous metropolitan areas, and as such we encounter many daily operational challenges, from the ordinary to the unexpected, many of which require real-time response and impact," said Jacqueline Yaft, Deputy Executive Director of Operations and Emergency Management for LAWA. "LAX will use Nice solution to achieve its vision of taking operations and incident management to the next level by improving situational awareness and automating our response plans."

Axis Network Cameras Installed at Polish Complex

Axis Network Cameras Installed at Polish Complex

Editor / Provider: Axis Communications | Updated: 5/4/2011 | Article type: Government & Public Services

From the very beginning of creating the complex, the investor was aware of the fact that, in order to stand out in the market, they had to offer tenants something more than their competition did. They therefore chose a good location near the airport, and took the time to implement security solutions, taking into consideration the needs of the tenants. Moreover, the developer provided a large car park under the building, comprising 630 parking places and above-ground garage parking for 237 cars. In addition, the complex boasts the Adgar Plaza Conference Center, Calypso Fitness Club with swimming pool, spa, fitness club and squash courts as well as a restaurant with a cafe. The complex also possesses a central operating server of the highest security standard, equipped with two independent sources of power and power generators which support flawless operations in case of a city network outage, as well as air-conditioning with humidity control. The challenge was provision of the whole infrastructure for the complex, especially with regard to surveillance which was to operate proactively and provide perfect image quality and the possibility for simple and central management.

Honeywell, an Axis partner, designed and assembled the access control systems, a parking system using LPR, a fire detection system, a sound warning system, automatic ventilation and air-conditioning, structural cabling and a central BMS surveillance system in the ten-story buildings of Adgar Plaza, and all the systems are controlled by a digital surveillance system based on Axis network cameras.

The installation of the Axis surveillance system in Adgar Plaza constitutes an added-value regarded by the tenants. The comfort resulting from the feeling of security, being an effect of implementation of a flexible surveillance system cooperating with all security systems of the building, is an irresistible advantage. The system has proactive features enabling prevention of undesired events.

“I am very happy with the implementation of the latest technologies in our building. The advanced possibilities of the Axis surveillance solution constitute an important advantage for our investment. The tenants appreciate the conditions offered by us which facilitate their work. The choice of our technological partner took us a long time. We placed very specific requirements and Axis' offering turned out to be a perfect solution for our building. We took into consideration the possibilities of the products, their intelligence, management possibility, aesthetics and simplicity of integration with all security systems and building management,” said Eyal Litwin, VP, Adgar Investments & Development.

Comparing NVR Designs

Comparing NVR Designs

Editor / Provider: The Editorial Team | Updated: 5/11/2011 | Article type: Tech Corner

The emergence of the NDVR — an NVR construct with several hybrid DVR features — has created a great deal of discussion and confusion among manufacturers, channel partners and end users alike. Why did they come into being, and what are they for?

The reason for the NDVR's existence is more evident; in larger and more complex video surveillance systems, the NDVR provides a unified, network-enabled platform for connecting all network cameras, routers/switches, video servers/encoders and capture cards. These devices can be accessed through a network, using client-server architecture, allowing remote access through any browser or server in the world. This enables remote monitoring as well as remote controls, for a network that is not quite like a DVR or an NVR.

The NDVR preserves the DVR's basic functions of recording and content management, while adding the NVR's advantages of Internet connectivity and remote storage. It also connects to analog cameras through video servers/encoders as well as network cameras. The NDVR enables long-term recording, remote monitoring and PTZ controls.

NDVRs straddle a blurred line between hybrid DVRs and pure NVRs, as the migration to IP continues. There is no doubt there is demand for DVRs with network connectivity or that NVRs enable more flexibility and are more future-proof. However, an NVR requires replacing all front-end devices and cabling with network cameras and Ethernet cables, driving up the cost of network-based surveillance. As hybrid deployments increase, NVRs are positioned as lofty and difficult-to-implement devices. Thus, the NDVR combines the advantages of DVRs and NVRs, contributing to its popularity.

The NDVR's adoption of NVR advantages overcomes the limitations of DVRs. Network connectivity is the prime advantage, with the video management software (VMS) platform of NVRs being deployed for NDVRs. However, the NDVR supports analog as well as network cameras, much like a hybrid DVR. A crucial distinction is processing efficiency, with a Windows NT server or SQL server installed on the hardware to run the VMS. The NDVR is more of a NVR than a hybrid DVR with its NVR architecture, but adds the ability to integrate analog inputs.

[NextPage]An NDVR emulates the NVR's front-end operation and core processing, overcoming DVR shortcomings. NDVRs achieve superior network transmission and support real-time streaming at 30 fps to different remote sites or client Web browsers. A network-enabled DVR could not support such real-time applications, but these are now possible with the NDVR. An NDVR uses server hardware with VMS, enabling wireless 3-GPP transmission and HTML image transfer, conveniently fulfilling remote monitoring needs.

NDVRs also offer advantages for back-end recording and video playback. While DVRs were restricted by local storage limits, NVRs have large amounts of remote storage, with cloud storage soon becoming a reality. NDVR design not only supports local storage to IDE or SCSI drives, but also enables mirrored storage approaches, as well as direct attached storage or network-attached storage (NAS). This flexibility is more than either a DVR's or NVR's storage and playback capabilities.

Another improvement of NDVRs is better integration with third-party security systems and information security systems. NDVR SDKs are more open than closed DVRs and proprietary NVRs, giving end users more convenience and control over the video surveillance interface.

The differences between server-based NVRs and DVRs have resulted in varying applications. For increased competitiveness, the design of NDVR software and hardware has emerged in the wake of DVR and NVR usage shortcomings.

After understanding how the NDVR came to be and its design concept, what are the true differences between NVRs and NDVRs? Before comparing the two, it is important to make a distinction between NDVRs and hybrid DVRs. There are storage solutions on the market which use Linux or Windows with four to 16 channels of analog and IP inputs, along with remote monitoring capabilities. These are much like network-enabled DVRs, but in terms of functionality and online management, they do not measure up to NDVRs.

The table below shows that the greatest difference between NDVRs and NVRs is not so much their features, but how they are applied and efficiently managed. The pure IP approach of the NVR has some inflexible shortcomings in real-world applications. Therefore, NDVR selection depends on actual installation needs. For example, NDVRs do not require a large number of embedded audio/video recording servers but can accommodate both IP and analog signals. Equipment selection, thus, depends on whether the system architecture can support user or site needs.

[NextPage]The system's scale and bandwidth will determine how many users can simultaneously access video or playback footage in real time. Through a TCP/IP network, the central command can monitor multiple NDVRs, flexibly managing RAID and NAS storage. As NDVRs and NVRs must consider scale, network architecture is different. Considering typical network environments and IP infrastructure, an NDVR is more flexible and usable for midsize or large-scale video deployments.

Selection of NDVRs depends on several key areas.First, the NDVR server-side functions must be examined by checking the CPU efficiency and flash memory. The display card must meet basic standards, with compatibility with the operating system and network camera brands. The device must support local recording as a backup in emergencies. Most importantly, the solution must be scalable and have four server management functions over the real video server, alarm-processing server, digital matrix and database server. These management functions will raise NDVR system manageability and efficiency to NVR levels, unlike a networkenabled or hybrid DVR.

After comparing and contrasting NDVRs and NVRs, let us examine the unique applications NDVRs are suited for. This type of system is suited for PoS integration, particularly for retail chain stores. As NDVRs support network and analog signals, they are suited for large-scale, hybrid projects with huge existing analog investments or users who have a diverse group of cameras. These include airport boarding gates, long-haul bus depots, railways, mass transit, highway toll booths, universities, industrial facilities, amusement parks and casinos.

A common problem for NDVRs in these applications is networking. As cameras must connect to the back-end storage over an IP network, the system's firewalls and front-end VPN address translation for multiple network devices are trouble areas installers must address. The ease of setting up multiple cameras will depend on protocol selection and the type of UPnP access and TCP compatibility used. Different equipment groups, such as camera groups or recording settings for specific devices or zones, frequently cause configuration headaches and are set up wrong, costing installers valuable time. On the hardware side, storage compatibility must be considered for projects involving third-party equipment and software. Integrating multiple SDKs will require integrators to spend time programming. Sometimes, open IP and analog brand options, along with unrestricted Internet Explorer-based remote viewing and navigation, create more integration and programming issues for integrators and installers.

In real life, many NDVRs have added networking capability to previously closed analog systems, shown through many success stories. NDVRs have surpassed DVRs for networking and surveillance performance. In areas where NVRs are growing, NDVRs — given their DVR DNA — are not guaranteed for defeat.

Fluidmesh Wireless Technology Monitors French Buildings between Airports

Fluidmesh Wireless Technology Monitors French Buildings between Airports

Editor / Provider: Fluidmesh | Updated: 4/14/2011 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Garonor, one of the famous business and services center located in the Ile de France region, needed a security system to monitor its buildings, which are located between two airports, the Charles de Gaulle and Le Bourget. But finding a cost-effective surveillance solution presented several challenges. Among the difficulties are the distance between the buildings, some of them near the Charles de Gaulle airport and others next to Le Bourges airport, and network constraints such as interferences due to the radars coming from the airports.

“We were able to meet the client's needs and cover the distance and line of sight issues with the most creative and cost-effective solution. That solution was wireless mesh technology. We also had to tune and change the radio frequencies of the products to avoid the network interferences caused by the airport radars,” said Francois Bellini, Fluidmesh Sales Manager in France.

Video Engineering, the distribution company that managed the project, worked with Francois Bellini of Fluidmesh to provide the best system configuration to meet Garonor's needs.

Video Engineering staff relied on Fluidmesh technical support to streamline its design of the model, a mixed network to cover the distance between Garonor's buildings that provides a wireless infrastructure with a higher level of redundancy compared to traditional wireless technology. With Fluidmesh, the radios can be part of an integral network designed for Garonor that can be easily expanded in the future.

Parking Efficiency Augmented by Smart Security Solutions

Parking Efficiency Augmented by Smart Security Solutions

Editor / Provider: By a&s International | Updated: 4/21/2011 | Article type: Infrastructure

Today, more than a billion cars are on the road, and this figure is expected to double within the next couple decades. Often ignored is the fact that much traffic comes from drivers cruising for a vacant or cheaper parking spot — recent studies indicate drivers hunting for parking account for roughly 50 percent of traffic. Traffic congestion leads to driver frustration, which may increase the number of accidents and excessive carbon emission, which impacts air quality and raises environmental issues. Smarter parking facilities and measures ensure the security of parking facilities and quality of life for local residents, as well as relieve environmental stress related to automobiles.

There are several points in a parking scenario where modernsecurity and automation equipment can help. People are getting more concerned about environmental issues, and the ever-increasing fierce competition is forcing parking lot operators to take a closer look at a variety of methods that enable cost savings and increase customer satisfaction, said Dirk Fox, Product Management for Car Access, Skidata.

When an end user is planning a new project where parking represents a large portion of the project, such as a stadium, it is important to plan the parking facility before construction, said Chris Yigit, AutoVu Senior Product Manager, Genetec. “ALPR is a viable option when deciding how to manage parking. For example, just recently a new entertainment facility was planned, and the choice for parking was to implement a concept called pay-by-plate. The details of the technology were left to the parking operator to decide and propose. However, the concept had to be agreed upon upfront as this had a direct impact on revenue, manpower and flexibility which varies greatly from facility to facility. The specific requirements of a shopping center, stadium and airport are all very different.”

Parking spaces can often be as scarce as seats in a popular restaurant, especially in urban areas. “Reservation can help the driver avoid driving around aimlessly,” Fox said. Smart parking systems can facilitate reservations of parking spots, but this can require an additional effort of real-time space enforceability within the lot, said Elliot Martin, Postdoctoral Research Engineer, Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. “That generally increases costs and today still requires on-site manpower. However, in environments where reserving a spot demands a premium, such costs could be retrieved with the additional revenue earned from reservations.”

The ability to reserve a parking space can be enabled through space counting, single-space recognition and connecting to online services. “The information collected by the smart parking facility can broadcast availability within and outside the lot. When delivered to travelers, it enables more efficient trip planning and can increase revenue for parking operators through better capacity management of the lot. While permitting reservations can also increase management costs, in appropriate markets, reservations can earn revenue that ultimately exceed those costs,” Martin said. With exact counting and single-space recognition in combination with a guiding system, a car driver can be directly sent to the correct parking area, Fox added.

An area in which technology could increase efficiency is by assisting visitors in locating vacant parking spaces. This would be especially useful in larger, more crowded parking facilities in which searching for parking is time- and energy-consuming, Martin said. “Technology such as changeable message signs could tell visitors at which level there exists available parking. The challenge with this, however, is that accurately determining whether specific spots are available is still difficult for prevailing sensor technologies. It requires either an accurate and clever algorithm based on strategically located vehicle counts, or spot-specific sensors, which are more expensive. Camera technology could also support this function, but it can also be expensive, and requires sophisticated image-processing algorithms that still offer less than 100-percent accuracy.”

Faster payment would be automated with RFID technology, similar to that used for FasTrak in the Bay Area or EZPass on the East Coast, Martin said. “Payment-wise, this would remove the need for a gate at the entrance and exit, but only if it can be universally applicable to all cars.”

A more feasible modification would be to use an item that most people already have, such as credit and debit cards, Martin continued. “Some banks are beginning to embed RFID chips into credit cards, and a terminal can pull information off of the card when the card is waved close. This technology, if more widely applied, could speed up the payment process at the gate, and does not require universal adoption to work. Consumers would just have to wave the card as opposed to swiping it.”

Consideration can also be given to eliminating paper tickets and their associated hardware, using only the license plate as the means of record, said Jim Kennedy, President of Inex/ Zamir. With pay-by-plate, there are no stalls to paint and maintain, and simple enforcement is possible, Yigit added. “Pay-by-plate is a concept that seems to be catching on these days. Basically, the patron is identified by his plate; the advantages are that the plate is unique and is fixed to the car. The concept is simple, but the ramifications and benefits are huge.”

The idea of a fully-automated ticketing system can be daunting to many. “Many in the parking industry have expressed concerns over a ticketless payment system as they do not fully understand the capabilities of ALPR. They worry about such things as misreading a license plate and even duplicate license plates within the facility,” Kennedy said. “While it is possible to misread a license plate — anyone in the ALPR field will readily admit that — the difficulty it might cause is minimal to nonexistent. What has to be remembered, particularly in parking, is that you have a finite number of license plates to which the one sitting at the exit could correctly be linked; it did, after all, enter the facility at some point, so it does exist in the database in the facility.”

However, there are also psychological issues to consider. “A ticketless system could be argued to be better, but industry people have told me that drivers are more comfortable when they get something in return for their car, even if it is just a ticket. It is sort of like a receipt for their vehicle and gives them some recourse to prove they indeed have a car in the facility,” Kennedy said.

With a ticket, you have yet another number to reference and virtually zero opportunities to make an error, Kennedy said. Adding license plate numbers to tickets can also prevent car theft, Fox added.

If the number is captured and read just after the ticket is issued, the license plate number is tied to the ticket number on a server, and that means a unique identifier and transaction number are tied together on that server, Kennedy said. “The benefit of having the license plate number captured prior to the ticket being dispensed and thereby allowing the number to be printed or encoded on the ticket itself, is the ability to see if the ticket presented at exit belongs with that particular vehicle even in the event of communications failure with the central server. Swapped tickets are caught out at this point, and lost tickets can have a fair and accurate tabulation of charges made, as it is known when that vehicle (license plate) actually entered the facility.”

A parking facility is unpopulated by nature, and the safety of lone patrons should be taken into consideration. “Kidnappings or physical attacks against key facility personnel continue to be a concern with corporate entities,” said Orlando Carrasco, President of Perceptics. “A company has a responsibility to protect its employees against attacks rendered by disgruntled groups or former employees, and prescreening tools such as ALPR and driver cameras serve to qualify the vehicles and drivers coming into a facility.”

Since 9/11, there has been an ever-growing concern over the threat from terrorists. There have been many cases in which vehicles are used as weapons of destruction, said Dave Bartlett, VP of Smarter Buildings, IBM. “Deploying solutions by tagging authorized vehicles with smarter sensors such as RFID with video surveillance systems, as well as integrating smarter parking software with tenant identity management, helps maintain security and order for tenant-reserved spots. Smarter parking solutions assist in sending alarms when abnormal parking violations arise.”

More and more parking facilities at mission critical infrastructures are deemed as potential targets of terrorism and are placing a greater emphasis on security and data capture at the point where a vehicle and driver enter, Carrasco said.

“ALPR coupled with an under vehicle inspection system (UVIS) will provide necessary data that allows a gate guard to determine if that vehicle is a threat. UVIS provides a color, line screen image of the vehicle's undercarriage, so security personnel are able to identify foreign objects or alterations made that could indicate a concealed threat.”

The rationales behind using video surveillance, ALPR and UVIS are different. “Video surveillance serves to monitor the movement of vehicles and occupants as they arrive and move about the premises. However, they aid more in documenting a threat in progress, so security personnel can react,” Carrasco said.

“ALPR coupled with UVIS are preventative measures that allow security personnel to assess the potential threat and create a more proactive response strategy.”

“ALPR and UVIS systems can be integrated with bollards and gate arms once the data and the security personnel have cleared the car and its driver as a potential threat. These systems can also integrate with RFID, vehicle/occupant or scene cameras, which serve to aid security profes-sionals with their security assessments,” Carrasco said.

An ALPR system worthy for consideration should not have difficulty with either brightness, as in direct sunlight, or darkness where there is no ambient illumination. IR illumination is used for the sole purpose of capturing the best possible images for ALPR processing, Kennedy said.

“Looking at the specifications of equipment offered as license plate cameras, it can be seen that some have LED illumination that is always on, while others may have it pulsed," Kennedy said. "By being pulsed, they are several times brighter than leaving them in the always-on position, and when pulsed they are on probably 5 percent of the time, which gives them an extraordinary life cycle.“

Some suppliers offer cameras that are aimed at low-cost security applications and are repurposed to capture license plates. These cameras have always-ON LED illumination and incorporate only a small number of LEDs, which generally have a life span of less than three years, Kennedy said. “In addition, many of these lower-cost devices need to keep a fan constantly running within the camera enclosure because of the heat problem generated from LEDs which are always ON. This prevents a truly weatherproof housing.”

Pulsing the LEDs requires circuitry and logic that guarantee the pulse takes place when the shutter is open, Kennedy said. “In addition to pulsing LEDs for longer life and greater illumination, the brightness of each pulse can be altered by varying the pulse width, and this is synchronized with the amount of time the shutter is open; the ‘shutter open' time is varied in a repeatable pattern, and this provides the ALPR engine images of varying contrasts from which to make a positive read. This is no simple task, but reaps great benefits regarding the overall ALPR accuracy, as well as eliminating many of the missed or unqualified plates encountered by camera systems of lesser quality.“

Distance is another item of concern in purchasing. Lower-price cameras can claim a useable distance of up to 40 or 50 feet, while higher-end cameras can be used at distances greater than 100 feet. However, the further the camera is from the license plate, the weaker the IR illumination that reaches the plate, Kennedy warned. As illumination drops off, the shutter must stay open longer to allow enough of that light to be reflected back to the image sensor, opening a window for motion blur.

The speed of the vehicle is another consideration to account for. For parking applications, a camera that can read the license plate of a vehicle traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour, in any light, at any time of the day or in any climate may seem like overkill, Kennedy said. However, it also means the “red line” will not even be approached by most users, guaranteeing a long life expectancy for the equipment.

[NextPage]“A proper ALPR camera by design should do a number of dynamic adjustments, such as performing a series of contrast-stretching techniques on each of the multiple images taken at various contrast levels to further aid the ALPR algorithms,“ Kennedy said. “With ALPR cameras, we are not dealing with video as much as we are looking for a single clear shot of the plate,” Yigit agreed. “Adjustment of the camera, utilization of multiple exposure algorithms and IR illumination ensure top read rates in spite of environmental conditions.”

Environmental conditions are considered in the early planning stages, and camera positions and illumination sources are tuned to optimize performance under these specific circumstances.

Not all ALPR is created equally, Yigit said. “There is more to ALPR than just algorithms, although that is a key component. Image quality is just as important, because when dealing with optical character recognition, garbage in often means garbage out.”

In some regions, license plates are not entirely composed of alphanumeric characters. “Different suppliers of ALPR systems can optimize the system to read license plates in different countries and can provide on-site support,” Fox said. “There is a lot to consider in choosing a strong ALPR system, and there are only a handful that are up to the task. Those who want to employ this technology should seek suppliers who can provide the after-sale service, and who will be around for the long haul,” Kennedy added.

IndigoVision IP Surveillance Takes off at Indian International Airport

IndigoVision IP Surveillance Takes off at Indian International Airport

Editor / Provider: IndigoVision | Updated: 4/12/2011 | Article type: Infrastructure

IndigoVision's IP video solution has been used for a surveillance system with more than 3700 cameras in the new terminal 3 at Delhi International Airport (DIAL). The project is believed to be the largest single installation of an IP video system in Asia. The new terminal was built as part of the massive infrastructure development for Delhi ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Delhi is India's second largest airport and with the recent expansion can handle 34 million passengers per year.

Airport's created one of the most demanding security environments, with multiple operators from different agencies and departments requiring access to live and recorded video 24/7, from different locations in and around the terminal building. This requires the surveillance system to be flexible, reliable, easy to use, and low maintenance in order to avoid any delays or problems in the operation of the airport. IndigoVision's distributed serverless IP video architecture provides the airport with such a solution, being scalable, resilient and through a virtual matrix easy to operate, even for a project of this scale.

“The control room and all cameras run extremely well and without any problems. The video quality is excellent and the software is easy to use by our operators,” said an Operations Manager at DIAL's Airport Operation Control Center ( AOCC) control room. “Due to the high number of cameras and amount of activity in the airport, it was important to have a system that provides a smooth user experience and no downtime, IndigoVision has exceeded all of our expectations.”

IndigoVision's security management software is at the heart of the system and is used by operators throughout the airport. IndigoVision's distributed architecture allows workstations to be used at any point on the network. The software provides identification authentication management features, which ensure only the operators with the correct permissions are allowed to access the video. This allows the various cameras to be partitioned into groups for various departments and agencies. For added security, 120 cameras for the immigration department have been allocated to a separate site database, with recording on their own dedicated NVRs.

A total of 80 workstations have been installed in three separate control rooms; situated in the terminal; the airport security building, located offsite 250-meter away; and in the air traffic control center, where aircraft ground movements are monitored. The AOCC, which is the main monitoring center for the airport, boasts the biggest video wall in Asia. The 10 by 5-meter wall holds 28 70” screens that display the information inputs from all the airport departments through live camera feeds. Each screen can display up to 25 multiple camera images, providing the AOCC with the capacity to display 700 images at one time.

Monitoring so many cameras in such a complex building is a major task for any security team. DIAL has extensively deployed IndigoVision's real-time analytics, which run at the network-edge in IndigoVision network cameras and encoders, to help operators improve efficiency and incident response. Analytics are configured to create alarms when certain conditions in a camera scene are met, automatically alerting operators to potential problems. Examples of the analytics include alerting entry into secure areas and identifying luggage stuck on a conveyor belt in the baggage handling system. Operator efficiency is further enhanced by the use of IndigoVision's integration modules to interface to the access control system with more than 3000 card readers and the series of travelers and escalators. Again the operators are automatically alerted if for example, a forced entry alarm is triggered by a door or an emergency stop button is pushed on an escalator.

Another area that is vitally important for the airport is the quality and reliability of recorded video; operators and law enforcement agencies need to rely on high-quality evidential video to aid investigations and cannot afford to lose video through missing frames or unreliable equipment. IndigoVision is unique in the ability to deliver high-quality full frame rate video with a guarantee to never drop a frame under any circumstances. This coupled with its recording solution provides DIAL with the archive security they require. The airport uses a total of 57 IndigoVision NVRs for recording video continuously for 30 days from all of the cameras. Ten of the NVRs are used as backups, automatically recording video from any of the primary NVRs that go off line.

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