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HD ensures fair judging in competitive canoeing in Slovenia

HD ensures fair judging in competitive canoeing in Slovenia

Editor / Provider: Avigilon | Updated: 10/4/2012 | Article type: Security 50

Avigilon announced that the Canoe Center in Solkan, Slovenia, one of two national centers for wild water kayaking and canoeing that attracts 30,000 visitors each year, has deployed the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system as a video analysis tool for coaches and judges to assist in training, resolve potential disputes, and ensure fair judging at all events. The Avigilon high-definition video surveillance system was selected for its superior image quality, user-friendly interface, ease-of-integration, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

“Image quality was the crucial factor in our decision to go with the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system, which has been very well received by our judges who now have an effective tool to review questionable trajectories and resolve disputes for 100 percent fair judging,” claimed Branko Brezigar, sports center manager at the Canoe Center. “As the only training facility to ensure 100 percent fair judging, we have a strong competitive advantage when applying to host major International Canoe Federation (ICF) events.”

On the recommendation of AGM, a local provider of surveillance system design, installation, and support, the Canoe Center installed Avigilon HD 2 MP H.264 cameras to cover the 400 meter-long course, enabling judges to clearly identify activity at all gates from any point of view. Coaches and judges monitor the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system using the Avigilon Control Center network video management software (NVMS) with High-Definition Stream Management? (HDSM) technology from two official monitoring stations. The Canoe Center will offer competing teams temporary access to live video and recorded events and will install a dedicated server to archive footage from all major events for historical review. The Canoe Center also plans to deploy the Avigilon Control Center Mobile application on iPad devices to equip judges with a tool for instant review of incidents and for coaches to provide immediate feedback to athletes.

By deploying the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system, the Canoe Center gets superior image quality from high above the course to view the smallest detail. With access to indisputable evidence, competition judges can make informed decisions and resolve disputes with 100 percent accuracy. The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system easily integrates with other event systems including Light as a Service, access control, and intruder prevention systems to provide a centralized solution that facilitates management and improves efficiencies. The Center has achieved significant cost savings due to the lower initial investment cost of the Avigilon system, reduced the need to hire additional gate judges, and will require less system maintenance. The Canoe Center has achieved a ROI because it can provide enhanced training opportunities, achieve conformance with ICF directives, and ensure higher safety standards to attract new visitors and host more international events.

“In the sport of wild water canoeing, competitors are penalized in time for touching or missing gates on the course, which can dramatically impact their results,” said Keith Marett, vice president of marketing and communications at Avigilon. “The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system delivers the image quality, reliability, and scalability needed to withstand the challenging outdoor environment and deliver indisputable evidence to ensure fair judging, making the Canoe Center the course of choice for ICF events.”

Dahua NVRs integrated with Pelco cams

Dahua NVRs integrated with Pelco cams

Editor / Provider: Pelco | Updated: 10/2/2012 | Article type: Security 50

Pelco by Schneider Electric and Dahua Technology announce the integration of Pelco network cameras, including Sarix Mega-Performance Cameras (IX, IM, ID Series cameras), Spectra IP High Definition cameras, and multi-channel Network Encoders with the full range of Dahua NVRs, including their portfolio of Super Series, Desktop Series, and Vertical Series.

“Pelco's commitment to open architecture and interoperability is matched with Dahua Technology, which shares our passion for providing best-in-class interoperable video solutions,” says Stuart Rawling, director of partnering and integration, Pelco by Schneider Electric. “Our collaboration with Dahua Technologies provides security personnel new options for deploying world class video management systems built around Pelco cameras and Dahua Technologies recording and management platforms.”

“The video surveillance market today has grown with the increasing demand from customers, and we at Dahua are making the effort of integrating with global brands to meet various product demands and expectations,” says James Wang, Dahua overseas product director. “As a sought-after player in the video security industry, Pelco well matches our strategy, along with the benefits brought to mutual customers. We are confident that this cooperation is leading us to a win-win situation.”

11 things about ‘smart' cams

11 things about ‘smart' cams

Editor / Provider: Submitted by PureTech Systems | Updated: 9/28/2012 | Article type: Tech Corner

More and more we see the idea of “smart cameras” being introduced in the physical security marketplace. Why is that? Actually, it's for a couple of good reasons. Smart cameras excel at addressing highly constrained, single-purpose detection needs. A key factor instrumental in the proliferation of smart cameras is that they address tasks that are generalized across physical sites, such as counting, simple motion detection, license plate recognition, etc. These kinds of single function tasks have proven a sound fit for smart cameras.

In addition, from a marketing standpoint, having an easily referenced and identified solution such as smart cameras makes things easy to remember, simple and convenient, especially given the complexity of the physical security market. However, simplicity and ease of reference does not guarantee performance, intelligence, or the ability to achieve your physical security requirements.

What is clear is many companies that have implemented these solutions are now experiencing serious limitations as they have outgrown their smart camera capabilities. Customers are realizing that their need for faster, more accurate and intelligent detection is somewhat lacking with these types of solutions.

So are smart cameras the best choice for your physical security needs? They have broad limitations, and to help you determine if a smart camera is the best choice for you, the following considerations have been assembled so you can be educated and decide for yourself.

1. What is a “Smart “camera?
One curious fact about smart cameras is the lack of a clear definition. There are no standards established to define a “smart camera.” There is no regulating body or association defining capabilities. So the name isn't 100% clear and thus it has become a generic term. Just the same, many vendors work hard to proclaim their camera as smart due to its ability to do ‘something' beyond visual data capture. But the notion of what constitutes a smart camera is certainly not immediately identifiable. We can generally conclude that smart cameras contain some kind of processing capability along with visual acquisition. Beyond that, what things do you need to consider when pondering the decision to purchase?

2. Functionality
There are technical limitations on functional capability tied to how smart cameras are designed to operate. One of the supposed benefits is their moderate per unit cost or ease of installation; which doesn't come without a tradeoff in capability. It is important to be aware of what you are losing by taking the smart camera route. You should carefully examine all features and functions including upgradability, performance, range, dynamic capacity and interoperability with other security sensors. Significant processing and integration capability are typically lost through consolidating features into a single camera platform.

3. Flexible and adaptable systems
How difficult is it to adjust to new intrusion requirements, capacity, features, integration, or any other changes? Smart cameras combine hardware and software into one single-purpose system, therefore a change to the security environment typically has a significant negative impact. It is well understood that security policies, landscaping and environments change. So, even minor adjustments can render a smart camera solution significantly less useful or totally obsolete. Just the simple need to change a detection area or rule can be especially undermining to smart camera performance or basic usability. Purchasing a solution that is static, cannot scale, adjust, or adapt may not be a long term or “smart” solution.

4. Sales, support and implementation
Smart cameras are targeted for mass marketing and are typically sold through resellers/integrators/internet and that in itself has often become a frequent reason for failed implementations. Since smart cameras normally make up only a portion of the integrators revenue, your specific implementation typically is not treated as core to their business. They may even drop one smart camera line for another leaving you without a path for change down the road. Even with a large integrator base, re-establishing relationships is never easy. Keep in mind that if you require customization, sparing or growth – which is extremely common – insuring that you have a long term reliable supply of product through your supplier is important.

5. Scalability and distribution
When you need to examine visual or meta data between cameras, distribute data throughout a system, integrate one system with others, and/or archive various levels of data, a smart camera system may not stand up to those needs. Passing data from system to system for complex decision making through a distributed implementation is often difficult with smart cameras. The industry strives for standards, but in reality, those standards will always be years behind the new features being developed by product manufacturers. Do you want to keep track of previous detections, coordinate camera control commands, assign unique track identifiers, sync meta data or perform other meta data activity and then take action based upon all the associated information? These types of request are difficult to ask of a smart camera.

6. Speed and capacity
Another drawback with smart cameras is their inability to keep pace with the processing and throughput requirements of security detection scenarios. As bad guys get smarter and come up with new ways to threaten facilities and assets, cameras need to become “smarter” by pulling in more data and applying more algorithms to that data. Unfortunately, an embedded system typically doesn't grow. The very objective of the embedded approach is to enable a set design that can be replicated over and over again to facilitate a small package at a low price. As a result, capacity for computational and input growth is typically a trade-off that is made early on in the design.

7. Complex problems and analytics
Although smart cameras continue to advance technically they struggle to deal with highly complex security challenges. Simple object detection is viable; however, most intrusion scenarios are not simple and when challenges require multi-faceted detection scenarios, smart cameras cease to be smart. The ability to embed intensive analytical capability on board a camera with such features as classification, learning/training, and multiple types of detection is challenging. If you need highly reliable detection, high frame rate and/or large resolution, a smart camera struggles to be successful. Intensive analytics require raw processing power which isn't possible in these camera form factors.

8. Strategic, tactical and operational intelligence
A smart camera does not do well in performing enterprise wide decision making. In security systems the objective is to collect the data, understand it and distribute it to those that need it quickly. The ability to store, aggregate, and report upon data is not the objective of a smart camera. In terms of real time knowledge and awareness, the security organization obtains little to no insight into the system as a whole. Similarly, valuable data that can be shared between sensors is left unutilized and becomes the security person's job to manage independently. Smart cameras provide surveillance at the level of a specific, typically single-purpose function. If you want to truly leverage your security system then smart cameras fall significantly short of providing multi-layered organizational benefits.

9. Longevity
Since smart cameras are singular nonmodular devices, upgrading a component in order to keep pace with technological advances isn't simple. This factor alone seriously diminishes the useful life and the notion of ‘smart' – especially with respect to their design. Even with minor upgrades, the ability to rework camera technology is not trivial. This non-modular approach behind the concept of smart cameras is neither sustainable nor fiscally prudent. Additionally, the camera itself is often the most expensive part to physically replace, as it is typically installed 20 to 30 feet in the air at some remote section of the facility. As a result, the need to physically access the camera to replace or upgrade it carries with it a significant labor cost.

10. Tightly integrated
Various companies make claims that they have integration capabilities with their smart cameras. These claims can be a bit misleading, in that the camera typically makes data available for consumption to other systems. Meaning the intelligence part; what needs to be done with that data, actually needs to occur somewhere else, not within the camera itself. Thus, the mention of the term“integrated” really points to a command and control or PSIM, not the camera.

11. Product VS. Solution
It is important to understand that a smart camera is a product. It is designed to solve a very specific problem. The confusion often sets in when vendors or advertising try to propose the “product” as a “solution to remedy your security challenges. The fine point is a product and a solution are not necessarily the same. In order to sell the product, resellers are naturally biased to proposing a solution that best fits the specific mission of their smart camera product. These vendors are looking to determine how the problem can be solved with a “smart camera.” In sharp contrast, a true analysis examines the entire challenge to determine an appropriate technological “solution” to address your specific security issues now and into the future. Shoehorning a product may not create any real value.

Conclusion
Although there is a place for smart cameras in the physical security playground, hopefully this paper has made it apparent that there is considerable thought that should be put into the decision to go this path. Smart cameras can be very generic and limited detection devices. Although they often have a very attractive price point it is important to consider the trade-off that is being made for performance and growth.

So, what then is the alternative? What choices exist for camera based perimeter protection with an entire solution in mind? The answer: A software based vision solution. These systems are all the things a smart camera is not and more:
- Not specific to a camera type of model. This allows the user to reuse existing cameras and gives them flexibility in selecting future models.
- Functionality is not hard coded onto an embedded system, so it can grow with time
- New features can be easily added without costly hardware or changes to the physical installation
- They can move easily between server-based and edge-based Implementations
- They are collaborative in their data sharing design, and can easily accept new sensor types
- Are designed to grow as the protection mission becomes larger or more complex
- Focus on open architecture design, modularity, flexibility, and best of breed hardware and software to maximize system optimization

While smart cameras concentrate on minimization, software based vision solutions focus on maximization. Optimized solutions can provide full Command and Control capability, including camera control, geospatial display, intrusion sensor integration and alarm management. These solutions provide extensive data aside from pure detection. In fact, with such a system you now also have a tool for safety and forensic analysis.

Clearly there are a range of issues with ‘smart cameras'. However, one may still be right for you – either today or even into the future. Yet, at this point you should be keenly aware of their various shortcomings - clear of advertising bias - to make an educated decision. After all, when it comes to product quality that directly impacts your company's safety and success; you want to make an intelligent decision – not just a “smart” one. ?

Protection One partners with I-View Now to offer cloud-based services

Protection One partners with I-View Now to offer cloud-based services

Editor / Provider: Protection One | Updated: 9/28/2012 | Article type: Hot Topics

Protection 1, the second-largest business and home security company in the U.S., has partnered with I-View Now to enable cloud-based video services. The integration of the I-View Now technology enables receipt of alarm video – both pre- and post-alarm - in Protection 1's security automation system by alarm center agents, as well as simultaneous delivery to customer mobile devices and event storage on the customer's eSuite web-based account.

“Verified response is a rapidly increasing requirement due to budget and manpower constraints of the authorities we depend on to respond to alarms,” said Don Young, chief information officer at Protection 1. “The solution from I-View Now gives us a mechanism to efficiently receive and process the alarms while distributing and storing the associated video through the cloud for subscription by our customers. The ability to do all of these things with one platform is what attracted us to the I-View Now offering.”

I-View Now President Larry Folsom said, “The work we have accomplished through our partnership with Protection 1 helps to deliver events in real time to Protection 1's central station and to their tech savvy end users. We are pleased to help Protection 1 further their reputation of customer service excellence with state-of-the-art video services.”

Protection 1 previewed their new I-View Now enabled video capabilities at ASIS in Philadelphia.

“We were able to show customers and prospects how they could immediately retrieve video associated with alarm activity at their sites in their eSuite portal,” said Young. “Our customers loved the ease of retrieval and the power of actual site video to tell the story of an event.”

Protection 1 believes the I-View Now solution helps position them to adapt as more and more jurisdictions move to verified response policies. Protection 1 is a member of the Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response (PPVAR), an organization whose goal is to increase criminal apprehensions through the use of video verified alarms.

Bosch president update from Essen 2012

Bosch president update from Essen 2012

Editor / Provider: Bosch Security Systems | Updated: 9/27/2012 | Article type: Hot Topics

This year's security fair takes place at a time that is characterized by worldwide political and economic challenges. Security is an all-important factor here, meaning that our market is experiencing incredible dynamics in many regions and more subdued investment activity in others. In 2011, growth in the world market for security technology amounted to a little more than 3 percent. China, the ASEAN states, Russia and Latin America, in particular, made outstanding contributions toward this trend. In Europe, however, the financial crisis prevented several countries from achieving higher levels of growth.

Bosch Security Systems achieved sales of US$1.865 billion in 2011, which was 5 percent more than the previous year. In 2011, sales rose by 25 percent in China where we are now well-established with a total of 31 sales offices. One project in the region was to supply the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center with a communication and security system and a public address system. We are also enjoying success in the ASEAN states. For example, we were awarded the contract to install a public address and evacuation system and to expand the video surveillance system in Changi Airport in Singapore. Our Building Integration System (BIS) is used to integrate all the systems, including access control and building management. We also saw double-digit growth in Turkey, Russia, India and Latin America.

Despite the fact that the market conditions in Southern Europe were not favorable, we were able to maintain or even improve upon our market position. An important project for this region was the flexible and reliable voice alarm, public address and interpreting system we installed at the Palacongressi in Rimini, Italy's biggest congress center. The challenge here laid in the homogeneous integration of the audio system throughout the building and with the interpreting solution.

Global Progress
In 2012, the markets continued to develop on an uneven course overall. China, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the APAC region remain the main drivers for growth. As the fourth largest global market, Germany occupies a midfield position in terms of growth, whereas various countries in Southern Europe suffer under the financial crisis. In the first three quarters of 2012, we achieved a growth of 4 percent compared to last year – again with significant regional variations.

First, we are seeing a move away from proprietary, analog-based systems toward network-based systems which can offer unlimited scalability, efficient use of resources, remote verification and control and will enable services that will enhance security and safety. Second, we are seeing an influx of new competitors in the market, which is also driving forward the speed of innovation.

What will the significant growth factors be in the coming years? I think we can say that our innovations, product portfolio and strategic partnerships will be the major factors. We will need to implement global marketing, sales and support for our customers along the total value chain.

With a high level of expenditure in R&D, amounting to around 10 percent of sales, we are bringing new, innovative products, solutions and services to the market on a regular basis. For example, “Engineered Solutions and Software” was set up to handle complex projects and supports customers around the world with a consistent approach. The business unit handles the planning, tender preparation and implementation stages of the project – services that are in demand from a wide range of industries, such as airports, energy suppliers, transport and traffic companies. The projects are implemented on site using local partner companies.

This new offering has brought us particular success in Eastern Europe, India and the Arabian peninsula. As security technology is increasingly merging with other infrastructures, we are working closely with other Bosch divisions such as Drive and Control Technology and Bosch Thermotechnology, allowing the customer to rely across-the-board on our solution expertise from different divisions. In the project for the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, for example, Bosch Drive and Control Technology installed the stage technology, including electrical and hydraulic drives, while Bosch Security Systems supplied the entire fire detection, video surveillance, public address and evacuation system.

Growth Market
The future global market for security technology and services will continue to grow at above-average rates, as the fundamental need for security becomes intrinsically linked to the state of the economy. A reliable supply system with energy and telecommunication services and a secure transport infrastructure are essential conditions for international competition among countries. Added to that is the need to handle natural resources carefully and to use the available infrastructures very efficiently. Both conditions apply, given that there are more and more people living in our centers of population. For example, experts anticipate that the market for smart cities technologies will grow to almost $40 billion by 2016.

In the next few years, we expect average growth in the world market of around 4 percent. The demand in China, India, and Latin America in particular will contribute toward this growth. In Central and Western Europe as well as North America, growth will remain rather below average.

Video surveillance systems already make up the biggest market share today. This sector will grow at an above-average rate by around 6 percent per year over the next few years. With our resources in personnel and our worldwide presence, with our high commitment to R&D, and our resulting high levels of innovation, and thanks to the strength of the Bosch brand, we will also continue to grow in future. We will drive forward the networking of products and services and achieve our targets in the market. In this regard, we see ourselves in the tradition of the words spoken by our founder, Robert Bosch: “Anyone who stops getting better has stopped being good.”

Bosch extends tech partnership to Aimetis

Bosch extends tech partnership to Aimetis

Editor / Provider: Bosch Security Systems | Updated: 9/27/2012 | Article type: Security 50

Aimetis Corp., global intelligent IP video management solutions, announced an enhanced partnership with Bosch Security Systems being launched at Security ESSEN 2012.

The program being introduced by Bosch Security is the Technology Partner Program (TPP). The goal of this program is to offer a whole new level of interoperable solutions that fit any application's specific needs. The TPP is a web-based platform and will assist customers in effortlessly identifying compatible video surveillance hardware or software solutions that will seamlessly interoperate with the existing Bosch installations.

Allowing a simple integration of third-party solutions has always been part of Bosch's principles. “It is essential that innovative and technically competent suppliers of development services and series products are involved early and systematically in devising new solutions.” said Rudolf Spielberger - Head of Technology Partner Program at Bosch Security Systems. “Our cooperating with leading video management software companies like Aimetis is an important step in that direction.”

In order to reach this agreement, Aimetis has successfully undergone stringent quality checks by Bosch, showcased their exceptional product as well as excelled in multiple integrations.

“We are dedicated to advancing integration with leading hardware partners,” said Marc Holtenhoff, CEO, Aimetis Corp. “We believe this advanced partnership between Aimetis and Bosch not only improves our relationship with Bosch as well as enhances overall interoperability.”

Customers can use the web-based “Solution Advisor” search engine to scan through existing applications, geographies or specific features to identify the right solution for the respective system.

Spanish pharmacy enhances management efficiency via Axis solution

Spanish pharmacy enhances management efficiency via Axis solution

Editor / Provider: Axis Communications | Updated: 9/24/2012 | Article type: Security 50

Mission
The drugstore owned by Pharmacist Alfreo Castello is a family business that has been operating for over 40 years. Taking advantage of a remodeling and renovation of the store in May 2011, they decided to incorporate a series of security and management technologies in order to turn the location into one of the most technologically advanced drugstores in the region.

Solution
When modernizing the security system the company decided, among other things, to replace the analog video surveillance system with an IP video system made up of four Axis network cameras. Thanks to advice from AMH Systemas, an Axis partner, the system incorporates Netcamara video management software, which in addition to a complete video analysis applications suite, makes it possible to integrate the video surveillance system with the drugstore management system, Farmatic.

Result
The implementation of a carefully chosen combination of equipment and technologies has enabled the employees in the drugstore to be better prepared and organized, have a greater control of the business and improve the operations and management of a variety of aspects related to the everyday activity of a drugstore of this kind. O

Threats, insults, theft, robbery with intimidation, material damage and physical attacks are crimes that take place often in some of the nearly 20,000 drugstores existing in Spain. This has fortunately not been the case for Pharmacist Alfredo Castello's Drugstore, located in a peaceful town on the Valencian coast. However, when they carried out the redecoration and remodeling work in this establishment, in the middle of last year, they had the idea of equipping it with the most advanced technologies to offer an optimum security level for the business, the employees and the products and medicines they sell. It is a family business set up in the 1970s by Mr. Alfredo Castello and now run by his two children. The drugstore, in which 6 people work in different shifts, is divided into two main areas, one for exhibiting and selling pharmaceutical products and medicines, and the other, behind the scenes, is the area where medicines are organized and stored, orders are prepared and the laboratory for preparing prescriptions.

This drugstore has had an analog video surveillance system for years that traditionally would have been enough to dissuade possible criminals. However, to improve the quality and performance of the system, when they updated it, they chose an IP video solution based on two AXIS M3011 Network Cameras installed on the registers and 2 AXIS M1011 Network Cameras to obtain panoramic views of the product exhibition area. They were advised to do this by the company AMH Systemas, an Axis partner, which also recommended the use of the Netcamara video management software. To complement the video surveillance system, they also decided to include an anti-shoplifting system based on arcs with RFID readers.

The Netcamara software offers an applications module for analysis of video images, making it possible to carry out tasks such as people counting or identifying very busy areas in the establishment. Thanks to these applications, the company now has a better overview of the times when the drugstore is at its busiest, which has allowed them to optimize staff shifts. This software also includes a queue management function so that when there are more than four people waiting at the register, a beep is emitted to alert the staff in the order and warehouse area, so that another salesclerk can come out and reduce waiting times.

Thanks to the new IP video system, live images and camera recordings can be remotely accessed, which the drugstore managers normally do using their iPhones. One of the most interesting aspects for the drugstore managers is the integration of the Netcamara software with the Farmatic Drugstore management application. Thanks to this integration, they can complement the main processes related to the management of the drugstore with video images. Inventory and stock control, prescription and patient management, accounting, data security, adaptation to regulations (Personal Data Protection Act and Autonomous Community regulations), alerts and communications are just some of the areas covered by this solution.

Making HD less of a gamble for casinos

Making HD less of a gamble for casinos

Editor / Provider: Tevin Wang | Updated: 9/21/2012 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Under current economic conditions, figuring out a cost-effective and future-proof technology migration path is not easy for any industry. “Because so many operators are still using analog, it is very difficult to integrate HD into the current infrastructure,” said Scott Paul, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Pelco by Schneider Electric. “A cost-effective means of transporting the existing analog cameras into the digital system and maintaining the existing analog system is essential. Educating and training operators to go digital and understanding the new operation is also essential.”

Integration
When converting to a digital system, whether it is HD or not, the first challenge is the infrastructure. “Typically, most analog systems run via coaxial cables, which are incompatible for running technology that is Ethernet based,” said Scott Bartlett, CEO of Southwest Surveillance Systems. “Instead of changing all the wiring, we use baluns that give us the ability to convert the Ethernet signals over the coaxial cable braids. This keeps us from having to replace all the wiring and in addition, enhance our distance limitations.”

Another challenge lies in the monitor room as running both an analog system as well as a digital system can be very problematic. “Some casinos are trying to use their existing monitors or workstations to convert digital to analog (which creates terrible video signals) and then pump the digital signals back through their analog video matrix. Others are running two separate systems and keyboards. Neither situation is a good one,” Bartlett said. “We have used video scalers such as Barco and RGB to perform all the converting and scaling for the video. The video scalers take multiple inputs and convert the signal, whether it is analog or digital to a DVI output thus providing the maximum resolution available without the up or down converting.”

Transmission/Networking
It can be expensive to convert existing analog infrastructure with and/or to establish robust and reliable IP infrastructure. “Even adding a few IP cameras requires a thoughtful, forwarding thinking network design and plan,” said John Katnic, VP of Global Gaming at Synectics. “Even if it costs a bit more upfront, engineer a robust network solution that can scale to the projected system size and will provide the resiliency required by regulators.”

In addition, network based video management requires higher caliber IT-trained technicians to design, configure and maintain. “And because gaming regulators often prohibit IT departments from touching the gaming network, surveillance departments are often underequipped to manage these IP-based solutions and have to play catch up on the fly,” Katnic cautioned.

The use of multicast routing on the network side in casinos is another thorny issue. “Depending on the manufacturer, there is a lot of multicast traffic on the networks. This can create huge bottlenecks and communication errors if the network is not designed properly. The byproduct of this is tearing or choppy videos. Even though most like to blame the networks when things do not work properly, we find that the network is seldom the actual issue,” Bartlett said. “It is also critical to ensure that, in the casino HD video space, that single mode fiber be installed from the intermediate distribution feed (IDF) rooms to the main distribution feed (MDF) room. This will ensure that 10-, 40- and even 100-Gbps backbones will not be an issue. If multi-mode fiber is installed from the IDF to the MDF and you want to install a 10-Gbps backbone, the distance will be limited to 100 meters.”

Latency
Network latency can be caused by a multitude of factors from routing to camera settings. “At the end of the day, casinos that are still using an analog system are typically experiencing about a 60 millisecond delay so no matter what, they will experience a greater delay when they go digital,” Bartlett said. “This latency will be exacerbated by poor network design or improper camera settings or even poor quality cameras with inadequateWDR capabilities. “

Cameras that lack adequate WDR capability will inevitably cause a lot of noise on the video signal. The noise equates to motion/high bandwidth and thus creating high network traffic and storage requirements. “High-quality HD cameras are a must in my opinion. I know there are literally thousands of IP cameras on the market but there are not that many that can truly meet stringent gaming requirements,” Bartlett said. “It is the responsibility of system integrators to thoroughly test the cameras and network equipment they want to use in order to ensure that regardless of what the spec sheet says, they can meet the requirements in real life.”

“Latency induced via the encoding and decoding process remains a key issue — not present in analog technologies — and is a reason why some casinos still maintain an analog matrix “front-end” and utilise their SD digital recording systems solely for playback/review,” Paul said. “This is still a major issue for the adoption of HD in gaming areas for PTZ. For this reason, many casinos are beginning the transition by starting to implement HD in areas such as entry and exit locations and static camera locations [more than gambling tables].”

Bandwidth
HD cameras recording at 30 fps in HD resolution put huge weights on bandwidth and storage. Different camera manufacturers deal with this issue differently. “Leading IP device manufacturers and their VMS partners offer a variety of ways to efficiently and automatically manage storage, bandwidth and latency by changing camera recording settings (data rate, resolution, frame rate) on the fly based on motion, defined third party alarms or manually initiated VMS macros. However, this is typically up to the selected VMS application to manage. Taking advantage of these types of IP camera functions requires ‘deep' integration between cameras and VMS and should not be considered a given. Some cameras offer dual streaming and when fully integrated with VMS, the camera can send a full HD stream to the recorders for optimum playback quality, and simultaneously multicast a second, less bandwidth intensive SD or CIF stream to the monitor wall or a mobile device to avoid latency or overtaxing available bandwidth,” Katnic said. “In coming years, more IP encoding devices and VMS will support scalable video codec (SVC) which, rather than producing dual or triple streams for varied usage, produces one full-featured, multilayered stream that enables clients to subscribe to the stream quality level appropriate for their bandwidth or application.”

Camera features such as region of interest generally can be of help in terms of bandwidth reduction while event triggering applications save storage space. However, these features are not legally allowed in certain gaming areas. “Most gaming standards require 100 percent motion of video recording in gaming areas so this is typically not an area where value-based configuration or programming is employed,” said Douglas Florence, Business Development Director for Global Gaming, Avigilon.“Depending on the location of the casino in the world, the percentage of gaming versus security/public areas will vary. In a mega resort, 60 percent of the cameras could be managed in this manner, where parameters of pixels per square inch or square foot are set to create an event-based recording mode.”

“We are typically “handcuffed” by gaming regulations and seldom, if ever, can use triggering events, loiter modes, or lower the resolution for gaming specific cameras,” Bartlett added. “These may be acceptable for “back of house” areas but never in money or gaming areas. As drives are getting larger and storage in general is getting cheaper, it does not seem to be an issue as of lately.”

Storage and Redundancy
With technology changing and desire to go from two megapixels to 5, 10 or 20 Megapixel HD, the amount of storage remains to be a challenge. “Storage is expensive (30 to 40 percent of the total surveillance system price), and is directly related to picture quality, which is related to the data rate and retention period for each camera,” Katnic cautioned. “IP HD cameras average 5 to 6 Mbps, which is three to four times more data/storage compared to H.264-encoded analog cameras. HD video requires more servers, software, rack space, electricity, cooling and maintenance. Also, storage servers with high density 2- or 3-TB drives configured in RAID 5 or 6 take much longer to rebuild following a drive failure, which adds vulnerability to retained data and recordings. Just because you can record in HD doesn't necessarily mean you should, especially when you have to justify cost/reliability strategy for the HD cameras.”

The different risks associated with IP systems require careful analysis and resiliency planning. “For instance, traditional analog matrix systems will display live video on the analog wall even if the network and/or DVRs go down. Some analog to digital encoder-based systems will even keep recording when the network fails,” Katnic added. “However, that is not the case with an IP camera-based system. When the network goes down, both recorded and live video will be lost if the cameras do not support edge based storage. All that video will be lost cannot be recovered.”

“Hybrid systems, which involve greater complexity and reliance on network technology, have potential risks too and casinos have expressed concern about being able to meet the mandated regulatory requirements for continuous recording with no gaps in recording. With hybrid solutions, network failures could potentially prevent the operators from accessing playback/reviews, but the analog recording should likely remain unaffected,” Paul said. “Failed DVRs could be easily addressed via a matrix macro to switch the analog inputs to a standby DVR unit if necessary. Solutions such as matrix switching DVR inputs for “fail-over” have now been replicated in digital technology; stand-by technologies, clustering technology and cloud-based storage all pool together to allow for redundancy in recording as well as multicast recording to provide true redundancy. This solution should adequately address these concerns.“

 

Equip casinos with better eyes on the floor

Equip casinos with better eyes on the floor

Editor / Provider: Tevin Wang | Updated: 9/21/2012 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Casino operators will not change their entire systems simply to implement HD capability. Hybrid video solutions are the logical path to provide a phased migration from SD to HD systems. The key to any upgrade/migration starts with careful planning for the design. “If not done properly with a plan in place, you can run into quite a few problems,” said Douglas Florence, Business Development Director for Global Gaming, Avigilon.

One of the main challenges in casino gaming environments remains to be the HD PTZ control latency issue. “The expectation continues to be that digital should be superior to analog and therefore, increasing latency for HD PTZ seems to be a backward step,” said Scott Paul, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Pelco by Schneider Electric. “The number one request is ‘analog-like' latency for PTZ control with HD PTZ control. I would not actually call this an ‘outrageous' request as it is quite expected to want fine responsive control for PTZ activity in a busy gaming environment, but understanding the technology behind HD video and how it is delivered to the user, it is easy to appreciate how this is not a simple hurdle that can be overcome overnight. Through operator training, adjusting the HD PTZ cameras to use the lowest latency codecs and correct network design, we have been able to get customer acceptance on this issue.”

Bit rate and recordings are challenges as well. “In most cases, if an HD camera is streaming at 20 to 50 Mbps, very few would have pockets deep enough to buy the storage required for these types of cameras,” added Scott Bartlett, CEO of Southwest Surveillance Systems.

Having an IP-based system that can integrate with an existing network goes a long way. Still, IP camera integration/compatibility with VMSs remains a key issue and challenge for the industry. “Most major camera and encoder manufacturers are now adopting ONVIF-compliant standards for IP device detection, transmission, telemetry and recording, which is making it much easier for integrators and end users to confidently deploy new IP cameras,” said John Katnic, VP of Global Gaming at Synectics. “Unfortunately, standards like ONVIF and PSIA are evolving and changing constantly and VMS and IP device manufacturers are often developing to different versions or only partially comply with the standards' specs. Moreover, the standards leave out some very important criteria that can cause a big disconnect with expectations. For example, how IP cameras and VMS are supposed to manage audio, alarms, a second or third recorded stream and onboard SD memory, are not clearly defined by ONVIF.”

Integration-Friendly
Fewer but better tested and documented changes/upgrades of the cameras would be helpful for system integrators as there are often new compatibility issues popping up in casinos. Also, it is rather imperative that the user and supplier agree on what exactly ‘integrated' means and precisely define what functions are expected before choosing a camera and VMS combination, according to Katnic. “And once settled on a particular camera and firmware version, avoid the temptation to roll out the newest bleeding edge software update without thoroughly testing the new firmware revisions with your existing VMS. Small firmware changes can cause big compatibility problems.”

Having a proprietary solution is not the best thing for casino owners. Hybrid solutions will be an unavoidable path to HD, and systems integrators will have to learn to be something more than just a re-seller of a manufacturer's equipment to be considered a true systems integrator. “The days of having proprietary casino solutions are soon to be gone and those left standing in the casino space will have the ability to integrate with each other.” Bartlett said.

Proceed with Eyes Wide Open
There is no doubt that the superiority of HD IP picture quality will charm and convince users to spend what it takes to achieve it. “It is important to remember that just because it's new IP technology, it doesn't mean it's better for every application or that it will do everything that your analog system did,” Katnic said. “At best, they're different technologies and users are likely to encounter both pros and cons. IP system will not necessarily be as resilient, fast or functional as the old matrix.”

Hybrid infrastructure, cameras and command and control interfaces should all be carefully planned and must be carried out with caution.

Reshaping residential intrusion prevention business model

Reshaping residential intrusion prevention business model

Editor / Provider: Submitted by Securewatch 24 | Updated: 9/18/2012 | Article type: Hot Topics

Securewatch 24 (SW24) is entering into the US residential intrusion market with a twist to conventional wisdom — no long-term monitoring contract, a move that will add convenience and portability for its customers. Customers will not be asked to sign a long-term contract; instead, the company said customers can select from several lifestyle intrusion packages, own their wireless equipment outright and move it when they want to, as long as they pay a fee upfront that covers installation and other costs. Monitoring is month-to-month.

"We are turning the conventional residential security model on its head in favor of a more customer-friendly model," said Jay Stuck, VP of Sales and CMO. "Lifestyle security sales positioning is opening up a huge potential consumer market, estimated to be another 30 million possible American homes. We believe consumers will willingly pay for this technology and the freedom from long-term monitoring contracts at the time of sale and stick with us for our customer service and the convenience we bring to the table. We believe the market is ripe for a new message and paradigm — no long-term monitoring contracts."

Stuck, who is widely credited with creating the first direct response TV commercial for ADT in the late 1980s and was one of the key people who helped commoditize the residential business for that company (which ultimately grew to a multibillion dollar business), said that proprietary research indicates that customers resent having to be tied to long-term contracts and to be responsible for the termination fees and other costs associated with relocation or dissatisfaction with alarm company service. He said SW24 believes this new model will resonate with consumers.

"For the past 25 years, residential security companies have gone to market in the same way: lose money up-front to gain the customer and then break even via the monitoring contract months later. When you stop to think about it, the model is no longer sustainable in this economy. What other industry loses money up-front on each sale and waits for years to break even, and then hopes to retain the customer for a few more years so they can begin to make a profit by nickel and diming the subscriber? We've looked at the future of the residential security business and decided to change the model; it's a fresh take on the business that is good for SW24 and for our customers," Stuck said.

"We are not prepared to put intrusion subscribers in this position any longer. We plan to show the security industry that just because we as a group have marketed that way over the past 25 years doesn't mean we have to market that way over the next 25," Stuck added. "This model will add value to the customer's experience by adding flexibility and convenience. Our subscribers will not be merely a faceless number to be sold and resold to other monitoring companies or be yoked to a long-term contract subject to expensive termination fees and other costs."

SW24 said it realized that the move was not without considerable risk and that they believed the rest of the industry would be watching closely to see if they are successful. They also said they were not concerned that the new month-to-month monitoring model destroyed the intrinsic resale value of a customer contract that has driven the dealer channel over the past decades.

"The industry is already shedding its old skin without realizing it. The success of the ‘summer program' companies, the rise of telcos and cable providers, and the foothold that DIY Internet sales-based companies have established have all combined to shake up the industry," Stuck said. "Inertia is ending. We believe that the security industry and our customers will look back on this move as a game changer for the better."

The new concept is being implemented next month in the New York City metro area by SW24's direct sales organization and will be followed later this fall by a major TV commercial push, SW24 said. The company said it is also readying its website and related materials to reflect the strategy. A key addition to the SW24 residential sales plan going forward will be the opening of SW24's 25,000-square foot Fusion Center based in northern New Jersey at the beginning of 2013, the company added.

SW24 has been aggressively moving into technology partnerships and into other strategic vertical markets (education, health care, hospitality, retail), including enterprise-level integration this year and now has a national footprint.

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