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Key components: Camera performance is set in silicon

Key components: Camera performance is set in silicon

Editor / Provider: Weili Lin, a&s SMAhome | Updated: 8/5/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics

Key components are a primary factor in determining the performance of electronic and digital devices. Smart home products—especially home security cameras—are no exception. A home security camera's performance is largely determined by its three pillars: image sensor, system on chip (SoC) and networking chips.

The image sensor converts light into electrical signals. Major suppliers of CMOS sensors include Aptina, Himax Imaging, OmniVision, PixArt and SONY. The SoC contains the CPU core, codec engine, DDR DRAM memory and peripheral controllers. Major players are Ambarella, Grain Media, Hisilicon, NXP , Service & Quality Technology (SQ), Sonix, TI and VATICS. The networking chip enables Ethernet, WiFi, and power line communication (PLC) connectivity. WiFi is a must-have communication protocol for home security cameras, and major WiFi chip suppliers include MediaTek, Realtek and Qualcomm Atheros.

Manufacturers carefully balance performance and cost to deliver compelling products for each market segment, as one size fits none when it comes to smart home products. These three components alone account for more than 50 percent of bill of material (BOM) costs. To provide better price performance ratios, chip suppliers are pouring significant R&D resources to incorporate more features onto the chip. Active Asian key component providers try to further differentiate their offerings by providing total solutions rather than mere components.

For this issue's Feature segment, we asked industry insiders to shed light on market and technology development trends for home security cameras.

Market Trends: Home camera market on the rise
With IT leaders Apple, Google, Samsung and Xiaomi battling to dominate the connected home battlefield, 2014 has truly turned out to be the year of the smart home. Camera component suppliers expect the home camera market to grow rapidly over the next few years. According to them, the home camera market will see even stronger momentum in 2015, driven by cable operators, cloud service providers, and telcos.

Growing interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home applications are also two motivating forces behind the growth. Besides, Hisilicon thinks the prevalence of mobile devices and 4G networks will play a significant role in the booming market. VATICS Director of Sales Marketing Joseph Wei believes that big cloud service players like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, along with cable operators and telcos, will be pivotal in driving demand for home camera. "Internet giants and system integrators will drive the global home camera market to grow at least 50 percent in both 2014 and 2015," said Alan Hsieh, VP of Sales of Grain Media. Grain Media projects its SoC shipments to double in 2014 and 2015.

Sonix Senior Manager Roger Huang believes that improved network infrastructures will boost the smart home market, including the home camera industry. “Also, the involvement of Chinese companies like Internet giant Baidu, video surveillance solutions provider Hikvision and the telcos will push forward the industry,“ he added.

SQ Sales Manager Arthur Lee said improvements in hardware manufacturing processes and software platforms are two more driving factors for industry growth and market adoption. More advanced chip manufacturing processes reduce hardware costs, while cloud-based infrastructures and platforms simplify product development and enhance user experience.

STAYING COMPETITIVE
Having the capacity to develop intellectual property (IP) is crucial for manufacturing cameras, since it helps reduce license fees and allows for more flexible product designs, which in turn helps lower costs and boost time-to-market.

IP has become in the tech world a powerful weapon to protect key differentiators and maintain competitiveness. Hisilicon offers solutions that combine its SoCs and SDKs,including self-designed IPs. Grain Media is backed by its parent company Faraday Technology, which specializes in IP and back-end integrated design services. VATICS boasts a self-designed core-IP, which powers its domain-specific optimizations and integration, resulting in better product differentiations and improved video quality.

As a latecomer to the home camera party, Huang believes Sonix benefits from a shorter learning curve, since the first movers have already smoothed out many obstacles. Second-mover advantages include lower R&D costs and faster product delivery with minimized efforts and investments.

Forging strategic partnership is another approach. Companies like Himax Imaging keeps close relationship with leading CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) foundries to ensure product quality; it also allows them to score tailor-made services like front-end integrated circuit (IC) engineering.

Purely providing hardware is no longer a competitive core competency, so it is vital to keep close relationship with downstream customers to offer a flexible platform and accelerate product development processes, Huang added. For example, Sonix's SN98600 embeds 64MB DDR memory to reduce design complexity of substrates and avoid the affects of price fl uctuations for DDR2 memory. In addition, the Sonix SDK Build Code Environment simplifies the originally complicated SDK setup and operation process, while the modular software structure enables customers to customize their software design and setup.

CATERING TO THE CUSTOMER
In response to increasing time-to-market and time-to-volume pressures and to reduce R&D expenditure, the demand for turkey solutions is on the rise.

Grain Media and Sonix both offer turnkey solutions. Turnkey hardware and software solutions help customers expedite product design and development. Grain Media set up a support team in Shenzhen, China to provide customers with real-time technical support and customization services. To differentiate from other turnkey solutions, flexibility and compatibility are imperative. Sonix said its SoCs support multiple interfaces and functions for flexible and tailor-made solutions, which stand out among the competition.

Flexible designs and services are also noteworthy for image sensors. For the price-sensitive market, Himax Imaging offers versatile solutions leveraged by the manufacturing and supply chain experiences it gained from making image sensors for laptop computers and mobile phones. In a sense, home surveillance IP cameras have become consumer electronic devices, said Antonio Tsai, Deputy Director of Marketing Division of Himax Imaging. “We see the trend of leveraging the sensors used in mobile device for better cost and performance value. We have customers using our 1/6-inch CMOS sensor instead of 1/4-inch one, which is 30 percent more expensive. For customers who require higher resolutions, we can offer the 1/4-inch 5 Megapixel and 1/3-inch 8 Megapixel sensors used in mobile phones. Customer can develop HD/FHD video cameras that are also capable of capturing 5M or 8M still images.”

China, Korea and Taiwan suppliers dominate home camera manufacturing. These suppliers, clustered in Asia, each have their own strengths and strategies. Hsieh of Grain Media indicated that Taiwanese and Korean companies emphasize on product stability, SDK and strong local supports; aside from a few top players, most Chinese customers prefer turnkey solutions that help reduce R&D costs and shorten production time. Lee of SQ noted that China and Taiwan suppliers require the latest product features, while Japan and Korea companies put more emphasis on quality and stability.

Technology Trends: Tighter budgets, tighter integration
Video compression algorithms and CPU performance highly affect the performance of a home network camera, but chipmakers are also focusing their efforts on developing energy-efficient, small-footprint, and easy-to-manufacture platforms. Asian key component providers indicate that cross-device support is another trend. Technical support and video compression rate are also two deciding factors for SoC procurement.

Product development in the smart home industry is leaning toward tighter integration on all levels. Tight integration between devices in a system, as well as on the components level, create a better user experience, lowers manufacturing costs and shortens development cycles. The consumer network camera industry is especially market-driven and price-sensitive, so platforms and solutions that are highly integrated and reduce time-to-market are in high demand.

To meet these demands, SoC suppliers integrate codec and DDR DRAM memory onto their chips to reduce size and cost. The adoption of System-in-Package (SiP) technology simplifies the PCB design process, and enables compact and lightweight cameras.

The smart home industry is currently divided by multiple factions and wireless communication standards. Chipmakers overcome this inconvenience by designing their solutions to be more flexible. For example, Grain Media preserves interfaces and provides a SDK API to allow customers to easily add wireless connectivity. In addition, Grain Media offers network camera SoCs with comprehensive ports for customers to connect to alarm and temperature sensors, as well as Bluetooth, WiFi or ZigBee chips. Hisilicon indicated that integrating the temperature sensor, POR, RTC and audio codec directly onto the chip contributes to considerable cost reduction of engineering bill of materials (EBOM).

In addition to interfaces, support for cloud platforms is also paramount. Currently, SoCs support different cloud platforms, including MyDlink, TUTK, Tricloud, Seedonk and Danale. Besides working with third-party companies to support cloud services, companies like Sonix and SQ also develop their own cloud platforms. Sonix builds its own platform for customers who are particularly concerned about security.

To ensure product stability, 40nm manufacturing processes and power management technology is widely used to reduce power consumption and operating temperatures for SoCs. Grain Media indicated that the design helps customers simplify thermal design, thus reducing design costs. Hisilicon thinks the SoCs manufactured by 40LP process is an effective power-saving solution. SoCs supporting voltage adjustment SVB and Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS) technologies feature low power consumption.

CMOS image sensors edge out CCD counterparts with lower cost and lower power consumption. Containing all the logics needed for cameras, CMOS sensors enable a small form factor that the typical home network camera requires. 1/4-inch is the mainstream size for home security cameras. Integration can also be an important trend for CMOS image sensors. Himax Imaging offers a 1/4-inch 1.3-Megapixel SoC that combines the CMOS image sensor with an ISP.

 

QUALITY AND SUPPORTABILITY MATTER
For most home network camera makers, product stability and image quality matter more than cost. Stable wireless data transmission, low power consumption and noise reduction are highly emphasized.

Tony Ho, Marketing Manager at Mars Semiconductor, indicated that 2.4GHz FHSS features stronger anti-interference transmission and longer transmission distances than WiFi technology. However, ubiquitous support of WiFi by mobile devices has made the technology the de facto standard for wireless data transmission, which is a problem because WiFi chips are infamously power hungry. MediaTek recently released its MT7688 chip, a WiFi SoC that integrates MIPS24KEc/580MHz CPU, 256MB DDR1/2 RAM and AES128/256 encryption engine, enabling it to power more complicated and data-intensive smart home appliances like network cameras and home surveillance systems. The Linux-based WiFi SoC supports 802.11n, and the chipmaker claims the chip consumes just 60 percent of energy compared to its predecessor. The Linux-based design provides the SoC with a comprehensive protocol stack that allows rapid development of applications.

Low-light performance is important for a security camera and is decided by quality of the image sensor. However, some low-cost solutions do not perform well under low-light conditions and need to be compensated by LED bulbs. WDR can be a value-added feature for home security cameras. Himax Imaging boasts high performance in low-light conditions and is set to release in 2015 a new image senor that emphasizes WDR and low-light performance for both automotive and home security cameras.

Advanced manufacturing processes help improve quality, too. SiP packaging is used to reduce noise. For example, Grain Media uses SiP packaging to embed DDR DRAM memory that helps reduce noise. Also, its network camera SoC supports various CMOS image sensors with MIPI, HiSpi and sub-LVDS interfaces that help to increase energy efficiency and reduce noise.

BGA soldering is another widely used packaging method that simplifies system design and reduces the PCB size. Sonix Senior Manager Roger Huang says LQFP hand-soldering is another common manufacturing process.

Visual performance is also significant. To ensure stable ISP performance, Sonix built an internal lab to adjust for best performance under different scenes, such as low-light environments. The image processing algorithm is decisive for image quality; Hisilicon has a team that assesses the performance of video capture, encoding, decoding and display features for its solutions.

Huang added that both hardware and software improvements are important to maintain reliable product quality. Regarding software stability, Sonix utilizes Hudson Continuous Integration system as the auto-build system for Software Development Kit (SDK) testing.

H.265 TO PREVAIL IN 2017
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265, delivers the same video quality of H.264, but consumes just half the bandwidth. Professional surveillance cameras will support it initially, but it will eventually trickle down to consumer-grade products in the coming years.

Despite the fact that no home camera makers plan to offer network cameras supporting H.265 this year, Asian chipmakers think it is only a matter of time before it becomes widely adopted; some new smartphones and tablets already tout H.265 support. For example, beginning this year, MTK will make smartphone and tablet SoCs that support the new video format. Hisilicon stated that the support by smart home end products and platforms is a major indicator for the new video format's pervasiveness. Alan Hsieh, VP of Sales of Grain Media, thinks home cameras will begin to support H.265 when 1080P becomes the standard resolution for smartphones and tablets; newer devices will need to support H.265 to reduce bandwidth consumption for such high resolutions. Hisilicon predicts the first home cameras supporting H.265 standard will be available in 2016 and become mainstream in 2017. SQ also agreed with this timeframe.

Dancing Moose Montessori School advances education with Milestone

Dancing Moose Montessori School advances education with Milestone

Editor / Provider: Milestone system | Updated: 8/5/2014 | Article type: Education

Dancing Moose Montessori School in Salt Lake City, Utah, developed a unique way to increase parents' participation in their child's schooling, improve teacher evaluations without disturbing class, and expand overall school security. Milestone XProtect Express video management software (VMS) and network cameras from Axis Communications oversee daily operations at Dancing Moose to deliver a high degree of security and provide parents with a window into their child's learning.

“The Axis-Milestone solution has become a huge selling point for our school. Parents love the ability to drop off their children, who may be crying and suffering from separation anxiety, and check in after five minutes to see that their child is happy and engaged in the classroom. It's really powerful.” Jennifer Duffield, Executive Director, The Dancing Moose Montessori School.

The challenge:
Dancing Moose Montessori School opened its doors with a promise to parents and students to provide unmatched learning experience with programs that are unique, learning environments that are professional and safe, and processes that are transparent. Safety was a key consideration, but to stay true to its promise of transparency, the school needed a security system th at was robust and effective while also allowing parents to remotely monitor their children without interrupting class.

The solution:
Milestone XProtect Express IP video management software (VMS), 40 Axis network cameras and a pair of 42-inch monitors comprise the monitoring system that allows parents and school administrators to observe students and teachers without interfering in classroom activities. The monitors are in the lobby, the cameras are set up throughout the school and the system is custom integrated with S2 Extreme access control — thanks to the Milestone open platform architecture.

The advantages:
With the simple click of a mouse, parents have live access to their child's classroom without the distraction that their presence in the room would create. They can quickly and easily observe how their child learns and interacts with classmates and teachers. For administrators, the ability to monitor classrooms remotely means that teacher evaluations are no longer a distraction to students or the teacher. The integration of the video system with access control provides efficient management of safety matters in the school.

A Total Learning Experience
Founded by President Joyce Sibbett, Ph. D., Dancing Moose Montessori School of West Valley City, Utah, focuses on the total learning experience, providing engaging activities and specialized programs tailored to each class. A key feature of Dancing Moose Montessori School is the learning environment with bright and airy designs in multiple zones, including open spaces full of greenery, a large gym and a specialized outdoor program. Each school is newly built from the ground up, typically measuring 20,000 square feet, hosting 200 students in 12 classrooms with two teachers assigned to each room.

Peace of mind for parents, students, teachers and staff was a priority, and the state-of-the-art, integrated monitoring and security system goes a long way toward providing just that. The system, installed by Stone Security of Salt Lake City, is networked through Milestone XProtect Express VMS and includes a variety of Axis network cameras and an S2 Extreme audio/visual access control system. The solution also includes a 4U BCD Video tower server powered by HP, Netgear 24-port POE switches and a DMP intrusion system.

Visitors, parents, staff, and teachers use unique access codes to enter the system, but only after verbal and visual confirmation. Once inside the facility, parents have permissions-based virtual access to the preschool, with views of authorized classrooms and outdoor areas. The Milestone XProtect Smart Client interface allows multiple parents to view different images on the monitors simultaneously – the system is configured for as many as six camera feeds to be displayed on each screen.

“The Milestone interface is very straightforward but also effective and secure. Parents can walk up to our monitoring stations with no experience in professional video systems and the intuitive Milestone software provides easy and secure access to live video of their child's classroom — including control over camera angles. Our parents typically flock to the monitoring station where they can observe their children learning, playing, eating, and interacting with teachers and fellow students,” says Jennifer Duffield, Executive Director, Dancing Moose Montessori School.

“The IP-based Milestone system paired with Axis network cameras is easy to use and provides clear, high-resolution images to both managers and parents at Dancing Moose Montessori School,” explains Andy Schreyer, Stone Security. “Additionally, because Milestone and Axis operate on an open platform system, we are able to provide our client with the flexibility to grow the system to future schools and add new integrations over time, creating equity in the system. Milestone keeps up as Axis releases new cameras with updated features, eliminating the need for system replacement because it never becomes obsolete.”

Every child in view
Stone Security carefully selected cameras that would provide the most comprehensive viewing options for parents. At the school's original location, opened in 2007, Stone Security installed pan/tilt/zoom AXIS 212 PTZ-V Network Cameras inside the classrooms to offer instant pan/tilt/zoom functionality. When Dancing Moose opened a second location in 2014, Stone Security chose either wide-angle, 3 megapixel AXIS M3006-V or panoramic, 5 megapixel AXIS M3007-PV Fixed Dome Network Cameras to provide complete views of each room.

For external security afterhours, Stone Security installed HDTV-quality 720p AXIS P3364-VE Fixed Dome Network Cameras outside the building. The cameras' Lightfinder technology is ideal for low-light visibility. The exterior cameras are set to record on motion, and they can be viewed on Duffield's office computer.

“We recommend Axis cameras specifically because IP-based cameras are easy to use, provide high resolution, and offer a great deal of flexibility to choose frame rates, resolution and recording options on the fly,” said Andy Schreyer of Stone Security.

Effective Learning Through Observation
Two 42-inch NEC monitors are installed in the lobby of Dancing Moose Montessori School, where parents can see their child at any point throughout the day without being a distraction in the classroom, which could cause their child to act differently.

“Parents can be interested in seeing what the teacher is teaching, if their child is engaged in the lesson, or how well the student is eating at lunchtime,” says Jennifer Duffield, executive director, Dancing Moose Montessori School. “The Milestone interface and Axis cameras make our parents comfortable and offer reassurance and a sense of security.”

Parents and school administrators are equally interested in educators' teaching methods, whether or not the pupils are actively participating in the lesson and activities, and verifying that students are playing safely and eating well.

“It's nice to be able to pull a classroom image up on the screen to keep track of the teachers' lessons, or to see if students are behaving well or getting out of hand,” continues Duffield. “What's great is that the Milestone and Axis technology allows us to observe classrooms without disturbing the lesson flow, and we see the true, unvarnished behavior of our students during their normal interactions with teachers.”

According to Duffield, the Milestone XProtect Express and Axis network camera solution has surpassed her expectations. As she explains it, parents have had little, if any, exposure to operating an advanced video monitoring system, but with just the click of a mouse, they have a high-resolution view of their children in classrooms and outdoor environments.

“At the start of the school year, parents flocked to the monitors and were amazed at the ability to retain an active role in their child's day without distracting them during school hours,” she says. “As the school year progresses, the monitoring stations average about 10 users in the morning and 10 during lunch. We are proud to offer Milestone's interface to the families of our pupils and are thrilled with its positive effect on our program.”

For Schreyer of Stone Security, the Dancing Moose Montessori School installation is an outstanding example of the versatility of the Milestone software: “The flexibility of the Milestone open platform with Axis allows our techs to be experts regardless of client vertical. We are able to choose the perfect solutions for our customers and integrate every important service needed for each installation. Dancing Moose Montessori School has access control technology integrated with the Milestone video for the ability to safely monitor students at all times.”

MOBOTIX announces partnership with PSIM developer icomply

MOBOTIX announces partnership with PSIM developer icomply

Editor / Provider: MOBOTIX | Updated: 8/5/2014 | Article type: Security 50

MOBOTIX AG, one of the manufacturers of digital high-resolution, network-based video security systems has released details of its partnership with icomply, the developer of V-TAS Pro, a Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) integration platform offering solutions for Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), Government, Retail and Transportation applications.

V-TAS Pro provides a centralised security platform which enables a wide range of security applications, such as Intruder Detection, Building Management and Fire Systems to connect concurrently on a common interface. Under the technology partnership, icomply have committed to fully integrating MOBOTIX technology into the V-TAS Pro software platform to enable seamless control of the entire MOBOTIX range.

“This is a valuable technology partnership for our channel partners and customers,” explains Dominic Chapman, UK Country Manager for MOBOTIX, “Through our partnership with icomply, we can build completely seamless security architectures that can benefit fully from the unique features offered by MOBOTIX technology in a multi-vendor environment through adherence with a common control platform.”

icomply provide a comprehensive range of software driven modules to create a seamless control room environment. Software modules such as Lone Worker, Guard Tour and Alarm Receiving work in addition to the everyday functions of a busy Control Room to provide a complete security package.

“We welcome the addition of MOBOTIX integration into V-TAS Pro and look forward to an ongoing technical and business relationship,” said Michael Gallagher, Business Development Director, icomply. “MOBOTIX is a highly regarded innovator and its products complement the open platform integration that we actively promote at icomply.”

Australia's security industry

Australia's security industry

Editor / Provider: STEVE CHIN, a&s Asia | Updated: 8/4/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics

In recent times, Australia has developed into a premiere market for the security industry, with both production and manufacturing at new highs. We take a deeper look into the Outback and examine why Australia is such a major player in this industry now.

Australia may be better known for kangaroos, koalas, and deadly animals, but it is actually considered a fully developed country and one of the wealthiest in the world, possessing the world's 12th-largest economy. As of 2013, Australia also had the world's fifth-highest per capita income and the second-highest human development index. It also ranks in the top 10 in many global international comparisons: quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Indeed, it has come a long way since the days of being a colonized penal colony.

These days, Australia possesses not just a strong technological industry as a whole, but researchers are also predicting continued growth in the Australian region in its security industry as well. Backed up by the fact that the country is arguably the second strongest market in the APAC region after China, Australia is a country that commands respect. Indeed, according to Rocco Palladino, National Sales Manager — Australia and New Zealand for Pacom Systems, “the Australian electronic security industry has continued to steadily develop and increase since 2011. We estimate that the market has grown approximately 2 to 3 percent on average every year since 2011.” However, growth is still relatively slow and stagnant in terms of market figures, especially when compared to other countries in the APAC region, like China and India. Some factors that can be attributed to this stagnant growth include a lack of a well-established infrastructure as well as a highly tech-savvy industry that puts high demands on value from technology.

In point of fact, when looking deeper into Australia's security industry, there are other signs that it has slowed down in terms of growth in the last few years. Because of recent issues regarding the Nationwide Broadband Network (NBN), some controversy has resulted in many security solutionsproviders being affected by its slowdowns in development. Coupled together with the fact that there just is not enough readily available, widespread bandwidth yet — especially outside of major cities, it further complicates the issue when Australia as a whole is trying to faster facilitate the transfer to full digital solutions.

SLOWER THAN EXPECTED IP ROLLOUT
IP infrastructure and a resulting slow adoption of IP-related products. Indeed, analog was still the leader by a significant margin, and the IP infrastructure was slow to develop and catch up to market demands. While by no means fully developed or ready, the IP infrastructure has still made significant leaps and bounds. However, looking at issues like the NBN that was rolled out in Australia in 2011, it's easy to understand why the country is both ambitious but still facing numerous hurdles to cross.

According to a 2014 report published by the Australian government, there are over 1.6 million premises across Australia that either have no access to fixed broadband or very poor quality broadband connectivity. The NBN aims to rectify this. At its core, the NBN is an enormous, large-scale project that is still under development in Australia with rollouts already happening in several trial locations. In practice, it is a national, wholesale-only, open-access data network that is in both fixed line and wireless forms. However, from the beginning, the NBN has been plagued by numerous construction issues and a too overtly ambitious goal. With that said, it is easy to see the numerous hurdles that the NBN still has to overcome. With a cost of nearly US$29 billion, all in public funding needed to tie over construction to 2019, the build cost has also been a huge point in debate. Nevertheless, the NBN still aims to reach approximately 22 percent of all premises in Australia by 2021(which is a huge drop-off).

According to a 2014 report, there are over 1.6 million premises across Australia that still have poor bandwidth access.

The reality, though, is that Australia, like almost all the rest of the major players in the industry, has already begun a gradual adoption of IP and the slow phase-out of analog systems. Australia has come a long way in these three to four years. As Nathan Walters, Sales Engineer for RhinoCo Technology put it, “A few years ago, IP was still a non-starter due to lack of knowledge and experience by integrators. But thanks to numerous companies providing training, there has been an increased uptake. Now, people not only realize the increased benefits of IP over analog, they see it as future proof technology.” He also said that there is evidence of this by the sales of IP equipment rapidly taking over those of analog.

SOLUTIONS TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
As the Australian security industry looks into the next few years, so too does security solution providers and how they must observe and react to the various changes coming to the country. Of key importance is to keep a continual eye on the status of future NBN rollouts. As was stated before, reactions and feelings towards it have been lukewarm at best, if not outright against it. Furthermore, when it comes to solution providers, some key points to highlight in order to stay in the game are the changes regarding integration and unification across all solutions platforms. As Kobi Ben-Shabat, Founder and MD for OPS explained, “the ability to integrate between multiple systems, video, access controls, license plate recognitions, intruder alarms, and intercoms into a single vendor or a single platform is the trend today.” Another way to look at it would be because of the NBN fiasco, security solutions providers have had to look at other ways to be competitive and stay afloat. By unifying systems into a single platform, it is a way to battle costs and simplicity.

One buzzword floating around is the surge in PSIM solutions. Ben-Shabat elaborated, “we also see the beginning of a demand for PSIM solutions. The rise of the ability to provide single management tools either to the operator or to senior management attractive from customer standpoints. If I was to look towards two, three years, I would see PSIM solutions.” Palladino also same feeling, “another term starting to secure a position in the market is PSIM, although this appears to originate from video management system manufacturers moving into the alarm and access control areas.”

The future of Australia's security industry hinges in a large part on the future of the IP infrastructure.

GOVERNMENT STIMULATION AND HIGH-END SOLUTIONS
While there are usually a number of government stimulus packages that exist in a lot of countries around the world, things have relatively quiet on the Australian front. The one key stimulus to point out is the nationwide rollout of city-wide, street surveillance packages. With the Australian government promising a contribution of $50 million coupled together with local grants from state governments, it is obvious the government has taken notice of the issue of better security and better surveillance. One result to this fairly lackadaisical approach to security is a lack of market for high-end security solutions. Traditionally, a big market for solutions like video analytics, facial recognition, and smart security has always laid in government. However, it is not entirely accurate to state that no market exists either. As Ben-Shabat put it, “I think video analytics when it comes to solutions like facial recognition, the application is mainly at the government level, or when looking at prevention, in retail. The cost requirement is still a factor, when the cost is right, they will accept. I believe it still needs to be more cost efficient and reliable to be successful.” Another direction that high-end security solutions points at lies in retail solutions, in both SMBs and franchises. Again, the cost issue is a big factor, but there exists a market.

Unfortunately, “too many people advertise and supply analytics (or smart security), but unless you are in defense, or perhaps customs, then you really need to ask if you are really able to use it. It is an easy way to differentiate larger more expensive solutions. It is truly something that is requested more than it is used in application,” said Walters.


THE NEXT FEW YEARS

As we look into the next few years, the overall picture of Australia looks to be good. The single, biggest factor in the security industry is definitely reliant on the NBN rollout and how far it can reach.

Palladino put it as, “progress continues with the NBN and this will definitely impact the Australian market, as their rollout progresses. Faster, cheaper communications to more parts of Australia should give rise to more business opportunities for security solutions providers.” Walter also added, “the NBN progressing as quickly as possible will help, and will help ideally fund further R&D innovation in all of Australia.”

Other things to look forward to include the idea of open platforms. As we add in the inclusion of cloud, Australia should also look forwards to more unification across all platforms.

As the IP infrastructure continues to improve, cloud should become far more utilized as the digital world continues to impact the industry. Overall, the future looks bright, so long as the technological advancements don't pull the innovations down and the infrastructure improves.

Growing Potential of HD-over-coaxial Solutions
Another key point to zero in on is the fact that analog is really on its way out the door, albeit slower than people expected. Nathan Walters, Sales Engineer for RhinoCo Technology explained, “Analog TV has recently been turned off in Australia so more and more consumers have had to become familiar with HD, and they have begun to look for this as an essential part of their security solutions.” As a result, one more key area of focus would lie in HD CCTV. As Walters pointed out, CCTV has had a good track record in catching offenders. From a transition point of view, HD-over-coaxial solutions are another great interim technology to look at as solutions providers transition into the digital age. He further explained, “more importantly, it can take existing systems over to HD without replacing the existing analog infrastructure. We expect that as more consumers experience this, they will eventually demand it on future solutions and this will itself ultimately drive the roll out into newer IP systems and continue to drive the security industry itself.”

Axis safeguards Singapore Polytechnic's School DMIT

Axis safeguards Singapore Polytechnic's School DMIT

Editor / Provider: Axis | Updated: 7/31/2014 | Article type: Education

The School of Digital Media and Infocomm Technology (DMIT) at Singapore Polytechnic, one of Singapore's most prestigious tertiary education providers, has been in operation since 1980. The School aims to play an important role in the expanding digital ecosystem, by being a strong source of talent for the IDM (Interactive Digital Media) and ICT industries. To prepare students for the digital world, DMIT nurtures and develops students using a variety of channels such as innovative teaching approaches, inspiring learning spaces, immersive experiences, multidisciplinary projects and leadership training programs.

Since DMIT is so focused on developing Singapore's next generation of computer experts, many of its teaching rooms house the latest, state-of-the-art technology. For example, students working towards a Diploma in Infocomm Security Management are trained in a Cyber War Game Center to help build their skills in effective teamwork, resourcefulness and working under pressure.

In addition to this game development centre, DMIT has a motion capture studio, a music and audio production suite and a visual effects studio which make up just some of the high-tech facilities housed within the DMIT. On top of this, the school is home to about 950 Windows and Mac workstations and the associated peripherals.

With such a significant level of investment in technology, it is critical that the school is secure at all times, not just to protect the assets of DMIT but also to ensure the safety of all staff and students working in the school with such high-value equipment.

Solution
DMIT enlisted the help of Seng Joo Hardware to develop a security solution to protect its key assets. One of Seng Joo's key recommendations was switching the School's surveillance cameras from its legacy analog CCTV cameras to an IP network-based surveillance solution. A digital security solution was befitting of a school with a reputation for being ahead of the curve digitally and technically.

After a thorough review of the school, the best camera locations were identified and a combination of AXIS P3344 and AXIS M3114-R Network Cameras were installed throughout the School's premises and teaching rooms. The Axis cameras were installed in high traffic areas, as well as in those areas which are likely to generate significant interest from thieves. DMIT covers a significant amount of ground with three blocks, and three to four levels. However, the Axis cameras are all Power over Ethernet, which means that a separate power source is not required, greatly simplifying the installation process.

DMIT is using AXIS Camera Station software to manage the footage gathered by the Axis cameras. This software program is a comprehensive video management tool which makes monitoring, recording and playback simple and easy to do on any PC. The installation of this system allows facilitators and admin staff with no IT training to manipulate the cameras as they wish. The School has also installed Axis illuminators to provide the cameras with enough light to provide a meaningful image.

Result
With the solution in place, the School can now monitor key areas, especially in some of the more technological advanced labs with the utmost accuracy and clarity. The greatest benefit of this particular system is the ability to view a clear picture from anywhere in the world, providing there is an internet connection. This gives administrators the peace of mind that their School is only a couple of clicks away, no matter where in the world they actually are.

Another benefit of the solution to DMIT is its ease-ofuse. The installation is truly a turnkey solution. Only the most basic training was required for the staff involved in the installation and maintenance of the solution. Other staff members who have the authority and necessity to view the footage are also able to do so without any in-depth training or instruction, thanks to the AXIS Camera Station software.

Another string in the bow of the Axis camera solution, and of IP surveillance technology in general is the simple maintenance from a technical point of view. With the legacy analog solution, DMIT needed to ensure there was enough space for tape to store the footage that was constantly being saved. With the IP surveillance system, the footage is stored digitally, either to hard drives on premise, locally on the cameras themselves, (Axis cameras are equipped with an SD card slot for local storage), or in the cloud.

The Axis installations have proven successful in that they have been a deterrent for would-be thieves and vandals. The cameras provide live and recorded images of the campus' hotspots and have been successful in preventing and identifying any would-be criminal activity. There has been a noticeable increase in confidence that security requirements at DMIT will be met as a direct result of this solution which has in turn boosted the School's reputation.

Bank SinoPac adopts integrated IP solutions from VIVOTEK

Bank SinoPac adopts integrated IP solutions from VIVOTEK

Editor / Provider: VIVOTEK | Updated: 7/31/2014 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Bank SinoPac, a wholly owned subsidiary of SinoPac Holdings, aims at providing the best financial services and innovative product line to customers through its intensive branch networks. The Bank realizes its vision of building a company that embraces “content shareholder, proud employees, happy customers, and public respect.” Statistics at the end of 2013 showed that Bank SinoPac accommodates approximately 5,500 employees, and possesses NT$59.6 billion in paid-in capital and NT$1,357 billion in assets. The bank has already established 129 branches in Taiwan alone, and further expanded operations into Hong Kong, the United States, Vietnam, and China. With such an immense operations network, the security of each and every branch has become an increasing challenge for Bank SinoPac.

Move from analog to IP
The previous surveillance solution adopted by SinoPac was primary based on an analog surveillance framework. Following the advancement in surveillance technology, the demand for video clarity and recognition capabilities have become increasingly apparent, especially around the teller area in banks where the bulk of transactions are handled. For SinoPac, a new solution was required that could seamlessly integrate with its extant analog framework. VIVOTEK surveillance products, with outstanding image quality were therefore adopted. In this project, Seventy-five VIVOTEK's IP8362 Network Bullet Cameras were suggested and installed. The project was comprehensively implemented in April and May 2014, and is now set up in 15 Bank SinoPac branches.

Bullet Network Camera – IP8362
IP8362 bullet network cameras were installed in the teller area of each Bank SinoPac branch to achieve a comprehensive coverage of the designated area. Both money transaction and the legal document process can be recorded precisely and clearly. The camera comprises a 2-megapixel CMOS sensor capable of producing a video resolution of 1080p Full HD at 30 fps. Designed with a removable IR-cut filter and built-in IR illuminators, the camera can adapt to constantly changing lighting conditions, making it a true Day & Night camera. Moreover, VIVOTEK's IP8362, with WDR enhancement, can clearly capture detailed features when an object of interest appears in locations like bank entrances where there is intense backlight.

The adoption of IP solution is on the rise in banking industry
William Ku, Vice President of VIVOTEK's International Business Division, stated, “Because of the nature of legality and huge bulk of money transaction, the banking industry spares no expenses in its security system to reduce security risks. Taking into account the increasing demand for clear and detailed video footage, centralized security management of branches in various locations, intelligent video analysis for strengthening daily operation or suspicious object detection, and governments' regulations, the investment and deployment of IP-based security solutions is on the rise. In the past years, we have accomplished several IP surveillance system implementations for banks in several countries in Asia and Middle East. We are pleased that Bank SinoPac adopted VIVOTEK's network cameras for enhancing the security in its 15 branches. We look forward to extending the installation to other branches of Bank SinoPac around the globe in the future. ”

MOBOTIX protects data centres and communication rooms in Leeds City Uni

MOBOTIX protects data centres and communication rooms in Leeds City Uni

Editor / Provider: MOBOTIX | Updated: 7/29/2014 | Article type: Security 50

MOBOTIX AG, one of the manufacturers of digital high-resolution, network-based video security systems has released details of a project at Leeds City College to secure access to critical data centres and communication rooms across multiple sites.

On 1st April 2009, Leeds City College was formed following the merger of three of the city's renowned colleges; Leeds College of Technology, Leeds Thomas Danby and Park Lane College Leeds & Keighley. Then in 2011, Joseph Priestley College also merged into the expanded new college, serving a community of over 40,000 students and employing in the region of 1,500 staff, making it one of the area's largest employers. In 2012, the College was given an OFSTED rating at “Grade 2, Good, with Outstanding features”, for the overall effectiveness of its provision.

Behind the scenes of the merger, four ICT infrastructures combined for the delivery of services while benefiting from the natural economies of scale created by the new larger entity. Following a tendering process, Leeds City College selected Express Data to lead a project to help design and build an integrated data network. Express Data is a trusted and long serving technical adviser and installation specialist that had previously worked with Leeds Thomas Danby College.

The new network would be built around a highly resilient fibre core to ensure that the loss of any one critical data centre or network link would allow for an active failover and continuation of ICT services. Another consideration was around the physical security of critical data and networking elements spread across Leeds at 15 college sites. “We run approximately 300 application servers and 770 network switches in support of over 40,000 students, 1,500 staff and have committed to a 98 % uptime,” says Dave Newsham, ?Service Delivery Manager for Leeds City College, “We are very proud to have consistently achieved this benchmark and making sure that critical network elements are properly maintained and secured with fully audited access is an essential requirement.”

Although the legacy colleges had previous installations of CCTV, these were predominantly focused on monitoring building access, common areas and car parking. Unfortunately, the notion of CCTV monitoring for ICT assets was supported in only an ad-hoc fashion by a few of them. Following due diligence and after seeking advice from Express Data, a solution based on MOBOTIX CCTV benefiting from distributed technology and built-in local storage was created to fulfil the technical implementation criteria while reducing the need for an expensive CCTV central control room or network upgrade.

“The majority of the locations are darkrooms or places with almost no footfall,” explains Newsham,” this means that most of the cameras show black screens or static images, and as such, there is no requirement to transmit high resolution video over the network all the time. However, if somebody enters these areas we need to be able to see exactly who it is and what they are doing. To meet this requirement, we have set up alerts to only send video back to our MxControlCenter software when there is a scene change such as a door opening or person entering a data centre or comms room.”

Newsham and his team also benefited from the built in temperature sensors in each MOBOTIX camera, “Although we have environmental monitoring at the larger sites, MOBOTIX now provides us with a solution for smaller comms rooms and as a backup to the other sensors,” he adds.

To date, Express Data has installed 20 MOBOTIX cameras across college sites including a number of Q24 and Q25 hemispheric models that cover entire rooms in high definition quality. “The use of hemispheric cameras providing a 360 degree viewpoint means that can monitor larger areas that would normally require several cameras with just a single MOBOTIX unit. This approach makes the deployment easier while reducing cost and complexity,” says Newsham.

“Our plan is to use MOBOTIX across the entire critical ICT infrastructure and the reliability and performance of the implementation has been faultless since the first unit went in during the summer of 2009,” adds Newsham, “We are now looking at some of the ‘bells and whistles' such as out of hours alerting and integrating monitoring into our new NOC (Network Operations Centre) and the MOBOTIX technology is certainly up to the task.”

Axis and Genetec safeguard Surf City in California with crime investigation

Axis and Genetec safeguard Surf City in California with crime investigation

Editor / Provider: Axis | Updated: 7/29/2014 | Article type: Government & Public Services

Case study: Axis cameras help the City of Huntington Beach, California , which is nicknamed “Surf City, USA,” investigate crimes downtown over a completely wireless network.

Mission
Huntington Beach, California is a booming beach community of 200,000 with a thriving summer tourist scene. With major events like an annual surf competition and dozens of bars and restaurants along Main Street, the city needed a video surveillance system to support its police force during incident investigations. But the police department headquarters was two miles from downtown, and the city did not have a fiber infrastructure to support a video system over that distance.

Solution
Reston, Virginia-based systems integrator and Axis partner CelPlan Technologies recommended a completely wireless solution with a mix of fixed and pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) Axis network cameras at key locations along Main Street and the pier, including AXIS Q6034-E PTZ Dome Network Cameras and AXIS P3363-E and AXIS P3364-E Fixed Dome Network Cameras. The PTZ cameras are set to guard tour to capture multiple views up and down the street on a rotating basis. Each camera is connected to a wireless RADWIN device that transmits the video back to police headquarters. The video is centrally managed from Genetec Security Center, the unified security platform that merges video surveillance with other security systems in one easy-touse solution. The open API architecture of the Axis cameras let CelPlan assemble the best components for the system.

Result
The Huntington Beach Police Department now has critical video evidence available to aid in the investigation of crimes and other incidents. In one instance, the cameras captured an assault with no witnesses, and the police were able to use a description of the suspect's clothing to make an arrest. The video surveillance solution proved so successful that the city launched a second phase to add an additional 15 Axis cameras at various hot spots around town.

Riding the IP video wave
Huntington Beach, California is a beachside community of 200,000 that swells with an additional 40,000 to 50,000 visitors each day during the summer tourist season. Nicknamed “Surf City, USA,” the city plays host to special events such as an annual surf competition, concerts and movie nights on the Pier Plaza. Its popular Main Street District also boasts dozens of restaurants and bars. With all the visitors, the city needed a video surveillance system downtown to provide additional support for its police force. However, their police headquarters is two miles away from the beach, and the city did not have a fiber infrastructure in place to transmit video over that distance. Reston, Virginia-based systems integrator and Axis partner CelPlan Technologies recommended a completely wireless, IP-based solution using Axis network cameras, RADWIN wireless transmitters and Genetec Security Center for efficient video surveillance management. “A wireless, IP-based system was the most affordable choice for the city. Installing a fiber network would have been simply cost prohibitive,” said Jasper Bruinzeel, vice president Wi4Net, CelPlan Technologies. “Additionally, with IP, you can scale without limit.”

No fiber? No problem. Shaping traffic on an all-wireless solution
For the first phase of the project, the city installed four AXIS Q6034-E PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) Dome Network Cameras, two AXIS P3363-E Fixed Dome Network Cameras and one AXIS P3364-E Fixed Dome Network Camera. The cameras' durable construction helped to withstand the salty sea air and ocean-front weather conditions. The city uses the PTZ cameras' guard tour feature to pan up and down streets and capture video over a much larger area. Additionally, the cameras provide the ability to fine tune resolution and compression rates, which are all easily configured from Genetec Security Center. “Features like H.264 compression allow us to shape the network traffic and make things much more predictable,” Bruinzeel said. “Those elements become very important when you try to push megapixels over wireless links.”

The open standards platform on which the cameras are built meant CelPlan could select the best possible system components without worrying about proprietary compatibility issues. “As an integrator, we try to use open architecture concepts as much as possible. This way we aren't tied to a single vendor for all the components, and we can use a ‘best-of-breed' approach to designing systems,” Bruinzeel said. The Axis cameras are connected to RADWIN wireless devices which transmit the signal back to police headquarters where it is stored on Dell PowerEdge R520 servers. Using Genetec Security Center for video surveillance, officers have the ability to monitor live video feeds 24/7, control the PTZ cameras and quickly retrieve and playback video from the archives for investigative purposes.

Case closed
The Huntington Beach Police Department saw results right away. Shortly after the cameras were installed, a man was caught on video stealing an expensive bicycle. A broadcast-quality image still was sent to the local news, and the man was subsequently spotted and arrested. The video evidence has also been used to investigate more serious crimes, including an assault where the victim was knocked unconscious. No witnesses came forward, but the police monitoring the video were able to use a description of the suspect's clothing and the direction he ran to make an arrest. “The evidence the video system provides is a huge plus,” said Lieutenant Kelly Rodriguez, Huntington Beach Police Department. “I am confident the cameras will aid in apprehensions following future criminal activity.”

 

Shanghai Metro adopts TDSi EXpert solution

Shanghai Metro adopts TDSi EXpert solution

Editor / Provider: TDSi | Updated: 7/29/2014 | Article type: Infrastructure

With successful installations already in full operation on Shanghai Metro's Line 6 and Line 9, security specialist Beijing STY turned again to access control specialist TDSi's products, in partnership with its distribution partner in China, ZDX, to provide a fully integrated security solution for installation on Line 7.

Shanghai Metro is one of the newest and fastest growing rapid transit systems in the world, with 329 stations and over 538km of track running both above and underground making it one of the longest in the world. On average, well over six million passengers use the system everyday – with potential future expansion set to see that number increase.

Line 7 connects the Baoshan District with the city center and Pudong District. Significantly, it also provided a vital link to the site of the World Expo, which was hosted by Shanghai in 2010.

Beijing STY, in conjunction with TDSi and ZDX, had already developed and supplied fully integrated access control solutions for Lines 6 and 9. Each Line is served by over 40 stations as well as its own Operational Control Center (OCC), with around 2,000 doors secured and controlled by TDSi's systems on each line.

Commenting on the program, TDSi's Managing Director, John Davies said: “The Shanghai Metro is a very significant and high profile infrastructure program, representing one of the largest access control projects across the whole of China. With two lines having already been in operation using TDSi solutions for over a year, we were delighted that Beijing STY chose to use TDSi products and services again for the project on Line 7. The project win and implementation are a prominent demonstration of Beijing STY's security expertise and knowledge, along with the performance and quality of our systems, in very demanding conditions.”

The access control solution for the project features TDSi's EXpert controllers, EXgarde Enterprise software platform and MIFARE smart card readers.

Specified for its proven performance in high capacity applications, EXpert delivers a fully featured and networkable system. Each controller has a capacity of up to 48,000 cards and provides fast and effective access control to projects such as the Shanghai Metro, which has consistently high volumes of users passing through multiple access points.

The OCC and each station's controllers are programmed via EXgarde Enterprise, TDSi's advanced access management software application. Each station is capable of operating independently of the server in cases where communications are lost - a key requirement in the specification for this particular project.

Featuring database replication for powerful disaster recovery capabilities and total peace of mind, EXgarde Enterprise allows all real-time events and system parameters to be stored both at the main server in the local OCC and at each individual station.

However should communications be lost between the center and any of the individual stations, changes and events are stored at the local stations until communications to the main server are re-established, at which point, the databases are re- synchronized.

EXgarde Enterprise allows the system to be managed centrally, even where the Wide Area Network (WAN) may be of variable quality, effectively removing the risk of single point failure.

TDSi MIFARE smart card readers are employed throughout each Line. Providing true contactless technology, the readers provide an extremely cost efficient, highly reliable solution that also allows for straightforward expansion in the future—for example, allowing the same access control card to be used for cashless vending and car park management, offering users a true, one-card solution.

VIVOTEK now is an official HDMI adopter

VIVOTEK now is an official HDMI adopter

Editor / Provider: VIVOTEK | Updated: 7/28/2014 | Article type: Security 50

VIVOTEK is pleased to announce that it is now an official HDMI adopter. HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) technology is the global standard for connecting high-definition equipment, such as HDTVs, personal computers, cameras, camcorders, tablets, gaming consoles, smart phones, and any device with an HD signal.

With the significant development and prevalence of consumer electronic devices, seven leading manufacturers, Hitachi, Panasonic Corporation, Philips, Sony, Technicolor, Toshiba, and Silicon Image, gathered together in 2002 and established the consortium of HDMI to jointly define a digital interface specification for consumer electronics products.

HDMI technology, which is capable of delivering clear digital audio and video signal via a single cable, provides end users with a superior HD experience, making the connection and transmission of all digital data easier and better. According to HDMI official statistics, more than 1,200 of the world's largest and leading consumer electronics manufacturers have adopted HDMI connectivity.

Steve Ma, Executive VP at VIVOTEK, stated, “We are now facing an irresistible shift from the analog to digital generation. A common standard for ensuring digital data transmission and communication is exceptionally important. VIVOTEK, as the leading provider of HD network cameras, is pleased to become the official HDMI adopter. By adopting the standard, the usability of our products will increase tremendously.”

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