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Intelligent surveillance and incident reporting raising situational awareness

Intelligent surveillance and incident reporting raising situational awareness

Editor / Provider: Hayagriva Software | Updated: 2/27/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

Over the years, video surveillance has been the essential key to creating a safer environment. However, a tool needs to be developed to help sift through all the video footage, as well as manage and save the important details. With Com-Sur, a Windows and mobile (iOS and Android) based intelligent surveillance enhancing and incident reporting software, users can enhance surveillance, create standardized intelligent incident reports, and back up relevant data forever!

Video surveillance has become the de-facto means to create safer cities, workplaces, and homes. However, installing video surveillance systems is just the beginning. One needs to do more. One should be able to gain intelligence from video, which will help in preventing losses, reducing operational risks, improving business process, and subsequently sales. Additionally, in case of crime, standardized intelligent incident reports created in PowerPoint would help solve wrongdoing faster.

In the case of an incident, the DVR needs to be accessed to locate the footage, and presented to law enforcement agencies. This is where the trouble begins, and the following questions come to mind:

1. What if the DVR itself is stolen or destroyed?
2. What if the DVR failed to record?
3. What if the footage is lost due to human error, or deliberately erased?


Generally, to retrieve footage, systems integrators (SIs) who installed the video surveillance system are called upon, which can be an expensive and time consuming affair. Now, once the footage is found, the affected party is required to connect with the appropriate law enforcement agency and explain the entire case to them. Unless it is a high profile case, there is not a high chance that the over-burdened law enforcement agencies would be able to invest long hours on the case immedately.

With respect to law enforcement agencies, there are several issues that bog them down, when it comes to viewing video footage. Some of the issues include having to watch long hours of footage from different sources, especially when there is an incident which has occurred at a place not directly covered by the video surveillance — for example, the Boston marathon bombing case. In such cases, law enforcement agencies need to rely on footage derived from video captured by local businesses and/ or public video surveillance around the scene of the incident. Law enforcement agencies also have to deal with painfully aggregating videos from different sources and sharing them with other agencies or the public, as well as writing up reports, which is often a manual and non-standard process.

Furthermore, while cameras and video management systems (VMS) are increasingly becoming smarter, the reliance on alarms is growing to detect an exception. However, it is well known that several alarms can be false as well, which leads to human intervention. Moreover, it is also impossible to rely squarely on technology only. In order to decide whether a bag left behind by a passenger at an airport is a threat or a genuine error, some amount of human intervention or review is therefore required. However, because it is cumbersome to review long hours of footage, review is generally ignored. This could result in missing an event that may never be raised by a modern VMS, for example, a dry-run, or recce.

It is unanimously accepted that, monitoring surveillance video is a tedious and demanding task. According to research carried out by Police Scientific Research, video surveillance observers tend to suffer from video blindness after 20 to 40 minutes of observation, i.e., they cannot recognize the objects in the video anymore. It is also important to note that most DVRs usually retain video up to a maximum of 30 days after which it is overwritten. If one needs to access video after that, it is not possible.

The Solution To The Problem
Intelligent surveillance enhancement and incident reporting software such as Com-Sur converts video (in real-time or from recorded footage) into rapidly reviewable screenshots, enabling the user to review hours of footage in minutes. Things that seemed in order are suddenly discovered because of this feature. Example, a dry-run, or issues like whether the staff was paying attention to its customers, or if the shelves were well-stocked. This also makes it possible to review if camera positions were altered, or whether the cameras were working at all, which is often a big problem.

Standardized Intelligent Incident Reports
Incidents do not differ by regions — an incident that occurs in the U.S. is no different than an incident in any other part of the world. Therefore, use of standardized incident reports can lead to several advantages for users. For instance, stakeholders sharing one minimum industry standard of an incident report as opposed to different kinds of incident reports will lead to ease of taking action when every incident report arrives in one standard format. Additionally, metadata gathered while creating the report delivers intelligence through patterns, e.g., what kind of incidents are taking place at what locations, at what time, on which particular days, etc. This makes it possible to take corrective and/or preventive action.

Another advantage of standardized incident reports is that crime can be solved faster. Using Com-Sur, the affected party can convert video into screenshots, describe them, and create a storyboard describing the entire incident. The software also makes it possible to embed the relevant video clip within the report in order to deliver a complete package to law enforcement. Think of the burden that would be reduced for law enforcement agencies if the affected party is proactive and submits such an incident report to them.

Most importantly, since the reports are created in formats like Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, and PDF, sharing them becomes very swift and easy. Think of an incident that takes place in one suburb quickly being shared via email with other suburbs, cities, and even countries — all at the click of a button. And with the above formats, it's easy to view the report on a smart phone or tablet.

Backs Up Video Forever!
The intelligent incident management software makes it very easy to back up video in the form of screenshots at up to five different locations in real time. These could be one's own servers, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and MS OneDrive, etc. This makes access and retrieval very easy. Furthermore, one can tag important screenshots and choose to retain them for as long as is needed.

Furthermore, the software also makes it possible to share large numbers of photos and their related information as a contact sheet (thumbnails with their relevant description). An example of this would be sharing details of suspects at various borders and entry points. With Com-Sur, one can create incident reports using photos from a camera or mobile device. Thus, incidents not captured by video surveillance can also be covered. Additionally, the software acts as a great training material creator. Since Com-Sur captures screenshots from any video, one could look up videos on sites like YouTube to capture screenshots, add subject matter expert comments, embed the link within the slide, and create customized training material. Think of videos in one language, and subject matter expert comments being quite another. Finally, Com-Sur works with any camera, DVR, or video surveillance system.

NICE Systems appoints Sarit Sagiv as new CFO

NICE Systems appoints Sarit Sagiv as new CFO

Editor / Provider: NICE Systems | Updated: 2/26/2015 | Article type: Security 50

NICE Systems announced that Sarit Sagiv is joining the company as its Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Sagiv brings with her a wealth of experience in leading finance, operations and business activity for global, technology-based, publicly-traded companies. Ms. Sagiv will transition into her role over the next few weeks. Dafna Gruber, who recently announced her departure, will remain with the company during the transition period.

Prior to joining NICE, Ms. Sagiv served as the Chief Financial Officer at Retalix Ltd., a leading global provider of software and services to retailers, where she played a key role in the company's turnaround and acquisition by NCR Corporation. Ms. Sagiv also served as Vice President Finance for Amdocs Limited and before that as Finance Director of the Emerging Markets Division at Amdocs. In addition, Ms. Sagiv has held various senior financial positions including the role of management member at Quantum Pacific Group, an international private group of businesses. She also served as the Chief Financial Officer at Orad Hi-Tec Systems Ltd., and Cimatron Ltd. Ms. Sagiv holds a BA in Accounting and Economics and an MBA from Tel Aviv University and an MA in law from Bar Ilan University. She is a Certified Public Accountant.

“I'm happy to join during this exciting time at the company,” said Sarit Sagiv. “NICE has established a strong, leading brand and is rapidly expanding worldwide. I look forward to contributing to the future growth of company.”

Barak Eilam, Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are delighted to have Sarit join NICE and our Executive Leadership Team. Sarit's vast experience will surely play a vital role as we continue to execute on our strategy and further grow our business.”

Milestone Christian Ringler as Regional Director in EMEA

Milestone Christian Ringler as Regional Director in EMEA

Editor / Provider: Milestone Systems | Updated: 2/25/2015 | Article type: Security 50

Milestone Systems, the open platform company in IP video management software (VMS), announces Christian Ringler as the new Regional Sales Director for the DACH and SET territories in Europe. He is based in Munich, and reports to Milestone VP EMEA, Thomas Lausten.

“I am thrilled to be in a global company, and I am eager to experience the power surge of the Milestone partner ecosystem,” says Christian Ringler. “It is clear to me that success depends on partnerships and that open platform technology is the enabler here.”

Christian Ringler has held positions in G4S, Siemens, Panasonic and SeeTec, bringing a wealth of experience from within the physical security industry. He spent the last six years at SeeTec AG as Head of Sales and Country Manager for Germany.

“Christian’s strong experience and industry knowledge has already made him a key addition to the Milestone family. His appointment is a sign of our commitment to further accelerate and expand our business in EMEA. The ever-increasing demand from our customers led us to look for an addition to our team who will fit in with our ethos of innovation and partnerships, and it is very fortunate that we were able to find someone of Christian’s caliber to fulfill this role,” says Thomas Lausten, VP EMEA, Milestone Systems.

Honeywell releases multilingual iOS demonstration Apps for LYNX touch systems

Honeywell releases multilingual iOS demonstration Apps for LYNX touch systems

Editor / Provider: Honeywell | Updated: 2/25/2015 | Article type: Security 50

Honeywell released two first-of-their-kind multilingual demo apps for its LYNX Touch 5200 and 7000 home security systems. Dealers and integrators can now easily transition between English, Spanish and French languages within the same app, depending on a customer's language preference, to demonstrate system capabilities.

The apps interactively showcase the features of Honeywell's latest LYNX Touch security systems by simulating the experience on an iPad® or iPhone®. Dealers can demonstrate functions such as how to arm and disarm the system, view video, open and close garage doors, modify thermostat temperatures, and control lights and door locks.

“Easily transitioning between three languages using one app lets dealers more effectively demonstrate end-to-end security and lifestyle systems to a more-diverse group of consumers in North America,” said Alan Stoddard, senior marketing director, Honeywell Security Products Americas. “Apps like these will help dealers demonstrate to customers the power of the ‘Connected Home' and how it will enhance their everyday lives, as well as their security.”

In addition to the multi-language product demonstration capabilities, consumer marketing materials have been translated for immediate, on-the-spot access via the apps. The apps are available for free download on iTunes and are compatible with the latest Apple iOS software.

Exacq and Arecont Vision secure Dubai Courts

Exacq and Arecont Vision secure Dubai Courts

Editor / Provider: Exacq | Updated: 2/25/2015 | Article type: Government & Public Services

Dubai Courts wanted a way to easily monitor day-today operations and easily export video of incidents. Dubai Courts consulted First Security Group LLC, a local security integrator, and Harco Group to find a video surveillance solution that fit their needs. After working with First Security Group and Harco Group and looking at various options, they selected Arecont Vision cameras, an exacqVision network video recorder (NVR) and exacqVision video management system (VMS) software.

First Security Group placed 58 Arecont Vision two megapixel IP cameras throughout Dubai Courts facility. Cameras cover both inside and outdoor areas. The new IP cameras provided high quality images and video details that their previous analog cameras did not have.

First Security Group installed an exacqVision Z-Series NVR. This recorder stores up to 32 terabytes of video and uses continuous-duty, enterprise-class drives. The front-mount drive bays provide Dubai Courts with the opportunity to easily expand their system in the future. The exacqVision recorder provided a high level of performance and reliabilty. Additionally it has the capacity for Dubai Courts to expand their system at any time.

To view live and recorded video, Dubai Courts IT and administration have access to view the exacqVision client on their desktop computers. They can easily monitor all areas of the courts with the exacqVision VMS software displayed on a video wall.

The ease-of-use and remote connection through the free web service application has made it easy for Dubai Courts employees to monitor and control security operations. The high performance exacqVision Z-Series supports simultaneous video to web and mobile clients with 1,800 frames per second.

With the exacqVision solution, Dubai Courts has prevented losing valuable assets and also has video evidence of any incidents reported. When a visitor or employee has a complaint about an incident on the facility, IT personnel can quickly review the video from that time frame and specific area. exacqVision gives them the capability to save incidents and group them together for later viewing with the bookmarking feature. exacqVision makes searching for video of incidents seamless.

Bosch acquires middleware specialist ProSyst

Bosch acquires middleware specialist ProSyst

Editor / Provider: Bosch | Updated: 2/24/2015 | Article type: Security 50

Bosch Software Innovations GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bosch Group, intends to acquire the company ProSyst. Agreements to this effect were signed on February 13, 2015. ProSyst employs some 110 associates in Cologne, Germany, and Sofia, Bulgaria. The company specializes in the development of gateway software and middleware for the internet of things. These facilitate the interaction between connected devices in the smart home, connected industry, and mobility segments. The company's customers include leading appliance manufacturers, automakers, and chip vendors, as well as telecommunications and energy service providers. The acquisition is subject to approval by the antitrust authorities. It has been agreed that the purchase price will not be disclosed.

Device management for the internet of things
ProSyst's solutions are built on the Java programming language and OSGi technology. “On this basis, the company has been developing successful gateway software and middleware that serves as a link between devices and the cloud for more than ten years. This link is essential for interconnecting buildings, vehicles, and machines,” said Rainer Kallenbach, the president of Bosch Software Innovations. “In Bosch, we have a strategic partner with a strong global sales network. This alliance means that we can play a bigger role in the growing market for the internet of things and decisively expand our global position,” said Daniel Schellhoss, the founder and managing director of ProSyst. Applications for Java and OSGi include the smart home and industrial manufacturing segments. Software that is written in Java and combined with OSGi technology can be automatically installed, updated, and uninstalled remotely without the need to reboot the device each time. This remote access is frequently realized via gateway software, which also ensures that devices can be intelligently controlled. For example, the software can receive and assess information on electricity prices or weather forecasts, and then pass it on to the central heating system to increase its operating efficiency.

Uniform networking for central heating systems, household appliances, and security cameras
The ProSyst software also assumes a kind of “translator” role. If things such as central heating systems, household appliances, and security cameras are to be interlinked in a smart home, they must all “speak the same language.” This is especially difficult when the products are from different manufacturers, use different communication protocols, or are not web-enabled. “In combination with the Bosch IoT Suite from Bosch Software Innovations and the Bosch Group's expertise as a leading producer of sensors and appliances, the ProSyst software will enable our customers to launch new applications on the internet of things more quickly and be one of the first to tap into new areas of business,” Kallenbach said. “The ProSyst software is highly compatible with the Bosch IoT Suite, our platform for the internet of things. Above all, it complements our device management component by supporting a large number of different device protocols. This will allow us to achieve an even better market position than before.”

The Bosch Software Innovations subsidiary is a provider of one-stop solutions in the area of the internet of things. Service activities round out the company's offerings. Its core product is the Bosch IoT Suite. Bosch Software Innovations employs around 550 associates around the globe at locations in Germany (Berlin, Immenstaad, Stuttgart), Singapore, China (Shanghai), and the U.S. (Chicago and Palo Alto).

Dahua upgrades Alkuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank security in Yemen

Dahua upgrades Alkuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank security in Yemen

Editor / Provider: Dahua | Updated: 2/19/2015 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Alkuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank is the biggest and the most prevalent bank in the Republic of Yemen. The bank plays a very active role in reinforcing country’s economic status in the field of savings, financing money transfer and currency exchanging in compliance with the Islamic rules.

The previous video surveillance adopted in Alkuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank was analog, which can no longer meet today’s requirement in monitoring — limited image resolution and easy to get interfered are the key weakness. Therefore, the Islamic Bank seeks for a system upgrading, which can not only provide crystal and clear images, but also flexible and scalable for future integration.

The Islamic Bank set the bar quite high for the image quality, as was pointed out by the officer, they do not allow any detail missing, in other words, currencies, people’s faces, and staff operation should be easily recognized by system. The bidding competition was furious as well, there were in total 14 brands under selection, and Dahua was the only Chinese candidate. Each product has to be tested under a stimulated environment for several months to see whether it can fully satisfy the tough standards.

The testing result was a surprise to the bank officials as they found that among the tested products, Dahua system was the most stable one, and the image was very clear with an excellent color reproduction; meanwhile, there was almost no delay in video capturing, which made the bank to adopt Dahua complete solution as the final decision. The solution includes cameras, storage devices and control management software offered by Balfakih Electronics & Security Solution, Dahua’s local distributor in Yemen.

More than 97 branches that scattered around the country are applied with thousands of Dahua cameras and hundreds of NVRs. The main surveillance areas include entrances, lobbies, counters and vaults where have a high traffic or frequent transaction.

Cameras installed are in multiple shapes and resolutions as the environment varies. For example, 1.3-megapixel WDR network dome cameras (IPC-HDBW3101) and 2-megapixel dome cameras (IPC-HDBW3200) are suitable for entrance surveillance as the WDR ones can not only render high quality images under strong lighting contrast, but also are enable to provide clear pictures in darkness thanks to its superb low light performance. Meanwhile, its IK10 rated vandal-proof ability can fully withstand viciousness attacks.

For counter surveillance, bullet and box cameras are installed with a specified monitoring angle to regulate the operation and clearly capture customers’ behavior. Others products such as speed domes at different models, for example, eco-savvy series and 3-inch mini PTZ domes are adopted to have a wider surveillance area in an efficient way.

As for outdoor surveillance, there are five large bank branches in Yemen are installed with Dahua 2-megapixel full HD IP positioning system (PTZ1182A-N), which has a powerful optical zoom up to 20x and support 200 meters IR distance, acting like a second defense to protect the perimeter.

When it comes to storage, hundreds of 16-channel network video recorders (NVR5416-16P) and five network storage devices (ESS1504A) are provided to guarantee large volume storage under 7/24 surveillance. The whole system runs on Dahua Smart DSS (CMS software) to have a central control and management.

"This is Dahua’s first high-end case in Yemen, and the Bank board didn’t hold an open attitude to Chinese brand,” said Hafidh Balfakih, Deputy Manager of the Balfakih for security Solutions. “They used to like some other UK & Korean brands, what changed their mind is after a series and rigid testing of Dahua’s NVR. The great performance shows its stability and quality.”

“This project is one of the biggest projects of banks in Yemen, and the Alkuraimi is the largest banking network in Yemen.” Said Steve Wang, Sales Manager of Middle East at Dahua Technology. “This project will be the example for the whole CCTV market in Yemen, and we believe the cooperation between Dahua and Balfakih will be mutual beneficial and long term friendly partnership.”

Riding on security solutions to safety

Riding on security solutions to safety

Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 2/20/2015 | Article type: Commercial Markets

While security products can help with theme park management, operators still rely on them for the original purpose that they were designed for: keeping premises safe and secure. Products and solutions, such as video surveillance, access control, and RFID can help operators achieve their security objectives.

For amusement parks, they deal with several types of security concerns. The first is the protection of premises from various harms. “As like any pubic commercial business, threats that have the potential to prevent or hinder the achievement of objectives that the business needs to perform, for example processes to keep the business financially safe and compliant from potential threat sources, can range from vandalism, terrorism, criminal activity, and asset loss and safety,” said Pedro De Jesus, Channel Manager for Security at Gallagher.

Another concern is ensuring the safety of visitors, some of whom may enter or exit rides from the wrong side or wander off to restricted areas. Locating missing children or members of a group is another primary focus. To address those concerns, security products and solutions are deployed, offering vital and much needed assistance to operators as they strive to build an overall safe environment.

Preventing child abduction and theft
Video surveillance plays a vital role in keeping amusement parks safe, especially when it comes to detecting and deterring crime. “A premier form of electronic surveillance, video provides real-time monitoring of situations, both at the location and remotely,” said Craig Dahlman, Director of IP Camera Products at Pelco by Schneider Electric. “Video security is a proven solution that can offer a complete answer for protecting customers, co-workers, and employees while additionally offering a watchful eye over property.”

Cameras are installed at various points in the park as well as at entrances to prevent various crimes, such as child abduction, although the mere presence of cameras should serve as a deterrent. “Visible installation of cameras and the knowledge that there is a video surveillance system is mostly sufficient to repel potential kidnappers,” said Roland Feil, Director Sales at Dallmeier Electronics, adding that high-definition cameras offering crystal clear images can also help investigate theft and shoplifting, which can be quite rampant at theme parks. Another important value of video surveillance is it can help operators request the necessary compensation should something happens. “It provides indisputable documentation of an event. While serving as a visual deterrent to crime, it gives park managers and security and safety professionals the tools they need to validate liability claims,” Dahlman said.

Locating lost visitors
Tracking lost children or members of a group over a large space like theme parks can be a daunting challenge. RFID, which entails communications between a tag and a reader, can be utilized for this purpose. “It keeps children safe by determining where the child last used the RFID credential. The child's credential can also be programmed not to work without being tagged in tandem with the parent's credential,” said Scott Lindley, President of Farpointe Data.

RFID not only can track lost visitors but also park employees as well. “They can be used to track lone workers, perhaps maintenance workers working in remote parts of the park outside of opening hours, to ensure that staff are accounted for and located, so emergencies can be spotted more quickly,” said John Davies, MD at TDSi.

Better yet, RFID can be integrated with other technologies, such as video analytics, to offer visual verification of the missing person. “Passive RFID tags can allow wearers to be tracked at specific portals throughout the park. While passing through those areas, images can be logged to validate the wearer's location,” said Larry Bowe, President of PureTech Systems. “On a more advanced level, the use of active RFID tags or small GPS transmitter could allow map-based tracking throughout the park and provide the ability to instantly swing a PTZ or zoom a high-resolution fixed camera directly to the child or person in question.”

When looking for lost visitors, every second counts. Video surveillance technologies nowadays have video forensic capabilities that enable quick retrieval of critical video data. “With metadata, which adds sense and structure to video surveillance, it is possible to immediately retrieve the correct evidence of hours of recorded materials in a couple of seconds,” said Pieter van den Looveren, Manager of Marketing Communication for Video Systems at Bosch Security Systems. “Today's video forensic tools can include details on age, clothing color, gender, and even geographic vicinity, allowing a user to literally enter a video search looking for a ‘small male child, wearing a red shirt last seen in the area of a particular ride during a specified time frame,'” Bowe said. “Video clips meeting these requirements can be quickly provided to security for a timely analysis.”

Detecting suspicious objects
While the technology is nothing new, detecting unattended or suspicious items by way of video analytics continues to be a popular application for theme parks, which might be targets for terrorist attacks. “With the help of modern video content analysis, it is possible to issue an alarm if any objects remain within a certain area for a predefined period of time,” Feil said. “The systems can also prevent the blocking of escape routes, fire rescue paths, or approach roads for ambulances by parked objects, which could have very serious consequences in case of an emergency.”

Intrusion detection Perimeter protection is a major concern, especially during the night when theme parks are closed. Delinquents, thieves, or burglars trying to climb over the fence and get into the park need to be kept out. Video analytics and cameras are deployed for this purpose, keeping parks safe and sound after business hours.

“Intelligent video can determine, for example, if an object approaches an area, from which direction it is coming, or how long it stays in a certain area,” Feil said. “This means that intruders can be detected early on and an alarm can be triggered. Comprehensive validity checks reduce false alarms, which may be triggered by leaves swishing in the wind or animals, to a minimum without missing ‘real' alarm messages.”

Video recording during night time, when everything is dark, presents a daunting challenge. Luckily, advances in lowlight and thermal technologies have solved this problem. “Today's thermal imagers have become very affordable, and as video analytic technology continues to improve, protection ranges increase greatly,” Bowe said. “The ability for video analytics to utilize a single camera for distances from hundreds of meters to kilometers makes implementing measures for night time surveillance more effective and more affordable.”

Access Control in critical areas
Like any other businesses, theme parks can step up access control through multifactor authentication, or a combination of tokens, passwords, or, for entry into more critical areas, biometrics. “Biometrics is typically used throughout high security or restricted places, for example head-end sever rooms, cash holding rooms, and security operations,” De Jesus said. “Access to these areas can be controlled to ensure only those staff that are appropriately qualified or trained can gain access.”

Access control management software can offer rapid authorization or removal of access when required. “Examples include contractors needing access to service the rides or attractions, or temporary staff no longer needed to work in restricted areas,” said Davies.

Ensuring safety of equipment
Finally, security products can help ensure that rides and other types of equipment are in good shape. “Video analytics is desirable for monitoring abnormalities, for example smoke, breakage of a gear, movement of a critical component, or overheating through the use of thermal cameras. They can even be used to ensure certain safety procedures are being followed,” Bowe said.

Safe and fun
People come to amusement parks to relax and have a fun day with their family and friends. They can't have fun if constantly being bugged by worries that something might happen. With various security products and solutions in place, operators can strive to make their parks as safe as possible and offer the ultimate visitor experience.

Surveying trends in the security integration market

Surveying trends in the security integration market

Editor / Provider: Scott Lindley, President, Farpointe Data, a&s International | Updated: 2/19/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

In today's world, sophisticated security end users demand for higher levels of expertise and interoperability, forcing systems integrators to emphasize on seamless integration to provide users with optimal performance and automation.

It is evident that the majority of security installations are becoming more and more complex. No longer content to monitor and manage separate access control, fire alarm, video surveillance, intrusion, and HVAC control systems, corporate security and technology managers want to consolidate and integrate various disconnected security and facility management systems. At a dramatically increasing pace, the IT department is leading the initiative, particularly given the trend toward convergence of physical and logical security systems. End user customers are demanding that their integrator or dealer understand their business and their infrastructure. Security dealers and integrators must quickly decide whether or not they want to be part of this new security paradigm or slowly wither away, providing traditional stand-alone solutions. With every new advance in the installation marketplace, dealers and integrators must again and again decide whether to keep pace. Successful implementations require greater technical knowledge of systems than ever before along with products that work together more easily, while simultaneously providing better ease of use to end users.

Dealers and integrators who want to be positioned for continued success in this evolving marketplace need to choose not only the right products for any given installation, but align with manufacturing partners who will provide them with the best prospects for long-term success, manufacturers that heavily invest in both new scaleable technologies for their products and support programs for their channels.

A New Quid Pro Quo
It used to be that the dealer or integrator that sold the most widgets earned “most favored” status from its manufacturers. Having that status resulted in recognition, special perks, and discounted pricing for those who delivered. However, in a direct reflection of the new realities of today's security market, this simply isn't the case anymore. It is not that manufacturers no longer appreciate top sellers or want to avoid rewarding them. It is because forward-thinking manufacturers know that their dealers and integrators have to stay on top of the latest technology trends in order to stay competitive. These manufacturers want their dealers and integrators to succeed in a manner that will keep both the integrator and the manufacturer successful in the years to come.

Being Seamless is Essential
Reliance on proprietary technologies and platforms inhibits innovation, integration, and the assimilation of emerging technologies. Issues arising from proprietary technologies plague too many systems which is self-defeating for the security industry, and creates major problems for security dealers and integrators, hindering end users from having flexible, scalable security platforms that cost-effectively protect their people and assets.

We increasingly hear that a major trend that will permeate physical access control now and for the foreseeable future is the growing connection between physical security and IT security. Because of this, there is growing demand by organizations for migration of computer-based systems to a common software platform or to standards-based platforms that can be easily and seamlessly integrated. Leveraging technology breakthroughs and a need for increased security, companies will also more rapidly adapt smart cards, two-factor readers, biometrics, long-range wireless, and intelligent video into their overall systems.

Physical access control systems on an enterprise level are now described as much in IT terms as they are in access control terms. New command and control integration platforms are giving integrators a wider range of solutions to help end-users meet this challenge head-on while, at the same time, requiring the integrator to have higher levels of IT expertise.

Integration Equals Success
Today, the various components frequently used in the typical security system are not only disconnected, but from different manufacturers, complicating or making integration impossible. All too often, they employ incompatible hardware or proprietary, unsynchronized databases or completely inconsistent user interfaces that compete for space and attention. Such systems may be inefficient and need many people to manage them, and security personnel who have been forced to use them have been frustrated for some time but these systems will not pass muster with IT personnel.

However, there is a good reason for this — such systems increase employee and training costs, foster unnecessary equipment expense, have gaps causing security and safety breeches, and can produce downtime in mission-critical operations. Since IT budgets and management are responsible for many of these operations, they are beginning to dictate what will be used, particularly for physical access control systems.

Seamless integration means the physical access control department, as well as other groups in the enterprise, have the freedom to select different technology vendors, relying on the command and control platform to handle the integration. This extends to system hardware. Today, with one card reader, users can read the most popular 125 KHz proximity cards, including those from Farpointe, HID, and AWID. 13.56 MHz smart card readers can process contactless credentials based upon NXP Semiconductor's Mifare technology as well as based upon France's Inside Technologies. Such readers provide continuity throughout the organization, without having to eliminate legacy cards while additionally building a pathway to higher security applications in the future. Dealers and installers who want to be able to offer this type of powerful security platform to their customers must be willing to stay one step ahead of the technology.

Partnering for Success
Dealers and integrators must recognize and respond to these emerging trends if they want to remain competitive. That means partnering with companies that are also aware of where the market is going and are staying one step ahead of customer needs. Integrators need more than just equipment in today's market. At a minimum, they require training, technical support, sales and marketing expertise and, of course, innovative, forward-thinking products. Today's partnerships are based on helping both partners build their businesses and profits, not just selling more products.

Turning security into useful management tools at amusement parks

Turning security into useful management tools at amusement parks

Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 2/18/2015 | Article type: Commercial Markets

Amusement park operators are constantly working to find better, easier, and more efficient ways to manage their premises. To that end, operators can be aided by a variety of security technologies, such as video surveillance, access control, RFID, and biometrics to crack down on ticket fraud, control crowds, and enhance the customer experience. The ultimate goal is to bring more visitors and generate higher revenue streams.

From Magic Kingdom to Lotte World, Disneyland to Six Flags Great Adventure, theme parks are a huge global business frequented by throngs of adults and children every year. According to market research firm IBISWorld, theme parks in the U.S. have seen a compound annual growth rate of 4 percent over the five years up to 2014, in which total revenue was estimated at US$15.4 billion. Meanwhile, there were 215 million visits to the world's top 25 amusement parks last year, up 4.3 percent from 2012, according to the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM's global attractions attendance report.

With so many people visiting parks each day, operators are faced with the need to make day-to-day operators more manageable, efficient, and cost-effective. Issues facing operators, such as ticket fraud, crowd control, and customer experience improvement can now be addressed through ever-advanced technologies such as video surveillance, access control, video analytics, biometrics, and RFID. While these products are traditionally for security purposes, they can also help operations achieve better management, which ultimately leads to increased visitations and revenue.

Clamping Down on Ticket Fraud
A horrific problem that theme park operators constantly need to deal with is ticket fraud, which can cause serious damage to their revenue and earnings. Fraud may be in the form of people paying counterfeit currency, charging stolen credit cards, writing fake checks, or using false identity. “Some visitors try to pass their annual tickets on to friends and relatives, even when they know that it's forbidden,” said Roland Feil, Director of Sales at Dallmeier Electronic.

To counter this problem, operators use video surveillance to monitor every move between the ticket booth employee and customers. “Ideally cameras are placed nearby the location where theft or fraud is to be expected. Access to the camera footage can be managed via the video management system, which offers various authorization levels in order to avoid that people without proper clearance can access camera footage,” said Pieter van den Looveren, Manager of Marketing Communication for Video Systems at Bosch Security Systems, adding that video surveillance can also be linked to the operator's point-of-sale (POS) system to make sure that each transaction is backed by evidence and accounted for.

Access control technologies, such as RFID and biometric authentication, can also help crack down on ticket fraud. RFID, which entails the communication between a reader and a tag, can limit critical areas, such as ticket booths, to employees only. “If even more security is required, multi-technology RFID cards can be used,” said Scott Lindley, President of Farpointe Data. “For example, these cards can have text, bar codes, and images printed on them. They can have various mag stripes applied and encoded. They can have microprocessor- based contact smart chips embedded. They can have holograms adhered. And they can have various RFID technologies embedded, such as EPC2, Mifare, and proximity.” Biometrics, which authenticates ticketholders via a part of their body, be it fingerprints or the eye, has been implemented at an increasing number of amusement parks. “Efficient and reliable biometric authentication provides amusement park operators with a way of ensuring that ticket holders are legitimate,” said Sujan T.V. Parthasaradhi, Director of Biometric Applications at Lumidigm.

Video content analysis (VCA), or video analytics, can also play a part. While it may not act as a deterrent to ticket fraud, technologies such as people counting can help make sure there is a match between the number of people entering the park and the number of tickets sold. “What we can provide is technology that can detect how many people have passed through a given area,” said Albert Yang, President of Huper Laboratories. “If the operator sold three tickets, and there were three people passing by, then there is a match.”

Crowd Control
Crowd control is a top safety concern for theme park operators and is often stipulated by law. Security technologies can “ensure that no more than the maximum number of visitors, as is prescribed by the safety codes of both the police and fire department, are on the park's grounds at any point in time. If the quantitative threshold should be reached, an automatic action can be carried out,” Feil said.

This is when operators can rely on video analytics tools, in particular people counting, for detection and response. “Cameras with intelligent video analysis can be used to count people or gather crowd density information. Based on certain thresholds set, the operator will be alarmed immediately as soon as these levels are exceeded,” said Looveren. People counting software often includes queue management capabilities to alert operators when lines are getting long. “Our queue management software can analyze how many people are in a queue. Once the figure exceeds a certain amount, an alarm will be generated. We can also provide the average time someone is being served. This is useful for management,” said Yang, adding that people counting can be used for other management purposes. “It can be integrated with other building control devices to achieve better energy conservation. If the number of visitors drops from a certain level, then lights can be dimmed or air conditioning can be adjusted automatically,” he said. The whole concept is about efficiency, since operators can take immediate actions once the number of people reaches a maximum threshold. “Additional waiting areas can be opened, or, where the wait time is excessive, actions can be taken to increase ride capacities, decrease ride duration, or notify guests so they may choose a different ride or venue,” said Larry Bowe, President of PureTech Systems.

However, for any people counting application to be meaningful, it must be accurate. For a venue with 2,000 people, for example, accuracy rates of 90 percent and 99 percent translate into miscalculations of 200 people versus 20. “If you have 98 percent accuracy rate or even close to 100 percent, that means, you can detect almost everyone passing by. Only if you are accurate, user can perceive more value of your application,” Yang said.

Accuracy has always been an issue for VCA deployed in an outside environment like theme parks, since there are much more details to analyze. But, latest developments in the technology, for example 3D stereo imaging, have enhanced VCA's analytical capabilities and made outside implementation less of a problem. “More information provided by 3D stereo camera will let VCA make better judgment,” Yang said. “Take a tree, for example. VCA of 3D stereo video can easily distinguish between the tree and its shadow through the height information, while 2D video cannot provide the height information. This makes shadows a common problem for 2D VCA.”

Better managed, Better experience
Security aside, management has become a top priority for amusement park operators. Luckily, with ever more sophisticated security technologies, operators can run their businesses with optimal efficiency and give more satisfaction to visitors as they take rides, shop in stores, and grab a bite at concession stands. With theme parks already a multibillion-dollar industry, better management will sure contribute to higher growth in the years to come.

A Frictionless Experience With RFID
Making customers satisfied with their trip is always a top concern for operators, who try to make the park visiting experience as frictionless as possible. With RFID, this goal can be achieved. A tram or bus taking visitors to the park, for example, can be facilitated with long-range RFID, which can detect the bus approaching meters away and open the gate accordingly, thus reducing wait time.

The technology is especially useful at water parks where paper tickets can easily get wet, wrinkled, or lost. “The RFID credential can be in the form of a wristband, heightening convenience and assuring that it won't be lost. These can be made so that they are inoperable when removed,” said Scott Lindley, President of Farpointe Data.

Another benefit of using RFID is that it allows faster and smoother point of sale at restaurants, concession stands, and others. “The cashless POS is the leading application. Cashless POS is more convenient, which increases spending and decreases transaction time. Making purchases faster and reducing queues adds to customer satisfaction,” Lindley said.

Business Enablement With Security Solutions
Security technologies can offer valuable data such as customer behavior and their spending habits. With increased business intelligence, operators can strive to enhance the customer experience, in the process attracting more visitors and raking in higher revenue.

“Intelligent video analysis systems offer information about the influx of visitors and the behavior of the guests. What rides or shows are most liked? Which of the attractions are used less and thus have to be signposted more clearly or should be increasingly promoted? What are the peak times in terms of the number of visitors?” commented Roland Feil, Director of Sales at Dallmeier electronic. “Given that the park's management is furnished with sufficient information, it can use them for making decisions, for example for human resource planning or creating special incentives or announcements that will help distributing visitors more evenly across the various attractions.”

“This can be a real revenue enabler,” said Albert Yang, President of Huper Laboratories. “Shops, for example, can put hot-selling items on the shelf and take down those that are less popular. They can even sell the information of customer's behavior to the original supplier.”

Using smart cards and tokens for access to parks can also help operators track the visiting and spending habits of the people using them. Some theme parks, for example Disney World, has already issued tokens that not only permit access to the park but also allow guests to access their on-site accommodation and enjoy privileges for rides and payment at concessions or restaurants. “This offers operators a highly detailed account of the preferences and movements that guests make, allowing for targeted marketing and offers to be presented that are bespoke to the customer,” said John Davies, MD at TDSi. “It also provides valuable information on the times of entry, when guests use certain rides and attractions and when transportation is most needed to and from the park.”

Tips on Implementation
When implementing a theme park project, a rule of thumb is to remember that the park visiting experience must be as smooth as possible. “The overriding goal is to create a positive environment for paying customers, and there can't be even the illusion of a barrier between a customer and the park,” said Sujan T.V. Parthasaradhi, Director of Biometric Applications at Lumidigm.

“Working within a theme park environment is challenging and requires a balance between providing effective security solutions within a public domain,” said Pedro De Jesus, Channel Manager for Security at Gallagher. “Visitors do not want to feel like they are been watched, monitored, or have entered a high security environment. They simply want to have a fun day out with their families. It is essential that security devices blend into the environment, offering a high level of security and safety for all without been intimidating.”

The central management software should integrate with various subsystems, especially video surveillance, to offer situational awareness and quick verification. “A real-time flow of information between the two platforms, including a graphical representation via a site map GUI, allows security staff to make immediate, informed security responses and to document according to the correct records process,” De Jesus said.

“The combining of multiple security technologies, even across different manufacturers, is commonplace and results in a collaborative, highly effective, and automated solution,” said Larry Bowe, President of PureTech Systems. “These integrations automatically manage much of the sensor control that was previously done by security personnel, allowing these resources to focus on the proper steps to respond to the incident.

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