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Promising Verticals in Italy

Promising Verticals in Italy

Editor / Provider: the Editorial Team | Updated: 4/27/2012 | Article type: Hot Topics

The most promising verticals in Italy for video surveillance are green energy sites. Blessed with the sunny Mediterranean climate, Italy has many photovoltaic parks that need to safeguard solar panels. Other hot applications include public video monitoring; critical infrastructure such as transportation, airports and ports; traffic control and health care.

Technology upgrades and life cycle replacements of security systems will promote the steady expansion of the Italian physical security market, particularly in the airport and critical infrastructure including mass transport, roads, subways, tunnels and schools, said Frost & Sullivan in a prepared statement. Upcoming events, such as the World Expo in 2015 in Milan, will spur spending to boost passenger throughput at airports, railways, seaports and along roads.

The Italian market is expected to grow from $173.6 million in 2010 to $352.5 million in 2015, reaching a peak of $432 million in 2012, according to Frost & Sullivan. Market opportunities revolve around critical infrastructure projects with a total investment of more $822.9 million over the forecast period for this domain, followed by a total of $513.5 million for airport security and $512.8 million for oil and gas.

Made in Italy
The Italian security market is characterized by high fragmentation of products and a mixture of manufacturers and integrators. This hinders data gathering. Usually, brands target installers — around 2,500 in Italy — through distributors or wholesalers. While major brands choose a "polarization strategy" to acquire greater market share, innovation-oriented players move from integration to OEM for the very same brands.

Nevertheless, several brave “Made in Italy” companies independently manage the whole manufacturing process. It is not by chance that the Italian security industry relies on a long-lasting tradition of techno- logical excellence, exported all over the world.

These companies exhibit innovation, high quality and functional performance. An emphasis on design and usability makes these solutions unique. The sum of these elements defines “Made in Italy” quality and the pursuit of continuous improvement. This is influenced by the 1970s school of thought for electronic safety, with an emphasis on simplicity, usability and the actual needs of the user. Such focus is reflected in excellent design, conceived as more than aesthetics. It is aimed at functionality, with user- and installer-friendly software applications. The use of eco-friendly components and materials with reduced energy consumption is now the emerging trend of Italian security, thanks to a greater awareness of environmental issues and government incentives.

Recession Redux
Italy's debt crisis is in the global spotlight, as Italians and European investors hold their breath. As a consequence, there is widespread uncertainty chilling the investment climate in the short term. From this derives the need to collect payment. More small and mid-size business owners have postponed electronic security purchases in favor of immediately profitable investments.

In order to tackle this situation, vendors are diversifying both their offerings and target markets to compensate for losses. They are trying to maintain investments, stay flexible and preserve company liquidity. Manufacturers who target the professional market strive to ensure the best performance with high technology and quality brands. Other vendors who serve the residential market highlight extreme simplicity and competitive prices. It is clear that the two markets will not develop in the same way.

The ability to innovate for the professional market with distinctive products offers a competitive advantage that enables recovery of a margin against mass production. Moreover, it is necessary to start aggregative policies: creating consortiums, temporary company associations similar to short-time joint ventures and purchase groups. It is imperative to form strategic alliances with vendors who were considered competitors. Bringing in expertise from ICT, electronics and BA leverages the benefits of an integrated approach.

VidSys PSIM Connects City for Safe and Secure Grand Prix

VidSys PSIM Connects City for Safe and Secure Grand Prix

Editor / Provider: VidSys | Updated: 4/2/2012 | Article type: Commercial Markets

In June 2010, it was announced that the Baltimore Grand Prix would be part of the series' schedule for at least five years beginning in 2011. The Baltimore Grand Prix was projected to attract more than 100,000 people to the downtown of the city of Baltimore.

Baltimore decided to adopt VidSys' Physical Security Information Management (PSIM), which would centralize situation management under a single umbrella. The project involved integrating 779 analog, NVR and DVR feeds from several participating agencies around the race area.

Implementation of the VidSys PSIM solution resulted in primary support of a unified command center, the primary command location, in addition to computers set up for operators from multiple agencies, a transportation and safety command center and five mobile command vehicles. Between all locations and agencies, approximately 50 users from more than 20 agencies were able to share in the information delivered by the PSIM platform. Aside from the VidSys deployment, Sony provided a camera system with the ability to see the entire race footprint. Firetide was leveraged to provide connectivity to the mobile command vehicles that could not connect to the city's fiber network system.

The Baltimore Grand Prix proved to be a success. The software and solutions deployed for the Baltimore Grand Prix were able to quickly identify areas of concern and help coordinate appropriate responses. For example, the software was used to identify stopped vehicles, free traffic congestion, and find people on rooftops deemed unsafe. Additionally, VidSys provided real-time location information of first responders leveraging GPS technology, enabling city officials to place and leverage responders based upon the maps in front of them.

Threats of Sport Events Accelerate Stadium Security Market

Threats of Sport Events Accelerate Stadium Security Market

Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 4/2/2012 | Article type: Commercial Markets

- Stadium security provides a very big market opportunity for manufacturers and integrators, and it's growing by nearly 8 percent each year

- Large-scale events are targets for a broader swath of threats than ‘regular' sporting events.

- Multiple areas, entrances, locations are challenges for security deployment

Current security spending on global sports is US$2 billion from cities, teams and schools worldwide, according to ESPN. In emerging markets, more cities are hosting large sports events.

Sporting events are highly susceptible to volatility. One contributing factor is the emotional state of crowds. People are highly invested in the victory of their preferred teams. These emotions are often further intensified by those around, and sometimes the influence of alcohol, as many an American football game attendee will attest to. Sometimes these emotions can lead to destructive behavior. In 2010, the Canadian city of Vancouver saw rioting following the home team loss of a championship hockey game.

To combat such threats, sports security is a serious consideration. For screening hardware alone, the sports security market is US$300 million, said Andrew Goldsmith, VP of Global Marketing, Rapiscan Systems. With other ancillary services, this figure will jump to $600 million. “This means there is a very big market opportunity for manufacturers and integrators, and it's growing by nearly 8 percent each year,” Goldsmith said.

The global market for stadium security is growing, with drivers differing by region. In the mature North American market, owners want their stadiums to be even more competitive and secure. “Several stadiums in North America are undergoing renovations or even being completely rebuilt in order to attract more customers, to operate more efficiently and to become more sustainable,” said Rubens Costa, Global Technology Manager, Johnson Controls.

The risk of being an attack target
While regular sports games are usually more focused on hooliganism, large sports events, like the Olympics or the World Cup, face greater security risks due to their scale. Terrorism is a serious consideration. The likelihood of a terrorist attack at the upcoming London Olympics is rated as “severe,” the second highest threat level. “The primary difference between ‘regular' sporting events and large-scale events is, obviously, scale, and the fact that large-scale events like the World Cup and Olympics are viewed as international ‘prestige' events, where the eyes of the global community are on a single country,” Goldsmith said. “Because of this, large-scale events are targets for a broader swath of threats than ‘regular' sporting events. For example, an average NFL game would not typically be a target for a dirty bomb, but a global event like the Olympics would be.”

However, smaller events can still have huge effects. An Egyptian riot in January was sparked by fans of the losing football team, who stormed the field. Given the precarious political situation in Egypt a year after its former government was overthrown, it is unclear whether these riots had political roots or were due to emotional agitation over losing.

Multiple areas, entrances, locations are challenges for security deployment
Larger events include more locations that are farther apart, creating logistical challenges. The busiest day of the London Olympics is expected to attract at least 800,000 spectators at 36 sites. There are likely to be last-minute changes to security measures as people adjust to circumstances on game day, said Geoffrey Smith, VP of Business Development and Strategic Accounts, Proxim Wireless. Shuffling of security is less likely in routine security operations of professional sports leagues, like the NBA.

“Logistically, a large-scale event is more challenging, as it typically involves multiple days of screening millions of people, bags and cargo,” Goldsmith said. “These types of security checkpoints also have to respond to changes, like new personnel or equipment, whereas ‘one-off' event checkpoints do not, due to the command-and-control aspect required by large events.”

Stadium security efforts need to take into account the multiple access points of stadiums and the diverse areas inside a stadium. Not only does security need to monitor the game stands, but also parking lots, public and private hallways and service operations areas, like cafeterias, said Keith Marett, VP of Marketing and Communications, Avigilon. Often stadiums are used for sports, but also concerts, trade shows and conferences that add to the challenges of securing a stadium.

These large events are not just introducing security upgrades to stadiums, but to the cities that will swell with an influx of visitors. “The infrastructure investment is significant,” Costa said. “Transportation systems, hotels, convention centers, airports and communication systems are all being upgraded.”

Calgary Light Rail Deploys Genetec Surveillance System for Passenger Safety

Calgary Light Rail Deploys Genetec Surveillance System for Passenger Safety

Editor / Provider: Genetec | Updated: 3/28/2012 | Article type: Infrastructure

In 1981, the city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada opened the first leg of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line for the city's visitors and residents. Today, the LRT has more than doubled the number of stations, added two additional legs, and boasts around 95 million passengers per year. The system is now commonly referred to as the “CTrain” and includes 38 stations connecting 46 km of track. The three legs operate on 7th Avenue through the city's downtown area, and the resulting ten-station stretch in this high-density area is a Free Fare Zone that reduces transportation congestion in the heart of the city.

There are inherent challenges to monitoring and providing safe passage to CTrain's customers. A transit environment is necessarily fast-paced and must aim to ensure security without hindering a timely travel experience.

In searching for a suitable replacement for the CTrain's video surveillance system, several qualities were paramount. Calgary needed an open-platform system to maximize flexibility under strict procurement models, as well as a mature and proven piece of software that could easily integrate with their large monitor wall and run across multiple work stations. The CTrain also required a multitude of software configuration options and the ability to easily scale the system as needed based on the addition of new transit stations to the CTrain's constantly growing lines.

An IP solution was deemed most suitable, providing reduced infrastructure costs for a system that would be spread across a number of physical locations (i.e., stations), as well as increased system security. An added benefit would be the creation of a robust network. This would not only house the security platform, but also facilitate an evolution in the transit organization. The network would provide a technologically advanced backbone on which all aspects of the CTrain's management could rely and interplay smoothly.

Calgary issued an RFP (request for proposal) to learn about the options available. After evaluating Calgary's needs and the difficulties faced in a transit environment, Contava, a Genetec Unified Elite security integrator, submitted a bid based on Genetec's video surveillance platform. Following careful evaluations, Calgary selected Contava to design and implement their new security solution.

The CTrain system employs 471 Panasonic megapixel cameras with vandal-proof domes, which are capable of H.264 recording. An additional 23 Panasonic outdoor-rated PTZ (pan tilt zoom) cameras round out the arsenal. Panasonic IP encoders with H.264 compression capabilities are used where needed, allowing Calgary to save funds by making use of existing analog cameras leftover from the previous solution.

In addition, the downtown City Hall Information Technology Data Center houses centralized failover archiving of video and redundant directories, and the core network layer itself is redundant and configured in a multiple ring architecture. While the CTrain is open for business, three operators monitor the system's vast collection of camera feeds in real-time from a centralized location that features a two by nine array of 46-inch bezel-less Mitsubishi LCD monitors. System data can also be accessed from the OCC (Operations Control Centre) in Calgary's public safety office to track operators, and law enforcement can use this facility to request surveillance data for investigations. The system also has the capacity to provide offsite video access to law enforcement for increased response time, and privacy impact assessments are being conducted to investigate viability of this option. Citrix access is set up to allow remote maintenance of the system.

Dahua Demonstrates a Foresight in Sailing Forward

Dahua Demonstrates a Foresight in Sailing Forward

Editor / Provider: Evangeline Xie | Updated: 3/28/2012 | Article type: China Corner

In the face of the demand of high definition, intelligence and networking, Dahua insists taking customer's need for the priority, working on upgrading the product structure by strong R&D ability and market accumulation.

Standing Out in 2011 Security 50
Despite the worldwide economic recession in the past year, it is no denying that Dahua has received wide recognition from customers of different vertical markets. Though the regional market niches vary from one to another, Dahua's turnover growth reached more than 45% throughout the last year, ranking 10th in 2011 Security 50, which contributes to its effort to enhance the production capability and marketing strategy.

The year of 2011 is the 10 th anniversary of Dahua, due to the integration of core competence and the deep extension of business, and through the integration of sales channels and the optimization of supply chain as well as the stretch of foreign business, and the total revenue is about US$ 350 million that is growing by 45% compared to the previous year, of which the overseas revenue takes up US$ 85 million, accounting for 58%. The company has made the profit of about US$ 65 million, rising 43% from a year before.

Perfecting Product Line
For the part of the back-end products, Dahua plans to develop new cost-effective DVR of entry level that features TI solution, providing another affordable solution that is differentiating from the homogeneous products. The integration of network camera with NVR will be a challenge. “We hope to refine our market via integration and optimization of the back-end software,” said James Wang, Product Manager for International Department. “Looking forward to accomplishing both routing and network capability.”

In addition, the exploitation of NVR will be fortified for catering to different market demand. The latest NVR will simplify the project planning for hoping that the problem of IT and router can be solved. The production of NVR will be oriented to the require-ments of marketing channels.

In the face of the demand of high definition, intelligence and networking, Dahua insists taking customer's need for the priority, working on upgrading the product structure by strong R&D ability and market accumulation. Throughout the year of 2011, Dahua has launched the storage products based on N6 platform, DVR has escalated to a system from a single product by the innovative promotion of 3.0.

The product plan in 2012 will refine the full series of video surveillance product. After launching the 700 TVL series analog camera, Dahua realized the serialization of the analog cameras together with 1.3-, 2.0-, 3.0- and 5.0-megapixel HD camera as well as the infrared products.

The company will continue to maintain its core advantage to seize market share. Full-line network camera with HD chip which features 1.3-megapixel CCD and CMOS is a distinctive product line, and 2.0-megapixel 1080P CMOS has been under developing for three years. The speed dome with in-house design zoom module and the analog camera with 700 TVL has been applied into many domestic projects, which were launched last year and received much recognition. Together with megapixel speed dome, the intelligent auto-tracking dome will be the new front-end product.

“Since the back-end device has already been saturated,” said Wang. “The revenue growth of this year will largely depend on the sales volume of front-end device. The overseas sales volume of network camera increased six times and remains to be the key segment of the production line.” Furthermore, the company has offered one-stop shopping solution to better serve customers' demands, ranging from the display, video door phone to intelligent lock (fingerprint, biometrics). According to Wang, the optimization of software will become one of Dahua's endeavor directions in the new year to come, some intelligent mobiles devices such as iPhone, iPad are quite popular as the application software should be more scalable to the mobile users.

Besides, Dahua has introduced the comprehensive high-end solution and “Safe City” solution of the third generation - Video platform M60, which is a breakthrough in terms of its compatibility, reliability, scalability and intelligent application. The release of 8.0-megapixel intelligent traffic HD camera, 8.0-megapixel radar speed camera and traffic management platform indicates that the company has accomplished the development from storage products to front-end products and even for the specific vertical market.

Exclusive Tailors
As an excellent player in security industry, by aiming to be a total solution provider to partners, Dahua has achieved many successful solutions in different walks including intelligent transportation, energy resources such as oil, natural gas, hydroelectricity and etc.

The Safe City project deployed in Mauritius is a typical example. The company's video surveillance systems have been installed in Mauritius' capital and a local famous resort which has been transferred to local police authorities and is ready to deter gangsters and criminals.

Moreover, Dahua tailored ATM DVRs for one commercial bank in Indonesia. This commercial bank, located in Jakarta, is one of the largest banks in Indonesia. It sourced thousands of units of DVRs from Dahua for their newly introduced ATMs with the specializations in financial services offerings, such as insurance, credit card and checking/saving account. The bank currently owns more than 875 domestic branch offices and more than 6,300 ATM locations.

Its special application environment such as the confined installing space and long time non-stop working nature requests that the ATM-utilized DVRs shall be more compact in design and bettered in ventilation performance at a controllable cost.

The big bank introduced a great amount of ATMs out of business expansion and planed to purchase necessary security devices to build a surveillance system. They also added that those newly introduced ATMs will be placed in a centralized mode instead of scattered mode; besides; the solution shall be of high cost-performance ratio.

Therefore, Dahua proposed a solution from a totally novel perspective: 4 ATM kiosks pair with four cameras and one DVR, which can, at least, spare 2/3 devices compared with the conventional solution, which is adopted in some regions and countries.

“As a challenger, Dahua should not only build its branding but also do better to meet customer 's needs. We should keep supporting our partners that will continue to be our focus for the years to come,” emphasized Chen . “ Our ultimate goal is to become a total solution provider by all means.”

The Quality of Storage Effects Image Enhancement

The Quality of Storage Effects Image Enhancement

Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 3/30/2012 | Article type: Hot Topics

Crunch Time: Compression
Storage is one of the biggest costs of a surveillance project, making it a precious commodity. Network bandwidth is also scarce, making compression essential to surveillance monitoring. Unfortunately, compression can also undo clear images. “You could have a great camera capture images at high resolution, but the images are encoded, compressed and the final product is less than what was originally captured,” said Benjamin Solhjem, PM of Motion DSP. “The goal of our software is to reconstruct. That's not always possible because the image is so degraded, but it can reveal details that were not evident at the beginning.”

Compression renders megapixel's added resolution moot. “For enhancement, we've got cameras deployed that are 1.3-megapixel for 1080P or 720P, but you can't easily transmit that resolution ‘native' over a cellular network, which many cameras are on for backhaul,” said Dave Gorshkov, CEO of Digital Grape and Chair of the CCTV and VCA Technical Standards Working Group for the American Public Transportation Association. “You can use H.264 to squeeze the video signal hard, then interrogate the signal, but it throws away the resolution of images necessary for high-speed VCA capabilities.”

Banks and stores that are robbed may already have video systems installed, but find that poor resolution defeats forensic purposes. While it's possible to cram a month's worth of video on a single hard disk drive, the resulting images are not usable. “At that point, it's almost too late,” Solhjem said. “When it's crunch time and you actually need the video, it's not good.”

H.264 is one of the most common compression formats, which was designed primarily for entertainment— set-top boxes and mobile phones — rather than surveillance. This means users should pay attention to how many I-frames are used and latency in I-frame timings, which affects bandwidth and storage. “A 1-megapixel image has at least twice the resolution of analog,” Gorshkov said. “However, once you send that over the network, it's going to be squashed a lot and have latency introduced into it due to the compression and decompression functions.”

Storing images at the best possible quality will yield better data for image enhancement algorithms. “When we were developing the video surveillance and VCA standard in the U.S., local storage of high-resolution images was required,” Gorshkov said. “It's not the compressed image operators observe, but the stored high-resolution image that is used for legal proceedings. Most network cameras now have dual or even triple streaming, which is wonderful way of doing that. Local hard drives are also not expensive.”

As storing full-size images is out of the question for most applications, selecting a lossless compression and storage at the highest resolution yields the best evidence. “The effort to save space on a hard disk drive uses a compression scheme that's great for space, but it's not great if you need to pull out key information from the video,” Solhjem said.

Legal Implications
Image sharpening tools can certainly deliver evidence-grade images, albeit with limitations from resolution and compression. However, not all legal systems accept digitally processed images, so the enhanced images are used as tools during investigations.

Several legal trials in the U.S. and U.K allowed for enhanced images. “One time, the Metropolitan Police in London used our software to submit evidence for trials,” Solhjem said. “To my knowledge, it's never been thrown out.”

Some government bodies verify whether technology is suitable for police and government use. The UK Home Office uses the Image Library for Intelligent Detection Systems (i-LIDS) test to determine whether VCA is effective in various environmental and operational conditions, Gorshkov said. These tests help reveal possible shortcomings with the algorithms.

In the U.S. and Canada, Frye and Daubert hearings assess whether a new technology passes muster within the scientific and forensic community. “As long as they're not putting things there that do not exist, it's admissible in court,” Solhjem said.

Best Practices
Image sharpening software is great, but its performance is aided by good system design. This considers compression, storage and user demands.

Raw uncompressed video or a lossless compression gives image enhancement software more data to analyze. “Do a test, record some footage and see what it looks like,” Solhjem said. “You definitely don't want to plug-and-play and forget about your video system.”

Customers should also think critically about what they want their video system to do. Checking if someone came into a reception area is much easier than identifying individuals at border control. “Depending on what you do with the system, it comes back to Design 101,” Gorshkov said. “It's understanding what it is you want from your video surveillance and VCA system, as the systems' reliability and performance requirements are very different.”

Camera placement should be optimized for the monitoring purpose — that means keeping the camera away from direct lighting that washes out image detail. Image quality also needs to be a priority, which should be as good as the customer can afford. “If you really need video surveillance, is it worth the money you're investing?” Solhjem said. “If you're willing to invest this much, are you willing to invest more, in case something happens?”

At the end of the day, image sharpening tools can help restore pictures to their original glory. However, much image degradation can be prevented by better compression techniques. It is not cheap to store raw video, but lossless compression with multiple streams is a step in the right direction. While Hollywood presents pure fiction, an ounce of planning plus image sharpening keeps surveillance footage from going to waste.

How Image Enhancement Work in Real Life

How Image Enhancement Work in Real Life

Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 3/28/2012 | Article type: Hot Topics

While TV episodes and Hollywood movies are fiction, what if there really was technology that could clean up bad images? The primary objective is identification, whether it is of people or license plates, to track down suspects. No matter how poor the image is, image enhancement magically produces HD images ready for identification.

However, security cameras are not always set up for identification purposes. Most people counting applications mount cameras overhead, making it impossible to capture a face. In traffic monitoring, roadside cam r s watch for flow; cars are only identified by high-resolution LPR cameras when stalled at toll stations or exit ramps. Camera placement and objectives will affect whether an image will be usable or not. Even if a face is recorded, it may not lead to an arrest, as in the case of the 2010 Dubai assassination.

It may not be possible to make a thumbnail clear as day, but there are real ways to improve images. “We are able to zoom, and we're able to enhance,” said Joelle Katz, Marketing Manager at Brivo Systems, in a prepared statement. “But don't count on CSI's pseudo-scientific enhancement to be available any time soon.”

Traditional government users in federal, military and intelligence agencies benefit most from enhancing security video, but the applications are limitless. “We have folks in academia that use our software for projects they're working on,” said Benjamin Solhjem, PM of Motion DSP. “We have retail customers, such as Target and Wal-Mart, who use image enhancement for loss prevention. There's a lot of demand for video enhancement in any application that has use for a camera.”While image sharpening technology exists, awareness and demand are limited. “We have never had a request for this, though we have had requests for some other things that people see on TV shows,” said Bob Mesnik, President of Kintronics, a US distributor.

How Things Work
Image enhancement for still images is all about amplifying the image signal. “Enhancement of a still picture can be accomplished using compressed sensing,” Katz said. “It's a mathematical tool capable of creating high-resolution photos from low-resolution shots. At the very basic level, it works by repeatedly layering colored shapes into the areas where there are missing pixels to achieve what's called sparsity, a measure of image simplicity.”

While compressed sensing is still being researched for radar and medical imaging, noisy and grainy video can be cleaned up with commercially available tools. Adobe PhotoShop and Topaz Enhance tools reduce noise in a number of ways: Spatial noise reduction in each frame, temporal noise reduction between frames and combining both methods in spatial-temporal noise reduction, Katz said.

Motion DSP employs spatial temporal noise reduction algorithms, but cautioned that image enhancement is just a tool rather than a magic bullet. “‘CSI' will show a totally crappy image the size of my finger; then blow it up to be better than 1,080p. That's a misnomer,” Solhjem said. “But you can, utilizing certain algorithms, try to eliminate the bad data there and increase the level of information. It does not increase the resolution per se, but makes it easier to see what the image looked like when it was imaged by the camera.”

Image enhancement also has to deal with compression, which reduces the number of usable pixels for analysis. “Bear in mind that these programs work best with the highest resolution pictures they can get,” said Dave Gorshkov, CEO of Digital Grape and Chair of the CCTV and VCA Technical Standards Working Group for the American Public Transportation Association. “What you find with the current generation of network cameras is that the analytics are done on the native image in the camera, using a dedicated DSP. It is not done at the control center, because the image needs to be compressed and then sent to the control center over a low-speed backhaul network. This compromises the type and complexity of VCA able to be done in realistic time frames at the camera, as more complex analysis done with powerful computers that are server based can't be put in network camera because of program size, processor power requirements and associated ‘on-cost' of such a camera.”

Fleet Management Systems Look forward to Greater Efficiency and Productivity

Fleet Management Systems Look forward to Greater Efficiency and Productivity

Editor / Provider: Tevin Wang | Updated: 3/26/2012 | Article type: Hot Topics

 “The rising price of fuel has made telematics for fleet management systems even more critical to all types of fleets,” said Craig Whitney, VP of Marketing at Networkfleet. Seeking ways to ensure fleets remain profitable is the main reason fleet managers use telematics. In the U.K., for instance, diesel prices rose 36 percent from 2010 to 2011. “Our clients use telematics to reduce operation costs, including lower fuel consumption and vehicle maintenance.”

According to a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, ignoring fuel-saving strategies such as vehicle maintenance, driver training and route selection can reduce a vehicle's cumulative fuel efficiency by about 45 percent. Aggressive driving and vehicle idling are major sources of fuel waste, as is excessive speeding.

Features like safety belt status, idling, speed violation alerts and reports, and kilometers-per-liter/ miles-per-gallon monitoring can not only reduce fuel consumption by 8 to 10 percent, but also reduce overall operating costs by 10 to 20 percent, Whitney said.

Unauthorized vehicle use is another source of fuel waste. “GPS tracking provides vehicle movement 24/7, which allows our customers to be alerted if there is movement after hours or at any irregular time of day,” said Mark Roberts, CMO of NexTraq. Improved routing is another way to reduce fuel costs so that managers can dispatch drivers more efficiently and reduce overall driving distances.

According to a 2011 U S Environment Protection Agency study, failing to properly maintain the engine or check the tires can hurt fuel efficiency. The study indicated that “fixing a car that is out of tune or failed an emission test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, while fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent.”

Engine diagnostics monitoring, including fuel usage and emissions, helps with anticipating and fixing critical vehicle or equipment issues, thus avoiding costly failures or maintenance costs, while keeping engines and fuel performance in optimal conditions, Whitney said. “In the future, these systems will gather more data from engines through sensors, and then combine that data with predictive statistics to help identify and diagnose potential sources of problems.”

Reduced Labor Cost
Payroll fraud and inefficient use of labor and resources are concerns for fleet managers. “With GPS, telematics reports can be used to track authentic work hours, reducing timesheet and payroll errors,” said Jason Lai, Director of Fleet Management Service, Riti Technology. “The system can also indicate if drivers aggregate in a location other than the service yard to take an unauthorized break together. It allows company executives and fleet managers to track vehicles, employees, driving routes and actual hours spent on the job.”

When drivers know their behavior and workday profiles are monitored, they behave. “One of our clients' payroll expenses have decreased by 12 percent with more accurate labor costs,” Roberts said.

Property Loss = Productivity Loss
Landscaping, construction and mining vehicles often transport expensive assets. “When heavy machinery is lost, stolen or missing, it can lead to significant losses for your business,” said Todd Lewis, President of GPS North America. “You face not only the cost of replacing those assets, but also the lost productivity and customer satisfaction when employees can't perform as planned.” For instance, a minor scrape in a mine could cost a company millions in revenue. “One of our landscaping customers recovered more than $400,000 worth of vehicles and equipment with our solution,” Roberts said.

Efficient Dispatch
For taxi and limo fleet managers, detailed location and best time-saving route information offer the most value for dispatching vehicles, Whitney said. “Customer satisfaction is also improved due to the ability to track vehicle location and dispatch the nearest vehicle.”

For mass-transit buses, it is also important for these vehicles to arrive on time. Through the integration of mobile DVR, GPS, dispatch software, stop announcement system and other onboard electronics, estimated arrival times can be provided to maximize driver efficiency and passenger satisfaction, said Xin Zhou, Product Manager, Hikvision Digital Technology..

Fleet managers can see where their vehicles are, and they can automate processes such as routing, tracking or reporting, Roberts said. Drivers may spend too much time on the road because they do not know the quickest way to their destination. “One customer was able to increase fleet productivity by 35 percent.”
All-in-One Solutions
Rising fuel prices may be a driving force for the adoption of fleet management solutions. “It took years for one of our clients to finally deploy our solution. What made the customer hesitant was that they were not sure if the ROI was positive and how fast the ROI would be gained,” Lai said. Payback periods vary greatly with the execution skill of the fleet manager and the scale of fleets.

“In a traditional setting, the functions of DVRs and telematics devices are mutually exclusive; mobile DVRs record while telematics devices track through GPS,” Zhou said. “With increasingly available 3-G networks, telematics devices are gradually replaced by more powerful mobile DVRs since customers no longer invest in two devices with similar capabilities.” Having a visual recording/transmitting component included with a reliable telematics service provides a layered and comprehensive mobile solution.

“Many DVR providers are offering cellular-based tracking services, while numerous GPS providers are working with DVR providers that have adopted an open-system approach with published APIs,” said Chalon Dilber, Marketing Director for Safety Vision. “Due to the extremely fragmented nature of both markets, combined with a relatively closed approach taken by providers, collaboration remains an exception rather than industry norm.”

Integration takes time to schedule and develop, Zhou said, since coordination among hardware manufacturers, software developers and clients is required. “The whole process could easily take a couple of months, if not more.”

Once integrated, all user-designated events with associated video, audio and metadata are downloaded to a central management system, which allows users to view, grade and respond to events at their convenience. Dilber said. “The central management software can also archive event videos based on user-defined priorities or severity of events, thereby ensuring that visual evidence of critical events is always available.”

Amid this economic uncertainty, mobile surveillance and telematics solution providers are advised to look at new service models and solution offerings to stay in business. Safety and efficiency are the core of fleet management and operations. It is financially and operationally sound to think outside the box to better cater to the needs of different fleet types.

Fleet Management Solution Goes Smarter

Fleet Management Solution Goes Smarter

Editor / Provider: Tevin Wang | Updated: 3/26/2012 | Article type: Hot Topics

Faced with increasing terrorist and public-safety threats over the past two decades, mobile surveillance technologies have emerged and evolved. Forwardthinking vehicle fleet managers are always looking for comprehensive solutions that reduce liability and enhance safety and fleet performance.

While basic principles remain the same among different verticals, there are unique elements and requirements that must be considered for specific fleet types. “It really depends on the vertical the service business covers. For example, landscaping companies often have extremely expensive assets on their trucks, whether they have five or 500 vehicles in their fleet,” said Mark Roberts, CMO of Nextraq “One single in-vehicle device covering all different needs is replaced by vertical-specific solutions with smarter analysis and more value-added services. “

Concerns by vertical
Taxis and Limousines
“For taxis and limos, the No. 1 risk is reckless driving,” Roberts said. Features such as speed reports, risky driver behavior identification and alerts are used to monitor unsafe driving patterns that might result in accidents or litigation. 

Police Cruisers
In the U.S., police vehicles are equipped with cameras to record both inside and outside activity. Video quality is the ultimate consideration when choosing an in-car video system, said Adam Rushlow, Marketing Manager of WatchGuard Video. HD is a priority as video footage is required as court evidence. According to IMS Research, the HD camera market for police cars in the U.S. is set to grow more than 20 percent over the next four years. Sound-recording facilities can also be integrated and used in a court of law to prove or disprove witness statements.

Most police officers are not technologically oriented. “Make sure police officers can be trained easily and effectively while installation remains as simple as possible,” Rushlow said. “The accountability and reliability of solution providers are also vital, especially when some technical issues arise.”

Logistics and Freight
“Delivery vehicles and freight trucks could carry potentially expensive assets that could be targeted for theft or robbery,” said Liu Yang, Technical Support Engineer, Dahua Technology. While GPS provides location information, asset-tracking devices can be deployed to pinpoint the location of equipment or a specific trailer.

Some assets require real-time monitoring with location updates every two minutes. Other mobile assets like containers and rail cars require location updates less frequently and require batterypowered tracking devices. The goal is to allow fleet managers to monitor and maintain real-time control, ultimately minimizing the costs associated with lost, stolen or abandoned trailers, said Todd Lewis, President of GPS North America.

A traditional way to secure trailers and freight cargo is through door-only or door-plus seals. However, door-only and door-plus seals do not provide protection against unauthorized entry, said Laura Turner, Marketing Assistant at Global Tracking Communication. Smart containers are asset trackers with a container lock feature, reporting opening and closing events. With this additional layer of security, fleet managers may use an online application to view assets and vehicles on maps.

Reports and alerts can be triggered, for example, when cargo enters or leaves a specific geographic location. This geofencing information improves security and reduces possible theft, helping business owners better manage inventory and human/object assets.

Mass Transit
In public transportation, key security concerns for passengers and drivers include disputes from accidents, violence, vandalism, driver behavior management and liability mitigation, said Chalon Dilber, Marketing Director for Safety Vision. “To a much lesser extent, the concerns stretch to include hijacking and homeland security-related concerns.”

Simple video recording with a fixed camera might be adequate for after-the-fact processing since litigation has always been a concern for mass-transit operators. Readily available video footage provides the most legitimate evidence to support or dismiss claims from either passengers or drivers. In recent years, remotely accessible and live video has become a prerequisite in selecting mobile DVRs, which provide decision makers with a real-time view as critical events unfold. To ensure video quality, features like Wi-Fi, 3-G and bandwidth consistency should be taken into account.

Unsafe driving maneuvers should also be monitored. Identifying reckless behavior with sensors is generally included with recording hardware or GPS devices. “For example, accelerometers can measure high G-force events such as aggressive cornering, brakes and crashes,” Dilber said. “In addition, integration with external hardwired sensors as well as vehicle diagnostics allows buses to provide real-time alerts to a central station.”

According to Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators research, driver fatigue contributes to 19 percent of accidents and 4 percent of fatal collisions. Fatigue detection focuses on the status of eyes. “The latest development is to combine video analytics and passenger counting with audio and GPS data to proactively monitor driving habits and passenger loading to prevent possible accidents,” said Xin Zhou, Product Manager, Hikvision Digital Technology.

Mining and Dangerous Goods
Safety is a top priority. Many mining sites or dangerous goods transport routes are located in rural areas, which may not have cellular communications, said Cliff Henley, CEO of Fleet Management Solutions. Mining vehicles are rugged and huge, and accidents involving them are always serious. “Two-way satellite communication with GPS tracking is vital for immediate location awareness and emergency response.”

Driver blind spots include the front, sides and back of the vehicle. This fact sometimes leads to deadly accidents as drivers do not even know or sense they ran over a car or a person, Yang said. Radars, microphones and cameras are deployed and shown on a display inside the cabin to enhance situational awareness.

Road safety is critical in risk mitigation and a key concern for these fleet managers, said Jason Lai, Director of Fleet Management Service, Riti Technology. Improved safety on the road in remote areas with harsh environments can be achieved by creating geofences around no-go areas or designated routes to notify if the driver has gone off the grid. “There is no doubt that driver safety remains the most important objective with dangerous goods transport fleets, but monitoring speeding, which is a major contributor to crash incidents, is equally important,” Lai said. Features like driving-behavior monitoring enable managers to know when and where specific events such as hard braking, sharp turns and rapid acceleration occur. “In addition to management awareness, weekly or monthly summaries let drivers know how many events they trigger each day, thus promoting safe driving habits on a daily basis.”

“As tires play an important role in handling, maneuvering and braking of these heavy vehicles, tire pressure monitoring is also crucial,” Lai said. “With the aid of tire pressure monitors, tires can be properly maintained, and crashes caused by tire blowouts and other tire-related issues can be minimized.”

Higher fuel prices increase the risk of fuel theft, making tanker trucks easy targets for criminals, Yang said. The opening and closing of valves, hatches and other control points on the truck should be monitored and time-stamped. Approved routes for the tanker and valve/hatch access points should be established to ensure the safety of these assets. Any deviation from pre-established parameters will trigger an alarm in the operations center.

Indonesia Seaport Ensures Safety With Bosch Video Systems

Indonesia Seaport Ensures Safety With Bosch Video Systems

Editor / Provider: Bosch Security Systems | Updated: 3/21/2012 | Article type: Infrastructure

The company PT Pelabuhan Indonesia 1 specializes in handling containers for international and domestic transportation in many ports in Indonesia. Due to harsh seaside conditions amidst facilities like container cranes and hypermodern cranes, they require top-class security equipment to ensure safety of employees, while enduring the extreme conditions there. Upon screening through many security providers, Bosch was selected for its ability to fulfill all their requirements at the seaport in Medan.

Muhamad Natsir S. Sos, Safety and Security manager at Belawan International Container Terminal said: "During the rigorous selection process, Bosch Security Systems was found to have outperformed the others in terms of image quality of their video systems, and audio clarity of their public address system."

Installer PT. SensorLink Yumitaro Indonesia brought in the following systems into the seaport: the Digital Public Address and Emergency Sound System, dome cameras, and the Video Management System from Bosch (BVMS). In the instance of an emergency evacuation, the Digital Public Address and Emergency Sound System consisting of speakers and microphones will project loud and clear announcements. To protect the pier, the Intelligent Video Analysis (IVA)-enabled cameras provide advanced detection functions ranging from head detection to trajectory tracking. In addition, the dome cameras are vandal-resistant and weatherproof, making them perfect equipments to handle seaside conditions.

Images captured by the cameras are processed by the BVMS which plays a crucial role in daily operations through the monitoring of all port activities. The cost-effective integrated security systems also enhanced overall productivity and quality of service of the ports.

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