Friday, September 19, 2008

Analytics - To Lead or Not To Lead...

Analytics - To Lead or Not to Lead... I'm not much for Shakespeare, but this is a good question. Over the past few years, many security companies have been leading into an Enterprise IP Video project with analytics as the main driving force. In a presentation, they BEGIN by trying to show the exciting stuff of analytics (bags left behind at the airport, tripwires at water treatment plants, facial recognition at a soccer game, license plate recognition at the toll booth, etc.), and leaving out the entire video management platform upon which those analytics would run...

The truth is, there are several underlying considerations that must first be discussed before a project should consider even the NEED for analytics. Unfortunately, this is not often the case.

Here's the basics in my humble opinion:

Legacy Analog Video - If the project needs to incorporate existing analog camera infrastructure as it moves forward into the IP video world, they need to be considering encoders into the project to ensure the can simply get the video onto the network.

network Infrastructure - Do they even have a network resilient enough to transmit the video to and fro. Or will they be building a private network just for the IP Video?

Recording Architecture - Consider how to get that video OFF the network and onto HDDs (or other storage, like EMC, SAN, NAS, etc.). A Commercial Off The Shelf, server-based recording platform is often better, but in some cases actual NVRs or even DVRs have a better architecture.

Centralization - Now we start to consider the "brains" of the operation. Consider if the system will have a database for all the configurations (framerate, resolutions, bitrates, alarm configuration, integrations, etc.). By centralizing this, it allows the end user to build many different configuration and push them out to individual recorders, encoders, IP cams, etc.

Workstation Application - Next is the software application for reviewing video. Most Enterprise Video Platform providers have their own ready made version of a video retrieval software. Other rely more heavily on integration software applications (like Orsus or Proximex) to give a central retrieval app for all users.

IP cameras - Now that the legacy cameras are taken care of by the encoders above, the end user can consider the plethora of IP cameras in the market place today (Axis, Sony, Verint, IQInvision, Arecont to name a few). Some serious thought needs to go into this section as much of the market today is going toward Multi Mega Pixel Cameras for replacement of multiple Standard Def cameras.

Video Walls (IP and Analog) and other display techniques - Next the End User may have a need to build a Security Ops Center with an existing Analog Video Wall, or even a newer IP based video wall (like Barco or Christie). Knowing how to incorporate a truly digital IP based video wall or even a simple guard shack environment becomes a significant consideration. Will that older guard who's used to using that Pelco Keyboard really be excitied about now having to use a workstation and mouse to watch video? Perhaps not!

FINALLY, we get to Analytics... Loitering, Tripwires, People Counting, Object Tracking, Objects left behind, Objects taken away, License Plate Recognition, POS Trending, Slip and Fall and Endcap Fullness. So many options, and even within each category there are even more SUB-categories. Day and Night time views can change the configuration depending on the location of the sun. Objects blocking the scene can ruin a view at any time, if this is not considered up front. The main point here is, as many reading this article already know, Analytics can be extremely complex to understand and plan for...

So, I guess I look at it this way, BEFORE one even introduces Analytics to the project, there should FIRST be a discussion of the video platform, IP Cameras and more, upon which the Analytics will reside... Then take that customer confidently into the exciting realm of analytics...

Just food for thought...


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Buying Packages or Solutions a Danger? Nay, says I!!

A recent article was written on one of my favorite sites to monitor, Click here for the article. In it, the 'ipvideomarket' community was discussing the inherent "dangers" of providing a Packaged Solution for video surveillance for the end user. I read through the article, and was surprised, initially, with the number of people agreeing with the arguments.

Here are the basic arguments. It is "dangerous" to package together cameras, encoders, and video management platforms to sell the end user an end to end solution. Why? Three reasons:

1. Packages are too general.
2. End user is out of luck if they choose a market lagging package.
3. End user is controlled if they choose a market leading platform.

Although I respect the 'ipvideomarket' team's comments, and do understand some of the basic thought, they are generalizing too much in the article.

There are too many end users out there who simply don't know what they want, and they don't have the time to do a huge investigation into all the possible technologies. What they do know is they often have existing analog cameras (and possibly DVRs) and they want to move into the IP Video world without too much headache and cost. They also may not have the expertise on staff to support the complex environment often occurring when dealing with a fully networked, IP Video System. Packages (like Nextiva EZ36 or Basic 64 from Verint), although often very general, are a perfect solution for this type of application. It provides an entry point into the IP video market with a complete kit (video platform, servers, storage, encoders, network switch and cables). This is simple to install for the Integrator (comes pre-configured), and simple to use for the End User (a 2 hour webinar gets them where they need to be). There's also only one phone number to call if there's a problem.

So, let's say an end user starts with one of these packages and the customer, in the near future, wants to add 30 more, brand new, IP cameras, from Verint (or Axis, or Sony, or Arecont, or IQ Invision). Can they do this? Of course! Or what if they want to add 10 more IP Cameras with Analytics (like Object Video, or Agent VI). Can they do this? Certainly! Need to add storage, or another remotely located recorder server? No problem!

I'm finding it hard to understand the danger here. Yes, of course, the vendor, Verint in this case, sees a benefit, but so might Axis, or Sony, or Object Video, or Agent VI. Hmmm. Not really a problem.

Finally, what happens if the Customer Service Support structure falls on its face with that Vendor, and the end user says "I hate this product, get rid of it!" Do they really have to "get rid" of it? Nope. They keep what's worth something tangible - Servers, Storage, Encoders (as long as those encoders work with other platforms), Switches, and install a new software platform on those servers.

I'm finding it hard to see the "dangers". What about you?

Just food for thought...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Owning a City - Good News

Another fine installation of the Verint Video Management Platforms...

New York and LA have really taken to the whole concept of "one throat to choke". Although perhaps not on purpose. Because of the relationships between Verint, Integrator and End Users, these two cities have really grown to have the largest metropolitan area installations of IP Digital Video in the US. Tunnels, Bridges, Seaports, Corporate Centers, Piers, Train Stations, Airports, and, of course retail stores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot. All using the Verint Video Platforms. The advantage for Verint should be very apparent - Owning a City!

Using Verint's Nextiva Enterprise Video Management Platform allows the end user to use their own selected Commercial Off The Shelf servers and storage (like Dell, HP and EMC). The end user can also use Verint's line of single and multi-port encoders to take legacy CCTV video into this new IP Video system. Using Verint's IP Cameras (fixed and PTZ), allows the end user to grow into some of the newer capabilities of IP video streaming and review. Finally, using Verint's wireless transmitters, access points, bridges and repeaters allows the end user to get from point to point in some of those hard to reach places or quick additions without major construction.

The advantage for the Integrator is also pretty simple - fine design and deployment prove to the end user the Integrator is committed to moving into the newer technologies. Showing this allows the Integrator to solidify their relationships with the End Users.

Consider the advantage for the End User(s) though... With collaboration, these end users can really be at the LEADING edge of technology, growing and changing their systems with newer technologies. Bringing the end users together into small "Think Tank" type of environments really opens the door for them to express their concerns and to share their praises of the new technologies. This certainly allows the end users to "Own" their system and effect the changes in the future of the video surveillance and security markets. Finally, it allows the end user to always have one number to call to correct an issue.

Owning a City - good news for all it seems to me...

Just food for thought.

Security Caffeine

Friday, June 20, 2008

Not Just Your Old Man's Traffic Cams...

Wireless Video! What a wonderful phrase! To think you can build an IP Video CCTV System almost completely without wires, and open it up to the masses or keep it as controlled as you need it…

A major state in the Mid-Atlantic area has recently undergone a phased approach to improving their traffic camera system. They have been placing more and more cameras along the major roadways for the purpose of traffic safety and as a secondary purpose to provide a means by which the public might see a snapshot of the cameras (at 5 minute intervals). Answering the age-old question… How long will I be stuck in traffic this morning?

Nothing new here, right? For years, states (and companies) have been providing traffic cams for emergency purposes, and for traffic reports from your favorite news stations. Except one thing, MOST of those cameras have required a long strand of fiber laid before they can be implemented. This can be a costly endeavor, not to mention time consuming. In addition, consider the major investment requirements to trench and bury fiber, or to carefully pull the fiber through existing underground piping.

Enter Wireless traffic cams. The speed at which these cameras can be added to an existing network is extremely high. A single lift truck, and the right permits, allows a company to mount the camera and associated wireless transmitters or access points (like Verint’s Wireless 5.X equipment, or Motorola’s MotoMESH) to the existing poles along the roads. Using Verint’s Turbo SPCF Protocol, up to 28 Mbps ACTUAL bandwidth is likely, and Motorola MotoMESH, has great redundant path capability. These are just two examples of how technology is making great strides for Wireless Video.

But be careful when considering which product(s) to use! Not all products are the same, and not all products should be used for Wireless CCTV. There’s a little known issue with wireless technology called “Hidden Node” that can cause significant problems for the end user. When collisions occur, the Master Unit says, let’s slow things down a bit, dropping the bit rate to very low levels. This can be disastrous for a Wireless CCTV System. Verint has a technology that organizes the nodes to give recognition to all, so collisions rarely occur. If they do, the Master steps in and re-organizes, and lets everyone continue at their regular speeds. If one camera shows a higher level of activity, the Master allows more openings for it to send its packets. Not many other products deal with the Hidden Node well.

Motorola has a means by which a MESH can be used, so if a failure happens within a system, a redundant path can be immediately routed, and the loss of connectivity is almost eliminated. This is great for a city wide solution where you may have many users trying to access the video system.

Using MESH to get video INTO the network is perhaps not a good move. Mainly because, if a wireless network is built to handle a certain amount of video traffic, and then you try to put a whole bunch more video on that particular leg, jams, and collisions occur more frequently. Now, put these two applications (Verint to get the video into the network and Motorola to serve it out), and you have a GREAT solution, which is highly reliable.

Just food for thought…

- Security Caffeine

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Copper Thieves Beware – Part 2

In the previous post, we considered how cell phone and utility companies have experienced a large increase in copper thievery over the last couple of years. Mainly due to the increased worth of copper, and the ease by which it can be illegally obtained.

Consider construction sites, not typically known for their security, and how they have become a huge target. Large amounts of copper coils are stored at construction sites while waiting to be installed. Security Guards may be present on site, but they can’t be everywhere, all the time. The Copper Thieves quickly drive their trucks up to the coils, load them into the back of the truck with special equipment and off they go.

So, how can a company protect the construction sites from Copper Thieves? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a mobile platform, with a small security system embedded in the base of the platform? The system could have a bank of 4 – 6 cameras (IP or analog), pointed in different directions, all attached to a retractable mast. These cameras can be networked (with an inexpensive switch to an embedded, multi-port encoder, and a small commercial, off the shelf server with a 300 GB Drive. Or, even bring the cameras into a small form factor embedded DVR. Attach this little setup to a wireless transmitter, or other wireless device (EDGE, satellite, etc.) to make the video accessible remotely. In addition, create virtual trip wires, and camera tampering alerts to generate alarms. These alarms, similar to the cell tower solution, could be coupled with relay outputs to trigger lights and speakers with warnings to the potential copper thieves. Something like “attention, your picture has been taken and uploaded to a central monitoring facility… law enforcement has been notified… please leave the premises immediately!”

The Copper is Protected, the thief is sent off without the loot, and all this with an inexpensive solution that is MOBILE! This means it can be used over and over again!

Copper Thieves Beware - Part 1

It’s a warm, stormy evening in the middle of Nowhere, Alabama, the clouds are rolling in with the seasonal thunderstorm. Fifty miles from Nowhere, a truck backs up to the gate surrounding a cell tower on a small rise. Trees surround the area, so the chances of someone seeing this little adventure are slim to none. The driver quickly backs up to destroy a section of the fence. He backs further into the fenced area directly to the copper grounding plate partially buried under ground. A few quick, strategic cuts and some heavy lifting into the back of the truck, and they have their loot. This piece should get them at least $100 (maybe more). “No real harm dun… These big cell companies can just replace it any ol’ time…” says the passenger as they drive off before the storm gets there.

Copper Theft. Doesn’t really seem like a big problem, until you recognize all the possible ways it can be illegally (and easily) obtained – not to mention how much it’s worth these days. In 2006 and 2007, a dramatic increase has been noted in copper worth, as well as its theft! So much so, that the US Department of Energy puts the estimated amount of loss at $1 Billion per year.

A little research online shows many stories of differing ways copper is stolen. Yes, grounding plates from cell towers is one of them. What is an apparently low cost loss to the “big cell companies”, turns into multiple thousands of dollars in service, retrofit, and replacement costs. That’s just to replace one of these grounding plates. But another major concern is the potential for a lightning strike and the damage that can be caused without a grounding plate. ALL equipment in the station is now at risk, with a potential loss in the tens of thousands up to $100,000.

So how can this type of copper thievery be proactively battled? Many would say by installing an alarm system on or near the cell tower. Would an alarm system really be of any help, except to notify the company that the theft had occurred? Not really a deterrent though, because the thieves get away with no risk of being caught. What if the company coupled the alarm system with a video system to capture images of the robbery in progress? Take it a bit further now, and attach the alarm output to the video system. Then, take a relay output from the video system to an alarm flashing light, an area light, and speaker. The alarm flashing light alerts the thief the area is in alarm. The area light, turns on (if it’s after dark), and the video system takes a number of pictures from all the cameras. The video system then sends the captured pictures across the network (very low bandwidth requirements) back to a central site. The speaker, of course, is to tell the potential criminals, “pictures have been taken, and uploaded to a central database… law enforcement has been alerted… please leave the premises immediately”.

Of course, this immediately tells the thieves many things. Number one, pictures have already been taken and sent somewhere off site, so it’s no use trying to find a video recorder to destroy evidence. Number two, they will think again before stealing anything from this site. Number three, they will re-consider any future endeavor in the field of copper thievery, at least, from THIS Company’s cell sites.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Meat Packing Recall Could Lead to Increased Surveillance

Here's a good one. I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine from the USDA. He mentioned a major food recall from a large meat packer called Hallmark:

"...this month, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company recalled 143 million pounds of meat, following a videotape of plant workers treating cattle cruelly and violating federal regulations. Most meat has likely been consumed; at least 37 million pounds were used for school lunches—the company is a top supplier to that program—and federal nutrition programs. "

During our conversation, my friend gave some details as to how companies violate regulations. One regulation says if the steer is "down", due to sickness or injury or else, the steer cannot be "processed". So the workers at the packing plant would do cruel things to the animal to make it appear the animal is walking before the "process" it. The trouble is, the workers always had a lookout. When the Inspectors are seen, all activities are halted. When the Inspector leaves, the cruelty resumes.

As a recommendation, the USDA is trying to get congress to make Video Surveillance a requirement for all meat and poultry packing plants in the US. The theory is if there is video always present, this would deter the workers from violating the regulations. Now we get into the "meat" of this argument...

If the incredibly tight margin'ed industry of meat and poultry packing were relegated to have "Video Surveillance", I expect the response would be to obtain the cheapest possible video equipment (perhaps a Sam's club special), and call it done. All this does is allows the folks who WANT to violate the rules a means by which they can meet the minimum federal mandate and still break the rules.

Of course, if a congressional law stated some specific guidelines as to where cameras must go and with what types of cameras and recording systems, better safety standards might be ensured. But then, we quickly would be faced with outdated policies made by non-security-minded folks. Not a good idea.

WHAT IF... The proposed law were augmented to include a means by which the Inspector can, over remote connection, link into the installed security system. So at any time, an Inspector can monitor the activities at the site WITHOUT having to travel to the site. The Inspector could also do a random search to ensure cameras are being recorded properly and are properly covering the areas where violations might occur.

WHAT IF... The proposed law were augmented to include a means by which the 100+ Inspectors may have access to a group of mobile cameras and wireless transmitters. What if a half mile away from the packing plant, the Inspector could drive up with a mobile platform, make a couple of adjustments, raise a camera and wireless transmitter up a stationary mast and leave it. Do this in a few places around the violator's plant to get different angles and then set up in one central place to view, record and control those camera. Cameras could be night vision and or thermal in nature allowing for catching the night time violations. Cameras could be Pan, Tilt, Zoom capable to allow for moving around and targeting special areas. With some software, the user may able to quickly create automated, Virtual Tours of the plant to give them constant review if the scene. Once they get the "data" or "evidence" they need, they pack everything up and return to process the video into case files.

Just food for thought...

- Security Caffeine

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Campus Security - A New Plan

Campus Security - A New Plan

I had the recent pleasure to take part in an information exchange with a large university in the Southeast US. The folks from the University were IT-centric in experience as opposed to the typical security-focused end user. Mainly, they were driven to the discussion by their vehement dis-satisfaction with the currently installed product. Of course they had needs as they were passed on by their customers, the actual users of the system. These would include the typical security based needs, like recover stolen property, video as evidence in an assault or other violent crime, and parking garage security.

In addition, these folks were also thinking about the typical means by which funding for a project like this might be had. Namely, a mediocre budget approved by committees mostly removed from the actual project.

With the help of a pretty knowledgeable team of experts, the discussions quickly took on a new life. Consider first, E-Learning. All the rage in some higher education circles, and especially those who have been doing distance, and online courses for some number of years. But the typical “brick and mortar” university would have a hard time justifying purchasing a camera system solely for the purpose of E-Learning, when it’s not their primary focus. However, what if, while the university was entertaining the idea of a new IP video security system, they also pooled budgetary dollars from general education to add a camera (and audio equipment) for many of the lower level lecture halls. These cameras, and audio could simply be added into the IP Video System. As a regular process after the class the Professor’s Assistant could export the video as a standard AVI clip (able to be played on any AVI player, like MS Media Player, or Quicktime). This video could be then uploaded to a central repository, like products offered by EMC, and made available for students of they miss a lecture.

Also thinking outside the box, many educational institutions have book stores and Student union buildings, which have Point of Sales (POS) registers, or ATM machines. Why not marry the transactional data (from POS and ATMs) to the video? Indeed, many retail facilities like Target, Home Dept and Walmart have been doing this for years. Why? To combat internal theft (AKA shrinkage) and give a more likely chance to give video evidence in the case of a robbery or other altercation at the register. What about training for new employees? Again, budgetary dollars for a system that was initially just a perimeter protection becomes pooled by other interested departments.

Of course, the typical campus wouldn't be alone in needing wireless cameras transmitted across campus lakes, parking lots (to save the campus from costly trench-digging), and building wireless bridges from building to building. For events, mobile video units could be set up for large festival and sporting events. Video Systems can be set up on towable trailers to drive to a site, turn it on and leave it to transmit video back to the central head end. These pieces can be realized with the Verint line of products.

Finally, when a university considers how it might obtain more budgetary dollars for immediate solutions to their Security and Surveillance needs, they should consider working with larger organizations to help lobby state and local legislators. Some of these larger organizations, like CDW and EMC, are already vendors of the university and already have the connections to the lawmakers.

By the end of the discussions, the university folks had some great usage ideas to take to the committees to build credibility for the new projects. These are the exciting parts of what I do, because by educating the university as to what CAN be done, it increases the likelihood a proven product will be chosen and the students, faculty and families around the university will be protected…

Just food for thought…

- Security Caffeine

Saturday, May 17, 2008

CCTV for Vandalism and Pooping a bad thing? I Think NOT!

I recently wrote on my blog asking the question about CCTV Security and whether it can be useless. And in truth, it CAN be if improper expectations are set. In that post, I was trying to get to what causes a CCTV Video system to fail to achieve its original purpose - typically changing expectations, and lack of education.

Now a new threat to the CCTV Security Industry is growing. More and more articles have been popping up about the misuse or uselessness of CCTV Video, once its been installed. The troubling part of this trend is they are using things like vandalism and littering as reasons why the security system has failed. Granted, in many cases, it is federal money which funds the larger CCTV projects. But this shouldn't mean the CCTV system can ONLY be used to fight terrorism.

Let's be real here, Security Directors of corporations and municipalities are required to provide security for an area or group of people, and are many times given a limited budget with which to do so. These folks are often forced to make very difficult and often frustrating choices because of that limited budget. But then, they are offered up a substantial bank of additional funds with federal dollars "to aid in Homeland Security". This can be a great way to, cost-efectively, augment the system originally intended to protect the local community or organization.

In a recent article, "U.K. turns CCTV, terrorism laws on pooping dogs", the author has some discouraging words about the misuse of the CCTV System. He mentions several media points in which the CCTV System is used to investigate smaller issues like pooping dogs, people littering and vandalising, misuse of parking spots and false claims for damages.

In the article above, the gentleman refers to a number of articles coming out of the UK that seem to hold a similar view that the growing use of CCTV Camera Systems is in misuse. Frankly, why should we consider littering (illegal in many areas), false claims for damages (aka protection from liability), and vandalism (yep, also illegal) as MISUSE of a camera system? This is not misuse, this is opportunistic law enforcement - and a GOOD THING!

OK, OK, I realize checking to see if a dog poops on a lawn, or looking down a woman's blouse is certainly improper use, but there can easily be protection against this from within the system. With a properly installed IP Video System, a secondary "Supervisory" work area can be established. In this "Supervisory" location, the "watchers" are watched. Any improper use can be constantly monitored, and can be immediately reprimanded. This is just common use of checks and balances.

I find it interesting how people from outside the CCTV Security Industry, with no knowledge of the actual workings of deterring or halting criminal activity using video, find it easy to lay false claims themselves about how a system SHOULD be used...

Just food for thought...

Matt Marshall
Security Caffeine

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

City-wide Wireless CCTV for Police

I've had a number of recent discussions with end users (particularly Police Deptartments and Municipalities), regarding City-wide Wireless CCTV Systems. The desire here is to protect an area in the city with a group of WIRELESS CCTV Cameras. The secondary purpose, but often becomes the biggest purpose, is to allow an officer in the police cruiser to view the video (wirelessly) as he nears the area. This is a great concept, but it's important to set expectations of what CAN be done with reliability and stability.

Consider first the amount of bandwidth a typical CCTV Camera would require to send video to a central or semi-central location. At 15 FPS and 2CIF resolution, the bitrate might be 1024 Kbps. Multiply that times 10 cameras to cover an area in the city and you might have 10Mbps pretty quickly. Now, put that on a wireless link at a maximum of 54Mbps, it seems there is no problem. Right?

Correct. No problem, that is, if that's all that will ever go across the wireless link. But what about VIEWING the video (how many connections to the cameras)? Will the cameras ever be opened to John Q. Public? If the cameras are IP, what about sending a second encoder stream to an analytics server for server based analytics, or a secondary recorder for that matter? There are many factors that can change the bandwidth requirements across the wireless network, and they should all be considered before the solution is provided.

One great way to manage the bandwidth is to separate out wireless network infrastructure for different purposes. Consider a Wireless network with directional antennae bringing the video back to a central point. Then a second Wireless MESH network with Omni-directional antennae making the video available to vehicles and other folks as permission allows. This way the stability of the wireless network is much greater, AND a network failure on the MESH side does not interfere with the recording of cameras, or vice versa. Of course this is a costly endeavor, and wireless network saturation might become an issue in some cities.

In addition, to control the wireless stream, consider products that can be implemented in a multicast function. This way, one stream is send to the network switch. The Switch then makes available many client streams to be tapped into, rather than Unicast mode in which the encoder itself must deal with the multiple clients.

In it's new line of Wireless Products (5.0), Verint offers up some new technologies and configurations, which are specifically designed for the transmission of video to a central point. Radios are preconfigured to ive preference to upstream transmission, knowing that the grand majority of data flow is upstream (the streaming video). Using SPCF, allows the Access Points to avoid any automatic reduction in bitrates due to the common "Hidden Node" issue experienced in many of today's wireless networks.

Finally, when there is a need for multiple levels of client access to the cameras (eg, police cruiser connects at 512Kbps, wireless handheld connects at 128Kbps, and a desktop computer connects at 100Mbps), the end user might consider using an application like AirVisual's Intelliviewer and Orsus' Situator to provide a centrally located video streaming server, which can receive video from encoders, IP Cameras and DVRs, and push the video back out via a separate video stream. Some of these can also provide custom mapping features, which will show zoomed in maps, sized to fit PDA or Laptop screen resolutions. This enables the officer, on foot or in a cruiser, to quickly view the video by clicking on the camera icon on a Map.

It's easy to see how technology IS capable of doing what the end user is asking, but to do it reliably, can cost a bit more than what they are expecting.

Just food for thought...

- Matt Marshall
Security Caffeine

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Can you have Useless IP Video Security?

"Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe."

An interesting thought considering how much money was spent, and how much money IS spent every year on CCTV in the US. The truth of the matter is that, YES, CCTV Security can be useless. We have seen many times in The Industry a customer make extravagant requirements in the RFQ/ RFI, and throw MUCH money at the project with no clue as to WHY they need it.

The truth is, an educated end user is a happy customer. If an end user has made decisions based upon knowing the reality of the technology and its capabilities, then when the system is installed, they are happy with those decisions. Success, and specifically success for a particular technology, breeds success. This means the end user population will talk (or perhaps, boast) about there great new IP Video System (that WORKS!), and the Security Insdustry will grow.

In contrast, if the manufacturer or installer (software or hardware) has made false claims or tried to hide certain limitations for which they know the customer is looking, then when the system is installed, it fails to meet expectations. The customer is dis-satisfied and, basic rule of retail here, they tell 10 others. Next things we know, the Security market is trying to re-educate the customer in what really can be done with new technologies.

One simple case of this is with some of the new wireless technologies, many assume that since wireless is becoming all the new craze in the internet market, that it's natural to use that same bandwidth to carry IP Video systems for traffic, and city surveillance. True, it COULD be done, but the sacrifice Joe Q. Public would make on his Internet connection would likely not be worth it. Perhaps a better suggestion for the Cities and Counties looking to add Surveillance and Traffic Cams, is to add a designated Wireless infrastructure for that purpose, and leave the Public Wireless Infrastructure alone.

Another case where the industry saw some tremendous buzz, but in addition, large amounts of false data, was with Analytics. Based upon initial speculations, many companies tried to jump ahead of the curve and tell people what could be done with Analytics. Unfortunately, by letting the mind imagine what could be done, the industry started trying to press wrong technologies into impossible scenarios. Analytics failed terribly, and the IP Video market took a beating due to this issue. Some things in Analytics are easy to deal with; Tripwires, Objects left behind, Loitering, and People Counting. On the other hand, Analytics cannot distinguish between a person being attacked in a park, and two people playing Football or Rugby in that same park.

Back to the original question "Can you have Useless IP Video Security?" Absolutely! But what usually causes this is an end user who does not know what they are really trying to get out of the system, so they install one system cheaply and expect it to do everything.

Recommendation: Always make a camera have a purpose. Get the end user to focus on that purpose of the camera(s) being installed. It's even OK to make a camera have multiple purposes, just as long as those purposes align properly. For instance, in a bank, a teller camera, should be focused on a teller. Don't try to use the teller cameras to also capture activities going on in the lobby of the bank. By focusing the camera on the areas around the teller and that teller's customer, the bank has a much higher likelihood of capturing the necessary images to catch a theif, or prove a fraud case.

Another example is a group of PTZ Cameras to cover a City Park area. Consider each camera's placement, yes, but also be sure the camera has the ability to "return to HOME" after a certain period of inactivity. Many Analytics (like loitering, people counting or tripwires) can be run, even on PTZ Cameras, as long as they have a preset or home position to which they return in a tour, or time-based event.

Just food for thought...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

CCTV Video for Hospitals

I happened to see a News Article this morning in the TV regarding a woman who gained access to the Newborn Ward at a hospital in Sanford FL. She walked in, grabbed a baby and left. Just like that! Many hospitals take great care in protecting the baby with wrist bracelets, alarm systems and locked doors. But even with those securities, there are still things that can be done to protect against this type of things from happening.

One of the great things about security these days is how it can be implemented with relative low impact on the a person's freedom and on the environment. If video systems are implemented or augmented using newer features (like integration to access control and alarm systems, as well as, some analytics), then responses to these types of cases become much more immediate and effective.

In Sanford, FL, the door alarms were triggered immediately, and the woman who stole the baby was tracked down quickly by the police. CCTV Video was used to get a definite and immediate picture for the police force to know for whom they were looking. The baby was returned to the parents unharmed.

Consider some other reasons for security in hospitals - the mother who is sick after giving birth who gets taken advantage of by a person on the ward, the people who claim the nursing staff is abusive or neglectful, or how about giving the hospital a clear way to see activity within the different areas to adjust staffing, heating or lighting. These are all ways video can be used, with minimal human effort to protect people and reduce costs in our hospitals.

Just food for thought...

Matt Marshall

Friday, May 2, 2008

Post 20080502

I wanted to say today is a brilliant day.  I had a great evening last night with a small group of friends playing guitar and discussing amazing things.  Then I returned home and had a fantastic evening with my family.  Evenings like this don’t happen very often, but when they do, they are so important to hold onto.


Matt Marshall, Verint Information Systems



New Roles, New Goals

I have a new adventure ahead. I recently accepted a new position within my organization which will test my detrmination to succeed. I am making the leap from backing up the sales team with my technical expertise to a purely sales role.

This is exciting and a bit nerve racking. This is a very uncertain time in the US. Folks are talking about recession, and frankly I wonder how much that will effect an organization's drive to purchase enterprise security systems.

Any thoughts?


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