Security Hardening & Its Importance to Protecting Your Security System

Not a day goes by, it seems, that we are not hearing about some sort of security breach involving a major retail operation or corporation. Hackers seem determined on getting at protected data, such as credit card information or Social Security numbers, by any means possible.

For the security industry, every such attack brings new concerns about the safety of network-based systems. The network is the back door to accessing all kinds of information, whether it is financial, personal or something specific to the security of an operation.

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Harnessing PowerG Wireless Technology

Wireless intrusion systems are sometimes shied away from as ideal commercial solutions due to the perception of them being complicated systems that require time-consuming installs, with potential for strong interference and increased on-site maintenance. However, there is wireless intrusion technology that has turned the security industry on its head in numerous parts of the world and is finally gaining momentum in North America.

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Physical Security: An Important Tool for School Safety

Over the past decade, installers and integrators have experienced a steady increase in inquiries for security products, including video surveillance, alarm systems, access control, and integrated security management systems, in schools and campuses across the country.

School SafetyIt’s no surprise that administrators, faculty, and parents are questioning and addressing the level of security in their schools as shootings and campus violence continue to make headlines. In 1999, the year of the Columbine shootings, electronic security was not much of a discussion topic for schools, or even college campuses for that matter.

In the past, schools with physical security were usually equipped with a few access control points and emergency notification systems. One year after the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007, the Campus Safety and Security Project conducted a national survey of colleges and universities, which revealed that approximately 50% of higher education respondents had perimeter access cards for their residence hall facilities. Far fewer facilities had monitored cameras or surveillance systems.

Today, an increasing number of campuses, high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools are implementing integrated video surveillance, analytics, and security management systems. A recent study from IHS, expects the market for school security system integration to rise by more than 80% from 2012 to 2017. The report called “Vertical Insights: Video Surveillance & Security in Education,” projects the market for security systems integration in educational institutions to grow from under $3 billion in 2012 to $4.9 billion by 2017.

For many schools, physical security is an ongoing process of redefining needs and staying vigilant. It was 15 years ago when the superintendent of the Cherokee County School District (CCSD) in Georgia, Dr. Frank Petruzielo, created the district’s public safety department. Back then, the district, which now comprises 47 schools and centers, had no intrusion detection, unmonitored fire alarms, and a handful of unmonitored, individual cameras purchased by individual schools.

Today, Cherokee County School District has entered the world of IP physical security with a hybrid IP surveillance solution and a unified security management system that features victor unified management system, VideoEdge hybrid recorders and American Dynamics’ Illustra IP cameras, allowing security staff and administrators access to live video and events throughout the school system. What started as a project for the district’s high schools and building perimeters, has grown to include surveillance in target areas at middle schools and other facilities.

CCSD is just one of countless campuses, schools, and districts that has found value in installing or upgrading its existing security to offer a safe environment for employees and students. Emergency notification systems, fire alarms, alarm systems, access control, video surveillance, and integrated security management systems are working together to allow schools to keep the pulse on their facilities and the people inside of them.

Read more about the Cherokee County School District and its journey to a hybrid IP surveillance solution.


What do you think are a school system’s biggest challenges to upgrading school safety? Please leave me a comment below.

Migrating Analog to IP Video

Migrating Analog to IP VideoIs your legacy analog video security system reaching the end of its life? Some companies have been hesitant to make the leap to IP-based video, while other companies continue to look for the most cost-effective solutions to utilize existing infrastructures and maximize their surveillance investment while also adding new IP cameras. Meanwhile, the benefits of switching analog cameras and aging DVR systems to IP-based surveillance systems and network video recorders (NVRs) continue to grow.

Leverage Existing Infrastructure and Add IP Technology
Video surveillance technology is rapidly improving. Hybrid NVRs allow users to connect existing analog cameras and encoders as well as the latest IP cameras to the same server. This approach maximizes a company’s initial security investment while providing the flexibility to upgrade over time. As a result, end users can add IP cameras to their system in order to reap the benefits of high definition resolution, panoramic video, camera-based video analytics, and more.

So What Makes IP Video Better?
View a short video showing why IP video:

IP-based video provides radical improvements over analog video. IP video is transferred over a computer network cable instead of a coaxial cable, which provides options for more flexible and higher resolution video. IP video improvements include video resolution, event analytics, and situational awareness

  • Larger, flexible viewing areas – Standard definition analog cameras have a maximum resolution of 704 pixels wide by 576 pixels tall—or .4 megapixels of resolution. Most IP cameras are between 1-5 megapixels, and some are up to 20 megapixels. In many cases, one IP camera can cover the same area as four or more analog cameras. Flexible resolutions are available to optimize the viewing area of the user’s environment. IP cameras can define their own aspect ratios to meet specific needs.
  • Panoramic video – There are many IP cameras on the market today that use multiple lenses and imagers to create 180 to 360 degree fields of view. Other cameras utilize panoramic or “fisheye” lenses to achieve these parameters on a single lens. A good VMS will allow you to bring this powerful video into your server with a single stream and to even zoom in and move around within the image for greater detail.
  • Improved camera analytics – Many IP cameras make use of video analytics that are built into the software or firmware utilized by the camera. These “smart” cameras can detect when a person or object crosses a line, detect objects left behind or removed from a field of view and more. These events are sent from the camera to the server so the user can be quickly notified.  This approach does not require as much processing power from the server while freeing it up for other video management system tasks
  • Manage video from anywhere – IP-based video gives users the opportunity to easily view live and recorded video from any location through a PC, web browser, or mobile device.

How to Configure Your System with Analog and IP
If you need to know what server best suits your needs based on the cameras your company has in place or want to add to your system, an online configuration tool can help you calculate the approximate storage and bandwidth necessary for a security system. Users can simply enter the number of analog and IP cameras, the number of streams, compression, desired video resolutions, and other features to find the best NVR that fits their needs.

If you’ve thought about making the switch to incorporate IP video in your security system, watch this informative recorded webinar to learn the dramatic benefits IP video can have on your business.

Webinar recording - Migrating Analog to IP Video

What are your greatest concerns regarding the migration from Analog to IP Video? Please leave me a comment below.

Source: Tyco Blog

I Can See Clearly Now: Fisheye Cameras and Dewarping

There’s much to like about 360-degree fisheye cameras.

Their ability to capture images that could be missed by a traditional fixed camera or even a pan-tilt-zoom only model makes them critical for security applications where sweeping views are required. For example, 360-cameras excel within settings like an open concept retail store where a single camera can be observing all directions at the same time. The cameras have also proven useful beyond the retail setting in college lecture halls, casinos, office lobbies, hallway intersections and enclosed parking garages, to note a few.

Fisheyes are also touted for their wide dynamic range, as well as savings on bandwidth and storage usage while still capturing full resolution images.

The image produced isn’t a typical, flat one, but rather is round and distorted, the result of capturing an ultra-wide field of view. To make the images usable, they need to be flattened out, or dewarped. In most cases, the dewarping process takes place at the client, such as the NVR, PC, or server depending on where the client software that handles the dewarping of the images resides.

Fisheye Cameras DewarpingA few manufacturers offer cameras that can natively dewarp the images. Thus, the video can be viewed in the more traditional format, but with the benefit of getting all the detail that a 360-degree view provides. Having the camera perform the dewarping process relieves the burden and reliance for this action from the recorder and client, bypassing the step of having to dewarp the recorded view separately.

In dewarped or flattened images, security personnel can hone in on details that are important to the situation, while also having the option of looking at the larger picture. If you think about a 360-degree image as four quadrants — north, south, east and west — consider that when an event occurs, you have the option of retrieving an image that shows action in the north quadrant only, where you believe the suspect activity occurred.  There may be something that took place elsewhere that you now want to check out, and so you can playback images that capture activity in the south, east and west quadrants as well.  For this reason, fisheye cameras are a cost savings as they can take the place of four cameras when placed at the intersection of hallways.

Having quick access to a normalized view of a situation, especially when an event is occurring, makes dewarping at the camera level a convenient tool for seeing everything the video has to offer.


In what ways are you using Fisheye Cameras? Please leave me a comment below.


Another high-flying security improvement

Visitors to this year’s edition of IFSEC may very well have found themselves at London’s Heathrow, one of world’s busiest airports. Heathrow serves more than 190,000 arriving and departing passengers every day, who come via 184 different destinations from 80 countries.

Considered a small city within a city, the airport employs more than 76,000 people, all of whom need to pass through various levels of security to get to and perform their jobs.

Even before employees come into contact with the airport’s many visitors, they need to pass through behind-the-scenes restricted areas that are manned by security staff. Processing so many people requires the airport to look for new ways in which to step up operational efficiency while still meeting the stringent, and ever-changing security considerations.

Security ImprovementRecently, Heathrow began deploying CEM System’s emerald multi-functional touch screen terminals in the airport’s ID centre, as well as around Heathrow’s Campus, where cargo, staff, and crew are processed before gaining access to the airport proper — an area where the highest level of security is required. CEM has had a relationship with Heathrow for more than 20 years and currently secures the airport’s five terminals with a combination of its AC2000 product line and software modules.

emerald, which is a touch screen reader and a controller combined, provides real-time information at the edge on such items as access card status, scheduled visitors, systems alarms, and even information more directly related to time and attendance functions, such as first and last swipes for a card.

With employment changes being made on a daily basis, AC2000 keeps track of details for each person, so those whose privileges have or soon will expire are easily identified. Time savings are enhanced through the ability for users to change a PIN without having to contact the system operator.

Beyond being security devices, emerald can be used to disseminate information. For example, instead of issuing memos and having meetings, the new terminals can display health and safety notices, company updates and even advertisements, the latter of which can help offset some of the cost.

Anyone who has waited for their flight crew to arrive at the gate, or waited for a grounds crew person to unload the bags, understands that airports are all about time management. New products such as emerald are providing a needed intersection between quick, efficient people processing, and heightening the level security a busy airport such as Heathrow requires.


What other ways can security solutions help an airport with operational objectives? Let me know in the comments section below.


Source: Tyco Blog

To 4K or not to 4K video?

4K VideoOur industry’s seemingly insatiable appetite for more and more resolution has now produced a wave of interest in 4K cameras that promise exceptional clarity and sharpness, akin to the big screen, Ultra HD television sets found in consumer electronics stores and an increasing number of North American homes.

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