Ready to initiate a lockdown? App-solutely

Nowadays, we take for granted the existence and use of mobile applications, viewing them as ways to make our lives easier and access to information quicker.

But in critical situations, the integration of specific apps into security and event management systems goes far beyond convenience and enters the realm of protecting — and maybe even saving — lives.

mobile lockdown applicationBy integrating a mobile lockdown application into an access control system, those who perceive a threat to a school, hospital or corporate office can initiate a call to action without being on site. This enables them to react quickly and effectively when time is of the essence.

Consider this example: A school teacher has left the building at lunchtime, but in checking his email finds a credible threat leveled against the school by a disgruntled student. In the past, the teacher had the option of calling authorities and waiting for them to get to the school, rushing back to the school to let others know about the issue himself, or contacting the principal or another teacher who is on site and relying on them to put a pre-determined plan into play.

But with the advent of a mobile application that is integrated into the security and event management system, the teacher, who is authorized to use the alert application, can now trigger a lockdown of the facility with the touch of a button on his/her  iPhone or iPad or Android phone. Additionally, commands such as “shelter in place” or “evacuate” can also be made, depending on the situation.

The mobile app, integrated with the security system, also becomes a valuable communications tool to everyone involved. Those on the scene can take pictures and use the app to send images to first responders; staff can send a mass notification to other teachers and even families to let them know what is happening; and staff on site can be located via GPS data through the app so responders know where individuals are within the building in real time.

The good news is that integrating such an application is easy to do from both the security system side and the enrollment and verification side. With minimal set up time, followed by the creation of specific protocols related to a lockdown or other event, the application can be in place.

From an individual K-12 school to a college campus to a sprawling medical facility or corporate site, being able to link together people, information, and security systems via a simple mobile lockdown application offers the opportunity for better protection in the midst of a breaking incident.


What do you feel are the most important aspects of a mobile lockdown application? Please leave me a comment below.


Source: Tyco Blog

Balancing Security and Comfort

One of the physical security challenges for many customer-facing organizations is determining the balance between keeping the employees and assets safe, while not restricting or overwhelming their clientele. With the evolution of access control and surveillance systems, solutions are available to meet the needs of businesses both large and small, no matter how complicated or unique the requirements may be. But with so many options available today, it is easy to “get carried away,” installing too much security or products that don’t address a user’s specific needs.

Balancing Security and ComfortConducting an in-depth security assessment can help any organization determine an appropriate security plan, no matter the requirements. For a truly interactive, customer-facing facility like the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco’s downtown waterfront district, ensuring tight security in its urban location and allowing visitors to walk around the museum campus freely to experience the in-house-built exhibits are both priorities.

The non-profit museum’s nine-acre campus was looking for a way to secure ticketed and non-ticketed exhibits, its perimeter (which includes 1.5 acres of public outdoor space), as well as restroom entries and other restricted areas. Much like many organizations, Exploratorium wants its visitors to feel comfortable walking around the campus, but with many young children running around the facility, as well as its urban surroundings, a tight audit trail of any areas where incidents may occur is imperative.

In addition to perimeter security throughout the museum campus, Exploratorium wanted reliable and easy to use systems. With 400 full-time employees, as well as another 100 seasonal workers, interns and contractors, turnover can be high and the museum needed to simplify badge management and access.

To meet the museum’s needs, Software House’s C•CURE 9000 access control system, along with American Dynamics victor unified management system created a comprehensive, intuitive interface that handles access and surveillance seamlessly. Card readers and iSTAR control panels from Software House along with VideoEdge VMS and a mixture of cameras from American Dynamics also were installed for an integrated solution.

The solution has already allowed the museum to catch incidents of bicycle theft and keep its outdoor visiting exhibits safe from vandalism. So many organizations, whether urban or suburban, can benefit from a comprehensive security plan like Exploratorium’s, while retaining the feel of a welcoming, open environment for its customers.

Learn much more about Exploratorium’s project in the Industry Solutions Section of the Tyco Security Products website.


What do you consider when conducting an in-depth security assessment? Let me know in the comments section below.


Source: Tyco Blog

No more one size fits all – welcome to vertical view

Like the round peg trying unsuccessfully to fit into the square hole, many surveillance cameras have been similarly hampered by trying to reconcile their horizontal nature within a vertical video monitoring scenario.

Vertical ViewConsider all of the security-related situations in which a vertical camera image would be preferable over a horizontal one — policing the long, tall aisles in a big box store, home improvement center or supermarket; or watching over the straight, narrow corridors found in hospitals, schools, and even some office buildings.

In all of these instances, a vertical or portrait view of the scene would be preferable to a horizontal one. So rather than lock the user into a 16×9 horizontal world, if the user needs a full HD quality video stream, why not allow the maximum number of pixels to the field-of-view (FOV)?

Today most security cameras have been designed for the horizontal perspective so simply rotating the camera to a 9×16 FOV sounds easy enough, but the resulting video is simply a sideways oriented 16×9.  In addition to rotating the camera or effectively turning the imaging sensor on its side, the data recorded by each of the pixels on the sensor has to be rotated to reorient the video stream into a true 9×16 streaming HD video. Sounds simple, but doing so without quality loss or sacrificing video frame rate can be a challenge.

In theory, of course, it is possible to cover those narrow, vertical corridors and aisles with traditional landscape-style camera views, but it will take additional cameras — and additional cost — to achieve it. This is not only limited to camera and installation costs, because each of the cameras deployed will be recording additional scene area to the left and right of the center scene, which adds cost for bandwidth and storage to the overall cost calculation.

Fortunately, the industry is now responding with highly efficient mini-bullet and mini-dome cameras that have the higher-level processor and memory capacity so the camera can be placed in permanent portrait mode. It’s not just about switching the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 9:16 for these cameras, but it’s also about having sufficient horsepower to properly achieve and support this functionality with no residual impact on the camera’s resolution or frame rate performance.

By having cameras that reconcile properly with the space they are covering, operators will get the most complete, most usable images for active surveillance and forensic purposes. No more wondering what has been cut off from the picture, no more parsing together images to get a complete look.

And when these new cameras are made part of a larger system that includes an NVR with preconfigured layouts to accommodate the taller, narrow viewpoint, it becomes an even more ideal fit for viewing, archiving, and retrieving these images.

Kind of like putting that square peg into the square hole. It’s a perfect fit.


What other ways are/could you use a vertical view as part of your security solution? Let me know in the comments section below.