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Posts Tagged ‘video surveillance’

Axis Device Manager is on task for the future.

Remember that time hackers wiggled their way through security weaknesses in Internet-connected security cameras and unleashed the Mirai botnet, taking down major sites such as Twitter and Spotify?

The event highlighted the vulnerabilities exposed by IoT (Internet of Things) devices. The same devices that offer us incredible scalability and insight can also be used to disrupt our world when exploited by bad actors. That event and many others like it have prompted device developers to innovate and launch new platforms that step up security for connected devices.

Axis’ new Device Manager is the latest entry in the market. The new platform, which replaces Camera Management, offers users the ability to manage thousands of cameras, access control and audio devices in one place. Features include the ability to automatically assign IP addresses; install, configure, replace or upgrade devices; set restore points and factory default settings; upgrade device firmware; manage user accounts and passwords; copy configurations between thousands of devices; connect to multiple servers and systems; and deploy and renew HTTPS & IEEE 802.1x certificates.

“Being able to access and efficiently install, adapt and secure all of the devices on your network saves a tremendous amount of time and effort. AXIS Device Manager is the go-to tool for reaching all Axis devices — whatever stage of their lifecycle — and make needed adjustments,” said Ola Lennartsson, global product manager, System Management at Axis Communications in a press release.”

“In today’s fast-paced world, any device or network that is static is not only old-fashioned, it is potentially prone to cyber threats. Therefore it is important we ensure our customers can use a tool that allows them to easily, rapidly and decisively manage all of the devices on their network. AXIS Device Manager is that tool.”

Dynamic, centralized control of devices makes it easier to stay a step ahead or security threats, especially for larger installations across multiple locations.

Interested in learning more? Our team can take you through a system integration project from design to completion. Call (800) 567-1180 to arrange for a consultation.

Security starts in the construction phase.

Strong security includes good integrated systems – video, indoor gunshot detection, alerts – backed up by well-thought out policies.

Those are great and crucial elements, but have you considered your physical space?

Good security planning starts in the construction of design phase. Some elements to consider:

Getting in, getting out. Are primary entrances and exits for each building located where employees have easy access to secure from the inside? In an emergency, employees should be able to quickly access doors and secure them from the inside.

What about secondary entrances and exits? Employees should also have access to secondary exits that lead into more secure interior spaces in the event of an emergency.

Safe rooms. Does your facility have one secure room large enough to accommodate several staff and guests in an emergency? Walls should be reinforced so bullets can’t pass through. Door frames and doors should be strong enough to take a battering and not cave in or break open.

Reliable communications. Safe rooms and other key areas should be equipped with landline phones that can be used for emergency calls. While mobile phones are ubiquitous, they might not be able to get a strong enough signal in some places to reach out in the event of an emergency.

Keeping an eye on things. Video camera placement is key. For all facilities, cameras should be trained on entrances and exits, high traffic areas and parking areas. For retail facilities, cameras might be positioned to keep an eye on merchandise and cash registers. Manufacturers and warehouses might need to keep an eye on loading docks. All camera placement should be well-thought out and well-documented in facility schematics.

Make space for the home team, and a traveling team, too. If on-site monitoring and security is in your plans, make sure the team is placed appropriately within the space. But don’t forget to include provisions for off-site, remote monitoring, too.

Need help designing and documenting your new build’s security features? We can help. Call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss your goals.

Security video can help improve retail sales

For most bricks and mortar retailers, ‘tis the season for high-volumes of foot traffic through stores. The last two months of the year are make-or-break, and understanding how customers are moving through retail space, where they are stopping to look, how long they are waiting for help or waiting in line are all key to maximizing sales.

Did you know that security video systems can do double-duty as merchandising analytics tools?

It’s possible using Bosch Security Systems’ In Store Analytics. The cloud-based service uses position data generated by its cameras to provide detail on how shoppers move through a retail space.

Bosch panoramic IP cameras are installed and positioned to take in as much of the retail floor space as possible, so the maximum amount of data can be captured. Shopper position data is captured and transmitted to the cloud, where it is further analyzed and delivered back to merchandising managers for review via a customized dashboard. The interface is designed to be easy to use, and doesn’t require any advanced query or data mining capabilities on the part of the user.
From the position data, merchandising managers can see how shoppers are moving through the retail space. They can see which displays are attracting shoppers, at which are not. They can identify peak times of day for traffic down to the display level, and position staff appropriately. The data also reveals how long shoppers linger in different areas, and how strongly they are engaged with merchandise or sales personnel. The intelligence gathered can be used to reposition displays or personnel to maximize sales.

In Store Analytics may be just the tool bricks and mortar retailers need to better compete with online retailers. Online retailers have the distinct advantage of being able to collect large amounts of significant customer data, including the purchasing journey. Bricks and mortar retailers often miss that piece, and have difficultly pinning down just how customers move through the process to purchase. In Store Analytics can help close that gap by providing actionable insights on customer flow and helping identify missed opportunities.

The In Store Analytics platform is suitable for large footprint retail spaces and scalable across multiple sites. Bosch also plans to roll out In Store Analytics dashboards for operations and loss prevention managers.

Will 2018 be the year artificial intelligence makes a big impact on your business?

As 2017 winds down, trend watchers are looking ahead to 2018 and thinking about the trends taking shape. Artificial Intelligence is top of mind for many.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI), and what is the difference between AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning? According to techopedia, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.” AI computers might be used for speech recognition, learning, planning and problem solving.

Machine Learning takes AI a step further, allowing computers to be challenged by and learn from new scenarios for testing and adaptation. The goal is for the machines to use pattern recognition and trend detection to “learn” so that it can make independent decisions about similar situations in the future.

Deep Learning collects what Machine Learning computers have learned and uses those algorithms to develop larger networks that mimic the high-powered decision-making capability of the human brain.

AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning all have significant potential for real-world application, particularly in video security.

The boom in digital video means a voluminous amount of data is available to analyze. Couple that data with more data available via API – weather data, financial data, etc. – and the possibilities for pulling together patterns and making predictions is nearly endless.

“While the technologies aren’t particularly new, this year they have more than ever captured the attention of the market due to various factors: an increase in data that’s available for meaningful analysis, the emergence of hardware devices with high computing power, as well as the maturity of networking infrastructure for both landline and wireless transmissions,” wrote William Pao of a&s International in a recent post on asmag.com.

Some are predicting a boom in AI-driven analysis. “The next step in video analytics is to dive deeper to gain very specific insights into video content, including analyzing human behavior through the use of neural network video analysis. Video will not only be used to track the usual movement of cars and people or detect items left behind, but will also be relied on more frequently to bring behaviors of interest to the attention of security personnel,” said Jammy DeSousa, Senior Product Manager for Security Products for Building Technologies and Solutions at Johnson Controls in the post.

Others are slightly more conservative in their outlook. “Machine or deep-learning is mostly used for video analytics, but I expect the technology will be an important component in many different applications and products in the future. Over time it will become a common tool for software engineers and will be included in many different environments and devices,” said Johan Paulsson, CTO of Axis Communications in the post. “However, the surveillance industry has a history of sometimes over-promising with video analytics, and we are especially conscious of that when it comes to deep learning. We think deep learning has to mature further before it is ready for market in a broader perspective.”

Interested in learning more about new products and integrations on the horizon for 2018? Contact us at (800) 567-1180.

Convergence of security and communications

Security systems and communications systems used to be two entirely different propositions.


Security teams were responsible for evaluating and procuring video cameras, ID badge systems and the like for their particular use cases. They oversaw the installation and use of those systems, and owned any associated data.

Communications systems were typically owned by IT teams. They evaluated and procure phone and conferencing systems for their particular use cases; oversaw the installation and use, and owned any associated data from those systems.

Security and communications systems operated differently, with no connection, often on entirely different networks.

All that is changing. The move away from analog systems to digital was the first step towards converging security and communications systems. The next step is figuring out how to make disparate IT and security systems work together and exchange data.
Through its DevConnect program, Avaya, a segment leader in communications systems, has opened the door to convergence a little more. The program empowers partners to create, verify and market Avaya-enabled solutions. DevConnect offers access to almost all SDKs offered by Avaya products, as well as technical education, tutorials and sample applications, forums, and in some cases, technical developer support on the use of Avaya APIs.

Axis, an ETC Services partner and market leader in security systems, is an active participant in Avaya’s DevConnect program. Through the partnership, they’ve developed integrations between their Network Door Stations and Avaya systems. Axis Network Door stations combine communication, video surveillance and remote entry control into a single device, and allows users to identify visitors and grant them access to a facility from a single platform, from anywhere in the world.

Perhaps more powerfully, converging the security and communications systems means data can be combined. Security data that was once entirely separate can now be integrated with other data streams and used for other business purposes, extending the value.

For more on how Avaya and Axis are partnering together, listen to this episode from the Avaya DevConnect 8 & Out podcast.

Security cameras capture museum mayhem

Security cameras see everything, even the most cringe-worthy moments we can imagine.
There are few ideas more horrifying to a lover or art or history than the destruction of a priceless, irreplaceable object. Even worse than that is the idea that a museum visitor would damage an object on display in a museum.

And worst of all? If the act is caught on video.

In recent weeks, an art installation in Los Angeles suffered an estimated $200,000 in damage when a visitor inadvertently knocked over a pedestal while crouching down to snap a selfie. The unintentional nudge set of a domino effect, which several pedestals toppling in succession and the crowns they held tumbling to the floor. The incident was caught on security video.

Simon Burch, the artist who created the installation, waxed philosophical about the mishap. “Crowns are fragile things. They are symbols of power. Perhaps it’s ironic and meaningful that they fell,” said Birch.

Museum staff at the National Watch and Clock Museum, in Columbia, Pennsylvania were less sanguine about the loss of a priceless, one of a kind modern clock which was knocked off the wall by visitors attempting to make it move.

“This is why we beg and plead with our visitors to please refrain from touching objects in museums,” said museum staffers.

The visitors did notify staff of the mishap.

In some cases, however, museum visitors are not terribly bothered that their bad behavior might destroy something that cannot be replaced.

Two children visiting an art museum in Shanghai, China gleefully ripped the wings off an installation called “Angel is Waiting” in the Shanghai Museum of Glass. Rather than removing the children from the exhibit area – they were clearly beyond rope barriers intended to keep them away from the work, two adults accompanying the children appeared to be videoing them as they slammed the work against the wall.
Need a security system to help you keep an eye on what’s valuable to you? We can help. Call us at (800) 567-1180 to learn more.

Axis finds ‘sweet spot’ for reducing storage needs while maintaining image quality

There’s no question that 360 degree panoramic cameras deliver excellent coverage and rich image detail.

But those qualities come at a price, and for 360 degree video, the cost comes in the form of higher bandwidth and storage usage.

Photo credit: Axis

For many end users, finding the sweet spot between the need for coverage and quality and the desire to keep bandwidth and storage costs low has been a challenge. Axis Communications, one of ECT Services trusted partners, is meeting that challenge with the release of updates to its Zipstream compression technology.

Zipstream analyzes and optimizes the video stream in real time. The technology automatically detects low value areas like walls, lawns and vegetation, and ‘smooths’ them out, saving bandwidth and space. At the same time, the technology automatically detects important forensic details such as faces, tattoos and license plates and isolates and preserves them. A dynamic rate controller is enabled automatically when a camera is panned, tilted or zoomed. The result is a 50 percent decrease in bandwidth and storage requirements for surveillance video with no loss in frame rate or resolution.
“Storage and bandwidth make a significant part of the total cost of a surveillance system. Axis developed Zipstream to address the specific needs of the security industry. That is, to minimize these requirements without losing forensic details,” said Johan Paulsson, Chief Technology Officer at Axis Communications in a company press release. “We are happy and proud to announce that the enhancement of Zipstream now embraces both panoramic and ultra-high resolution cameras.”

Two new Axis compact fixed mini dome ‘fisheye’ network cameras, AXIS M3047-P and AXIS M3048-P, take advantage of the enhanced Zipstream technology to deliver 360-degree coverage on a budget.

AXIS M3047-P, with a 6-megapixel sensor, and AXIS M3048-P, with a 12-megapixel sensor, both deliver full frame rate video, according to the release.

Zipstream also works with Axis’ fixed and fixed dome, PTZ, thermal and explosion-protected cameras as well as door stations.

Axis releases explosion-protected cameras

If you’ve got a need for to keep an eye on critical, sensitive areas in potentially hazardous contexts, Axis Communications may have the solution.

Axis announced earlier this week the release three new explosion-protected cameras for use in sensitive industrial areas: XF40-Q2901 Explosion-Protected Temperature Alarm Camera, XF60-Q2901 Explosion-Protected Temperature Alarm Camera, and XP40-Q1942 Explosion-Protected PT Thermal Network Camera.

“Industrial plant operators have a tremendously difficult task,” explained Martina Lundh, global product manager for thermal and explosion-protected cameras at Axis Communications, in a company press release. “They need to ensure efficiency and continuity in large-scale, critical industrial processes, while meeting all health, safety and environmental regulations, across multiple locations and, often, across huge areas. Our new cameras deliver critical real-time information, allowing for immediate incident response which can prove to be a life-saving benefit.”

The cameras allow plant operators to monitor remote, inaccessible, and sensitive areas, allowing for rapid incident response and protection of employees, machinery and critical industrial infrastructure, according to the release. The new cameras integrate with existing Supervisory control and data acquisition architectures. The cameras are based on industry standards and open protocols, and are protected in a heavy-duty enclosure.

Use cases for the fixed cameras include control and detection of temperatures of equipment and leaks in pipes, fire detection, and monitoring of equipment and perimeter protection. They can also be used to help visually inspect and verify functions and processes are running correctly, and provide remote assistance with planned maintenance.

Use cases for the pan/tilt include detection of people in restricted areas and safety of personnel in hazardous areas. XP40-Q1942 also supports electronic image stabilization, which improves video quality in situations where cameras are subject to vibrations, and Zipstream, which lowers bandwidth and storage requirements without compromising image quality.

The cameras are certified world-wide and will be available starting this month. Interested in learning more? Contact our sales team at (800) 567-1180.

Is your community center at risk?

Louisville’s Jewish Community Center was the target of a bomb threat and had to be evacuated recently.


The threat appears to be part of a recent wave of threats and vandalism aimed at Jewish organizations. Since the first of the year, at least 134 bomb threats have been made against 100 locations across the country. Targets include Jewish Community Centers, schools and offices of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Jewish Community Center of Louisville is a vital part of the community, hosting an array of recreational opportunities ranging from swimming classes to art classes to theatre productions. The activities are open to all.
Why would anyone target such an institution?
It’s actually not unusual for religiously-affiliated institutions to be targets of violence and threats. Some are targeted for their beliefs, ethnic or religious makeup. Some are targeted because they are open and accessible by design, so it’s easy for those who wish to do harm to gain entry. Some are simply caught up as collateral damage in situations of domestic violence.
What can religiously-affiliated organizations do to protect themselves and the communities they serve? Here are a few ideas:
Gather stakeholders. Bring together organizational leaders, key staff, community members, legal counsel, insurance representatives and law enforcement. It is important to have a variety of perspectives represented; the different points of view will help you balance addressing risks with the purpose of your organization.
Assess potential threats. Think as comprehensively as possible about risks, which may include bomb threats, active shooters, vandalism, arson or more.
Develop response plans. Local law enforcement and insurance companies may be a good resource here, as well as your facilities maintenance team. Once you’ve developed response plans, communicate them appropriately. Hold regular emergency response training and drills, and distribute plans among key staff members in several locations.
Evaluate monitoring and response systems. Is your security system adequate and up to date? Are cameras, alarms and other elements fully integrated and securely accessible from remote locations? Should your facility consider a shot detection system that automatically detects gun shots and alerts first responders?
ECT Services can help you evaluate your security monitoring and response systems. Call us at (800) 567-1180 for details.

Church Shootings

Last week, the trial of the man who admitted to shooting and killing nine people at a church got underway.

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When confessed killer Dylann Roof set out to kill black people in an attempt to spark a race war, he specifically chose the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. as the location for his horrific crime in part because he thought it would be an easy target. He counted on attendees to be meet, and resistance to be minimal.

Sadly, the June 2015 shootings at Mother Emanuel were not the first time a house of worship was attacked by a madman with an agenda. In 2012, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin was targeted and six worshippers were killed;  a grandfather and grandson attending an activity at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City, Kansas were gunned down in 2014; seven attendees at a youth rally were killed at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999.

Add to that the dozens of other types of deadly incidents that occur on properties of faith-based organizations each year, and it is clear that churches, synagogues, temples and other sacred spaces are at risk.

What makes them vulnerable? The reasons are varied.

Faith communities may be targeted for their beliefs, ethnic or religious makeup, as in the case of the Charleston shooting. Faith-based gathering places also tend to be open and welcoming by design, so it is not difficult to gain access. Troubled people also tend to seek out help from religious leaders, and incidents sparked by mental health, domestic violence and issues may erupt on church property. Faith-based organizations are also often employers, and are not immune from workplace violence.

What can houses of worship do to reduce risk? Resources are available from a variety of sources. Most major church insurers offer comprehensive guidebooks and training (see here and here), as do many denominational organizations. Houses of worship should also work with local law enforcement agencies for advice and training.

Houses of worship may also consider enhancements to facilities by adding security features such as video surveillance and gunshot detection, both of which are offered by ECT Services.

The Guardian gunshot detection system developed by Shooter Detection Systems, which works by using acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots. The precise location of the gunshots is noted, and authorities are alerted immediately. Warnings are also instantly sent out to people in the facility and vicinity advising them to evacuate or take cover. This video demonstrates the basics of the system.

Interested in learning more? Register for our Live Fire event.