20 Things You Should Know About Networked Video
Posted on 2011-02-07
Live from the VSI Summit, Atlanta: A collection of top talking points about network video and integrated security
What can you do with video that you haven\'t been able to do before? That was the question I had in mind as I attend the Video, Security and Integration Summit (VSI Summit) in Atlanta, this Tuesday afternoon. The summit is put on by sponsors Axis Communications (cameras and video encoders), BroadWare (IP-based video management platforms), Extreme CCTV (license plate capture and infrared-illuminated surveillance) and IBM (network integration services and video analytics). NetApp, a data storage provider, was also a presenting sponsor. It\'s a vendor showcase, but in our industry, that\'s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, I haven\'t seen one top-notch security department that doesn\'t take an interest in its vendors. Eat your store-brand Rice Krispies for breakfast, but in our industry, end user-integrator-vendor partnerships are common place.
Speaking of that common partnership, the VSI Summit\'s Atlanta stop was heavily attended by integrators, a couple other local Atlanta vendors who were mixing among the small crowd, some manufacturers\' representatives and a handful of corporate security end users. The \"summit\" took around two-and-a-half-hours and was primarily a venue for vendors to discuss their latest technology or services and discuss how they can integrate with other partners. There was a clear focus, especially with the end-of-show system example, of how all four companies could partner for solutions together. The summit showed how a BroadWare video management system integrated and running on IBM equipment and using IBM\'s S3 analytics could use triggers from an Axis network camera, and pull in integrated data from an outside access control system to perhaps acquire the license plate of a car arriving at a parking lot gate.
The solutions being demonstrated were all-digital, IP-configured systems. Even analog cameras like Extreme CCTV\'s REG camera were shown configured through video encodes so that data could be delivered to an IT-compliant system. The summit wasn\'t the time or place to get into the detailed nuts and bolts of product specifying, but it took a broad stroke to paint a picture of how video can be integrated and managed in the current corporate environment.
It\'s hard to summarize a small technology show like this, and so I think it\'s best to give you 20 of the best \"takeaways\" from today\'s presentations.
1. Wireless is no longer the ugly stepchild. Wireless applications are becoming increasingly commonplace as integrators deliver their services to government operations housed in historic structures, where architectural preservation is required
2. Wireless line-of-sight (l.o.s.) technology is an option for long-distance high-speed video communications. Dlink, Proxim, Motorola and Alvarion are all offering systems to do line-of-sight.
3. If you\'re needing to transfer video in a non-l.o.s. environment, such as one that might deal with trees or semi-dense objects, the 900Mhz bandwidth is a top solution, though it too will degrade and is not designed for extreme distances
4. IP systems need a network media switch to serve as a \"traffic cop\" to manage bandwidth if you\'re delivering a video-intensive solution to your client.
5. IT security directors are often fond of Linux-based applications and this is affecting the product that video management vendors are offering.
6. Nothing\'s changed. \"Video is [still] a bandwidth hog\", notes Dennis Charlebois of BroadWare.
7. Specifiers and end users need to really assess what they\'re putting on the network. Analytics can help, since there is no reason to push video over a network if that video is not useful or is not being used.
8. Storage, despite major price drops, is the factor that can drive the cost of many systems through the roof. Again, there needs to be a realistic assessment of whether you need 30 frames per second of 4 CIF images on every camera.
9. Don\'t get tied down to management systems that don\'t allow for SDKs and APIs, so that the system can be open-platform and integrated to other systems in the future.
10. IP systems may still create small issues with latency. Depending on your network design (especially if the system is being controlled by someone not on the LAN), the latency may cause problems with PTZ cameras.
11. More network hops equals more latency.
12. Now that we have flexibility of design, we have to use that flexibility. Make sure to design systems so that they take into account all your different types and levels of users. At a retail store, the security and safety department may need the video of parking lots and loading docks, but the LP director is the only one who gets access to register cameras and POS data. The store shift managers may only have access to limited video feeds.
13. Think about your video storage and the video\'s importance. Ask yourself, says IBM\'s Sam Docknevich, \"How long do you keep video on fast access disks before you move that data to cheaper storage such as optical solutions, and how long is it before that data goes to an IronMountain type of facility?
14. Surveillance video has to be approached on the network in the same way that your IT staff would treat any other data/information product.
15. Video analytics isn\'t our industry\'s panacea. It isn\'t self-learning and it won\'t make decisions unless you\'ve already told it exactly how to make those decisions. It also isn\'t quite mature yet.
16. Analytics needs to be able to do post-event analysis, such that video not coming from an analytics-ready camera unit can be processed for searches.
17. Most companies are not deploying secondary networks for video surveillance, but they are now building enough bandwidth into the business network to accommodate video surveillance.
18. Systems are now using HTTP protocol to talk to each other.
19. Video data needs to have metadata associated with it to enable search and management functionality.
20. Return on investment for integrated security systems cannot be determined fully until you know the costs of not doing it.
That\'s all I\'ve got for you from the VSI Summit for now. A big thanks to our host for picking my name out of the hat for the free Axis camera, and I do hope the integrator who won the camera after I declined it puts it to better use than I could have. See you next time and down the road.
Quoted from: http://www.securityinfowatch.com/article/article.jsp?siteSection=429&id=10366
Going Mobile with Video Surveillance on Chicago Bus System
Posted on 2010-11-12
Going Mobile with Video Surveillance on Chicago Bus System
From on-board cameras to hotspots and even to police responders -- how IBM and the CTA are solving the problem of localized video
Geoff Kohl, editor
As surveillance video has grown increasingly popular, it's popped up in more and more everyday places. It watches the cashier in fast-food restaurants. It captures identities of customers at convenience stores. It watches from the corners of downtown office buildings. It pans, tilts and zooms from dome cameras mounted on lampposts in urban districts.
It's even been found to some extent on transit system buses, though a mobile bus system has always presented a unique challenge. First, only today's newer buses have cameras built in (like the one's Bombardier is providing to Toronto's transit system -- see story); the others require time-consuming retrofits. Secondly, bus systems need to be "hardened" type systems to deal with the rough city streets, so not just any mounting system and DVR will do. And finally, the problem has always been that the video resides on the bus, making it a time-consuming and sometimes labor intensive task to take video off the bus. It's complicated by the fact that buses are designed to spend their time on the streets, delivering passengers, rather than back at a bus depot, downloading video via a network cable.
That's the situation that Christine Beaudin, principal of network services for IBM, found when IBM landed a $2.4 million project with the Chicago Transit Authority. IBM was selected to be the networked services and security integrator for the beginning of a massive mobile bus security project that would eventually place cameras on all of the city's buses. But it wasn't just a job of wiring up cameras to DVRs -- that was already done. Chicago's Transit Authority wanted the video to be useful; it wasn't good enough for the video to simply sit on the bus as an archive of the incident. The CTA and Chicago's police representatives wanted to be able to access the video in real-time if an incident was occurring.
It patterned well with what Chicago and Illinois' Cook County area was already doing in high-crime areas with its "eyes in the sky" street cameras and gunshot detectors that fed to a police monitoring station. The problem, of course, was how to make that video accessible.
That's where IBM network services crew stepped in, headed up by Beaudin and her team.
"Essentially what the CTA is trying to do is to build a broadband system across the city in order to be able to provide video surveillance on all the buses," explains Beaudin. "They currently have over 600 cameras across the bus and rail systems, and 400 cameras in the bus system itself. Right now the video is local to the bus itself, and what they wanted to do was provide connectivity back to the main central office so they could be more proactive and be able to work closely with the Chicago Police Department, so if there is an incident, they can react more quickly."
Fortunately for IBM, the new buses coming online with the CTA were being delivered with cameras, and some of the old buses had been retrofitted. Most of the buses have between four and six cameras, so there was no shortage of available video, whether that was looking forward at what the driver sees, or looking back into the bus where the passengers were seated. Many of the cameras are capturing 30 frames per second, but according to Beaudin the system is designed such that the recorder on the bus may capture 30 fps on all the cameras, but due to bandwidth limitations, they may only push 10 fps over the wireless network.
Thus, IBM's part of the project was to build out a broadband 4.9 Ghz and 2.4 GHz wireless infrastructure so the CTA could connect with the surveillance video it already had. According to Beaudin, their task was to add wireless nodes to the buses and to initial fixed-installation sites, such as a bus terminal.
Then, says Beaudin, with the buses wired up for cameras, recorders and wireless nodes to transmit video, the Chicago Police vehicles were also set up with mobile access routers from Cisco and Panasonic's Toughbook computers so they could connect to a bus if they are in the vicinity.
"Those mobile access routers," says Beaudin, "shake hands to say, yes, you are allowed to see that video. And essentially what happens is that the police responder's vehicle becomes another node on the network."
Then, once they are connected to a bus, the responder can select which cameras they want to see. And while the network connectivity is off to a great start, the software for viewing the system is still in development, says Beaudin, who notes that her department has traditionally worked with an Insight or Genetec surveillance software package.
But the solution doesn't come without challenges, and it's not an instantaneous solution.
"It teaks a lot of time to deploy a wireless network," explains Beaudin. "It's not like a cellular phone. A lot of people think that once you put a router in a bus you can automatically connect and start receiving and sending data, but actually you have to have a connection outside of the bus to start sending video data back to the central office. And obviously, Chicago does not yet have the infrastructure -- the wireless "cloud" -- across the entire city. So until that happens, what the CTA has to do is that they have to go to a bus terminal where we have also installed another 4.9 Ghz radio and then they can communicate that video from the bus through the terminal connection and back to the central office.
"The eventual dream is that they're going to be able to communicate [video back to the central office] from anywhere in the city, but for the time being, they have to go from bus terminal to bus terminal."
Fortunately, the wireless hotspots are growing. As of late December, there were 39 bus connection hotspots, and Beaudin hoped that number could double soon. For some of the bus lines that means a wireless connection about every 10 minutes -- so while it's not an always-on connection like a cell phone, the infrastructure is being planned to eventually reach that goal. It's aided by the fact that there's a fiber optic system built alongside the rail system. That trunk will be a core backbone of the system, says Beaudin, when the network of wireless hotspots is fully built.
In the first phase of the hotspots connection that IBM is building, the buses will have to pause at those terminal to let the video download, but Beaudin says that in a later phase, IBM will connect all of the terminals and then create a wireless mesh among those hotspots so that the buses wouldn't have to pause to transfer video, but that the system would simply pick back up downloading at the next hotspots where it left off at the previous hotspot.
Of course, not all of the video will have to be downloaded on the wireless mesh. The camera and DVR system is designed to delineate between important video and unimportant video. For example, if the bus driver applies the brakes strongly, the system buffers back before that application of the brakes and records the video coming up to that and for a specified period of time after that. And if an incident is happening in the bus, the driver (who can have a view of the video as well) can select a panic button to mark the video as "of interest".
And while the implementation will take time -- the initial installation for this pilot project was finished in October 2006 and will stay in pilot mode for about four months -- it's a start of a model for a wireless system that could become applicable for not only all manners of transit system, but also applicable for mobile security forces. Eventually the system should cover the CTA's 2,100 buses, so it clearly is a full-scale, real-world test of how to make mobile surveillance work. And as the project expands to the Chicago rail transit system, it will have to solve even more unique connectivity challenges like getting individual train cars to work together like a single unit in a mesh framework.
But as Beaudin notes, the project, while driven by security and police, is not just about adding security technology and exploring new system design avenues.
"The biggest thing about this project is that they want their riders to feel safer, and that will help increase ridership."
Quoted from: http://www.securityinfowatch.com/article/article.jsp?siteSection=429&id=10201
CCTV CAMERAS THAT FELL FOUL OF THE SAFETY POLICE
Posted on 2010-11-12
Copyright 2006 Associated Newspapers Ltd.
All Rights Reserved
DAILY MAIL (London)
December 4, 2006 Monday
CCTV CAMERAS THAT FELL FOUL OF THE SAFETY POLICE
BY ANDREW LEVY
AS they are specifically designed to protect the public, CCTV cameras would seem an unlikely safety hazard.
But a local authority has been ordered to remove all the cameras from
its lampposts in case they fall on passers-by and trigger compensation
Rochford District Council in Essex said it was being forced to act after
health and safety officials at the county council decided the 43lb
cameras might be too heavy for the lampposts to hold.
Former district council chairman Peter Webster said: 'It's absurd. Who's ever heard of anyone being hit by a camera?'
The council has three sets of cameras in Rochford Town Square ñ which is
plagued by anti-social behaviour ñ and another nine in the nearby
villages of Hullbridge and Hockley.
Some of the lampposts appear antique but were actually erected only a few years ago.
Removing the £15,000 cameras, which were installed three years ago, will cost a further £5,000.
While there are hopes to replace them with lighter units, that will cost
£29,000 and it is not clear whether money is available. Essex County
Council's dictum said: 'The council's street lighting engineer has
recently inspected the columns [lampposts] and has strong concerns over
the weight attached to the columns.'
District council community safety officer Stephen Garland said: 'We have
had gale force winds and all kinds of bad weather and never had a
single problem with a camera ñ or indeed anything ñ falling from a
lamppost.' A Rochford resident, who asked not to be named, added: 'To
remove the cameras is barmy. There is enough trouble in the area without
making it worse.
'Yobs will see this as a green light to create mayhem.'
A county council spokesman said that it had a duty of care to ensure public safety.
'We will continue to work with Rochford Council to find a satisfactory and safe solution,' he added.
December 4, 2006
BEEFING UP SECURITY
Posted on 2010-11-12
Kirk Ladendorf AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
For about 26 million American families, homeland security starts at home.
They are the ones who have alarm systems installed in their homes, usually paying monthly fees, primarily to one of a handful of large companies led by ADT Security Services Inc.
But some feisty newcomers are entering the market with innovative technology and plans to take a slice of the multibillion-dollar business.
One of them, Austin's uControl Inc., says it is striking deals with dozens of home security contractors and other businesses to sell its smarter, more flexible alarm system that attaches to and takes control of an older pre-installed system.
CEO Jim Johnson says uControl's ability to work with an existing alarm system makes it ideal for security dealers who want to offer customers a simple upgrade to a system with more features, stronger communications capabilities, and more flexible control and monitoring.
Sales deals are expanding so quickly that Johnson says the company might forgo the usual startup practice of campaigning hard to raise venture capital. UControl, which has raised about $5 million from its founders and a few individual investors, has had some talks with potential venture investors.
But the company might decide to finance its growth through sales revenue.
The company, founded in late 2005, also plans to sell its systems and alarm service to individual consumers and to broadband communications providers that would offer it as an extra service to their customers.
"All signs are positive," Johnson says. "We are engaged in discussions with 90 percent of the top 15 dealers in the industry, and I think most of them will distribute our product. We have revenue coming in the door, and there is a good chance that revenue will start funding most of our spending in Q2. It's awesome. It's fantastic. We are going to upset the apple cart and let competition grab some of the market."
But uControl faces some major challenges. It is one of several startups attacking the home security market with broadband-based technology, and the established players in the industry are starting to work on needed changes.
Analysts caution that it might take more than a year before they can determine which of the newcomers to the market will survive and thrive.
But Johnson says big changes in home telephone technology are spurring some players in the industry to seek new solutions, and an increasing number of established dealers are looking to uControl for products and services.
The company plans to disclose some of its new business allies at the ISC West security trade show in Las Vegas this month.
Johnson, like several members of uControl's senior management team, was involved in three successful Austin startups tied to broadband communications or network security: NetSpeed Inc., which was sold to Cisco Systems Inc. in 1998; BroadJump Inc., which was sold to Motive Inc. in 2003; and TippingPoint Technologies, which was sold to 3Com Corp. in 2005.
"The (management) group has done this several times before," he says. "Trying to create hardware and software that scales to millions of customers is something that they have done a few times before. What we are doing in the alarm system market is something we have done in other industries."
UControl is using some of the engineering, technical and marketing talent from those companies to try to win a sizable share of the $5 billion home security market, Johnson says. The company has about 35 employees.
The traditional alarm business, Johnson says, has been slow to adjust to the increasingly digitized American home.
Conventional alarm systems depend primarily on conventional phone lines to communicate their alarms, and they use an older wireless technology as a backup.
Those older alarm systems usually are unable to work with digital phones, and the backup wireless technology is threatened with extinction by changes in federal wireless regulations.
"Homeowners who have given up their traditional phone line and turned to their cell phone or digital phone service cannot rely on their alarm system to work without buying additional services," Johnson says. "With uControl, homeowners get a better security system that is compatible with broadband, Internet phone technology and cell-phone-only homes."
The company offers two levels of alarm service, one for $29.95 a month, the other for $39.95 a month.
The higher-priced service can use any of three communications links, while the lower priced service can use two.
Customers who already have an alarm system in their house would first discontinue their service with their security company.
Homeowners without an alarm system also can get the service, but they would need to have a system installed by a contractor the same way that a conventional alarm system is put in.
With uControl's service, homeowners can monitor and operate their home alarm systems from any computer, PDA and cell phone, giving them more flexibility and control.
"It is really a perfect storm for us right now," Johnson says. "The traditional phone lines are going away and people are changing to new phones. The alarm industry has built its entire business around traditional analog phone lines, and there are a lot of changes that need to be made. The consumer is being bombarded with alternative service providers, and they are looking for better ways to handle home communications. So, there is an opening here."
Harley Jebens of Dallas switched to uControl last year after burglars broke into his home after cutting the telephone line to disable the security system. "UControl provides backup connections so my alarm system is always monitored," Jebens says. "They are also more responsive. Unlike other alarm companies, uControl notifies me if one of the (communications) connections goes down, and immediately switches to another connection to keep the system working."
UControl's engineers spent more than a year devising a control board that can link into a home's phone or broadband communications system, or send wireless alerts in case of an intrusion alarm.
The new system takes control of the old alarm system and expands its capabilities.
If the home phone line gets cut, the alarm system senses the broken communications link and automatically shifts to another form of communication, either a broadband data link or a cellular link.
The system's control board also has extensive software embedded in flash memory and an ARM9 processor to provide the brainpower.
Johnson says the board was designed to be installed quickly by a homeowner who is comfortable with technology or by an alarm company technician.
Like any alarm systems company, uControl links its system to an alarm-response operation. That part of its business has been outsourced to a certified emergency response company in San Antonio.
Analysts say the startup companies entering the alarm industry are riding a wave of broadband communications technology that gives them a leg up on older, more limited systems.
"We're still in the very early days" of the new competition in the industry, says analyst Sam Lucero with ABI Research in Scottsdale, Ariz. "It is going to take 12 to 18 months before we start to get a solid vision of what is working and what is not."
March 12, 2007
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