The era in which we’re living could one day be called the Visual Age. Screens and monitors are integrated into virtually every facet of everyday life. Video surveillance keeps us safe at the airport and shopping mall. Our smartphone tells us how to get places, how healthy we are, and how to stay in touch with each other via social media. Each device contains a dizzying array of features, each promising to connect us in new and ingenious ways, and in high resolution, making the possibilities potentially overwhelming.
The same holds true when researching and choosing a video management system (VMS) software. Whether you’re a seasoned integrator or a director of security or even a small business owner, the features available in a VMS can be hard to prioritize. What will I be using the software for primarily? Will I be able to give individual users different levels of access to the system? What type of searching and exporting capabilities will I need? How technology-savvy will my staff need to be in order to use the system to its full potential?
To help narrow the field of choices, we’ve provided below four VMS software features to look for when considering a VMS. All VMS software platforms have features that make them unique. These are the priority features that all end users, regardless of industry, should look for when purchasing a solution:
- First, choose a VMS that is fast and capable of easy searching and video management. While monitoring live video is important, most end users utilize VMS software for investigations and finding video evidence. Most of us don’t have time to waste watching video for hours to find a specific segment. There are several different ways to search on most VMS interfaces, including thumbnail and timeline search. Bookmarking and case management functionality lets users permanently save, label and manage important segments of video, audio and data for later reference. Additionally, all bookmarks are retained and protected against deletion. A VMS should have an intuitive interface to quickly find desired video and export the clip to CD or DVD or save it to provide to law enforcement as evidence. The easier and faster the search interface is, the more time it saves.
- Look for systems with centralized administration and configuration. A centralized user interface that allows users to seamlessly administer user privileges, notifications, cameras, storage and more across all servers on the system is essential. Simple and complex video management tasks should all be available from a single screen, making it easier on the end user to navigate and access needed information. Video archiving and extended storage for an entire VMS network should be accessible from the same user interface.
- A VMS’ ability to build a cross-platform, integrated security system is the third essential feature to consider when evaluating a VMS. Many customers have an existing infrastructure, including already established camera vendors or access control systems. A good VMS will integrate with any number of these systems from multiple manufacturers to provide a best-of-breed solution. From access control to point-of-sale analytics, the VMS client should offer users options for a complete surveillance solution of their choice. Intelligence features such as smart search, license plate detection, line cross and more should be possible in the VMS software. The more integrations available through a VMS provider, the more flexibility the end users have to maximize their systems to their specific needs. The VMS software should also be available on multiple operating systems and devices so that end users can easily access live and recorded video.
- And let’s not forget the power of the edge device. A smart video management system will employ the power already available in various edge devices, such as IP cameras, to perform functions like motion detection and video analytics, while sharing the resulting information via an already established network connection. This reduces the need for expensive server hardware and frees up the server’s processing power for other vital uses. Some VMS software can even be directly installed on certain IP cameras, eliminating the need for a separate server. This is ideal for remote locations that need to be connected to a larger, enterprise video security network.
When looking for a VMS system, keep these key features at the top of your list: fast, easy search and video management, centralized administration and configuration, open-platform integrations and powerful edge-based functionality. Who knows? Maybe choosing a VMS with these essentials in mind will prove easier than picking out your next new cell phone.
What other considerations have helped you choose a VMS Software? Please leave me a comment below.
Many hospitals include multiple campuses with hundreds or thousands of doors, employees, and patients to protect. The sheer size of these hospital systems creates a challenge for security executives. Acquisitions, internal growth, and out-of-date equipment complicate matters for facilities when it comes time to upgrade or completely overhaul their existing security.
A single, integrated platform for multiple system management, including security is on the top of many security professionals’ wish lists. Today, there are powerful solutions that can integrate disparate systems with a user experience that is easier to navigate than ever before.
Memorial Hermann Health System needed to centralize security across all of its locations for consistent database management and tighter security procedures. This network of 13 hospitals located in and around Houston has 5,500 affiliated physicians and 21,000 employees. The hospital system covers more than 20 million square feet of space and encompasses 1,762 doors, 1,600 cameras, and 30,000 cardholders.
Like many organizations with an expansive footprint, Memorial Hermann’s security infrastructure included dozens of offline cameras, inconsistencies in database management, unused hardware components, and a security culture as disparate as the independently operating access control systems.
Security executives decided they needed to upgrade to one Software House C•CURE 9000 security and event management platform for the entire hospital system. One of the important hurdles to clear was buy-in from all of the organization’s business units involved – something that many organizations can relate to. Part of the agreement that Memorial Hermann’s security executives made to achieve buy-in for the upgrade was to utilize existing network infrastructure for fault tolerance and resiliency, as well as budgetary restrictions.
With a plan in place, the entire security team - integrator Tech Systems Inc. and Memorial Hermann’s IT and security staff, including Corporate Security Director Geoffrey Povinelli, a member of the Software House Healthcare Advisory Council - migrated the hospital to the new security management platform with all sites centrally managed at the headquarters location. The platform integrates with the hospital system’s Hugs infant-protection product, six different video surveillance technologies, and five audio/intercom products.
More and more organizations around the world are finding answers to their management and physical security questions by centralizing security, along with other sub-systems, for one or more locations. Not only is the technology to do that readily available, but it can help an organization streamline processes, as well as save time and money not just in terms of staff, but in terms of duplicating processes and responding to events faster and more efficiently.
Learn more about Memorial Hermann Health System’s road to a centralized security system.
What concerns do you have about multi-site centralized security migration? Let me know in the comments section below.
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.
There are several industry innovations that set PowerG wireless technology apart from other wireless possibilities. One of those distinctions is frequency hopping. Here’s how it works: the intrusion device, such as a motion detector, hops around channels within the specified frequency at a constant pace to find the clearest channel. It takes a large frequency band, such as the 912-918 Mhz band, and divides that into 50 channels, translating into less interference and increased robustness of communication. Frequency hopping enables for coverage of larger areas with fewer repeaters, extended ranges, stronger communication, and better signals.
Adaptive best path transmission power means that the intelligent intrusion devices continuously find easy, strong routes of communication to the panel. That means that PowerG’s high transmission ranges offer reliable communication within / up to 2km / 2187 yards line-of-sight and that systems can reliably send images and audio clips wirelessly.
Constantly hopping frequencies to find the best signal makes devices more efficient and cuts down on interference caused by other equipment or machinery. It also increases security, making it nearly impossible for listening devices to hack into a system. Coupled with 128-bit encryption, one of the most secure web-based encryption standards in place today, provides the highest level of protection against analysis tools and digital attacks.
PowerG technology employs the same, proven frequency technology that is used by Bluetooth and is part of 4G, the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology used in mobile devices today. Thanks to this approach, data interception is extremely difficult to achieve.
Another benefit of this technology is two-way synchronous TDMA communication. Two-way devices allow for back and forth communication – ensuring alarm signals aren’t missed and reducing information collisions. TDMA communication allows each device to talk and understand each other without talking at the same time--particularly useful for applications with a significant number of devices. Ordered time slots for each device minimizes collisions between signals and allow for more devices in an application. Full two-way communication also allows devices to receive orders back from a panel.
In addition, because of the efficiency of adaptive path technology and frequency hopping, the battery savings with such technology is significant. The intelligent intrusion devices find the easiest and closest way to speak with the panel therefore battery power isn’t wasted on inefficient paths of communication or signals that go nowhere. This way battery life ranges increase from five to eight years, depending on the device.
With significantly improved security and reliability, less interference and battery savings, wireless intrusion systems with PowerG technology make going wireless an ideal solution for a wide range of applications. Learn how PowerG is used in PowerSeries Neo from DSC.
Thinking about installing Wireless Intrusion security? Here are Four Things to Remember When Installing Wireless Intrusion.
What else would you like to know about PowerG Wireless Technology? Please leave me a comment below.
Is 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.
What are your greatest concerns regarding the migration from Analog to IP Video? Please leave me a comment below.
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.
Recently, 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.
It wasn’t too long ago that those who consider themselves to be technologically challenged would cringe at the idea of having to set-up a printer and then connect that with their PC or laptop computer. The technical nature of the process, which would involve installing software and then following multiple steps to create a connection between two devices, was enough to make many people uncomfortable.
For the end user, maintenance of an intrusion alarm system can sometimes conjure similar feelings. It has traditionally meant getting on the phone with the installer or physically being in front of each keypad to make changes to zones, codes and users. It can be time-consuming, technical, and inconvenient.
But, thanks to a shift in the industry over the past decade toward more intuitive and easy to use products and programming along with remote capabilities, systems administrator software has followed suit, and end users now have a user-friendly alternative to manage their intrusion systems. In fact, the end user’s wish list of full programming functionality, easy to use applications, and mobile connectivity is a reality when it comes to systems administrator software for alarm systems.
In the past, users would have to go to each specific intrusion panel to add or delete an individual’s code. If systems administrator software was used, changes were cumbersome and required some level of system training or knowledge. The new generation of systems administrator software is designed for the full range of non-technical end users. HR personnel can enter employee/user codes right into the system without having to visit individual keypads. The security director on a college campus can access the system’s dashboard to look at multiple alarms and responses all from an easy to navigate Web page.
The sophisticated software even decreases room for errors, taking users through programming step-by-step and only saving changes when the steps have been completed properly. This “do it right or not at all” approach opens intrusion alarm system management up to any user that needs access without extensive technical training. Much like setting up a printer, the process for an end user to manage an intrusion system has been greatly simplified so that little technical knowledge is required.
In addition, the software has specific roles or different types of users, allowing the end user to determine who has access to different types of information. For example, maybe the kids in the house can check system status of the alarm system from their phones, but they are not allowed to turn the system on and off remotely. Perhaps HR personnel only have access to add or remove users, while certain security personnel have access only to the monitoring dashboard.
Those expanded capabilities are a significant differentiator from the systems administrator software of the past. Users have full control of the system in one place, allowing for arming and disarming, adding and deleting users, viewing system status in real time, and creating and modifying schedules.
Here is one other big change – all of this can all be accessible through a Web application. Users can sign in to their portal via a Web page, rather than having to download software on individual computers. A Web-hosted application not only allows for remote management, but remote upgrades to the system as well – making sure users have access to the latest and greatest as soon as it’s available.
Just like many of the electronic devices we interact with on a daily basis, managing an intrusion system has become more user-friendly than many people would have ever thought possible. Read how DSC Strengthens PowerSeries Neo Intrusion System with Robust WebSA Software.
What ways are you using Systems Administrator Software to manage your intrusion security? Please leave me a comment below.
There’s an old saying, “Half a loaf is better than none.” While that might be true for bread, it’s not really true when it comes to security, is it? Rarely are we satisfied with just a little bit of information about a situation. Rather, as inquisitive human beings, we want to take in as much information as possible, especially when there’s a critical decision tied to it.
When dealing with a security incident, we want to be presented with as much detail as is available so we can take the proper action. If an alarm sounds, but we have no information on why it sounded, what choices can we make? Do we dispatch someone, only to find out later that it is a false alarm? Or do we wait until we have confirming data, and risk that something untoward happens — a theft, an attack or some other event? If, on the other hand, there is an alarm and we have video that immediately pops up to show us the scene that goes with it, it’s that much easier to react appropriately.
The industry has a name for this operational benefit: situation awareness. Situation awareness involves providing operators with a complete picture of what is happening in the incident location so they can better understand threats, evaluate risks, and make better decisions. The advent of integrated systems has helped us improve situation awareness and brought us that other half of the information we are missing. Whether it’s a business looking at providing security for its employees and premises, or a consumer interested in a home security program, integration of alarms, access control, and video gives a more complete picture.
Integration not only allows us to react based on better information, but it speeds up the entire process. No longer are we waiting around for more data to come in; instead it is presented to us all at once. When an alarm sounds, we aren’t going to a secondary source to find the appropriate video that matches the time and location of the alarm — it’s all tied in together and presented in real time.
Having access to integrated information can be a cost saver as well. False alarms are a distraction and there can be costs with having an outside source, such as the police, respond to them. Or even if it’s only the internal security staff that has to check out each alarm, the cost of that response quickly adds up in the time wasted and resources squandered.
Today, more and more applications are being integrated to the benefit of security system users. Beyond the traditional video, access control, and intrusion alarm systems, we’re seeing the addition of video analytics, perimeter detection, tracking, and mass notification systems. Even systems that aren’t typically thought of as security related, such as building controls, are being tied in because of the important information that can be provided. For example, just think how timely it would be to be able to know and confirm that there was a water main break and a building was flooding.
While it seems great to know that all these systems can be integrated, there may be some concern about the cost and complexity. Wouldn’t hooking up all these systems and maintaining integrations be cost prohibitive? And won’t people become overwhelmed by all this data coming from multiple systems? The good news is that technology, in the form of physical security information management systems (PSIM), has allowed for these different systems to be integrated onto a single platform. With PSIM solutions as few or as many systems can be brought together as needed. This means someone could start out by just tying together alarms and video, but then easily progress to the next levels of adding in video analytics or perimeter monitoring without having to undergo a lot of additional training.
With today’s integrated systems it is becoming easier to gather information and make the most informed decisions yet. And get the complete answer.
What questions do you have about PSIM? Please let me know in the comments section below.
When most people think of the word campus, many immediately picture some stately college site, with ivy-covered buildings sprawling across acres of land with neat, green lawns and tidy pathways.
But campus can also invoke visions of a sprawling hospital complex or major businesses with manufacturing and office buildings grouped along a busy highway, a huge corporate logo out front and workers hustling among the various structures or headed to expansive parking lots.
And residing in the background, especially if some recent event has put into our minds, is how best to secure these extensive properties, be they educational complexes or business ones.
Even in the tightly confined spaces of a single office, if there is an emergency, getting the word out can be challenging at best. Are people at their desks, in the bathroom, out to lunch — how can we locate and notify them?
Now magnify that by a hundred times or more when you factor in a campus-style setting with multiple buildings, classrooms or offices and parking structures. We have only to think back on recent tragedies, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, to see how challenging it can be to inform those in danger when an event occurs.
Recently the state of Connecticut allocated more than $20 million in grants for 75 school districts to make security improvements. Some of that money is being earmarked for mass notification systems. This is just one of many Government initiatives geared towards advancing safety of campuses.
Mass notification is one of the key components needed for ensuring security within a campus setting. Whether it is an active shooter on the property, a fire in one of the buildings, a tornado headed for the area or a toxic chemical spill nearby, mass notification can make a large, sprawling space instantly more manageable.
A simple push of a panic button in one building can send the message throughout the system that there is a threat nearby. The message can be sent through various measures depending on what is installed — a flashing strobe, a text message, an audible alarm or a combination thereof. Lockdown procedures can also be initiated without relying on individuals throughout the campus setting to put them into operation on a site-by-site basis.
Campuses can be idyllic places for study or work, but they can also be targets for both natural and manmade disasters. Learning what the threats are and how best to address them is critical, whether it is a school or industrial park, from criminal activity or natural disasters there are many variables to take into consideration.
If you are responsible for campus safety, you’ll want to hear about the latest in security technology and mass notification product trends. Register to watch this recorded webinar that covers a brief overview of recent incidents, U.S. Government initiatives geared towards advancing safety of campuses, as well as technology trends, features, and opportunities in implementation of mass notification and streamlining unauthorized access.
What are your greatest security concerns in a campus setting? Please leave me a comment below.
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.
By 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.
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.
Conducting 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.