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Women in Security: Leading the Way


We’ve made a lot of progress when it comes to women in technology careers. More and more women are taking leadership positions across the business world, with women leading large and well-known companies like IBM, Yahoo, Facebook and Lockheed Martin, to name a few. The times really are a-changin’, as Bob Dylan said, as we see more young women than ever seeking professions in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with support from organizations like the White House’s Council on Women and Girls, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and with well-publicized initiatives at schools like MIT and Stanford.

So it was gratifying to hear that my colleague, Irene Lam, Vice President of R&D and Engineering at Tyco Security Products, was recently named one of the  Women’s Security Council 2015 Women of the Year, an award that honors the top female professionals in the security industry. As a gifted leader and active philanthropist, Irene really embodies the professional woman of today and represents just how far women have come in the world of business and technology.


Today, Irene leads a 500-person department responsible for product development, from the design phase to the manufacturing phase. She is responsible for the launch of many new products each year and oversees a network of technology development centers located across the globe. Even in today’s environment, such a role is still more commonly held by men. Irene is also helping to change that reality by actively participating in Tyco Security Products’ mentoring program, where she and other leaders give of their time to several candidates each year, most of them women.

Irene and I are lucky to work for a company that values the recruitment and training of women and sees its future success including women’s contributions and leadership. It’s with good reason, as it’s been well documented that companies that embrace a diverse, highly skilled and educated employee population are simply more successful than those that do not..

Yet we realize that there is more work to be done.  I’m proud to say that there has been a substantial increase in the hiring of women at Tyco Security Products in the last five years and a growing interest by women in working for the company in many of our locations throughout the globe. Currently, approximately 40 percent of our employees are women, with many of those women involved in product management, marketing and engineering in various locations around the world.

csm Tyco Womens Growth Network Logo small 398fcebaacTyco Security Products also supports women through internal programs such as the Women’s Growth Network which encourages women to seek technology-oriented roles within the company, and with involvement in events such as the annual Massachusetts’ Conference for Women, an event providing education on entrepreneurship and professional development. We also recently sponsored a local event called the All Girls Challenge, a two-day creativity marathon that invites girls to work in teams to come up with a product that solves a social problem. The program asks participants to draw upon Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills to create their product.

It is evident that as our professions become increasingly more technology-based, businesses must add technically talented women to their ranks in order to continue to compete and succeed. I feel fortunate to work in a company that has that vision, that recognizes the vital and significant roles women will play in defining its the future. With leaders like Irene and companies like ours, we are developing the next generation of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, which can’t help but benefit all of us.

SG-System 5 and the Central Station of the Future


Next Stop: The Central Station of the Future

None of us can predict the future, especially when it comes to business. But it’s beneficial - and sometimes even fun - to consider what the future might be like.

Though most within the physical security industry agree that the central station is moving toward becoming multi-functional and capable of doing more than monitor alarms, the possibilities are endless. There are a few qualities that the central station of the future is likely to have, though, should current trends and innovations continue.

Adaptability and scalability will be required in the central station of the future. A system’s ability to adapt to new technologies, to integrate with other systems and expand exponentially in size will undoubtedly be key features. Incompatibility, proprietary brands and hardware limitations can no longer be the gates that stifle a system’s potential. Use of multiple profiles, receivers with increased capacities, and easy adaptability to new technologies will keep the central station of the future nimble and dynamic.

The central station of the future will likely still require an operator to make judgment calls to determine what computerized systems cannot. In order to do this efficiently, operators will need to have access to video from locations where an alarm is happening in order to make well-informed decisions. Instead of operators sorting through huge lists of events, they will use visual verification to view an image from the site and to make a determination by looking at a screen shot, which accelerates the handling of such events.

Central stations will likely have a smaller physical footprint in the future. At present, central stations must purchase additional components that often require extra space in the receiver room in order to achieve redundancy. The central station of the future will likely be smaller, but also will support a greater number of monitored accounts.

When the functionality of a security system can literally save lives, downtime is more than an inconvenience. Therefore, a service agreement will be an important component for the central station of the future. As systems become more automated, it’s critical that downtime be minimal. Manufacturers will package service agreements with their central station products to ensure continuity and functionality. Components will also be hot swappable, meaning parts can be replaced without shutting down an entire system and without having to reconfigure the settings for the replaced part.

Clearly, the central station of the future puts power in the hands of the user with larger and more powerful receivers, the ability to create groupings and with the ability to move accounts using profile features. The flexible central station of the future moves away from a proprietary model to a more integrated approach, establishing an infrastructure for future growth and changes in technology.

i SG System 5

To learn more about how to future-proof your central station, check out the newly released Sur-Gard System 5 IP-based receiver, which supports visual alarm verification and is recognized as a powerful, yet space saving system.

IP Migration: Planning a Successful Journey


A few years ago, the conversation surrounding the migration to IP from analog was focused on whether it made sense to do it.  Was the technology where it needed to be? Was the cost differential justified? Was there the internal support system in place to run something more sophisticated and complex?

Today, most security personnel feel they can answer those questions favorably and have come on board with the benefits of IP video. Thus, the conversation is turning from whether to do it all to how to do it wisely and well.

Although there are many examples of end users who have successfully made the transition, there still is no single format to adopt in making the migration. The process is different for everyone, but time and field experience can help pinpoint some of the best paths to follow.

One of the issues complicating the ease of migration is that, as more and more end users have moved to IP, there has been a corresponding surge in products coming onto the market.

This has made the selection process evolve from reviewing a handful of IP megapixel cameras and recording devices to a seemingly endless array of options. And while it can be great to have choices, it also requires that you hone in on what your specific needs will be.

IP Cameras

What type of video are you looking to record and for how long? What quality of image is needed? How can you maximize the megapixels in which you’ve invested? A thorough review of the requirements on a camera by camera basis will go a long way toward making that part of your migration a wise one.

A smart migration also requires an in-depth look at the network on which the system will run. Adding more cameras or replacing your existing ones with models that require more bandwidth can cause critical bottlenecks if there isn’t some additional planning that precedes the installation.

Much has been said about building the bridge between the security and IT departments, and this is certainly an instance where that rings true. Embarking on an IP conversion will go a lot more smoothly if IT signs on early and is given a clear understanding of what you are trying to do. 

Of course, there are other areas to consider as well, ranging from power supplies to recording options as well as how best to use the technology you’ve chosen by reviewing and trying out the new IP camera and recorder features.

In our upcoming webinar, “Migration From Analog to IP”, we’ll delve into all of these topics so you can wisely and successfully manage your own journey into the world of IP. Register today - Webinar: Wed, Apr 8, 2015 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT.


St. Joseph’s Health Care: The Right Technology at the Right Time


St. Joseph's LogoThere are thousand of moving parts in a health care organization, which operates on a 24/7/365 schedule. A medical facility such as St. Joseph’s Health Care London in Ontario, Canada, requires a security system that provides around-the-clock monitoring and immediate access as events unfold, day or night.

The organization also knows that it can certainly benefit from the latest advancements in security technology, but the approach to adopting new systems has to come with a sound strategic plan in mind.

When St. Joseph’s recently underwent an upgrade in its security system to include IP video, among the key areas the security team wanted to address were video clarity, latency and breadth of coverage so it could better monitor and respond to the ongoing and potential incidents taking place inside and outside of the hospital.

IP CamerasTo achieve these goals, St. Joseph’s and its integrator, Integrated Video & Surveillance, added more than 45 IP cameras to supplement the hundreds of analog ones already in place, upgraded its video platform and tapped into the power of analytics.

Aided by the improved video quality of an IP-based system, with a video platform that allows security personnel to view images in real time, without playback interruption, means officers can follow a situation as it occurs, moving seamlessly from one camera view to another and at a resolution level so they can critical information clearly.

The addition of IP cameras with improved resolution and seamless recording and playback performance also provides St. Joseph’s with the ability to address myriad issues that are at the heart of running a successful medical facility — whether it is monitoring hallways and parking lots for potential accidents or checking out who is trying to access a restricted area, such as a pharmacy or psychiatric ward.

Video Security Center

Deploying analytics added another level of sophisticated functionality to the security system, allowing St. Joseph’s security staff to engage in people counting or set security perimeters in specific areas that will trigger alarms in the system.

Like any organization looking to update its systems, St. Joseph’s approached the project with goals and a budget in mind. There are many new systems available for improving security these days, so it takes careful planning and a strategic partnership with an integrator to settle on those areas that will bring the most benefit. Instead of swapping out everything that was in place, like the hundreds of analog cameras, St. Joseph’s strategically deployed technology that would take it to the next level.

And the organization is now poised to continue its updates, operating from a timetable and with a program that works within the parameters it has carefully set.

To read more on St. Joseph’s Healthcare and their transition to an IP video platform, click here to download the full case study.


Social, Mobile and Remote: The Transformation of PSIM


Advances in engineering and information architecture continually change how we use technology. Some advances have caused subtle changes in product design or application within the physical security market. Other technological advances fundamentally alter how we do business and think about physical security and, in particular, physical security information management (PSIM) platforms.

Proximex SurveillintProximex Surveillint PSIM

There have been a number of technological advances in the last few years, but four dynamics in particular deserve special exploration. All four are actively reshaping how PSIM products are developed and what end users are now expecting in the security market.

Social Media

One of the most interesting of these dynamics is social media. Social media platforms create organic communication networks among millions of people. For example, enterprises and large municipalities today routinely monitor Twitter feeds to identify traffic disruptions or potential protest activity near a facility. In recent months, some PSIM systems have harnessed the immediacy and speed of the medium, using keyword prevalence, geospatial information and hash tag monitoring of social media to obtain a broad perspective of what is happening in a locality or at an event.

mobile phone 579548 640

Another powerful change agent is mobile technology. Mobile technology in PSIMs will likely become more mainstream as users become more accustomed to using apps to accomplish their daily tasks. Mobile apps that leverage the native capabilities of smart phones or tablets can notify responders of events and keep security operations up-to-date with pictures and streamed video. However, the real power of mobile technologies is in being able to reach the broader user community. For example, if a tornado was identified by a command center, a PSIM operator could automatically send a customized message to community members in its path, advising them to take shelter, along with the nearest shelter location.

Even though its application is only in its infancy in physical security, cloud computing is having a significant impact on the market and the development of PSIM products. Cloud computing is beneficial to the user and integrator in several ways. Cloud applications can be deployed quickly and accommodate varying processing and storage space needs on demand. By decreasing the need for on-site servers and databases, cloud computing can reduce physical space needs, maintenance and hardware costs, and IT staffing requirements. The use of cloud computing will continue to expand as technology advances and there is broader adoption.

The Internet of Things – known as IoT – is moving beyond being just a buzzword and is becoming a reality. Big and small data is streaming into users’ and operators’ hands rapidly and in great volume. In many ways, the PSIM can be viewed as an IoT application. PSIMs today collect a variety of event and health data from different sensors to correlate information and provide insights into incidents. PSIMs of tomorrow will be able to collect all of the data that sensors of different kinds report and then make use of that data to find patterns and meaning. An example of this would be harnessing the data from police dispatch, traffic reports, keyword social media searches, onsite intrusion and access control alerts and video to monitor and anticipate security needs at a large-scale event. If the data detects an escalation in activity, additional police or security could be activated and dispatched, all through the PSIM interface.

As these four trends further permeate the industry, the PSIM market will no doubt change and adapt quickly. As data sources and data volumes continue to grow, the need for a platform that can provide understandable and actionable intelligence will become exponentially more valuable.

Technology Keeps an Eye on the Lone Worker


In a world filled with people, there are still many instances when individuals can be alone and vulnerable in the workplace. Consider the security officer making his rounds on a sprawling college campus, or the healthcare worker making his or her way through a maze of corridors in a hospital after hours. Even construction personnel can find themselves separated from co-workers when they are working on a large project such as tunnel construction.

While security cameras have served individuals well as a tool to record difficult and dangerous situations as they happen, the video is often viewed only after someone has gone missing and needs to be found.

In contrast, technologies such as lone worker transmitters are increasingly sounding the alarmsecurityguard 400px that something is amiss in real time, protecting individuals who are operating alone or who are not always within visual or verbal range of co-workers. 

If a person is attacked or suffers some sort of illness or injury that keeps him from getting help on his own, he can use the transmitter — which can be carried, worn as a pendant or attached to a belt — to sound an alarm. A local positioning system within it can help pinpoint the person’s location via interface with infrared or low frequency beacons. And this can be done quickly and efficiently, helping to guide rescue workers to the precise location of the individual in need. 

While these types of transmitters can be lifesavers, if not designed properly, they can also be potential sources of frustrating false alarms. Like the boy who cried wolf, if the devices sound too many false alarms, the efficacy of the technology comes into question, often resulting in people not using them or responders ignoring the call for help.

Fortunately, the means by which an alarm is triggered — pushing on a front button, double squeezing the device or pulling out a cord —has improved vastly so false alarms are rare. Although triggering an alarm in these instances requires active participation by the holder of the transmitter, there are also means by which an alarm can be sounded if the person is disabled.

A fall detection feature can send an alert if the device is no longer vertical. For instance, if a nurse is wearing it on her belt and is knocked down during an attack, an alarm will be triggered because the device is no longer in the proper position. Or if a person who is wearing the device falls ill and faints, the fall detection feature will be activated.

To reduce false alarms, the transmitter can be programmed so if the wearer just bends over, or sets the device down on a table, it won’t send a false alarm.

The advent of the lone worker transmitter is providing a new sense of safety for security, corrections, healthcare and other professionals who may be unaccompanied and at risk. This technology ensures that responders can get to a person quickly, while knowing that the alarm is a legitimate one.

mandowntransmitter new 300pxWant to learn more about the benefits of employing lone worker transmitter technology?

Click here to find out more about the Elpas Lone Worker Transmitter.






Weathering the Storm: Selecting Security Solutions for Harsh Environments


Discussions of global warming aside, just about everyone can agree that the weather and environmental conditions are ever changing and have become a major consideration when putting together specifications for a security system.

While much attention is paid to what physically needs to be secured and the best cameras, readers and sensors to achieve this, none of that will matter much if the products chosen aren’t up to rigors of temperature, wind, rain, snow and sea.

With the need to secure just about everything these days, it is incumbent on integrators, installers and security personnel to select equipment that can truly weather the storm. The growing emphasis on perimeter security has shifted the focus to not only what works for interior settings, but what is feasible for the exterior as well. And these may not always be the same products.

The oil industry is a good example of where security equipment needs to stand up to varying extreme weather security - Tyco Security Productsoutdoor conditions. A pipeline running through Alaska or Canada will require cameras that can operate in freezing temperatures as well as work through icing/thawing conditions. An oil rig in the sea, however, presents a different scenario that calls for equipment designed to handle corrosive salt water, high winds and varying hot and cold conditions. And desert-based oil refineries present yet another challenge from sand, wind and extreme heat.

Fortunately, the security industry has been responding to the needs of customers operating in these harsh environments by developing products with special enclosures and even tablet-style technology that work well in these conditions.

So what should specifiers be looking for? In selecting appropriate products it becomes necessary to identify those that can operate in the appropriate temperature range, have dustproof or non-corrosive housings and are UL certified for operating in extreme conditions. Readers can be especially vulnerable because of their location and frequent use, so it’s important to make a good choice here.

It also is important to look at the make up of the building or structure itself and whether the cameras, readers or other equipment can be adequately mounted to the wall, fence or door.

Sometimes the desire to adopt the newest technology needs to be set aside in these unique settings. The enticement of wireless locks may be great from a system standpoint, for instance, but as yet most don’t have the same waterproof and dustproof capabilities of the more seasoned traditional keypads.

Some of the other newer systems, such as facial recognition or hand readers, also require more pristine environments and may not be the right choice for a weather-challenged site, despite their advanced security offerings.

What it comes down to in the end is doing the due diligence on the site, defining the requirements, reviewing the conditions and physical setting and then specifying those products that can perform best. Then let the rain, snow and winds come — you’ll be ready.

How do you go about selecting the right access control system for a harsh environment?

Check out SDM Magazine’s recent article titled “9 Tips for Tough Access Control Spots.”

Leading in fashion and loss prevention


Like the latest designs that fill its stores’ racks, retailer Century 21 considers itself a leader in the adoption of the latest in security technology. And for good reason -  the company’s high-fashion, low-price stores in the New York/New Jersey area are filled with products that range in value from a few dollars to thousands, requiring an advanced loss prevention program.

Even in its strides to stay on top of security advancements, Century 21 does so with very specific goals in mind. While on board with analog to IP video conversion, the company wanted to migrate to an IP solution only if it could maintain or exceed its current standards for security.

Recently, the stores’ loss prevention professionals sought a means to address one of the less-desirable byproducts of IP technology — latency.

Latency, which is the delay between joystick movement used to command camera movement Tyco Security Products, PTZ, Latency, American Dynamics, illustraand the camera’s actual response to the command, can be devastating in active surveillance situations.  Losing sight of a person because of slow camera response time wasn’t an option when it came to protecting inventory, personnel, and patrons. Low latency and high picture quality were on the top of Century 21’s shopping list.

The Illustra 625 IP PTZ cameras have the ability to move into position as fast as 512º per second, providing accurate tracking control when loss prevention personnel are tracking suspected shoplifters through a retail location or when other suspicious events occur within the store. The cameras provide Century 21’s loss prevention personnel with an efficient means to undertake active surveillance and effective tracking of suspicious behavior.

Another key part of the solution is how the video is recorded and accessed for forensic purposes. The retailer wanted to make the best use of loss prevention personnel. Having tools that could reduce the time spent watching recorded video was also critical, and technological improvements have helped answer those needs.

Century 21’s VideoEdge video management system platform, through the use of metadata collection and motion search tools, greatly reduces video search-and-review times.  Security team members aren’t tied to a desk or office any longer — they can access the NVMS via iPhones or iPads, giving them the ability to monitor situations remotely.

Companies such as Century 21 are investing in the latest technology not only to reach their loss prevention goals, but also to bring value to other store operations. The same surveillance system and analytics used to spot potential thieves or detect in-house loss prevention issues can be deployed in non-security situations.  They can be used to track consumer shopping patterns which result in better store layouts and optimized staffing levels.

It’s a return on a cutting-edge investment that can improve the retailer’s bottom line in new and exciting ways.

Illustra 625 PTZ Tyco Security Products


 Tyco Security Products’  Illustra 625 PTZ Dome Camera was recently named Best Camera by IFSEC Global. Find out more about how its fast tracking and superb zooming speed earned the Illustra 625 PTZ this industry honor! 





On the edge or in the cloud: Exploring the latest storage options


Long ago, security professionals utilized VCR tapes for video storage, which entailed endless hours of searching for video evidence. Video storage has since evolved with smarter, easier options. Now, integrators and end users have a variety of options for video storage based on their needs and budgets.

Certain industries, such as gaming, will probably continue to rely on centrally based applications to support the hundreds and even thousands of cameras deployed in this type of setting. But for other security installations, either edge or cloud-based storage are two options that should be considered.

Benefits of Edge Storage

Edge storage is gaining popularity, especially among smaller installations, because it can be a cost-saving solution. Instead of investing in a separate server, the video management system (VMS) runs directly on the IP camera and stores video to the camera’s SD card. Video can also be archived to network storage appliances for even more versatility.

Edge storage is ideal as a stand-alone, distributed solution or part of a complete enterprise installation. Businesses ranging from gas stations to branch offices or utility buildings with fewer than a dozen cameras on site may find edge storage to be more practical than adding another server. In addition to remote locations and installations with low camera counts, edge storage works well for environments with unreliable wireless or WAN connectivity. The camera records video and audio even when the network is down.

video storage tyco security productsIt also provides high reliability for operators because there is no single point of failure. Each camera continuously records as long as the camera has power. The cameras operate independently, so even if one fails and is no longer able to store video, the other cameras continue to function.

Benefits of Cloud-Based Storage

On the other end of the spectrum, companies looking to handle massive amounts of video may benefit from the cloud model. This includes the financial industry, which has considerable storage requirements.

Of course, with cloud-based storage comes a higher bandwidth demand. More bandwidth is required to move the video data that is being constantly generated from the cameras into the cloud. And at this point, it is a more costly option than is feasible for many users.

Also, cloud storage still has to overcome concerns about data safety. Certain industries such as gaming, defense and government may not be ready to — or are restricted from — exploring this option.

Analytics Processing on the Camera

With both edge and cloud-based storage, the focus is turning more and more to the use of video analytics to reduce costs associated with recording high-resolution video. By applying analytics within the camera, selective recording can take place, capturing only those images that are necessary and at the proper resolution.

For instance, a camera can be programmed to detect faces within a specific zone and automatically increase the bit rate for additional clarity, while still maintaining an overall low constant bit rate.

The bottom line for determining what storage option is appropriate comes down to which solution offers the right level of security, timeliness for retrieving data and cost model to fit the unique needs of each business.

Find out more about Edge storage options, including the typical days of video able to store using Edge storage.


Bigger, Smarter, Faster and Easier: What’s Next in Access Control


Advances in access control have been a bit slower to happen when compared with other sectors in the security industry, such as video, where the advent of IP technology has caused dramatic and transformational change. Spurred by that momentum, the migration to IP technology is also making definitive waves in the access control market, where integration has become essential, costs have come down and new technologies have become available. A product’s ability to integrate, its capacity for saving large amounts of data and accessibility to new technologies has become important to integrators and end users, as has ease of installation and use.

So when it comes to access control, what are some of the top trends to pay attention to in the coming year?

One change within access control and video is a shift from integration to unification. With integrated platforms, the access control and video systems work together, but may still have multiple user interfaces, some operational incompatibilities and/or use multiple servers. A unified access control/video platform can allow for a single server system, provide richer features and lower the overall cost of ownership. Among these increased capabilities is access to deeper sets of analytics and reporting, making it easier for customers to identify and understand trends within their operations.

Another significant evolution has been the adoption of wireless locks. As prices have gone down enough to become accessible to all sizes of businesses, they provide the same security as traditional key-based solutions with the added benefits of accountability and auditing. With a wireless lock, specialized access for each employee can be created, such as in a hospital pharmacy for as low as $500-1,000 per entryway.

cloud security, access control, Tyco Security ProductsThe cloud is making waves in access control, as it is in most industries. Concerns remain however, regarding data privacy, bandwidth usage and local accessibility of data in a disaster scenario. In a new report by research house IHS, data shows that adoption of cloud storage for access control systems will remain slow until these specific areas are adequately addressed. Despite these concerns, hosted and managed solutions are growing in popularity, due to their ability to access the power of the cloud.

Enterprise access control is another developing trend. Customers want a single source for information, and there are very few brands in the field today that can offer that. Really, any business with a WAN system can benefit from using Enterprise access control. Without an Enterprise approach, customers are at the mercy of WAN  communications, which can be slow, especially when generating reports and using analytics features.

There is no question that biometrics has been the “it” technology for some time. So far, high costs and reliability issues have kept its scope relatively small, but in recent years technology and adoption have increased. The newest focus in biometrics will be non-contact, frictionless access control with upcoming technology likely finger/palm vein and face recognition.

Join us on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. EST for a fast-paced webinar that takes a top-level assessment of the emerging technologies in access control and what they will mean for the architects of security.  Attendees of this webinar are eligible for 1 CEU to be applied toward recertification of the ASIS professional certification. 

Register Here
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