IP Surveillance Systems – Choosing the Right IP Video Storage for Your Enterprise


IP Surveillance System - IP Video Storage

IP Surveillance Systems – IP Video Storage

The migration from analog to digital has been on the rise for several years and thanks to new computer technologies, video over IP is more prevalent today. With the expansion of surveillance technologies, companies have enjoyed the benefits of IP surveillance systems because they are great investments that have both functional and financial benefits. IP surveillance systems are also cost effective with a high return on investment (ROI); they provide superior image quality and can be accessed remotely.

To help you choose the best option for your business, we’ve examined some common IP video recording solutions:

1) IP Camera with Embedded Storage

Some IP cameras offer a SD card slot that allows users to install a memory card for storing video or image snapshots, which is convenient for those who want to have an alternative backup. This type of solution, also known as an edge recording solution, secures the recording footage at the camera site, especially when a connection issue occurs between camera and the viewing location (whoever sees it and manages it on the other end). There is still a video in it, which can be retrieved when the connection gets back online.

The downside is that the performance may not be as good as expected, not to mention the limited amount of video that is stored due to the fairly small size of SD card storage available in the market today. If you have more than one IP camera, management and access to video footage is difficult because you must access the cameras one by one.

2) VMS or CMS

Another way to record videos is through PC-­based VMS (video management software) or CMS (central management software). A VMS or CMS has the capability to integrate with all kinds of video analytic components, such as people counting, bag detection and license plate recognition. In order to meet your surveillance requirements, you will need a powerful computer or server and a large amount of storage with hundreds of terabytes. Therefore, this type of solution is good for large-scale and heavier surveillance requirements. It may include airports, train stations and enterprises. These not only cost a lot more, but also require a group of trained people to operate, maintain and upgrade when expansion is necessary.

3) Cloud Recording

While cloud computing makes it easy to access anything from anywhere, it is not a practical solution for video surveillance today. Video surveillance requires a large amount of storage capacity and traffic, and a lot of bandwidth for recording videos and browsing. The higher the resolution of video with a higher frame rate, the more bandwidth it requires, and since cloud services charge by usage, it may involve high monthly costs. Therefore, cloud recording is more suitable for event/alarm recording, or for a lower resolution recording that requires less bandwidth.

4) Standalone NVRs

The standalone NVR (Network Video Recorder) is a recording solution that provides a little bit of everything, is easy to manage, affordable and ideal for small and medium-sized businesses. While it does not require special training, it requires some basic network knowledge to setup and configure properly. There are also many online guides that can help with configuration and setup. Furthermore, a standalone NVR can be accessed through Internet Explorer, is high quality and can support four to eight cameras. It has the added benefit of built-­in storage, so if network communications are severed or interrupted, surveillance recording will continue without data loss or interruption. If you plan on expanding your surveillance application in the near future, this kind of solution may not be the right fit, especially if you are going to adopt video analytics or integrate with others (like Point of Sale/POS).

IP surveillance used to be complicated and faced limitations because of network infrastructures that were lacking in bandwidth and not ready for it. But today, with new technologies that simplify installation and greater network bandwidth, it is expanding, improving and affordable. Set realistic expectations and look for a system that meets your current surveillance requirements. Chasing an advanced feature may not always be the right thing for your business.

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5 Benefits of Video Management Software for Safer Schools

Video Management Software - In Schools

Video Management Software

Parents take a double leap of faith every day when they turn their children over to the nation’s public and private schools. They believe that a good education will enable children to function more successfully in the world, and they believe that their children will be safe and protected throughout the day.

However, with the overall greater focus on school security accelerated by a number of tragic headlines in the past few years, parents are looking to school districts for assurance that appropriate steps are being taken to keep children safe. One well-established and proven tool to enable educators and administrators to provide safer learning environments is video surveillance, viewed and managed via a robust video management system.

Video management systems (VMS) are a central component of surveillance that maximize the ability of video cameras located throughout an education campus to keep students and facilities safe. Here are five ways an effective VMS can facilitate management of video surveillance to ensure a safer school:


1. Watching student activity.Video cameras provide school administrators extra sets of eyes to watch what’s happening all over the campus. Thanks to video management software, simple-to-use access to those camera views is as close as the nearest computer, or they can even be viewed on hand-held devices such as smartphones. Multiple users can view the same camera, or one user can “push” video to another user to call attention to a situation. With concerns such as loss prevention or vandalism, the ability of administrators to closely monitor student activity and respond appropriately is more valuable than ever.

2. Monitoring building access. Keeping students safe requires total control of who comes and goes on a campus. Video management software unifies the camera views throughout a campus and makes it easy for administrators to manage those views to monitor entrances and exits. When integrated with an access control system, video can be pushed to a monitor whenever someone is denied access to the building. Schools should also control access to rooms and keep an eye on hallways and cafeterias – video enables them to do just that.

3. Providing after-hours surveillance. Sometimes schools are used by outside organizations after school hours, and video surveillance can help to monitor those activities. When schools are closed for the night, video motion detection can provide an alarm if something moves in an empty hallway, for example, and video software can provide immediate views of cameras in the vicinity. Used as a forensic tool, video surveillance software can make it easy for administrators to determine the source of weekend vandalism or to solve a break-in or theft.

4. Aiding first responders in case of an emergency. When a school emergency happens, it is absolutely critical that first responders know immediately what is happening so they can respond appropriately. IP video management systems enable access to a school’s cameras remotely from a handheld device or a laptop computer in a police car. Such access aids swift response to school violence by enabling police responders to know immediately the conditions inside the school and the location of the perpetrator and possible victims before entering the premises. They can then adapt their response accordingly. In case of a severe emergency, the school’s central office can monitor evacuation response remotely.

5. Saving resources that could be used elsewhere. The recent economic downturn has been a challenge for many school districts with dwindling tax money creating budget shortfalls that often require tough economic choices. Student safety is obviously the last thing anyone would want to compromise to save costs. Fortunately, the cost of video management software is reasonable, and significant discounts for schools, universities and other educational institutions often make it even more so. Ensuring the affordability of this important component of school safety enables school districts to prioritize security while minimizing the investment and avoiding more severe economic cuts in other parts of the budget.

Views from cameras located throughout a school can provide important everyday safety information, presented in a usable format thanks to video management software. Video surveillance can ensure school discipline policies are firmly and fairly enforced and provide live views of possible trouble spots on campus. Surveillance can also protect school property from theft and vandalism, during the school day and after hours, inside and outside school buildings. In the unlikely event of school violence or other tragedy, cameras directed by video management software can provide eyes inside the building to guide a more effective, and safer, response.

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The Top Three Selling Factors With Today’s Access Control Systems

Access Control

Access Control Systems

End user customers today expect more — not a little more, but a lot more.Secure, integrated, future-proofed and convenient are buzzwords that have substance behind them, and users look for those characteristics in the systems and services they purchase for their business. Users also want the latest technology(Access Control) they use in other areas of their life; they don’t want to manage it themselves; and they want best of breed in everything.

“Features themselves haven’t changed that much,” says John Fenske, vice president of product marketing, HID Global, Austin, Texas. “The things users seem to be focused on are making sure the system continues to be interoperable on into the future so that any changes they make won’t disrupt the overall system.”

This “global” view is a running theme among customers both large and small, he adds. “When we talk to end users, most of the conversations are about how the pain that they have is managing change in their architecture. They are looking for consistency; and those products that leverage standards and allow them to manage that architecture and keep it functioning are what they want.

“They are also looking for products that are high quality. They want to get it when they need it and have it work over the long run,” Fenske says.

The positive aspect of this thinking is that along with more demanding wish lists comes the understanding that they will have to pay for it.

“Often it isn’t an inside-the-box solution,” says integrator Jeff Houpt, president/CEO, Automation Integrated, Oklahoma City, Okla. “It is solving a problem. They have looked at access control for the past 20 years as a ‘beep/click’ product, where the reader goes ‘beep’ and the door ‘clicks’ open. Now when they start looking at it as the place where people meet buildings and systems, and begin to mine that data to get insight into how they run their enterprise, that is when they get excited. They are willing to pay for a custom integration when they have a problem nobody else could solve.”

End users today are future focused, adds Bruce Stewart, business development manager for access control, U.S., Axis Communications Inc., Chelmsford, Mass. “Most are very educated on products and solutions and have a good understanding of which way they want to go in the future.”

There is a crossover between consumer life and business expectations, adds Rob Martens, futurist and director of connectivity platforms, Allegion, Carmel, Ind. “People want innovation and expect changes at a different pace than the industry has seen before. They expect a smart device. It shouldn’t be a burden but a simple addition. That is easy to say but sometimes difficult to do.”

Martens has a good analogy: “I group things into three buckets. In this space those now either fall into security, energy [building] management, or convenience. Those are the three most important factors.”

When a product or solution falls into one or more of these three buckets, it is more likely to be attractive to end users today.

Security-related Features

Security features have to do with the card, the integration between different security components and how access control systems are designed, installed and used.

High profile events from the Target and Home Depot breaches to workplace violence, have shown users the possible consequences of not having up-to-date access control and secure cards.

“Customers in general have a more acute understanding of the security of the card,” Fenske says. “The issues with Target made it very real and highlighted the importance of security of the cards we use on a daily basis. That is a big change. It has always been a challenge to talk to customers about upgrading from legacy systems like magnetic stripe and proximity to help them understand that what they have today is probably not what they want in the future. That challenge has improved dramatically over the past 18 months. People are beginning to think about technology refresh differently and the idea that you don’t just upgrade to upgrade. You upgrade to get new value, even if the system is not falling off the wall yet.”

There is still an education process, however, says integrator Bill Hogan, president, D/A Central Inc., Detroit, Mich. “As insiders we understand the vulnerability of proximity and the reasons for new, higher technology cards. But a lot of our clients aren’t quite there yet. We are seeing a lot more rebadging of entire locations than in the past. But we still have a job to do to make sure we educate them properly about those things.”

The way access control systems are architected is also changing, he adds. “We are beginning to see smaller, edge-deployed, embedded-Web-server products. Access control is filtering away from the big headquarters to smaller edge-device-based systems.”

Large infrastructures with head ends and hardwired readers are not always the preferred path anymore. Wireless and Power over Ethernet (PoE) are two technologies that are helping to drive this. For example, “With our PoE controller we can power 12-volt locks, allowing them to become an edge device with shorter cables,” Stewart says.

“I think probably the feature pushing to the forefront the most lately involves wireless lock integrations,” adds Jason Ouellette, product line director of access control, Tyco Security Products, Westford, Mass. “With the improved reliability of wireless and the movement from offline to online locks, there has been a great advancement of optimization and performance. That is, for us, if not a daily request it is pretty close.”

Integrator Henry Olivares, president/CEO, APL Access and Security Inc., Gilbert, Ariz., agrees. “Our customers are asking for Wi-Fi and wireless locks. They want all virtual — no cabling, panels or power supply.”

Another security factor that is high on users’ priority lists is integration with things such as video and even Active Directory to provide greater security and functionality.

“Here in Oklahoma City we had a workplace beheading caused by a disgruntled former employee that made the national news,” Houpt says. “We are seeing customers shift from the old paradigm of getting rid of keys to really wanting to manage their access control and be able to turn cards on and off immediately. The other thing we are seeing with our customers is they really want to utilize their security operations staff more effectively.”

In order to do that, many end users just expect integration and interoperability. This can be accomplished in many ways, from the traditional access control platform, the video management system, or a unified approach that allows more of the features of both to be present in the integration.

“The feature sets that make a system attractive to an end user still fall into the mid to enterprise level looking for connectivity to third-party systems, be that VMS, intrusion detection or other systems,” says Christopher Sincock, vice president, DAQ Electronics, Piscataway, N.J. “The greater the number of other people’s systems it connects to, the more attractive it is, especially if they don’t have to rip and replace what is already in place.”


With so many features and functions both old and new, it can be difficult to know what is going to impress an end user.

Bill Hogan of D/A Central Inc. says to define the problems and solutions for clients. “The key is really working with a client and engaging the questions we want to talk to them about. Go beyond the surface of just saying they need access control and speak to the myriad of options.”

Henry Olivares of APL Access and Security Inc. brings road show kits to sales meetings. “We have kits with wireless locks that show them with laptops how they work. It makes us different from a lot of companies. They believe it when they see it.”

Differentiating yourself is important, says Jeff Houpt of Automation Integrated. “We go to market more like a professional service provider. We want to be looked at like an architectural or engineering firm, a CPA or a lawyer. We prefer to differentiate ourselves with that rather than price.”

Whole-building Features

The value proposition doesn’t stop at security. Increasingly, end customers want to do much more with their security platforms.

“Security is one of the only things that tends to be monitored 24/7 in a building,” Sincock says. “When you can do not only traditional security monitoring but also bring in other mission-critical systems it brings greater value to the customer.”

One of the first things an access control system has to do is control who comes in and out and the method for populating that database increasingly is integration with Active Directory. In fact, with certain sized customers, it is just expected. But beyond that is an even tighter integration to the building itself where an employee’s access can be tied to the HVAC and lighting controls in their office, saving energy as well.

“In terms of integrating with HVAC, access control is used all the time to tie in and conserve energy,” says Richard Goldsobel, vice president Continental Access, a division of Napco Security Technologies, Amityville, N.Y. “But now there are more interfaces. As Active Directory has come along, the system can run a little more automated.”

Another draw to integration between access and building systems is energy management or ‘green’ initiatives. It is becoming an increasingly important part of the conversation between integrators and their customers.

“Regardless of system size, an almost universal feature we are being asked about is PoE,” Sincock says. PoE by design relies on low-power products and systems, so the more that can be tied to it, the more ‘green’ it is.

“When you have security systems that by virtue of interoperability or connectivity with other systems allow end users to have cooperation between security and systems that consume power or electricity, that is becoming much more important,” he adds.

Houpt has a customer that is using the access control to override the HVAC system after hours, then track that usage so the building owner can bill the tenant back for after-hours usage. In addition, his customers are looking at security in a whole new way. “We are beginning to integrate into access systems the information that really matters to owners. After hours, a security guard may need to take building action but they are not a building engineer. We can integrate just the information that has value, such as the chiller failed or a motor is too hot. When we bring in that alarm, we have a script for the guard to follow step-by-step, similar to a PSIM approach.”

Convenience Factors

Often the appeal of an access control system comes down to the user level. No matter how secure, integrated or advanced it is, if it isn’t easy and convenient to use, it won’t be saleable.

Technology has helped greatly with this factor in recent years. Cloud, mobile computing, and the capability of smartphones to be involved in access control all are providing the “cool” factor as well as making life easier for users.

Probably the easiest of all is the increase in offerings in cloud, or hosted and/or managed access control. Cloud is still in its beginning stages in many aspects of security, but manufacturers and integrators see great potential of marrying it with other emerging trends to provide a much better security experience in the future.

“The days of main frames and dumb terminals are waning in favor of cloud-based solutions,” Ouellette says. “Technology today allows us to process and store data on the edge that can make that cloud-based connection much more optimized and powerful. That is absolutely the clear direction and growth area in the industry.”

Hogan agrees. “What we are seeing is with new clients where we have a blank slate they are much more open to cloud-based solutions and newer technology and allowing us to manage it. It saves them all of that training. When they can outsource that entirely as a managed service, it becomes a real savings to them.”

People want ease of use, whatever that translates to, says Lee Odess, general manager, Brivo Labs, Bethesda, Md. “What we are seeing as factors in decision making are a great user experience, technology architecture, a software-as-a-service model and mobility offerings,” he says.

Whether it is Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), “mobile is certainly the thing getting the most interest right now,” Fenske adds. “I think the wow factor is around the transaction and thinking it is ‘cool.’ But the real value will come from managing the credential differently and efficiently rather than buying, storing and printing cards.” (See related article, “BLE/NFC Update” online at www.SDMmag.com.)

“I think it will augment other credentials as in: card plus access through the cell phone,” Hogan predicts. “What everyone is anticipating is that as early adopters hit the market with this you will see ‘credential envy.’ People will want to know, ‘How can I have that on my phone, too?’”

The ultimate goal of these technologies and others is to make life easier in security, just as it does in other areas of our life. “Overall we strive to have a wonderful customer experience where people feel as though it was easy,” Martens says. “If that was easy, they might stretch out to other solutions and areas and be more comfortable with it. We are not seeing people push back on change anymore. We are seeing them push forward for new technology and wanting to leverage that. That is very exciting and makes us very enthusiastic about the future of our business and our partners’ businesses as well.”

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Creating New Benefits for Schools Through Advanced Surveillance and VMS

Creating New Benefits for K-12 Schools Through Advanced Surveillance and VMSCreating New Benefits for K-12 Schools Through Advanced Surveillance and VMS

Security continues to be a top priority in K-12 and higher education facilities across the country as school boards and administrations are looking for better and more cost-efficient means to protect students, personnel and assets. New developments in IP video surveillance and VMS security solutions are answering this call with systems that provide superior image quality, better integration, simple accessibility, network capabilities and expanded scalability. Within this framework, video management system (VMS) solutions are already delivering advantages and positive outcomes for safety and security.

The following are a few of the benefits of a VMS deployment within an educational environment:

Cost Efficiency 

A significant economic benefit of a VMS solution built on an open architecture platform is its contribution to system ROI (return on investment). The open architecture platform promotes flexibility in system design and protection of the original investment as systems are upgraded or new industry partners are added.

A school’s total physical security package can include video surveillance integrated with access control systems, license plate recognition systems, content analysis software, fire alarm, radiation detection and/or other network-based systems. This entire package can all be managed and controlled from a VMS solution – without the need for and additional cost of matrix switching systems and other expensive or proprietary hardware. The system can often run on standard IT servers, while adhering to and supporting recognized industry standards.

As total cost of ownership (TCO) is affected by the size of the system, a VMS solution can be effective in helping to reduce overall costs. When the VMS incorporates integration of multiple license types within one system, the user can save costs for less critical applications such as a closet surveillance system. New licensing models can accommodate any size school district with centralized or satellite/distributed system models.

Many manufacturers offer a number of different feature sets to match the budget and video surveillance needs of any college or university. The user should ensure that the system is scalable, so it can expand when further funding becomes available, or as surveillance needs grow and change.

Smart Technology

One of the key factors to effective security is situational awareness, which a complement of well-placed high-definition and megapixel cameras can provide. However, not every school has a dedicated network for transmission. A VMS addresses this by enabling standard-definition and HD/megapixel cameras to stream high-resolution video over a limited bandwidth network at full frame rates with the ability to control pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) functions.

Other advanced technologies available with VMS solutions affect performance control and system design. High Definition Interactive Streaming (HDIS) technology delivers full-motion playback of up to 16 live and recorded HD camera streams at full frame rate on any web browser or handheld device, even on 3G and 4G networks. Onboard de-warping functionality reduces the number of multi-head or panoramic cameras required in a system. Both centralized and distributed system architecture can be supported via CNVR (camera NVR) capabilities.

Pro-Active Security

Analysis capabilities found in VMS solutions are helping to drive video surveillance from a detection model to a prevention model. For instance, VMS can be programmed to create meaningful events based on a number of parameters and send alerts or push video to selected displays or devices. This enables schools to react to events and potential problems quickly and effectively, and prevent them from escalating.

This additional situational awareness provided by the pushed video stream, can help to broaden the potential incident response activity in venues that cover several acres, such as university campuses, and give security management actual “eyes at the scene.” It can also enhance the ability of management and staff to share/collaborate on different threat levels. And to help ensure the integrity of the system, a management server can be programmed on a granular level for information access and control.

Ease of Use

The intelligence, intuitiveness and ease of use of VMS available today make managing video data much more efficient and less cumbersome, regardless of the size of the system. With traditional record-and-review systems, there are often too few operators who have too little time and are trying to handle too many cameras all at once. With a VMS, operators have tools that provide them with full control over all parameters, including PTZ presets, joystick control, digital zoom and more. With these intuitive features built into the user interface, operators have the advantage they need to make the right decisions when an alert is sent.

Additionally, complex systems can be centrally managed with time saving tools like touch-screen technology, map-based interfaces, context-sensitive pop-up controls and time slice forensics.

Advanced IP video surveillance VMS solutions have given schools a tremendous advantage in meeting the challenges of safety and security. Add to this the extra benefits of cost efficiencies, smart technology, pro-active security and ease of use, and it becomes clear that VMS solutions are an educated choice.

Article Provided By Security Magazine

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Integrating Security Systems for Greater Business Value

Improved Communication, User-Friendly Features Are Part of Evolution of Fire Alarms Part 2

Improved Communication, User-Friendly Features Are Part of Evolution of Fire Alarms Part 2Evolution of Fire Alarms

Combine powerful information provided by field detection devices with the ability to capitalize on high-speed data transmission provided by fiber optic transmission media, wide-area and local-area networks, and you have fire alarm systems capable of sending very detailed information via Internet-based digital alarm communicator transmitters or direct networks to emergency responders or off-site monitoring locations with device specific detail.

Because the fire alarm industry knew little of professional sound and communication principles, early generation voice communications systems provided unintelligible notification messages that were solely used for fire alarm functions and fire department operations. The voice communications component of fire alarm systems has evolved such that, when designed properly, specifically routed messaging can deliver clear emergency and non-emergency messages, including music. This change required the fire alarm industry to realize that redundant voice communications systems (i.e., PA systems and music systems) could be replaced by fire alarm voice communications systems. Codes in place require the industry to supervise speaker circuits for integrity in the active state. In other words, while music is playing, the fire alarm system must be capable of identifying that a circuit has been damaged or broken. Today this capability is now commonplace for the major fire alarm system manufacturers.

Over the last 10 years, fire alarm systems have begun to evolve into multi-faceted mass communication platforms, largely as a result of terrorist events and government or military needs. These mass communication capabilities include fully intelligible voice messaging systems that can integrate textual signage. Multi-faceted mass communication plans can now draw on the fire alarm system to provide message outputs via text messaging, paging and email. Additionally, fire alarm systems can be seamlessly integrated with wide area mass notification systems that utilize high-power outdoor speaker arrays that can reach large geographical areas with highly intelligible messages.

More User-Friendly Features

All of this information must be difficult to navigate and use, right? Quite the opposite. New fire alarm control unit interfaces have capitalized on technology. Manufacturers are utilizing intuitive liquid-crystal displays and well-labeled switches that make navigating through all of this information as simple as using a smart phone. Manufacturers have integrated navigation wheels and touch screens to make navigation intuitive and closely parallel the electronic tools that we have all become accustomed to using daily.

Modern fire alarm systems have the ability to perform remote status querying, which ultimately improves user interface and allows facility managers to remotely, via the Internet, connect to their fire alarm system to interrogate its status. No alterations may be made remotely, but this interface has improved the ability of facility managers to interact with their fire alarm systems and dispatch the right maintenance assets quickly.

Article Provided By Facilitiesnet

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New fire alarm systems offer fewer false alarms Part 3

Fire Alarms: Five Ways Facility Managers Can Gain From Today’s Technology Part 1

Fire Alarms: Five Ways Facility Managers Can Gain From Today's Technology

Fire Alarms Today

Changes in technology have made fire alarms extremely powerful, easy to program and easy to operate. Twenty years ago, fire alarm systems monitored conventional automatic detection devices (heat or smoke detectors or both) and other basic inputs like manual pull stations and automatic sprinkler water flow switches. These inputs activated non-voice notification appliances, commonly bells or horns. Typically, the information provided to occupants was limited to a general alarm and the information to first responders was, at best, the zone or floor where the alarm had originated.

Today, fire alarms are microprocessor-based and can send specifically routed pre-recorded and live voice messages directing occupants to shelter in place or evacuate. The new high-tech systems can monitor “intelligent” smoke detectors capable of discriminating between real, false and nuisance alarms. Some of the new smoke detection devices also integrate real-time video feeds to a central location. In-building emergency voice/alarm communications systems can now serve as mass communication systems capable of providing information and warnings for a wide variety of potential non-fire threats.

What’s more, current addressable fire alarm systems, when designed properly, can provide specific room location information. This, in turn, provides first responders, as well as maintenance personnel in a non-fire incident, specific area or room of origin information.

As fire alarm system technology continues to advance, facilities that rely on older systems may miss opportunities to improve important aspects of fire/life safety performance or to solve problems that older systems cannot address. Here are just five benefits of new fire system technology that facility managers should understand.

Reduced Installation, Operating Costs

Upgrading a fire alarm system is a significant investment. But some changes in technology can reduce costs, either for installation or ongoing operations.

For example, addressable technology reduces maintenance costs by providing device-level information that can include dirty detector indication, high ambient temperature levels and, when coupled with fault isolation, the location of faults that previously were very cumbersome and expensive to locate.

There are also economies during installation. Because all of the components of a well-designed system communicate via data transmission, most circuit runs result in less cabling. Microprocessor-based, distributed fire alarm control and amplification systems means that fire alarm systems that previously required large conduit risers and large floor penetrations now require ½-inch or ¾-inch conduit installations, which dramatically reduce installation costs. Because engineers can distribute the network components of new fire alarm and voice communications systems without performance loss, large banks of amplifiers are obsolete, freeing valuable real estate.

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Improved Communication, User-Friendly Features Are Part of Evolution of Fire Alarms Part 2

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces Part 4

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces

 In the past, requirements for detection in challenging environments often resulted in fire alarm system installations that were nearly impossible to properly maintain. New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces Detectors were often installed too high or above obstructions, or were poorly or incorrectly spaced. Innovative detection technologies, as well as improvements in code guidance for the engineering community, have made challenging environments easier to address. Challenging environments often include large volume spaces (e.g., warehouses, industrial facilities and power generation facilities); architecturally sensitive spaces (e.g., historic structures); and highly sensitive electronic equipment spaces (e.g., data centers).

Major advances in detection technology provide the facility manager with more solutions to challenging environments. If the detection systems are correctly applied, reliability, safety, and maintenance costs can be greatly improved.

Modern fire alarm systems can now integrate highly refined beam detection systems that use multiple wireless beam transmitter sources and only one receiver that requires being hard-wired. Beam detection is one solution for large volume and architecturally sensitive spaces. Many manufacturers now offer beam detection systems that only require a transmitter/receiver installed in one location with a reflector on the opposite end of the detection space, reducing installation complexity. Additionally, newer beam detectors are far less prone to false alarms caused by obstructions, sunlight, building movement and misalignment.

Video image detection is a unique technology that enables facility managers to combine security and fire detection into one system while installing the detectors in perimeter locations that are easy to access for maintenance. Video detection can easily be concealed on cornice ledges in architecturally sensitive areas, and some systems allow the use of combined security and fire alarm cameras.

Very Early Fire Detection

Air sampling-type smoke detection (ASSD) requires the installation of a pipe network over the space requiring detection, through which the detector continually draws in air that is monitored for the presence of particles of combustion using very precise laser light sources. ASSD offers a very flexible detection solution for areas where access to detectors for maintenance is difficult or impossible. For example, battery vaults often present a significant concern to maintenance personnel who must work over large battery banks to inspect and test spot-type smoke detectors. Once the ASSD pipe network has been installed, the network can be cleaned and tested without requiring maintenance staff to work over the batteries.

ASSD offers an extremely sensitive and reliable detection solution that can be applied in high-value and essential applications. As our world relies more and more heavily on data processing and cloud storage, large data centers and the associated support facilities are becoming prevalent and critical. The very early detection of fires or component failures as a result of overheating can help ensure data continuity. ASSD coupled with good operational procedures can provide the detection needed to keep these facilities operational.

Although it may seem that fire alarm systems are not advancing at the same rate as other systems, it is not acceptable to rush technology into use for an industry that has the important responsibility of protecting lives and property in a reliable manner. Even considering the controlled rate that technology is being introduced into the life safety industry, fire alarm systems are advancing at an impressive rate and have become diverse and reliable building protection systems.

Article Provided By Facilitiesnet

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New Surveillance Technology Can Track Everyone In An Area For Several Hours At A Time


New fire alarm systems offer fewer false alarms Part 3

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer Fewer False Alarms

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer Fewer False Alarms

New fire alarm systems offer fewer false alarms than older outdated systems. Fire alarm systems of decades past suffered from the problem of “crying wolf.” Nuisance or false alarms conditioned building occupants to ignore fire alarm systems when they sounded an alarm. This pattern of response over the years has resulted in loss of life. As one would expect, the detection technologies have evolved with the fire alarm control units in an effort to address these reliability concerns.

Detectors installed only a few decades ago relied on a single technology to perform detection. A large majority of spot-type smoke detectors were ionization detectors that relied on a radioactive source to ionize the particles in the air and monitored the resultant electric potential in the sensor-housing atmosphere. Other detectors, also widely used, were photoelectric smoke detectors using LED light sources. However, because these spot-type detectors were relying on one method of detection, they were susceptible to nuisance alarm events.

Current addressable spot-type fire detectors have evolved to utilize microprocessor-based detection technologies that allow the detectors or the fire alarm control unit to make intelligent decisions about what they are sensing. Most large fire alarm manufacturers now produce detectors that monitor for multiple factors — the presence of combustion gases, an increase in temperature and the presence of smoke particles — to make a “big-picture” decision. State-of-the-art and innovative detection systems often have the ability to discriminate combustion products from nuisance sources such as steam and dusty environments.

These new detectors have dramatically improved the reliability and credibility of fire alarm systems. As false or nuisance alarm frequency is reduced, the public perception will hopefully improve. Some manufacturers now offer guarantees that smoke detectors will not activate unless there truly is a fire event.

Spot-type smoke detectors installed 20 years ago also required sensitivity testing. When dirt infiltrated the detector’s sensor housing, a nuisance alarm was often the result. Intelligent fire alarm systems have eliminated the need to perform sensitivity testing since the panel can track detector sensitivity. Additionally, intelligent detectors can track their factory sensitivity deviation and compare that sensitivity to degradation in performance as a result of dirt rather than a nuisance alarm; this condition is reported as a dirty detector. Building maintenance personnel can then address the dirty detector long before it results in an evacuation.

Linking Fire, Other Building Systems

Today, many manufacturers have developed fire alarm system integration methods with building automation systems that enable seamless communication among all building systems. These interfaces can use industry-standard building automation networking protocols that allow status sharing between systems. These capabilities as well as fire alarm system advancements enable smoke control, smoke exhaust, post-fire smoke exhaust systems, and automated fire compartmentalization to be controlled by one centralized system.

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New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces



New Surveillance Technology Can Track Everyone In An Area For Several Hours At A Time

New surveillance technology - Cameras Surveillance

New Surveillance Technology Can Track Everyone

New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time. In Dayton, Ohio — Shooter and victim were just a pair of pixels, dark specks on a gray streetscape. Hair color, bullet wounds, even the weapon were not visible in the series of pictures taken from an airplane flying two miles above.

But what the images revealed — to a degree impossible just a few years ago — was location, mapped over time. Second by second, they showed a gang assembling, blocking off access points, sending the shooter to meet his target and taking flight after the body hit the pavement. When the report reached police, it included a picture of the blue stucco building into which the killer ultimately retreated, at last beyond the view of the powerful camera overhead.

“I’ve witnessed 34 of these,” said Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, which collected the images of the killing in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, from a specially outfitted Cessna. “It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.”

As Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses and even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements.

Already, the cameras have been flown above major public events such as the Ohio political rally where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, McNutt said. They’ve been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton in demonstrations for police. They’ve also been used for traffic impact studies, for security at NASCAR races and at the request of a Mexican politician, who commissioned the flights over Ciudad Juárez.

A surveillance system designed by a Dayton, Ohio-based company can track crimes in real time, as they occur.

Defense contractors are developing similar technology for the military, but its potential for civilian use is raising novel civil liberties concerns. In Dayton, where Persistent Surveillance Systems is based, city officials balked last year when police considered paying for 200 hours of flights, in part because of privacy complaints.

“There are an infinite number of surveillance technologies that would help solve crimes . . . but there are reasons that we don’t do those things, or shouldn’t be doing those things,” said Joel Pruce, a University of Dayton postdoctoral fellow in human rights who opposed the plan. “You know where there’s a lot less crime? There’s a lot less crime in China.”

The Supreme Court generally has given wide latitude to police using aerial surveillance as long as the photography captures images visible to the naked eye.

McNutt, a retired Air Force officer who once helped design a similar system for the skies above Fallujah, a battleground city in Iraq, hopes to win over officials in Dayton and elsewhere by convincing them that cameras mounted on fixed-wing aircraft can provide far more useful intelligence than police helicopters do, for less money.

A single camera mounted atop the Washington Monument, McNutt boasts, could deter crime all around the Mall. He said regular flights over the most dangerous parts of Washington — combined with publicity about how much police could see — would make a significant dent in the number of burglaries, robberies and murders. His 192-megapixel cameras would spot as many as 50 crimes per six-hour flight, he estimated, providing police with a continuous stream of images covering more than a third of the city.

What McNutt is trying to sell is not merely the latest techno-wizardry for police. He envisions such steep drops in crime that they will bring substantial side effects, including rising property values, better schools, increased development and, eventually, lower incarceration rates as the reality of long-term overhead surveillance deters those tempted to commit crimes.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, a supporter of McNutt’s efforts, has proposed inviting the public to visit the operations center to get a glimpse of the technology in action.

Technology in action
McNutt, a suburban father of four with a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is not deaf to concerns about his company’s ambitions. Unlike many of the giant defense contractors that are eagerly repurposing wartime surveillance technology for domestic use, he sought advice from the American Civil Liberties Union in writing a privacy policy.

It has rules on how long data can be kept, when images can be accessed and by whom. Police are supposed to begin looking at the pictures only after a crime has been reported. Fishing expeditions are prohibited.

The technology has inherent limitations as well. From the airborne cameras, each person appears as a single pixel indistinguishable from any other person. What people are doing — even whether they are clothed or not — is impossible to see. As technology improves the cameras, McNutt said he intends to increase their range, not the precision of the imagery, so that larger areas can be monitored.

The notion that McNutt and his roughly 40 employees are peeping Toms clearly rankles. The company made a PowerPoint presentation for the ACLU that includes pictures taken to assist the response to Hurricane Sandy and the severe Iowa floods last summer. The section is titled: “Good People Doing Good Things.”

“We get a little frustrated when people get so worried about us seeing them in their backyard,” McNutt said in his operation center, where the walls are adorned with 120-inch monitors, each showing a different grainy urban scene collected from above. “We can’t even see what they are doing in their backyard. And, by the way, we don’t care.”

Yet in a world of increasingly pervasive surveillance, location and identity are becoming all but inextricable. One quickly leads to the other for those with the right tools.

During one of the company’s demonstration flights over Dayton in 2012, police got reports of an attempted robbery at a bookstore and shots fired at a Subway sandwich shop. The cameras revealed a single car moving between the two locations.

By reviewing the images frame by frame, analysts were able to help police piece together a larger story: A man had left a residential neighborhood at midday and attempted to rob the bookstore, but fled when somebody hit an alarm. Then he drove to Subway, where the owner pulled a gun and chased him off. His next stop was a Family Dollar Store, where the man paused for several minutes. He soon returned home, after a short stop at a gas station where a video camera captured an image of his face.

A few hours later, after the surveillance flight ended, the Family Dollar Store was robbed. Police used the detailed map of the man’s movements, along with other evidence from the crime scenes, to arrest him for all three crimes.

On another occasion, Dayton police got a report of a burglary in progress. The aerial cameras spotted a white truck driving away from the scene. Police stopped the driver before he got home and found the stolen goods in the back of the truck. A witness identified him soon afterward.

Privacy concerns

In addition to normal cameras, the planes can carry infrared sensors that permit analysts to track people, vehicles or wildlife at night — even through foliage and into some structures, such as tents.

Courts have put stricter limits on technology that can see things not visible to the naked eye, ruling that they can amount to unconstitutional searches when conducted without a warrant. But the lines remain fuzzy as courts struggle to apply old precedents — from a single overflight carrying an officer equipped with nothing stronger than a telephoto lens, for example — to the rapidly advancing technology.

“If you turn your country into a totalitarian surveillance state, there’s always some wrongdoing you can prevent,” said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union. “The balance struck in our Constitution tilts toward liberty, and I think we should keep that value.”

Police and private businesses have invested heavily in video surveillance since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Although academics debate whether these cameras create significantly lower crime rates, an overwhelming majority of Americans support them. A Washington Post poll in November found that only 14 percent of those surveyed wanted fewer cameras in public spaces.

But the latest camera systems raise new issues because of their ability to watch vast areas for long periods of time — something even military-grade aerial cameras have struggled to do well.

The military’s most advanced experimental research lab is developing a system that uses hundreds of cellphone cameras to watch 36-square-mile areas. McNutt offers his system — which uses 12 commercially available Canon cameras mounted in an array — as an effective alternative that’s cheap enough for local police departments to afford. He typically charges between $1,500 and $2,000 per hour for his services, including flight time, operation of the command center and the time that analysts spend assisting investigations.

Dayton police were enticed by McNutt’s offer to fly 200 hours over the city for a home-town discount price of $120,000. The city, with about 140,000 people, saw its police force dwindle from more than 400 officers to about 350 in recent years, and there is little hope of reinforcements.

“We’re not going to get those officers back,” Biehl, the police chief, said. “We have had to use technology as force multipliers.”

Still, the proposed contract, coming during Dayton’s campaign season and amid a wave of revelations about National Security Agency surveillance, sparked resistance. Biehl is looking for a chance to revive the matter. But the new mayor, Nan Whaley, has reservations, both because of the cost and the potential loss of privacy.

“Since 2001, we haven’t had really healthy conversations about personal liberty. It’s starting to bloom about a decade too late,” Whaley said. “I think the conversation needs to continue.”

To that end, the mayor has another idea: She’s encouraging the businesses that own Dayton’s tallest buildings to mount rooftop surveillance cameras capable of continuously monitoring the downtown and nearby neighborhoods. Whaley hopes the businesses would provide the video feeds to the police.

McNutt, it turns out, has cameras for those situations, too, capable of spotting individual people from seven miles away.

Article Provided By The Washington Post

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