Daily Archives: 10/12/2014

AMG Systems awarded major development grant as part of High Performance Technologies R&D Investment Programme

AMG Systems – a leading provider of transmission technology – is one of the first companies to be awarded a grant as part of the High Performance Technologies (HPT) R&D Investment Programme under a joint LEP initiative led by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) and South East Midlands Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) to support businesses in the sector. The overall aim is to build a core Ethernet technology base within the UK.

The British manufacturer of sophisticated CCTV transmission solutions and megapixel cameras has been awarded a six-figure sum for enhanced R&D as it continues its growth path into new industry sectors.

As stated, the grant has been awarded under the LEP programme which aims to lever no less than £12 million in private sector investment and create 500 jobs and apprenticeships by March 2018.

Outside of AMG Systems, businesses that have received grant approval to date (to the combined total of £1.9 million) are GE Precision Engineering, Ecospeed Marine and Cosworth.

Dr Alan Hayes – founder and managing director of AMG Systems – commented: “I’m incredibly proud that we’ve been given this grant. AMG’s technology has always been very leading edge. We harbour unique expertise and knowledge within the company and the grant is incredibly significant for us as a business.”

Dr Alan Hayes: founder and managing director of AMG Systems

Dr Alan Hayes: founder and managing director of AMG Systems

Hayes continued: “AMG has spent the past few years self-funding a sizeable R&D programme. In 2013, this resulted in us bringing to market a series of multi-service Ethernet switches affectionately known as the ‘AMG Wonderbox’. Working with a defined development strategy, we’ve made the company a Centre of Excellence in the UK for all types of transmission technologies and, in particular, Ethernet. This is very significant in view of the fact that the UK generally lacks technical expertise in the area of designing Ethernet hardware from the ground up. Most of the expertise is located in the Far East.”

According to Hayes, it’s important for the UK to have this expertise on home shores. “We often work on very sensitive security projects,” added Hayes, “where the customers understand and appreciate that the network products don’t contain untoward software which could be a threat. That’s vital.”

The LEP initiative has been made possible thanks to £4 million worth of funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

The HPT R&D Investment Programme supports businesses based in Northamptonshire and the adjoining South East Midlands area with grants of up to £1 million to undertake innovative large-scale R&D activity.

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ONVIF launches education and enforcement programme to ensure product conformance

ONVIF – the leading global standardisation initiative for IP-based physical security products – is set to unveil a proactive education and enforcement campaign designed to ensure that all claims of ONVIF conformance by the manufacturers of IP-based physical security products are valid.

The education and enforcement initiative aims to further protect the ONVIF brand and more pre-emptively monitor ONVIF’s copyrights, trademarks and logos on an ongoing basis.

The campaign will also help further educate the manufacturing community about the specific requirements of compliance and their ability to advertise individual products as being conformant with ONVIF.

The only method of determining a product’s conformance is through a listing on the ONVIF website, where conformant products can be easily searched using a variety of criteria. An entry on the ONVIF website signifies that the product has undergone ONVIF’s comprehensive testing and conformance process and has been individually certified by ONVIF as conformant.

There are currently more than 3,300 individual conformant products listed.

Per Björkdahl: chairman of the ONVIF Steering Committee

Per Björkdahl: chairman of the ONVIF Steering Committee

Credibility of the brand is crucial

“We recognise that the credibility of the ONVIF brand is crucial to the success of the standard and the organisation,” said Per Björkdahl, chairman of the ONVIF Steering Committee. “Therefore, we take the protection of this brand very seriously. Our objective with this enforcement campaign is to reinforce to the market that the ONVIF name continues to represent interoperability.”

To augment these efforts, earlier this year ONVIF introduced a new level of membership providing access to the ONVIF test tool, which is used to test the validity of product conformance. This Observer membership level allows consultants, systems integrators and media organisations to individually validate the conformance of a specific product to a particular ONVIF Profile.

“As a member-driven organisation we rely very heavily on the efforts of our members to help us develop policies and procedures that ensure the success of ONVIF, both for its members and for the industry at large,” said Stuart Rawling, vice-chairman of the ONVIF Communication Committee. “We encourage anyone who suspects a given product might not be conformant when claims are being made to the contrary to contact us at help@onvif.org.”

*Further information for end users concerning ONVIF conformant products, including the vendors and the conformant models, is available on ONVIF’s website: http://www.onvif.org

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How can retailers avoid false alarms this Christmas?

During the festive season it’s vital that retailers protect themselves against increasing cases of theft while ensuring their customer base has an enjoyable shopping experience without the inconvenience of false alarms. Brian Sims offers some top tips to ensure it’s only the Sleigh Bells that are ringing this Christmas.

Shopper traffic in the UK increases by nearly 100% between the first Saturday in November and the last couple of days before Christmas. In the same period, retailers are expected to lose an estimated £1 billion as a result of shoplifting, dishonest employees and vendor or distribution losses.

False security alarms are not only frustrating and embarrassing for consumers, but also waste valuable employee time. For retailers to protect consumers and employees from possible inconvenience, every alarm must be treated as if it’s for real. Here are some handy tips to guard against false alarms and help ensure a positive shopper experience:

Test your Electronic Article Surveillance antennas
Store employees should first ensure all antennas and security equipment are working correctly. These tests should ideally be carried out each day before the store opens.

Check your deactivation systems
One of the most frequent causes of deactivation failures for retailers often occurs because the unit isn’t plugged in correctly, or because it has been unplugged accidentally. Store employees need to make sure that all deactivation systems are plugged in and functioning as they should.

Modern deactivation systems are designed to integrate seamlessly into Point of Sale procedures, ensuring the effortless deactivation of security tags when plugged in and fully operational.

Deactivate at Point of Sale
A major cause of false alarms is tags that haven’t been correctly removed from the merchandise at the Point of Sale. Hard tags and labels need to be correctly deactivated and/or removed at the Point of Sale to avoid causing the consumer an inconvenience or delay on leaving the store.

Today’s deactivation products are designed to easily integrate at the Point of Sale, with newer solutions now offering increasingly improved detection capabilities and range. This ensures a rapid checkout for your customer and worry-free deactivation every time – no matter what the size or position of the Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) label used.

False alarms can present a huge headache for retailers

False alarms can present a huge headache for retailers

Watch out for tag pollution
Tag pollution from other stores does happen. This occurs when non-deactivated tags from other retail outlets are carried out of store by consumers, in turn causing unwanted alarms. As a result, these alarms decrease the effectiveness and integrity of installed EAS systems.

Ensure your employees are correctly trained on tag pollution as per your Head Office policies.

Be aware of metallic articles
Tagged and/or metallic articles found in the vicinity of the EAS system, such as holiday decorations and displays, can cause interference. Taking more time to consider the layout and positioning of certain types of merchandise can also reduce the frequency of false alarms.

Ensure tag applications are correct
An EAS label or hard tag not applied in the right place could pose problems for retailers during deactivation. For example, EAS labels should be positioned close to the barcode so employees don’t need to scan the merchandise twice.

By ensuring all products are universally tagged and the position of security labels is uniform, retailers can then enjoy reduced false alarms.

In addition, by streamlining product tagging (or tagging products at the point of manufacture, ie source tagging) and integrating deactivation at the checkout or when a scanner is used at the Point of Sale, retailers may prevent false alarms and keep merchandise protected without placing a significant burden on store employees.

Provide training
The effectiveness of any EAS system is largely based on how colleagues interface with it. Training for new staff and refresher sessions with existing members of the team will help keep false alarms to a minimum.

Keep a log of alarms
Keeping a log of all alarm activations will help to trace false alarms and identify whether they’re being caused by staff members or a system error.

By reducing false alarms and ensuring that EAS systems can effectively prevent theft, retailers can keep products on their shelves during the holiday season and ensure customer satisfaction and reputation is safeguarded.

Fraudsters rely on festive cheer to fleece employers

As the festive season moves into full swing, KPMG’s Priya Giuliani has warned that ‘the threat from within’ is the ghost of Christmas present.

Giuliani argues that, with many businesses in a relaxed mood, employees intent on committing fraud will try to take advantage of opportunities where the usual ‘safety checks’ are relaxed, and either attempt to remove stock or simply get away with misappropriating assets.

A partner in KPMG’s Forensic Risk Consulting practice, Giuliani explained: “Money can be tight at this time of year with higher than usual spending leading to additional pressures on employees. Combine this with a time of year when targets and bonuses are assessed and it’s easy to see how employees might be tempted to falsify sales or overstate performance so they look like they’re hitting their targets.”

Giuliani added: “For many businesses, the lead-up to Christmas also represents a boost in demand. Many companies turn to temporary staff for support, but in the rush to improve customer service they may not adequately vet the new recruits. With many regular staff taking time off, the resulting lack of supervision also provides a rise in opportunities for the fraudster.”

Also, Giulani said: “We’ve also seen a marked rise in payment diversion fraud, where fake requests are made to change supplier’s bank details so that funds are diverted into the fraudster’s own bank account. Our analysis shows that cases range in value from just over £30,000 lost by one business in a single transaction to a total of £5 million extracted from another. In almost all the cases we’ve seen, fraudsters appear to be making use of openly declared business relationships.”

In conclusion, the KPMG analyst stated: “It’s particularly worrying that fraudsters often rationalise their behaviour. They may believe that they’re only ‘borrowing’ the money from their employer to tide them over an expensive Christmas, but the fact is that their actions might have serious repercussions when it comes to an organisation’s financial stability. It’s something that cannot be ignored because, if it is, any business falling victim to fraud is more likely to be a ghost to Christmas future.”

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Showsec heroine Cherice Wallen saves young boy’s life in Manchester

Cherice Wallen – a member of Showsec’s Christmas Market team – has been hailed a life-saving heroine for preventing a young boy from choking to death in Manchester.

Wallen responded swiftly and decisively to a medical emergency in the city centre by administering crucial First Aid treatment when it became apparent the child was in extreme difficulty after an item of food had lodged in his throat.

Although the Emergency Services had been alerted, Wallen decided to act when she noticed the boy turning blue and performed the Heimlich Maneuver to dislodge the piece of food, much to the huge relief of everyone who was present at the scene.

“Cherice’s ability to remain calm in such a terrifying situation and her swift response to the emergency saved a child’s life,” said operations executive David Bradshaw, who’s responsible for overseeing Showsec’s security operation at the market. “The family involved were immensely grateful for her actions and returned later with a gift and a card that simply read: ‘Thanks for saving my life’.”

Showsec's Cherice Wallen on duty at this summer's Kasabian gig in Victoria Park, Leicester

Showsec’s Cherice Wallen on duty at this summer’s Kasabian gig in Victoria Park, Leicester

Bradshaw added: “This course of action was above and beyond the service which we offer, but that’s something Cherice strives for in each shift that she works for Showsec.”

As well as the boy’s parents, Manchester’s Christmas market managers have also presented Wallen with a gift in recognition of her actions.

First Aid training with St John Ambulance

“I was just doing my job,” said Wallen with typical modesty. “I always try to do my very best to help members of the public. That’s an essential part of the role. The significance of what I had done didn’t really hit me until afterwards when I was back at my position and I saw the parents cuddling the young boy. It was then that I was overcome by the emotion of it all. There were a few tears shed.”

Wallen continued: “At the time, you don’t stop to think about what you’re doing. You just get on with using the skills you’ve developed to deal with the situation in front of you. I decided at a very early point in my time with Showsec to go and acquire some First Aid training with St John Ambulance. This is most definitely one of those occasions when it all seemed worthwhile because you cannot put a price on someone’s life.”

The young boy was given a clean bill of health by the Ambulance Service when they arrived on the scene and was able to continue on his day out. While the family are hugely indebted to Cherice for her swift and decisive actions, they’ve asked to remain anonymous. Of course, Showsec respects those wishes.

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Alex Carmichael appointed CEO at the SSAIB

The Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB), which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2014, has appointed its next CEO. Alex Carmichael – presently director of technical services and exports at the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) – will be taking over from Geoff Tate who announced earlier this year that he will be stepping down as CEO at the security, fire and telecare certification body after 16 years in the role.

At the BSIA, Carmichael – who joined the Trade Association back in 1998 in the role of technical officer – is responsible for co-ordinating all technical and quality matters within the Association. These duties include acting as the organisation’s representative on various UK and European standards committees and serving as the UK’s representative on various Cenelec and Euralarm committees monitoring EU Directives that directly impact BSIA members.

In addition, Carmichael’s responsible for membership liaison within the BSIA’s technical sections, and works closely with other industry organisations such as the ABI, ACPO, ACPOS and several inspectorates on technical and any other issues that may affect BSIA members.

Indeed, Carmichael’s existing duties on those UK and European committees, along with his strong technical background and close working relationship with a variety of industry organisations, afford him the ideal credentials to steer the SSAIB in its next phase of growth.

Carmichael’s background also includes over 20 years’ experience in the Army across various technical/engineering support roles with REME, as well as a short spell as an electromedical engineer with the NHS.

For the time being, Carmichael will remain at the BSIA and take up his new post next March following a handover period shadowing his successor. The BSIA is presently seeking a replacement for Carmichael to head the technical team at Kirkham House in Worcester.

Alex Carmichael: the new CEO at the SSAIB

Alex Carmichael: the new CEO at the SSAIB

Widely known and respected

“I’m delighted that someone with Alex’s skill set will be heading up the SSAIB,” enthused Geoff Tate. “I’ll be handing over the reins to someone with over 15 years’ involvement in the security sector where he’s widely known and respected.”

Tate continued: “Besides working with him during a transitional handover, I’ll remain in close contact with Alex as the SSAIB’s chairman. It’s a significant boost for the SSAIB to appoint a new CEO of such calibre and provides the foundation for our future. SSAIB-certificated organisations in the security, fire and telecare industries can rest assured that they’ll be in good hands with our staff under Alex’s capable guidance.”

Founded in 1994 and based in Tyne & Wear, the SSAIB is a leading certification body for organisations providing electronic security systems, guarding security services, fire protection, alarm and telecare services systems in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

In addition to its product schemes, SSAIB also offers a range of management systems certification schemes, including ISO 9001 quality management systems certification and ISO 14001 environmental management systems certification.

Over 1,500 companies are now listed on the SSAIB’s register.

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