Daily Archives: 23/09/2015

The Risk UK Interview: Kevin Waterhouse (executive vice-president at VCA)

Over recent years, VCA has achieved significant success promoting its analytics as an OEM edge-based solution which can be incorporated into other manufacturers’ IP cameras and devices. No less than 250,000 video channels worldwide are now using the company’s analytics.

VCA has now launched its own brand of IP network devices and software. Here, Kevin Waterhouse (executive vice-president for global sales at VCA) explains to Risk UK the thinking behind this bold step of introducing a new range in a marketplace that’s not short of manufacturers competing for the attention of installers, systems integrators and end users.

Risk UK: Until now, your business model has been based on offering the VCA analytics platform as an OEM solution. What has motivated you to change direction?

Kevin Waterhouse: We remain committed to offering our analytics technology as an OEM solution. Customers can be assured that our long-term strategy includes plans to work closely with an increasing number of manufacturers of surveillance cameras and other devices, as well as Video Management Software (VMS) providers, to ensure this important part of our business will continue to grow.

However, what we have embarked on is a twin-track approach whereby VCA will also directly support systems integrators to help them generate new revenue streams by supplying them with ‘out-of-the-box’ analytics built into the VCA brand of IP network devices.

Kevin Waterhouse of VCA

Kevin Waterhouse of VCA

Risk UK: What are these new revenue streams to which you refer? 

Kevin Waterhouse: The new revenue streams relate to the opportunity to provide end users with intelligent video surveillance solutions that can do so much more than just deter or detect criminal activity. The analytics incorporated into the new VCA range enhances our ability in the video monitoring sector to reduce false alarms and improve detection.

It also opens up the opportunity to gather reliable and verifiable data to help a diverse range of businesses and organisations such as banks, casinos, hospitals, educational establishments, retailers and hospitality venues achieve a greater understanding of the behaviour of people who work at or visit their premises.

The technology is capable of capturing metadata that can be graphically displayed in customisable reports to provide marketing, Health and Safety, Human Resources and other operational departments with the information they need to achieve their business objectives.

By dealing directly with systems integrators, we’ll be able to ensure that they benefit from the extensive knowledge and expertise of our pre- and post-sales support teams such that they’re equipped with the necessary tools and have the confidence to be able to offer the full benefits of VCA to their clients.

Risk UK: Can you give us some examples of how this will help your new customers generate new revenue streams? 

Kevin Waterhouse: The analytics built into the VCA devices will enable them to offer their clients added value from their investment in video surveillance systems and, if they wish, offer the cameras as part of a ‘Security as a Service business model. We intend to work closely with a hand-picked network of customers to help them profit from this model and, in the process, offer tangible benefits to their clients. 

In the retail sector, for example, with training and support from VCA, systems integrators can offer their clients the opportunity to increase productivity with less staff, improve customer satisfaction by minimising delays at check-outs or identify the best times and locations for product promotions.

These are just a few goals that can be achieved with very little effort with the help of devices featuring VCA analytics. It also provides security personnel with a powerful tool to detect and combat theft and other criminal activity. 

Risk UK: There are now a large number of other analytics solutions available for customers. How does VCA stand out from the crowd? 

Kevin Waterhouse: ‘User friendly’ may be an overused phrase, but it is in fact an accurate description of VCA analytics. The significance of this should not be underrated, as there’s a perception in the marketplace that analytics can be difficult to implement and use.

We will be adding to the user friendliness of our analytics over the coming months with a new dashboard graphical user interface which will make it even easier for any business to view both real-time and historical business intelligence.

VCA analytics has also established a reputation for being highly accurate and, when employed for intruder detection purposes, has a very low rate of false alarms. This is particularly important in outdoor environments. Here, false alarms continue to be a major issue for organisations who need an effective perimeter protection solution to detect intruders.

It’s now taken for granted that HD cameras from any reputable manufacturer should be able to capture evidence grade images. However, our on-board video analytics significantly upgrade the capability of VCA cameras which, for this type of application, should perhaps be better described as ‘Intelligent Video Detectors’.

In this respect, they provide a great opportunity for VCA installers, remote monitoring centres and end users to work in harmony when it comes to reducing the time-consuming and costly impact of false alarms. It’s just another excellent example of how VCA can support the supply chain by generating new revenue streams while at the same time providing end users with a robust and reliable solution.

Risk UK: You’ve spoken about the new devices carrying the VCA brand, but you also mentioned VMS providers. Can you expand on this part of your strategy?

Kevin Waterhouse: Sure. In addition to our edge-based devices, we’ve developed a server-based software tool that will make the integration of our VCA software very quick and with little CPU overhead. The software can be added to either Linux or Windows-based software.

We already have a number of VMS clients embedding VCA and expect many more to follow along with PSIM, access and intelligent building software providers. In addition, we will shortly be launching a new device which will allow VCA to be added to any IP camera providing an RTSP stream.

Risk UK: So is VCA not developing its own VMS?

Kevin Waterhouse: Absolutely not. We have a very good relationship with the leading VMS providers and have worked closely with them to develop our VCA software tool. However, we have now released some application-specific software to support our edge devices. Ucountit, for example, is our cloud-based Business Intelligence service and Utrack is a unique auto tracking software tool. Both have been introduced because we believe it’s important to provide application solutions that fully exploit our analytics technology.

Risk UK: So you have new products and new services, but will you have sufficient resources to directly supply and support these systems integrators? 

Kevin Waterhouse: We will not hesitate to continue investing in HR to ensure that our pre- and post-sales services more than match any increase in sales. It’s already the case that we have a strong technical support team in place and have recently recruited three seasoned security professionals to ensure that we can support customers worldwide.

Gary Mercer has joined VCA as UK sales manager while Ami Paz is our new business development manager for Israel and Çağlan Dilber has been appointed business development manager for the MENA region.

Ian Young has also joined the EMEA team to drive the software and applications developments and business.

All four have extensive global experience in the design and implementation of analytics applications across many different market sectors. Recently, we’ve extended our US team. There’ll be more news on this in the near future.

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Axis Communications introduces F34 Surveillance System for retail and office sector end users

Axis Communications is now offering a cost-efficient, four-camera surveillance solution for the retail and office markets. The Axis F34 Surveillance System comes with all the necessary hardware and software for a complete and integrated remote video monitoring and management solution.

The Axis F34 Main Unit adds to the company’s flexible and modular F Series. “We’ve focused on putting together a smart and efficient solution that’s easy to install and use,” explained Erik Frännlid, director of product management at the Lund-based company.

“Everything that’s required for a video surveillance system is in one box. Business receive a highly discreet, four-camera surveillance system with easy and secure remote monitoring and management, even from mobile devices.”

The Axis F34 Surveillance System includes one F34 Main Unit with an external power supply and four thumb-sized F1004 Sensor Units that can be discreetly recessed or surface-mounted on ceilings and walls using the included accessories. Also supplied are two Axis Surveillance microSDXC Cards 64 GB (with SD card adaptors) specifically engineered to handle continuous overwriting for lasting performance.

The cards are compatible with the F34 Main Unit’s built-in SD card slots for local storage of recordings and enable the system to run independently without the need for an external PC or a recording device for day-to-day operation.

Another important component of the system is the use of the freely downloadable video management software – namely Axis Camera Companion 3.10 – for easy and secure remote monitoring and management from any device with the software application.

The system operates efficiently with two Axis 64 GB cards that allow one-to-two weeks’ worth of video recording to be retained before overwriting takes place. Recording and storage are optimised thanks to smart programs and technologies in the Axis’ F34 Main Unit and Axis Camera Companion 3.10 that enable:

*Automatic configuration of the F34 Main Unit for recording based on video motion detection

*Support for Video Motion Detection 3, a video analytics program that has a false alarm filter to ignore motion such as swaying trees and small animals such that it can reliably detect moving objects of interest

*Axis’ Zipstream technology: a more efficient implementation of the H.264 video encoder that can lower bandwidth and storage use by an average of 50% or more for many surveillance scenarios

Divided network camera concept

Axis F34 is part of a series of products based on a divided network camera concept whereby the camera is split into a sensor unit (made up of a lens and image sensor with a cable) and a main unit, which is the body of the camera. The cable connects the sensor unit with the main unit and affords security installers the flexibility to mount the small sensor unit discreetly or in tight places, while the main unit can be placed elsewhere where there’s space.

Four-channel main units such as the Axis F34 can connect to four sensor units at any one time.

With the Axis F34 Surveillance System, the four F1004 Sensor Units can be installed in four different indoor locations up to 15 metres away from the F34 Main Unit. Since F1004 supports 720p resolution, the main unit can simultaneously stream full frame rate HDTV 720p videos from the four connected sensor units through its one Ethernet port.

When the F34 Main Unit is used with 1080p F Sensor Units, the main unit can stream 1080p videos at 12.5/15 frames per second (50/60 Hz) or 720p videos at full frame rate (25/30 fps) from each channel. F34 also supports quad view streaming, which combines four separate views from the connected sensor units into one for simultaneous viewing.

Besides Axis’ Zipstream technology and Video Motion Detection 3, the F34 Main Unit supports active tampering alarm and third party applications based on the Camera Application Platform. The main unit can be powered using PoE or an external power supply.

*For instructional videos and more information about the Axis F Series visit: www.axis.com/products/axis-f-series

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2015 IRB Rugby Union World Cup represents latest leg on Zaun’s Olympic Stadium relay

The IRB Rugby Union World Cup represents the latest leg in Zaun’s Olympic legacy that just keeps running and running. The Wolverhampton-based high security fencing manufacturer has been appointed to the latest two phases of work at the Olympic Stadium in London as it reopens temporarily for Rugby Union’s most special event.

England kicked off their campaign against Fiji at what it hopes will become ‘Fortress Twickenham’ through to the final on the last day of October.

Balfour Beatty was appointed to transform the former Olympic Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park into a year-round multi-use venue that will deliver a lasting sporting, cultural and community legacy in east London. That transformation includes installing the largest roof if its kind in the world, a community track, innovative retractable seating, spectator and hospitality facilities as well as external landscaping.

The initial two phases of work, which included a £150,000 contract for high security fencing to be installed by Zaun Group company Binns Fencing, finished a couple of weeks ago when the Olympic legacy team handed over The Stadium (as it will be known during the IRB Rugby Union World Cup) to the event organisers.

The 54,000-capacity stadium will host five matches, starting with today’s Pool D clash between France and Romania, New Zealand’s second Pool C match which takes place tomorrow, Ireland versus Italy and a fourth pool game between South Africa and the USA on Wednesday 7 October. The venue then stages the third place play-off on Friday 30 October.

It will then open permanently as the new home of Barclays Premier League club West Ham United and a national competition centre for UK Athletics.

Zaun is supplying over 800 metres of security-rated Duo8 SR1 fencing panels at heights varying between 2.4 metres and 3.5 metres, along with 200 metres of 5 metre-high sports fencing, over 200 metres of spectator railings and 13 pedestrian and vehicle gates.

The installation had to be completed within a month by Binns Fencing, which was bought a month ago by Zaun to enable the two to offer design, manufacture, supply and installation services for high security solutions from a single supplier.

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“Best-ever” Bestival ensures summer event season ends on high note for Showsec

The ‘Best-Ever’ Bestival ensured that another busy summer programme of securing and managing crowds at major festivals ended on a high note for Showsec as the company played its part in the success of the ‘Summer of Love’.

Organisers were quick to acclaim the fact that Bestival scaled new heights this year following a spectacular event which once again featured a successful bid to break a world record.

Crowd management and event security specialist Showsec helped to enhance the reputation of what has now become the traditional grand finale to the festival season on the Isle of Wight as the impact of the company’s bespoke crime reduction measures contributed to the overall success of the occasion.

This year’s event, which was themed the ‘Summer of Love’, saw Duran Duran, The Chemical Brothers and Missy Elliott headline the Main Stage on each of the festival’s three show days.

In a continuation of a long association with the Bestival team, Showsec’s summer programme drew to a close in the picturesque surroundings of Robin Hill Country Park, but it’s a link which also includes sister event Camp Bestival and a new addition this year, namely Common People.

Continually looking to raise the bar

“We’re continually exploring ways to raise the bar higher by delivering very special festival experiences for the enjoyment of all concerned,” commented Dave Grindle, the festival manager from Loudsound Productions. “To have the confidence to be that bold and ambitious with your plans, you need to have strong backing from the teams who provide essential parts of the whole operation. In that sense, we’ve developed a long-standing working relationship with Showsec and it’s very important to us to have the support of such a strong team of managers and supervisors.”

Grindle added: “That was most evident again this year and certainly helped us to fulfil our aim of making this Bestival the very best one we’ve run in its twelve-year history.”

A prominent feature of Showsec’s operation was the strong presence of senior management heading up the team throughout the event. While director Mark Logan acted as head of security, three of the company’s regional managers – namely Steve Reynolds, Scott Anderson and Richard Church – took on key responsibilities. Further support was provided by five area managers working across the whole operation.

As well as directing its own operations, Showsec also played an important part in the co-ordination of an army of Oxfam volunteers providing stewarding support.

“The benchmark is set very high by Bestival in terms of customer experience, so it’s important we match that commitment with our level of service,” commented Steve Reynolds, who was the security operations manager within that team for this particular occasion. “It helps that we have grown up with the event due to our long association with both Bestival and Loudsound Productions. We’re familiar with the venue.”

Reynolds went on to state: “Our management team was as strong as it has ever been, with Scott Anderson being an important addition in his capacity as security co-ordinator. This level of managerial expertise and experience proves to be highly significant in terms of our effective liaison with the other agencies fulfilling key roles.”

Working in parallel with Hampshire Constabulary

Nowhere was that more effective, in fact, than when it came to working closely with officers from the Hampshire Constabulary on crime reduction measures designed to help make Bestival 2015 a safe and secure environment.

Hampshire Constabulary reported a 26% drop in the number of reported criminal incidents for this year’s event, while enhanced searches involving Showsec staff, detection dogs and police advisors ensured that substantial quantities of drugs were confiscated at the entrances.

“The reduction in crime is a satisfying reflection of the emphasis which we place on this element of our operation and, indeed, the standardised training many staff have completed to enhance their skills and knowledge in that respect,” added Reynolds. “Having so many individuals within our operation who are very familiar with this event, and indeed enjoy being a part of what is the final stage of a long festival season, ensured that many aspects of our operation ran in a similarly effective way to previous years. There were some differences, most notably the fact that we had a higher number of early arrivals this year into the camp sites ahead of the event.”

Reynolds went on to state: “We also had a camera crew on site for much of the time and this took some planning to ensure they were able to film without too much disruption.”

Among the many other attractions, the world’s largest disco ball was back after successfully achieving an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2014, while the unofficial record bid on this occasion saw 446 people become the largest number of buskers to sing a song in one place.

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