Tag Archives: Digital

GCHQ accelerator launches with The Landing to support start-ups in improving digital safety

In partnership with GCHQ, The Landing and global tech accelerator UP Ventures have been selected to deliver a ground-breaking accelerator: the Safe Citizen Digital Innovation Lab. Applications to join this GCHQ accelerator, which will start in early 2020, are being sought from companies who have customer-facing technology solutions aimed at improving citizen digital safety across the North West. 

This follows on from the GM Future of Health Challenge accelerator which received unprecedented application numbers and is now underway with a cohort of 15 companies, led by UP Ventures at The Landing, in the heart of Salford’s MediaCityUK.

GCHQ is a world-leading intelligence, cyber and security agency with a mission to keep the UK safe. In parallel with celebrating its centenary year, GCHQ is opening a new strategic hub in the heart of Manchester.

GCHQ is excited to engage with the thriving tech ecosystem in Greater Manchester and the North West and will be imparting exclusive tailored technical expertise into the programme. The GCHQ accelerator seeks start-ups that have harnessed cutting-edge technology in a creative way to make a difference to day-to-day life. This could be anything from informing and, in turn, empowering citizens by providing new insights from connected devices and services through to the creative use of data to deliver social impact in the region.

GCHQ’s deputy director for Manchester stated: “The Greater Manchester community has been fantastically welcoming to GCHQ and we’re just as pleased to be here. This accelerator programme is an early chance for us to begin working with the buzzing tech community in the North West. The ‘Safe Citizens’ theme for the accelerator combines our passion for exploring innovative cutting-edge technology with our desire to make a real contribution to the region. We look forward to building relationships with a diverse range of technologists, creatives and entrepreneurs.”

GCHQ at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Pioneering “a new kind of security”

In order to pioneer a new kind of security as it expands into Greater Manchester, GCHQ is seeking to engage with external partners in the region, sharing unique technical expertise and collaborating with a diverse range of entrepreneurs, industry and academia to make a difference in the community.

Danny Meaney, CEO of UP Ventures, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for emerging tech businesses to gain unique access to GCHQ’s world-class engineering and technology teams, as well as leading digital thinkers and our strong investor network.  We’re excited to help bring another initiative to the market that has the potential to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives through applied technology here in Greater Manchester and the North West. We’re also pleased to build on our long-standing and successful partnership with The Landing.”

The 16-week accelerator programme will leverage unique technical infrastructure and facilities, including the Vodafone 5G Innovation Lab which provides real world urban environments for demonstration of products and services of MediaCityUK. GCHQ is keen to contribute to the fabric of Greater Manchester. Therefore, the programme welcomes submissions that provide “life impact” solutions for vulnerable groups across the region, empowering and connecting citizens through the ingenious use of technology.

Dan Sodergren, head of business services at The Landing, observed: “Thanks to our unparalleled facilities and a commitment to innovation from all partners, this is a significant opportunity for companies to explore how a ‘Smart City’ can work for its customers. Using technology for good is something we’re incredibly passionate about and we’re excited to receive applications from those who can really make a positive difference to all of our lives in the 21st Century.”

*Apply to the Safe Citizen Innovation Lab 1: http://thegchqaccelerator.mystrikingly.com

**Deadline for entries is 8 November. Successful applicants will be announced by 13 December and the programme begins on 13 January 2020

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Axis’ Camera Companion upgrades security regime at convenience retailer Nisa

Axis Communications’ Camera Companion system has been voted the ‘most innovative’ solution available by an independent panel at an innovations showcase run by the Association of Convenience Stores, and was also chosen for installation at a branch of Nisa, the national convenience retailer.

Axis Communications and partner Defence Security were selected for the installation following an initial proof of concept trial. Axis led the trial at the Nisa Local in Hockley where store owner Rav Garcha challenged the specialist security surveillance company to expand the functionality of his current analogue set-up – including remote central monitoring, mobile accessibility and the option to integrate cross-functional retail analytics.

Commenting on the project, Daren Lang – regional business development manager for northern Europe at Axis Communications – said: “What they needed was a small, cost-effective solution that was not only easy-to-use and set up but also innovative. The installation needs to grow and adapt with the business plans of the store.”

Axis’ Camera Companion is an easy-to-use video surveillance solution optimised for small systems up to 16 cameras. It consists of software running on standard Axis cameras, storage on SD cards or Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices, software clients for PC and smart phones and standard network equipment. It offers future-proof IP advantages such as digital HDTV image quality and optimised bandwidth usage with Axis Mobile Streaming.

Axis' Camera Companion software and cameras are making a positive difference to security at Nisa

Axis’ Camera Companion software and cameras are making a positive difference to security at Nisa

Dave Brown, business development manager at Defence Security, added: “The store’s existing system often experienced faults and failures and needed a wholesale upgrade. In comparison, the flexibility and image quality offered by the Axis cameras is streets ahead. Even its smallest camera achieves two-and-a-half times the picture quality of most analogue systems.”

Compact dome and fixed lens cameras

As part of the store’s upgrade, Defence Security replaced 16 conventional cameras with a range of Axis compact dome and fixed lens cameras. Variously featuring video motion detection, active tampering alarm, two-way audio and integrated passive infrared sensors, the cameras capture the entire store in full HDTV image quality.

An in-built microphone and speaker system also allows members of staff to communicate directly with customers at the critical point of sale area in the store. The Axis cameras’ superior image quality and reliability also mean that footage is of evidential quality and certified for use in court.

Using Axis’ Corridor Format, the cameras record footage in vertical aspect ratio which is better suited than traditional landscape format for monitoring the narrow aisles in the Nisa Local store. The system is also fully open to future high-spec integrations that use surveillance data to analyse staff levels, peak trading hours, customer footfall and buyer behaviour.

Data can also be collated to inform staffing policy, store layouts and the relative success of special promotions or offers.

Rav Garcha told Risk UK: “The great picture quality and advanced audio detection features are incredibly important. In the past, we’ve experienced armed robberies and several incidences of abusive behaviour and threats being made towards staff. Axis’ cameras can be relied upon not only to see these incidents in perfect detail but also hear and record what’s being said.”

Increased surveillance coverage

Despite reducing the store’s overall camera count, the new Axis Camera Companion system has significantly increased surveillance coverage in the store, as measured against the retailer’s historic analogue system.

Indeed, the success of the Hockley store project has resulted in the installation of a network video encoder at Nisa’s Broadway outlet.

Garcha concluded: “We’ve been incredibly impressed with the entire Axis Camera Companion package, from ease of installation right through to the end product. We now have a bespoke surveillance system set-up and an analytics capability that will make a real difference to the business’ profitability.”

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