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Scottish Water safeguards lone workers with 250-plus SPOT Gen3 satellite devices

Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globalstar Inc and a specialist in the field of satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, has announced that Scottish Water has deployed over 250 SPOT Gen3 satellite messengers to safeguard employees who work on their own in areas with unreliable or non-existent mobile coverage.

Hundreds of Scottish Water employees work in remote parts of the country, often on a solo basis, and manage assets including the reservoirs that supply water to over 2.54 million households and 152,000 businesses. While 49 remote-working teams are already using SPOT, Scottish Water is also offering devices to all other employees registered as lone workers. These employees now have a communications lifeline wherever they are, with small, robust SPOT Gen3 devices that communicate reliably over Globalstar’s Low Earth Orbit satellite network.

Scottish Water has pre-configured the SPOT Gen3 devices with two services. If an employee has an emergency, they can press SPOT’s one-touch SOS button. There’s also a Help button for non-life-threatening situations. Pressing either button automatically transmits the end user’s precise GPS location to Scottish Water’s Internal Communications Centre (ICC). The ICC operators then either contact the Emergency Services or locate a nearby Scottish Water team who can help their colleague.

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Scottish Water chose SPOT Gen3 because of its ease of use and robustness, in addition  to the accuracy of its GPS transmissions. Before deploying SPOT earlier this year, Scottish Water relied solely on a system whereby employees registered their planned movements by phone then, if they didn’t call back by an agreed time, the issue would be escalated through their line managers.

“With winter around the corner, we expect SPOT to come into its own as an important part of our Health and Safety strategy,” said Kes Juskowiak, water operations general manager at Scottish Water. “With reliable satellite communications, we can get help to our employees whenever it’s needed and wherever they might be. SPOT is a lifeline providing reassurance to families and colleagues that each lone worker is in safe hands.”

Scottish Water procured the SPOTs through UK specialist wireless and satellite reseller Global Telesat Communications (GTC), a subsidiary of the Orbital Tracking Corp. GTC recently surpassed the milestone of selling 15,000 SPOT devices.

“With staff welfare moving up the corporate agenda, we’re seeing a significant adoption of SPOT by commercial and non-commercial organisations worldwide,” said Gary King, Globalstar’s EMEA sales manager for SPOT. “By deploying SPOT, Scottish Water is demonstrating its commitment to safeguarding its employees as they go about their work in some of the most remote parts of the UK.”

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BlackBerry Cylance outlines cyber security predictions for 2020

Josh Lemos, vice-president of research and intelligence at BlackBerry Cylance, has put forward some predictions on cyber security trends for 2020 that will impact Governments and companies across a variety of industry sectors.

(1) Uncommon attack techniques will emerge in common software

Steganography, the process of hiding files in a different format, will grow in popularity as online blogs make it possible for threat actors to grasp the technique. Recent research at BlackBerry found malicious payloads residing in WAV audio files, which have been used for decades and categorised as benign.

Businesses will begin to recalibrate how legacy software is defined and treated and effectively invest in operational security around them. Companies will look for ways in which to secure less commonly weaponised file formats, like JPEG, PNG and GIF, etc without hindering users as they navigate the modern computing platforms.

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(2) Changing network topologies challenge traditional assumptions and require new security models

Network-based threats that can compromise the availability and integrity of 5G networks will push Governments and enterprises alike to adopt cyber security strategies as they implement the 5G spectrum. As cities, towns and Government agencies continue to overhaul their networks, sophisticated attackers will begin to tap into software vulnerabilities as the expansion of bandwidth that 5G requires inevitably creates a larger attack surface.

Governments and enterprises will need to retool their network, device and application security. We will see many lean towards a zero-trust approach for identity and authorisation on a 5G network.

Threat detection and threat intelligence will need to be driven by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to keep up.

(3) 2020 will see more cyber-physical convergence

As all sectors increasingly rely on smart technology to operate and function, the gap between the cyber and the physical will officially converge. This is evident given the recent software bug in an Ohio power plant that affected hospitals, police departments, subway systems and more in both the US and Canada.

Attacks on Internet of Things (IoT) devices will have a domino effect and leaders will be challenged to think of unified cyber-physical security in a hybrid threat landscape.

Cyber security will begin to be built into advanced technologies by design to keep pace with the speed of IoT convergence and the vulnerabilities that come with it. 

(4) State and state-sponsored cyber groups alike are the new proxy for international relations

Cyber espionage has been going on since the introduction of the Internet, with Russia, China, Iran and North Korea seen as major players. In 2020, we will see a new set of countries using the same tactics, techniques and procedures as these superpowers operate against rivals both inside and outside of national borders.

Mobile cyber espionage will also become a more common threat vector as mobile users are a significant attack vector for organisations that allow employees to use personal devices on company networks.

We will see threat actors perform cross-platform campaigns that leverage both mobile and traditional desktop malware. Recent research discovered nation state-based mobile cyber espionage activity across ‘The Big 4’, as well as in Vietnam. There’s likely to be more attacks coming in the future. This will create more complexity for Governments and enterprises as they try to attribute these attacks, with more actors and more endpoints in play at a larger scale.

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ONVIF reflects on year’s activities and achievements at 2019 Annual Membership Meeting

ONVIF, the global standardisation initiative for IP-based physical security products, recently held its Annual Membership Meeting to provide members with an overview of important activities that have occurred in 2019 and outline bold plans for the year ahead. Attendees heard presentations on the growth of ONVIF as well as plans for new Profile development.

ONVIF chairman Per Björkdahl highlighted the forum’s achievements over the past year, in particular focusing on the market’s continued support for the Profile concept, with the number of conformant products surpassing 13,000 earlier this year.

With six Profiles to choose from and additional ones in development, ONVIF Profiles have increasingly been included in various bid and specification processes in projects around the world, making it the de facto interface in the industry.

Björkdahl also noted the continued involvement of ONVIF in the International Electrotechnical Commission’s work on international standardisation, in addition to new proposals for cloud connectivity and interoperability between multiple systems.

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Contributions recognised

In keeping with tradition, ONVIF recognised the contributions of multiple individuals from various ONVIF Committees. Steve Wolf, who served on several ONVIF Committees on behalf of Pelco, received the ONVIF Service Award, which acknowledges individuals who have provided a long-term commitment to the organisation. While serving on the Technical Committee, Wolf led the Security Working Group and was also an active participant in the Video Enhancement Working Group, contributing towards a number of improvements in how ONVIF approaches video.

Andreas Schneider of Sony received the ONVIF Distinguished Service Award, which recognises individuals who’ve made significant contributions to ONVIF over many years in multiple functions. Schneider’s long-term service to the Technical Services Committee has positioned him as a major facilitator of the ONVIF organisation, with contributions to multiple ONVIF Profiles.

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ONVIF chairman Per Björkdahl

“The overarching goal of ONVIF is to provide the market with a single interface through which every system can operate,” explained Björkdahl. “Our award winners have shown significant and long-term commitment to our organisation, in turn making this goal a reality one Profile at a time. We thank both of our recipients for their innovation, hard work and service.”

Specification development roadmap

ONVIF Technical Committee chairman Hans Busch of Bosch spoke to members about the specification development roadmap, which highlights plans for future Profile development, as well as the continued alignment to the standardisation activities within the IEC TC 79 Working Groups for video surveillance and physical access control standards. Specifically, Busch covered what specifications are being examined for future Profiles and how they complement and further enhance existing ONVIF Profiles.

As chair of the Technical Services Committee, Sony’s Schneider gave an overview of the Committee’s work on new and existing Profiles, client and device test tools, updates to the conformance process and tools and the Developers’ Plugfest.

Shi-lin Chan of Axis Communications, who serves as chair of the ONVIF Communication Committee, provided a recap of ONVIF communication efforts in 2019 and discussed the organisation’s plans for the launch of a Mandarin website later this year.

Driving interoperability

Founded in 2008, ONVIF is a leading and well-recognised industry forum driving interoperability for IP-based physical security products. The organisation has a global member base of established camera, video management system and access control companies and, as stated, more than 13,000 Profile-conformant products.

ONVIF offers Profile S for streaming video, Profile G for recording and storage, Profile C for physical access control, Profile Q for improved out-of-the-box functionality, Profile A for broader access control configuration and Profile T for advanced streaming.

ONVIF continues to work with its members to expand the number of IP interoperability solutions that ONVIF-conformant products can provide.

 

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AMG continues expansion drive by appointing duo of new directors

AMG, the ISO 9001:2015-approved UK manufacturer and global provider of fibre, analogue, IP/Ethernet, wireless and hybrid communication transmission solutions has announced that Tom Exley and Stephen Kummik have joined the business as company directors.

Well-known and respected security industry figures, Exley and Kummik have previously held senior management roles at video transmission manufacturing companies including GE International Fibre Systems, GE Fibre Options and ComNet.

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Tom Exley (left) and Stephen Kummik

Joining AMG to support the company’s global growth plans, Exley commented: “Joining an experienced team with a strong culture, Stephen and I are up for the challenge to help accelerate the growth of AMG. The two of us are ready and committed to the hard work that’s needed to create a great brand. We will be bringing in new product designs, processes and tools to help our customers while the company’s product portfolio and core technologies will expand in tandem with our engineering and sales teams.”

AMG’s managing director Steve Clarke commented: “With the appointment of Tom and Stephen, AMG is building a solid platform to implement its global expansion plans. We’re looking forward to continuing the drive to support our existing and new customers with a broader portfolio of high-performance transmission products coupled with first class sales and technical support services.”

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Ian Hill on board at Hochiki Europe as company’s new emergency lighting business manager

Life safety systems manufacturer Hochiki Europe has appointed lighting expert Ian Hill as the company’s new emergency lighting business manager. Hill brings a wealth of industry experience to the role thanks to a technical background covering business development, sales of life safety equipment and a focus on product development.

Hill will combine his industry sales experience with technical expertise to bolster Hochiki Europe’s growth in the global emergency lighting sector. As part of his new role, Hill will support the widening of the company’s emergency lighting offer.

Starting his career within the design department at Simplex Lighting, Hill has spent decades developing his skill set across a variety of roles with lighting manufacturers including Philips and Fagerhult. He then made the transfer to emergency lighting during his tenure at Eaton Electrical Systems (previously known as Cooper Lighting and Safety).

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Ian Hill

Commenting on his new role, Hill said: “I’ve admired Hochiki Europe’s work and reputation for some time, so when the opportunity arose to work for the business, I simply couldn’t turn that down. The company has contributed vastly to the advances made within life safety over the past few years, especially so with products such as those within the FIREscape collection.”

Hill added: “Working in a company with such an international foothold is also incredibly exciting. With so much room for growth within the emergency lighting sector, we have a real opportunity to make a positive difference. I plan on working closely with both the sales and product development teams to further the scope and capabilities of our lighting product ranges.”

Hill’s remit includes supporting the market growth of Hochiki Europe’s aforementioned FIREscape range: an emergency lighting system that can be connected through an EL-2 control panel to provide immediate accessibility and easy installation within large spaces. It’s also designed to reduce running costs by up to 89% over a period of ten years as the standard luminaire consumes less than 0.5 W while charging, which then reduces to 0.1 W once the device is fully charged.”

Speaking about the appointment, Tracy Kirk (general manager of sales and marketing at Hochiki Europe) observed: “Recent events and enquires have shown how vital clear routes of escape can be in an emergency situation. Ian’s extensive experience of emergency lighting will ensure we’re reaching more people around the world with our dependable and intelligent solutions. Our existing customers continue to benefit from the most sought-after innovations within the industry as well as an exceptional service.”

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UNION introduces series of Fire Door Kits for practising safety professionals

UNION is cutting the hassle out of sourcing fire door hardware with its new Fire Door Kits, featuring a complete range of pre-selected products that work seamlessly together and, importantly, meet every relevant standard.

The role of a fire door in supporting fire safety and integrity within a building is critical.  UNION’s Fire Door Kit is a single box solution that helps safety-focused professionals to ensure that they’re fitting correct and fully-compliant hardware.

Until now property owners, facilities managers and installers have faced a bewildering variety of hardware choices when installing or maintaining a fire door set. With the UNION Fire Door Kit, all that worry, guesswork and lost time is now a thing of the past.

Designed for common installation situations, each Fire Door Kit combines all of the hardware needed to install or repair a fire door. This includes hinges, door closer, lockcase, levers and signage, as well as installation instructions, fitting templates, fixings and the performance sheets for the building owner’s own records.

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Crucially, every part included in the Fire Door Kit is tested to all relevant standards, ensuring that the commissioned door will meet regulations.

There are four different Fire Door Kits, each designed to work in a specific application. The Sashlock Kit is ideal for locking fire doors, while the Deadlock Kit is a perfect fit for locking storage areas. The Latch Kit is designed for non-locked rooms, and finally the Corridor Kit is used for push-pull, non-locking fire doors.

Alison Aston, category manager at UNION, said: “The Fire Door Kit range is the easiest way to install or maintain a fire door. We believe this will be a huge benefit for property owners and installers alike, as they now have a way to ensure that a fire door is fitted with all the hardware it needs to meet legal requirements and work perfectly. It’s simple to stock, easy to order, compact to transport and store on site.”

Aston added: “The UNION Fire Door Kit brings instant safety, compliance and peace of mind for the end user.”

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