EXEC TECH : Big Brother is watching…

Portable and wireless: ideal for sting operations
Mi5 is on mission to empower people and organisations to manage their own security and surveillance operations. Don’t worry, the British Security Service is still protecting the homeland against “threats to national security”, this Mi5 (recognisable by its diminutive ‘i’) is New Zealand-based and specialises in wire-free security surveillance systems.
COO of Mi5 Scott Wattie says: “Our niche – we can very quickly put security system in and make sure you can rely on it. Our systems lean themselves more to the rural markets or places where you have to put something in very quickly for sting operations in businesses and the like.”
As good operator, Wattie can’t reveal client names, but relevant example is the case of warehouse where the existing surveillance cameras had an identified blind spot. As most of the cameras in Mi5’s eye series are small, stand-alone, completely portable and wire-free, it was relatively easy to quickly place ‘BlueEye’ (a camera from the indoor surveillance range) in the blind spot without the culprit noticing. That’s one way to thwart shrinkage.
Some businesses are using the ‘RedEye’ outdoor range to apprehend serial graffiti artists and mischief-makers who key cars in parking garages. It might sound like more of nuisance than threat, but these acts of vandalism can cost lot to remedy.
Wattie recommends the company’s flagship product, the RedEye kit: “A product you can turn on and keep on operating forever. It’s charged by small solar panel and nothing touches it for ease of use. Generally with security you have camera, then cabling, then with new technologies you even need cable for network and power – that’s the biggest constraint for any surveillance operation. Our claim to fame is as the world’s greenest camera surveillance set, self-powered though the solar power and long-life battery.”
Some of Mi5’s customers have even taken to camouflaging the weatherproof outdoor units, wrapping them in camo-tape, or spraying them with glue and covering them with leaves, twigs and soil. As long as the peephole is clear, it’s not problem. The most extreme act has been to strip the components from the housing and install the circuit board and chip inside metal pole.
So why go to these extremes? The key lies in the term “security grade technology”. Wattie says: “It’s important to ask yourself, ‘What is the outcome I want and is the product going to deliver this, giving me something I can use in the enforcement process to verify who did what, without letting them have any outs or excuses?’ ”
Grainy images can give an indication of what’s happening, but can’t prove identification, which is what business needs if an incident reaches the courts.

Surveillance trends

As technology has improved and taken connectivity and the use of computing away from specialists and into the realms of Joe Average, security cameras and surveillance have been moving to end-to-end IP-based camera systems.
Wattie explains: “The key thing with surveillance in the past is it needed specialist security integrators or people with special skill set around cabling and viewing of images and the like. The trend going forth is to integrate it into any IP framework, so security footage and images can be saved anywhere and accessed from anywhere. lot of companies provide hosted environments as well, so you don’t have to worry about storage.
“Going forward with any security, you want your staff to be able to manage it. You don’t want to be dependent on niche skill sets that your organisation doesn’t possess – skill sets that are expensive and increasingly scarce in the marketplace as well. Operationally, it’s about having technology that is using components that your technical staff can work with and manage.”
Wattie does however add that Mi5 is “very mindful of the other great products out there, like those of Panasonic and Bosch, that have very good digital recording technologies that operate in CCTV-type scenario. Those are ideal where you have cabling, and offer extremely high quality outputs.”
So Management consulted Panasonic about its new range of cabled security camera systems.
Well-known for its consumer camera range, it comes as no surprise to learn that the company has been active in CCTV product production since 1984, starting out with tailor-made solution for the banking industry. Jason Walsh, who is the product manager for Panasonic security and industrial, says: “There is now trend to have video analytics on board with ‘smart, intelligent’ features on the cameras themselves, such as face detection, object abandonment and object removal identification.”
‘Object abandonment and removal’ is all about the camera ‘learning’ scene. If something moves or changes within that scene, it will set off the alarm and let you know. In business scenario, camera could learn the positioning of equipment and spot if an object has been removed or covered up.
“Face detection is feature that has come from our consumer camera products,” says Walsh. “Up to eight faces can be identified in one scene, and matched to database. If you walk through the door of retail shop, it will recognise your face, if you’re bad bugger then it will set off the alarm. It recognises staff as well.”

Smart solutions

As company, Panasonic shares its technology as whole range from consumer to broadcast to professional, with many features now coming into the CCTV industry. The benefit for businesses using its systems is that these are cost-effective and tested in broader market.
“All our products under the Smart HD banner are using those smarts to your advantage, so you don’t have to trawl through hours and hours of footage,” says Walsh. “In retail situation, you can use the software to search through till transactions or numbers, or staff member numbers and bring up list of transactions and video with that.”
He says the biggest change from older technology to current surveillance is the improved quality and resolution of images. lot more can be picked up in each scene, as cameras now cover greater floor area and can even identify number-plates.
He explains: “In June we are releasing range of six new IP cameras with face-detection. The same cameras also have variable resolutions; in particular scene you can focus and assign higher resolution to certain parts of the screen and lower resolution to less important parts, which cuts the need for higher bandwidth and storage requirements.
“We have hardware-based reliable systems that go for 10 years-plus. big factor nowadays is dealing with company that offers support. In the last year or so, many of our competitors have closed, rebranded or gone offshore.”
It is interesting that as cameras now include so much technology, companies such as Panasonic are moving away from manufacturing biometrics, such as iris readers. Whether your business needs suite of 50-odd cabled cameras or few wireless, discreet cameras for sting operations, make sure to choose reputable company so that in the event of theft, you make the security grade.



Panasonic

Panasonic’s new range of analogue Digital Video Recorders, WJ-HD616, and new ‘Smart HD’ IP cameras will be released over the July-August period.
Features: The IP cameras feature iPro Smart HD that enables face recognition. Multiple H.264 (high profile) streams and JPEG streams ensure simultaneous real time monitoring and high resolution recording by ‘UniPhier’, Panasonic’s proprietary System LSI platform.
Cost: From $2500 for four-camera system. Bear in mind it takes 40 to 50 cameras to cover decent-sized shop or warehouse, and that factors from labour to installers will affect cost.



Mi5

Mi5’s RedEye GSM and RedEye Extreme GSM (with night vision) launch in June.
Features: The world’s first wireless and wire-free outdoor security camera captures and transmits security images immediately through t

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