ASIS Notebook: Smart Cities Begin With Security Systems

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Vendors see security as key component of "smart city" plans. Also, Raytheon's Clear View, megapixel on the march, and more.

Among the most notable of patterns at 2010 ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits two weeks ago in was the emphasis on public sector applications both in exhibitor booth demos and in press interviews.

Not so surprising since security purchasing has remained strong from federal to local government levels, and despite budget constraints, it's an area that cities and states are still regularly funding. Firetide, OnSSI and systems integrator Bearcom, for example, hosted a tour of the Dallas Police Department's operations center that's supported by the mesh wireless video surveillance network of some 150 cameras covering parts of downtown. 

But beyond the tours and demos, more vendors say they see urban security as a critical element of "smart city" initiatives that are gaining attention worldwide. These plans, spearheaded by major computing and networking companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, envision large but flexible IT infrastructures supporting intelligent traffic systems, smart energy grids and seamless connectivity with IP-enabled consumer platforms, such a smartphones and tablet PCs. Security, nonetheless, is the initial application that opens the door to a large-scale smart city project, executives at Cisco, Firetide and March Networks all said.



Cisco, for example, paired the introduction of its Physical Security Operations Manager (PSOM) with its announcement of a smart-city pilot program in Holyoke, Mass.

Cisco's Smart+Connected Communities initiative is positioned as transformative in terms of re-inventing a broad cross-section of city services, yet its first phase will use Cisco IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS) to provide an integrated radio interoperability system for police and fire departments to support the effective deployment of first-responder services.

For its part, PSOM, a physical security information management-like tool, provides a unified interface to manage IPICS, Cisco Video Surveillance Manager and Cisco Physical Access Manager from one console. 

Cisco, however, tends to shy away from the PSIM label, pointing out that its PSOM incorporates technology from Proximex, Vidsys and Intergraph, all considered PSIM players in the own right. Cisco positions PSOM as an integration platform that lets users better exploit Cisco's own network IP hardware and software in security applications, a market strategy on which it has settled after several fits and starts.

When it first entered the physical security sector in 2007 after its acquisitions of BroadWave and Ipixx, Cisco's initial bent seemed to be toward IP cameras and video management software. That shifted when it announced an alliance with Pelco at last year's ASIS. Now, with a product strategy more conducive to security interoperability, Cisco seems to be relying heavily on its networking clout and brand awareness to offer smaller and lower-capitalized vendors of IP-based security gear a path to the truly large government business managed by major IT contractors. As Craig Cotton, senior director, product marketing for Cisco's Physical Security Business Unit, Cisco's seeks to be an "integrator for the integrators."

Page:   1   2   3  Next  »

Vendors see security as key component of "smart city" plans. Also, Raytheon's Clear View, megapixel on the march, and more.

Among the most notable of patterns at 2010 ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits two weeks ago in was the emphasis on public sector applications both in exhibitor booth demos and in press interviews.

Not so surprising since security purchasing has remained strong from federal to local government levels, and despite budget constraints, it's an area that cities and states are still regularly funding. Firetide, OnSSI and systems integrator Bearcom, for example, hosted a tour of the Dallas Police Department's operations center that's supported by the mesh wireless video surveillance network of some 150 cameras covering parts of downtown. 

But beyond the tours and demos, more vendors say they see urban security as a critical element of "smart city" initiatives that are gaining attention worldwide. These plans, spearheaded by major computing and networking companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, envision large but flexible IT infrastructures supporting intelligent traffic systems, smart energy grids and seamless connectivity with IP-enabled consumer platforms, such a smartphones and tablet PCs. Security, nonetheless, is the initial application that opens the door to a large-scale smart city project, executives at Cisco, Firetide and March Networks all said.



Cisco, for example, paired the introduction of its Physical Security Operations Manager (PSOM) with its announcement of a smart-city pilot program in Holyoke, Mass.

Cisco's Smart+Connected Communities initiative is positioned as transformative in terms of re-inventing a broad cross-section of city services, yet its first phase will use Cisco IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS) to provide an integrated radio interoperability system for police and fire departments to support the effective deployment of first-responder services.

For its part, PSOM, a physical security information management-like tool, provides a unified interface to manage IPICS, Cisco Video Surveillance Manager and Cisco Physical Access Manager from one console. 

Cisco, however, tends to shy away from the PSIM label, pointing out that its PSOM incorporates technology from Proximex, Vidsys and Intergraph, all considered PSIM players in the own right. Cisco positions PSOM as an integration platform that lets users better exploit Cisco's own network IP hardware and software in security applications, a market strategy on which it has settled after several fits and starts.

When it first entered the physical security sector in 2007 after its acquisitions of BroadWave and Ipixx, Cisco's initial bent seemed to be toward IP cameras and video management software. That shifted when it announced an alliance with Pelco at last year's ASIS. Now, with a product strategy more conducive to security interoperability, Cisco seems to be relying heavily on its networking clout and brand awareness to offer smaller and lower-capitalized vendors of IP-based security gear a path to the truly large government business managed by major IT contractors. As Craig Cotton, senior director, product marketing for Cisco's Physical Security Business Unit, Cisco's seeks to be an "integrator for the integrators."

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Cisco is not alone. A month before ASIS, March Networks, along with seven other Canadian telecom and networking companies, announced formation of the Secure City Technology Alliance (SCTA). The group brings together suppliers of equipment ranging from intelligent mass notification systems to backhaul microwave systems to high-capacity sensor message routers, all of which easily fit into large-scale urban emergency operations centers.

In its own version of integrating for the integrators, the alliance allows individual SCTA members to offer users pre-certified interoperable equipment out-of-the-box from other SCTA partners. March Networks, for example, can offer its video management systems with BelAir Networks' wireless network systems and Benbria's mass notification system. Users always have the option of choosing other vendors, but SCTA sees more to be gained through a broad partnership based on interoperability.

Like Cisco, Robert Wu, SCTA managing director and vice president of alliances and corporate development at March Networks, sees urban security networks ultimately fitting into a larger IT and telecom infrastructure. Cities and towns are no longer configuring their IT networks and applications in isolation of each other because it is too expensive and inefficient to do it that way. "Wireless networks cannot be built for a single function," he said, using one example. "There are applications for security, smart grids, meter reading and WiFi hotspots." All of these can contribute to a to a return on investment while securing the environment and making local government more IT-friendly for citizens.

Established integrators also responding to this trend closely. ADT is raising its profile on the IT side. "Enterprise risk strategies, PCI [payment card industry], Sarbox [the Sarbanes-Oxley bill] all tie back to IT," said Bruce Sachetti, director, information technology, new product introduction and convergence at ADT Security Services. "The security function is rolling under the CIO."

In the public sector, IT organizations see security centers as equivalent to any other network operations center, and view PSIM as tool to unifying management, Sachetti said. But that's not to say they view PSIM as a simple appliance. In fact, he said, IT managers are more likely to appreciate the complexity and sophistication of the software. "For the IT guys, [PSIM] is much like an ERP [enterprise resource planning] or CRM [customer relationship management] system," Sachetti said. "They think IT should install it and provide support."

Raytheon's Command and Control Entry

Although tucked away on the far end of the exhibit hall, Raytheon's introduction of Clear View, a platform for integrating sensors with video management, attracted significant attention.  

When a sensor is triggered, the system automatically focuses video on the source and begins tracking. Raytheon was demonstrating a border protection application that could turn cameras on a suspected illegal entry if the individual tripped a ground sensor. Cameras would then zoom in and track the suspect. At the same time, once a person or object triggers one alarm and draws video attention, the system will not repeat the alarm if the same person or object triggers another sensor. This keeps the number of alarms down while focusing the attention of security operators on the immediate problem, said Kevin Stevens, strategy and planning consultant for border security at Raytheon Homeland Security and a retired deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.

The suspect's location and movement could also be projected onto an aerial view of the area, which also could show his or her relative distance from the camera, Stevens said. Should the suspect disappear behind foliage or rocks or another obstruction to visibility, onboard algorithms would calculate the suspect's movement and direction while out of sight and pick-up surveillance upon re-emergence. Raytheon demonstrated the system with individuals on foot and with vehicles.

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The system can be "configured on the ground," added Curt Powell, director of transportation and border security for Raytheon Homeland Security, and adapted to a user's current requirements. Clear View provides command and control functions via a single interface that can be overlaid on top of existing applications, using a service-oriented architecture, and will work with existing sensors and cameras, Powell said. Changes can be easily made. The system is available now, he said, with pricing based on configuration. While the company was demonstrating a wide area border protection application, the system is also designed to work in smaller installations at single sites. "We're all getting sensory overload," Powell said. "This is the glue that brings it together."

Megapixel Posed to Dominate

Large users, in particular, have discovered that megapixel cameras have "non-traditional applications," said Raul Calderon, vice president of business development for Arecont Vision. In Asia, cameras are being used for freeway traffic monitoring, T-Mobile is using them in retail stores to generate information about shopping patterns, and Google is using them worldwide to monitor data centers, he said.

Arecont Vision was just one of many camera manufacturers introducing new megapixel models at ASIS, Axis Communications, March Networks and FLIR were among others. But the greater significance lay in how the new cameras are accelerating the evolution of network-centric security.

Users are discovering that megapixel cameras, even when compared to standard digital cameras, yields more image data that can be applied to data processing functions above and beyond security. Megapixel, for example, improves video analytics simply because there is image detail for the software to work with. People-counting applications can be more accurate.

Meanwhile, prices continue to fall. In a post-ASIS report, IPVideoMarket declared declining megapixel prices as one of four major market trends. New megapixel cameras were priced 10 to 15 percent lower on average than preceding models, IPVM found.

Citing IMS Research findings that forecast that by 2014 50 percent of IP cameras will be megapixel of HD, Calderon sees megapixel cameras fast becoming the norm. In addition, he said, the consumer market is setting user expectations for image quality, be it on HDTV screens at home or cameras on smartphones, which on some models, are now as sharp as 8 megapixels. "There's no reason for standard definition," Calderon said.

Quick Hits

Next Level Security Systems (NLSS) will begin shipping its flagship NLSS Gateway appliance after the show, said Jumbi Edulbehram, vice president of business development. Gateway is a platform that unifies management of video, access control, two-way audio, analytics, intrusion detection through a browser-based interface.

The Gateway, announced last March, is concluding beta-testing, Edulbehram said. With the product, NLSS hopes to reduce the cost and complexity of IP security integration.  "We've bundle a lot of functionality into the appliance: video, analytics, remote management and provide it cost-effectively," he said.

Gateway will be available in two versions. GW3000, priced at $4,995 to end-users, is aimed at larger enterprise users. A GW500, or Mini-Gateway model, is priced at $2,495 and is targeted at smaller installations. The equipment, however, is scalable. Number of channels supported depends on configuration, choice of video resolution and whether certain features, such as analytics, are selected. Both models incorporate ONVIF and PSIA specifications. Multiple Gateways can be combined for collaborative distributive processing. Digital video formats supported include H.264, VC-, M-JPEG, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 for HD and SD video, and it supports access control panels and readers from one door to hundreds, Edulbehram said.

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Pivot3 is looking to leverage its scalable networked storage technology to attack the growing market for hosted security. Pivot3's technology permits large video files to be stored across numerous servers, boosting overall efficiency of the server farm by using space where it is available.

Efficiency and economy, combined with the necessary reliability and uptime needed for video has been Pivot3's main selling point for end-users, but the company is finding the same sales pitch can be attractive to independent software vendors and hosting companies looking to broaden their base.

Thus far, Pivot3 has won a contract from DIT Beveiliging, a Netherlands for company, which is using Pivot3's Scale-out Application Platform to host video surveillance. Pivot3 also has contracts with deals from Ciphaus and DeviceLogix, ISVs in Seattle and Texas respectively, that use Pivot3's Scale-out platform for hosted data storage. and Digi Systems, an Oklahoma-based system integrator.  

Right now, the hosting model appeals more to ISVs, who have more experience with it. But Caswell agrees with many who say that hosted security can replace revenues security integrators are losing to tighter margins. The fact that these revenues recur makes it doubly attractive. The only barrier is wariness brought on by unfamiliarity with the news aftersale model that some smaller integrators have trouble getting past. Caswell urges reluctant integrators to view matters from the user perspective. For a small store, with two to four cameras, a hosted solution means better quality video without the high bandwidth requirements. When intelligence, transmission and storage are outsourced, Caswell said, video surveillance moves "from a capital cost to an operational expense."

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2 Comments

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Yes u r right,
security is the major issue for smart cities.

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