EXCLUSIVE: Making the right choice


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When businesses select a security system in the US and Canada, they typically do not think about the need or possibility of integrating it with law enforcement, reports IPTECHVIEW.

In America, selecting a security system and considering integrating it with law enforcement is just not something that is done widely today. Those who think about it mostly abandon the idea once they consider privacy and security issues. Yet, it is an exciting option that, if managed well and with the right system, could increase the utility and add value for citizens and police.

On the residential side, this has been done, with the most famous example being RING. But, there are downsides. Today, we can see opposition and even political initiatives to strengthen privacy aspects of the RING system that is seen as “too cop friendly.”

In other regions of the world, integrating security systems with LEA is the norm and is done so with different degrees of access and integration, from full control in projects in China to more on-demand, incident management which can be seen in the Middle East. In the United States, separation of government and business is the norm, privacy is highly cherished, systems deployed by enterprises are typically not interconnected and access stays in private hands.

Even in the US, after the recent Roe vs. Wade reversal, digital surveillance potentially could threaten Reproductive Freedom. It has become clear that there are two sides to video surveillance and any always-on security integration will become very contentious; to mandate and create an always-connected, centrally accessible system would be highly unpopular and probably not pass. But, that does not mean there is not a way to collaborate and streamline the sharing of footage in situations where it is clear that a crime has happened.

How could this be resolved and what tools would best support such an on-demand-based collaboration? The security industry itself is at the beginning of a shift from on-premises security camera solutions to cloud-based, which is also proving to be a time of faster changes and a technology environment that makes different kinds of integration viable and can significantly reduce the time between an event being recorded and the footage or even live view of such an event being shared. What will the future be like and how can we balance creating a more effective surveillance system yet prevent potential negative effects on civil liberties?

Things to consider

It shows in practice that when cloud video-surveillance-as-a-service (VSaaS) is highly based on central AI, particularly around pervasive face recognition, there is a higher potential the system will be used to infringe on privacy and civil liberties. Schools and other venues using VSaaS with built-in face recognition are getting a lot of political pushback for potentially compromising students and teachers civil liberties. The trick is to find the right balance and use a VSaaS that is strong at detecting people in general and recording quality video of activity instead of letting the AI do all the filtering and classifying of everything.

Technology is helping improve productivity through digital transformation in all walks of life. National Institute of Justice Research shows that the chance of being caught is a vastly more effective deterrent than even draconian punishment. This leads to the concussion that a highly visible video surveillance system will make a difference. But, the system needs to produce quality evidence effectively so law enforcement can do their job.

Today, when businesses want to enhance or upgrade their security, there are many not-so-obvious dimensions to consider:

  1. On-premises vs. cloud-based VSaaS and system architecture
  2. Salvaging current security cameras or replacing them with new ones
  3. The system’s learning curve for new users, employees and stakeholders like police officers
  4. Will the system scale to the complete needs of the organization in the next five years? Could it be connected to a more comprehensive federated incident-based solution?
  5. Will there be vendor lock-in and can the system do more than just video surveillance?

We believe the question of on-premises vs. cloud is probably the most important one. On-premises tends to be ‘lumpy’; it’s hard to start small and scale big. Counter-intuitively, it is also less safe. On-premises systems and customer networks typically have less stringent security than a commercial cloud-based service dependent on maintaining security and privacy.

A modern VSaaS should not require servers or bridges. These become single points of failure and can be stolen or destroyed. All cameras should independently connect to the cloud and critical cameras should offer a full cloud recording option as opposed to the video all staying in the camera SD-Card.

Else, in the event of an incident, the camera could be destroyed by bad actors or by fire, flood or wind with no external backup available. We are particularly proud of our own platform, IPTECHVIEW.COM, which operates as Just Camera and Cloud and supports a mix and match storage strategy to help lower the dollar average of a project’s storage cost while ensuring redundant access to the critical video.

Most will consider or even prefer a system that can leverage the old cameras when upgrading a system. That may be okay when using high quality, durable cameras that have an MTBF > 10 years. (Mean Time Between Failures over ten years). The useful life is often less than 24 months on other less expensive cameras and most older cameras don’t have some of the more essential features like in-camera people detection.

Considering that the cost of installing cameras can exceed their price and there is a cost of opportunity or loss of some kind when the camera fails, it is best to consider using new fresh, technology-updated cameras when rolling out a new system. For us, one of the most important features is an AI based on the person and vehicle detection. This will save storage costs and users from looking at hours of video with no real action and, most importantly, eliminate false positives in alerts and ensure that there is video when people are detected.

Finding the right balance

A good VSaaS should have proactive, individually self-configurable alerts that can use a wide array of notification profiles handling channels like SMS, email and even SLACK for one-to-many notifications that are internal to the organization or other web-hook-based integrations.

Another key feature of a VSaaS is a good alarm system integration. AlarmReady is a solution that provides free universal alarm system connectivity via the VSaaS and provides instant alerts along with a link for users to self-verify their cameras. It is so fast that users get the notification before their monitoring company calls to ask if they should send the police.

Ease of use and simplicity is very important, particularly in systems used in times of stress. A modern VSaaS should be usable by HR, Warehouse managers and even regular staff and the CEO without any prior training, while at the same time provisioning power-users like loss prevention a rich and full product. A VSaaS should be able to immediately, with minimum effort and no prior training, forward recorded video and links to live video to management, owners or law enforcement when needed. Ideally, this will work with a simple SMS or email with a link that can be seen on any smartphone, pad, laptop or desktop.

In the case of the IPTECHVIEW VSaaS, this is done with a time-protected link that, by default, provides access to seeing and downloading the video sent. Live video links will allow access to a floor plan icon for better situational awareness and include the ability to see adjoint cameras on the same location during the validity of the access link.

Law Enforcement is notified by the business or organization when there is an alarm or emergency, which creates an “on-demand” system that is controlled by the system user or owner, similar to our normal approach to calling the police. This system fits perfectly well into our society, norms and legal frameworks as opposed to an “always on” system.

Particularly in small to mid-sized communities, the usage of a cost-effective, standardized platform that the city can use to protect buildings like the city hall, court house, fire and police departments, library, civic center, waste management facilities and waterworks are huge.

Another interesting option of the IPTECHVIEW platform, in particular, is that the Cloud Functionality (VSaaS) can work in parallel with today’s existing systems like AXIS cameras with Milestone or Mobotix cameras with MxMC (Mobotix free VMS). In such a setup, loss prevention in businesses or the city’s video experts continues using their existing system and cloud access can be given to other stakeholders on an as-need basis. This democratizes the surveillance video system, making an easier to use and less expensive (no license fees) solution available to all stakeholders with the need to access video.

In our free society and business environment, it is essential to find the right balance and neither find ourselves working in a world of disparate systems that do not communicate with each other nor end up in a mandated monopoly or a total surveillance society. A nationwide cloud services platform that handles video surveillance, access control and IoT, with a high standard for privacy and security, will segment accounts, use encryption of video during transit and at rest and support multiple vendors and a variety of services and verticals.

For more information, visit: www.iptechview.com

This article was originally published in the August edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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