Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fire Detection and Life Safety: The PAST and Future Progress

Since the birth of the fire alarm industry in 1852 in Boston when the first municipal fire telegraph system was put into operation, an industry concerned with saving lives and reducing property loss was soon looking to expand and improve on this much anticipated device. The first municipal electric alarm system incorporated call boxes and automatic signaling, ushering in a profound change from hand-held clackers running through the streets and bell ringers perched in church steeples on watch for fires. A look at what has taken place over the last 30 years has been just as astonishing as the industry made a quantum leap from low-intelligence systems just a few decades ago.

Since the 1970s, when the industry relied on the technology of switcher and relay controls, which incorporated "big, old" electric relays, similar to an on/off switch, this low intelligence design was soon headed for a makeover. "Prior to the 1970s everything was still working off revised older technology, the relay operated systems," said Ralph Sevinor, president of Wayne Alarm Systems, in Lynn, Mass.

During this decade, digital alarm communication transmitters (DACT), discrete and solid state components were introduced, providing expanded use of a new feature to the fire alarm called zoning. "Up until this point zoning was being introduced only in very large applications and the technology was fraught with problems in many instances." According to Sevinor problems existed such as the wiring in the walls receiving signals of all kinds either real or conducted from the airwaves back to the main panel. "All the wiring that had to be there for the horns, smoke and heat detectors turned out to increase conductivity, especially during lightning storms when surges would happen."

Historically, the advancements in fire alarm systems have often been the result of a tragedy, where lives and property could not be saved. "This is a code driven industry, unlike the security industry, when there is a major tragedy it creates a knee-jerk reaction to fix what could have been mitigated or to correct what went wrong," stated Sevinor. An example of this reaction he said can be traced back to the 1970s when regulations in many states mandated that there be heat detectors and smoke detectors in closets and bathrooms in residential housing. "This was a great idea at the time as the theory was to catch the fire early enough to allow for the residents to get out safely and contain the incident. Unfortunately, the technology at the time employed ionized detectors and every time a resident turned on the hot water or took a shower, a plume of steam would trip the smoke detectors," he explained. As a result, he said, what was anticipated to be a life saving device actually created widespread false alarms. Now, the industry hadn't solved the problem it set out to but instead created another.
When microprocessors were introduced into the computer industry, the advancement was seen as possibly benefiting other industries as well. "The industry went from the old relay controls to solid state to microprocessors which opened a whole new world," explained Steven Rossi, vice president of Communications for Honeywell Fire Systems, Northford, Conn. The world's first single chip microprocessor introduced by Intel in 1971 was within months developing marketing plans to encourage other applications for the new invention which could perform hundreds of millions of calculations each second. The fire alarm industry eagerly embraced this advancement.

Industry experts agree the biggest change in fire alarm technology happened when microprocessing increased the intelligence in the fire panel. "Without a doubt the addressability of the fire alarm has been a big step forward," stated Rossi. The future continues to look bright as manufacturers offer more features. "We can actually watch the migration path of a fire on a monitor," he added. "We can look at the map overlay and relay information back to the fire fighters alerting them to potential additional hazards they may encounter. Firemen no longer have to pull up to a building, unaware of what is in their path."

Heat and smoke detectors
These devices began gaining in popularity as life saving tools beginning in the late 1960s. "As a result of tragedy, the codes were changed and the emphasis on life safety grew, as it should," said Richard Kleinman, president, of AFA Protective Systems located in Syosset, N.Y.
"Smoke detectors are much more efficient than they were long ago," said Mike Henke, product manager for the Sprinkler Division of Potter Electric Signal in St. Louis. "They are less prone to false alarms because they incorporate photoelectric and better ionization features." Kleinman concurred, "The technology behind the smoke detector has changed. There is greater sensitivity for the various types of smoke that can be detected and the pinpointing of the location of smoke has been enhanced."

Sprinkler systems
The concept is a fairly straight-forward one: a heat-sensitive element that opens and sprays water. "The sprinkler system was designed for property protection," said Kleinman. When the sprinkler system lets go and the water is released, a signal is sent to put out the fire and to limit the water damage. After all, following heat and smoke detectors this is the next line of defense in a fire. "A lot has happened over the last 30 years. The increase in the types of sprinklers has been ten-fold. Early models would have a soldered element that would heat up and melt away allowing the water to spray out," said Henke. While that particular model is still in operation today, Henke said the choices in performance are nearly endless with quicker opening sprinkler heads to extended spray heads to meet the demands for many applications.
Sprinkler design and performance has benefited from being tweaked over the years and available options set them apart from their earlier counterparts. "Sprinklers can now spray an array of either small or large droplets depending on the type of fire; they can also spray in a particular pattern and the response time has increased allowing for earlier egress," added Henke.
Where the industry is headed will include improvements such fewer false alarms, increased compatibility with other building controls and increased communication capabilities between the fire panel and the central station.

"In the future I see more microprocessor control interfacing with the fire alarm which will communicate with the building's HVAC and air handling systems. I also see switching over to the Internet as the preferred method of communications over using phone lines,"

Video surveillance in 2008 -- emerging technologies and trends to watch out for

Video surveillance has been an effective monitoring tool for quite some time now. Traditionally, however, this method of surveillance has played more of a reactive rather than a proactive role in security. Recent technological advancements have begun to revolutionize the way surveillance technology is used. This growing trend of active, intelligent video surveillance will likely continue to transform the way society utilizes this technology well into 2008 and beyond.
We will seek to review some of the emerging surveillance trends that will likely garner a great deal of attention throughout the remainder of this year. We will also seek to look at some of the concerns over how the increased use of CCTV and surveillance equipment will affect our personal privacy.

New surveillance trends for 2008
In a Newsweek Web Exclusive (March 15, 2006) by Jessica Bennett entitled, "Big Brother's Big Business," it was stated that nearly one in four major cities within the United States is investing in new surveillance technology. In addition, Joe Freeman, a columnist for Security Technology & Design Magazine has noted that spending on surveillance equipment has nearly doubled in the last five years.
The 2005 video surveillance market was a $9.2 billion dollar business, and is expected to grow to $21 billion by 2010. Advancements that are likely to take the spotlight in 2007 include intelligent video surveillance, new breakthroughs in video surveillance cameras and equipment, and improved wireless IP video connectivity.

Surveillance becomes proactive with intelligent video surveillance technology

Intelligent video surveillance is used to describe the active monitoring of video feeds to detect suspicious activities and behaviors. Intelligent video surveillance software is designed to actively and rapidly scan though video feeds to monitor and detect such suspicious activities as a person entering an unauthorized areas, a bag left unattended, or an individual loitering.
A gentleman by the name of Rama Chellappa, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering of the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, has developed just such a system. He has designed an application that essentially has digitalized specific patterns of activity such as walking. He then incorporated the intricate variations that occur when an individual is harboring a hidden object, or carrying a package, for example. His software is able to detect these variations and determine if they match a pattern consistent with suspicious activity.
Chellappa and his team are now seeking to combine this technology with advanced facial recognition software, and a software algorithm that can estimate the height of subjects. This powerful combination of tools will help identify individuals that might pose a security risk such as known terrorists, criminals, and even unknown individuals who turn up repeatedly in sensitive locations.
New breakthroughs in video surveillance cameras and equipment
Video surveillance cameras and related equipment become more sophisticated every year. New technology rapidly emerges, and almost as quickly video equipment that was once cutting-edge suddenly becomes obsolete. Two new innovative additions to the surveillance marketplace include a distortion free wide-angle camera lens and a hovering camera.

· Distortion free wide-angle camera lens -- A group of South Korean researchers led by Gyeong-il Kweon have designed a wide-angle lens that produces a distortion free image. The lens is built in the shape of a dome. When light enters the dome of the lens, it is reflected off a v-shaped mirror. The light is then redirected into a second "refractive" lens that produces a crisp, clear, undistorted image. Video surveillance cameras equipped with this lens can achieve a field of view of 151 degrees. This camera lens is very inexpensive, selling for only $105. Potential applications for this lens include use in intelligent video security systems and as a robot navigational aid.

· Hovering video camera -- Another unique device we will likely be hearing more about in 2007 is the hovering video camera. Honeywell Aerospace has developed a small 13" compact aerial hovering video camera device called the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) that can be used in military applications to provide information on surrounding areas without exposing troops to enemy fire. This device can go as high as 10,500 feet, but it performs optimally at around 500 feet. It is capable of hovering and loitering in one spot, or can be used to track and follow a moving target. It is easy to see the benefits this type of technology has for military applications.

· Improved wireless IP video connectivity -- Wireless video technology has experienced rapid growth and development in recent months. This technology is responsible for greatly expanding the scope and outreach to which video surveillance cameras can perform effectively. A new development in wireless standards in March of 2006 has led to the 802.11n protocol. This greatly increases both the range and transfer rate of wireless signals. Wireless security has also improved drastically. It is now standard for a wireless system to incorporate advanced encryption technologies. Examples include 128 bit AES, TKIP, 152 bit WEP, and RADIUS. These technologies make it extremely difficult for anyone to break-in or eavesdrop over any wireless network.

All of these advancements is a strong indicator that video surveillance technology is here with us to stay. The applications to which video surveillance technology will be applied will only become more creative and innovative as time passes.

What do all of these innovations mean for us personally?
In general, most individuals are not bothered by the every present eye of video surveillance cameras. A survey conducted in Chicago polled 700 registered voters and found that 8 out of 10 were in favor of video surveillance cameras as a crime prevention measure. The problem is, as video surveillance cameras get more sophisticated they become more effective and easier to conceal. It becomes increasingly difficult to detect and prosecute those that use surveillance technology illegally.
It is inevitable that there will be those that abuse this technology and directly violate an individual's right to personal privacy. Civil liberties groups have become more outspoken about the potential abuse and the need for protective measures. The debate over the use of surveillance cameras is likely to rage on, with no easy solution to the problem.
Like the video surveillance trends we reviewed that will remain with us throughout the year, the conflict between personal protection and personal privacy will remain with us long into the future.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Next Generation of CCTV-Hearing is Believing

Research being undertaken at the University of Ports mouth aims at making smarter CCTV cameras that can respond to noise. According to the sourse, the cameras will use artificial intelligence software to "learn" the "sounds of breaking glass, someone shouting, or the noise of a crowd gathering".These researchers claim that their technology "could revolutionize the speed with which crimes are caught on camera and responded to by police". This project builds upon research into software being developed at the university's Institute of Industrial Research. This software currently identifies visual cues that could raise an alert over unusual activities. The researchers are now working on adding sound cues to the software identification pattern and the director of the institute, Dr. Brown said:

"In identifying sound we are looking for the shapes of sound. In the same way, if you close your eyes, you can trace the shape of a physical object and 'read' its profile with your hand we are developing shapes of sound so the software recognises them."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Security Systems:Finding a Fit

The old saying goes: It’s better to be safe than sorry. In a post-Sept. 11 America, that phrase undoubtedly has entered the minds of many maintenance and engineering managers as they examine, and possibly update, their security systems. Many managers probably will worry about the threats to their facilities’ security, but new technology can empower a manager to make the best decisions possible.
Managers have reason to be excited about the seemingly endless options for protection, particularly because these options can now work together in an integrated internet-protocol (IP) system, creating a unified, secure building.While integrated IP systems wouldn’t necessarily be considered new, managers in institutional and commercial facilities have started using integrated systems for security more than ever. Now, fire-alarm systems, telephones, the internet, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems all can function together.Integrated IP systems are also becoming more common in K-12, higher education, health care, and government buildings because officials have realized the value of having all of their security on one system and flexibility in monitoring that system.This type of system allows managers in a large district to simultaneously watch activity in all of the district’s schools from a central location. Because all components are on one system, anyone with a valid user name and password can access it via the Internet. With an IP-based system, user names and passwords can be tiered to for different levels of access to the system.
Security of the futureFive years ago, biometric systems were seen as the way of the future. Many managers were using retina scanners, hand scanners or fingerprint security. But these devices are perceived to be expensive, and they can provide false reads. Even on the devices on which the sensitivity can be adjusted, problems remain.Managers often bring biometrics into the access-control environment because of ease of use. Employees don’t have to worry about losing a card or remembering a numbered combination. For these reasons, some managers have opted to use biometrics. The price point on biometrics also continues to fall, making them a more accessible option.In the past few years, many managers have looked for an automated solution to replace security guards, but most have realized that camera surveillance and access control, along with guards, provide the best level security.If a guard is required to monitor the images from multiple cameras, managers can program a digital video recorder (DVRs) to sense movement and switch to the camera that monitors the area in which motion is detected.Pros, cons and concernsAs with any system, an integrated IP system comes with advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest concerns many managers have is whether the backbone of their network can handle the large increase in bandwidth required. But many managers realize that operational benefits of an integrated IP system can justify the investment to make sure the backbone can handle the added bandwidth. Another concern is data storage. Large hard drives are required to store the data from all system components . But as most industries are moving toward digital equipment, they also realize the need for larger hard drives.As the amount of data grows, managers have begun storing data offsite locations managed with companies specializing in data storage. This tactic might seem strange to managers who have used analog systems, which require information to be kept onsite.Some managers initially are wary about the cost of an integrated IP system, but they have become less apprehensive about its cost because of the operational savings it can provide. For new construction, the systems generally are not as cost-prohibitive as they would be for a renovation. Because it is more cost-prohibitive during a renovation, many companies come to a crossroads at which they must decide to upgrade an existing system or start over.Compared to IP cameras, analog cameras offer a variety of styles and are still most widely available. But IP cameras offer better images with higher resolution and more flexibility, allowing users to e-mail video images for consultation. In a large organization with many facilities, insurance companies often prefer, and in some cases demand, IP systems. It is not uncommon for them to expect the same level of security company-wide.
Design and maintenanceIf a manager decides to use an integrated IP system or is upgrading an existing one, a collective team of a security consultant and in-house engineering and maintenance departments should work together to ensure proper design and smooth installation. The established team should continue to work together to adjust the system as needed.Generally, organizations convene user meetings to discuss the system and its options. These meetings are mission-critical because without them, managers are left with a generic design and, perhaps, a poorly secured building. With these meetings, team members can configure the system in order to meet the specific security needs of the individual building.After the system is up and running, it is also easier to maintain. With hardwired systems of the past, if one portion of the system failed, the entire system could be in jeopardy. Much like an string of holiday lights with one bulb out, technicians first had to find the burned-out light, then replace it. Integrated IP systems have the ability to self-diagnose, which means they can tell the technician which part of the system has failed. Also, the rest of the system can continue running while a technician fixes the problem.For companies that are uncertain about which security system to use, a security assessment might help. The assessment gives the manager a detailed written report that takes into consideration many factors, such as building location, levels of crime and trends in security for similar facilities. This information will help the manager to determine the scope of the system needed.Ultimately, a security system should make employees and visitors feel safe and comfortable. For a company with facilities in many areas, each facility could have the same core system, but the components of that system should vary, depending upon the size and needs of each facility.

'Green building' concept catching on"

A green building typically applies practices like harvesting energy and water and using environment-friendly materials in its design, construction, operation and maintenance so as to maintain and sustain the environment.

The 'green building' concept is gradually gaining momentum in India. Already, there are five green buildings certified as per the rating system of LEED (Leadership in energy and environmental design), developed by the US Green Building Council. Around 25 other buildings in the country are now registered for such certification.
Prominent among them is an IT park, Technopolis in Kolkata, that is likely to be certified by LEED shortly. Also on the list are Hyderabad International Airport and Microsoft India Development Centre's third building on its Hyderabad campus that are being built as per the green building

The benefits of green buildings range from energy and water savings, to increased worker productivity, to overall environmental sustainability and conscientious use of local resources. Over a building’s lifetime, these benefits outweigh slightly higher average initial costs. Green buildings are gaining increased recognition, and a number of resources are now available for navigating permitting and construction procedures for green building.

Monday, July 28, 2008

3 Reasons to Install a Home Security System

Installing a Home Security System is a great way to provide extra protection for your home and family. It's not terribly expensive and it is a very effective deterrent to would-be thieves. This article is going to discuss three reasons why installing a home security system is a good idea.
1. Peace of mind.Your home is the one place on this planet that you should feel safest. When you get home after a long day and you go inside and close the door behind you, you should feel safe and secure and not have to worry about possible intruders. When you leave your house you should also feel that your valuables are safe. Having a good security system will go a long way to giving you this piece of mind.
2. Greatly reduce the chance of burglary.The reason a good home security system can provide that peace of mind is because they actually work. Homes that are protected by a home security system are three times less likely to be broken into than homes without security systems. Burglary is a crime of opportunity. Leave a window open or a door unlocked and you make it that much easier for a criminal to enter your house. A thief is always going to look for the easiest target. If your home is protected by a quality alarm System and your neighbors house is not it doesn't make sense for a criminal to even bother trying to get past your alarm system when it's so much easier to just hit the house next door.
3. Discount on homeowners insurance.Peace of mind and actually reducing the risk of being victimized by a burglar are probably the best reasons to install a home security system. But another good reason is because you may actually be eligible for a discount on your homeowners insurance premiums by installing a Intrusion Alarm Because having alarm system actually does work to deter thieves, your insurance company is less likely to have to pay out benefits because of damage caused by someone breaking into your house or to replace stolen personal property. Many insurance companies will actually give you a discount on your monthly premiums if you have an alarm system. Call your insurance company to inquire about such discounts.
These are just three reasons you may want to consider installing a home security system, there are many others. You can also equip your security system with things like carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors which can be life savers. If your security system includes a monitoring service that service will not only call the police in the event of a break-in but will also call the fire department in the event of a fire. If you're away from home and a fire breaks out a monitoring service could save your home from being completely destroyed. There are many good reasons for installing a home security system. It's a small investment that could pay off in a big way.

Trends in intelligent video analytics

Video sensory analysis is the key element in security applications, since the human observer finds it difficult to work with the increasing number of video channels without aids. New digital product and system concepts with intelligent video codecs, intelligent IP cameras and network video recorders allow the best possible coordination of system functionality with the operator and the surrounding environment. The efficiency of the security system is optimized by alarming, automatically flagging and indicating potentially risky situations with high-quality and reliable image analysis. The security personnel are thus relieved of a certain workload and can apply themselves fully to the situation displayed and make the necessary decisions.
For the trade press
Proactive security in the area of video applications means to anticipate incidents in order to initiate specific interventions beforehand. This requires intelligent video analysis procedures that permanently examine the available camera signals, without fatigue symptoms, for relevant objects and provide relief for the observer from the tide of information. An experiment in the USA showed that a human observer of two monitors with automatic image switching overlooked up to 45 percent of all activities in the scenes after 12 minutes. 22 minutes later it is already up to 95 percent. Therefore, the demand for intelligent image analysis in video-based security systems is continuously growing. A recent study of the English market research company IMS Research predicts a market growth from approx. 100 million US dollars to more than 800 million US dollars in 2010. This demand pull, and the trend toward completely digital video systems, require new product and solution concepts from manufacturers. Surrounding environment and process chain of videoIn the still-prevalent analog technology the video sensor is connected upstream as an independent device unit of the video matrix. This sensor unit analyses the available video signal and superimposes the analysis results routinely on the image, for example, through graphical framing. When the alarm conditions are fulfilled, a corresponding alarm signal (contact, serial telegram) is transmitted to the video matrix. The video matrix hereby forms the central control unit, which carries out the alarm processing in addition to the system topology administration. In the case of an alarm, corresponding image loading is carried out and, if required, video recording is started.With the undergoing paradigm change in the field of video security from the analog technology to digital technology, this process chain is now changing. In the digital world of video over IP, the previously separately implemented device concepts are increasingly merging into the so-called intelligent video codecs (Siemens Sistore CX line). The distinguishing feature of this device type is that it digitizes the incoming video signals in real time and ideally compresses them into the MPEG-4 format. Based on the digitized data, sensory analysis (image analysis), storage (locally on an internal hard disk or on the network recorder) and further distribution (video streaming over the network) are integrated in a single device. Through the integration of these three disciplines in a single device unit, it is now possible to adjust the available processing performance of the device ideally to the particular application by "dosing" the individual disciplines accordingly (configuration of the image rate and image resolution for each discipline), with which in turn an ideal price/performance ratio is achieved.As a result of the progressive change, digital technology will be integrated at ever higher levels and shifted further into the field level. IP cameras are therefore becoming increasingly more powerful and able to perform ever more complex image processing routines. The camera thus becomes a highly integrated video sensor. Furthermore, network video recorders (NVR) are becoming increasingly effective and are able not only to carry out intelligent searches in stored image data, but can also evaluate data streams of IP cameras in real time (NOOSE – Network of optical Sensors). Structure of video sensors In line with the digital change, the inner construction of the sensors is also changing. Instead of what was so far sensory analysis working with special hardware configurations (PLCs such as FPGA can only carry out simple arithmetic operations and are complicated to program), there are now powerful digital signal processors (DSPs) that can execute considerably more demanding software algorithms. These DSPs today form the processing core of intelligent video codecs. In combination with an embedded host processor for general administration, storage and networking tasks, this core shares the work. Today, such hybrid architecture can be configured and manufactured as a very compact solution.Besides this, there are also PC-based video sensor systems that perform safety-relevant tasks and carry out the image processing via so-called frame grabbing cards or the IP streaming signal. As a result of high PC clock speeds of 3 GHz and more, it is today possible to achieve a very good performance in image processing with PCs. Particularly with highly specialized algorithms or in the university sector, this platform allows for quick implementations. Unfortunately, the life cycles of the PC-based systems are rather short, so that the availability and serviceability necessary in the video product and system business prove to be problematic.This situation reinforces the trend in the direction of highly integrated video codecs, which, with specialized signal processors and a structure optimized for media applications (low clock speeds ~300 MHz up to 1 GHz), achieve at least the same processing power as PCs. An essential advantage is the typical low power loss of <10 watt/channel of a DSP-based codec system, compared to that of a PC-based system (50-100 W/channel power loss), since with the same image resolution, image rate and processing complexity, a PC can rarely process more than 4-8 channels. As for the further development in the evolution of signal processors, it is predicted that apart from the hardware acceleration of the MPEG video compression, already realized in some processors, chips will also be available with prefabricated image analysis algorithms in future. Applications for video sensory analysis As far as the currently available video sensors and those that will be available in the near future are concerned, there is no universal algorithm in image processing to cover the entire range of application of video analysis (for example, character recognition, face recognition, object tracking, smoke detection). Nonetheless, good results are achieved if the areas of application are defined and outlined prior to the development of video sensors. The scene to be observed is typically described by a set of basic assumptions. For security applications, it is always assumed that the cameras are permanently installed as a preset version or with pan-tilt zoom. Application scenarios can be divided roughly into a group of inanimate or animated scenes. In the case of inanimate scenes, it is a matter of conventional enclosure, open space or facade monitoring for perimeter protection. Generally, the assumption here is that it concerns statistically rare events in a well-known scene and that the object to be detected behaves most "uncooperatively" and camouflages itself. However, it is especially important for this application to avoid unwanted alarms, since frequent false alarms reduce the confidence in the system and hence jeopardize the entire security. Such applications are encountered in penitentiaries, power plants, refineries or industrial premises and must fulfill the following requirements.
Detection of moving objects in front of a familiar background
High sensitivity for the detection of camouflaged objects
Quick detection (<1s) of an alarm situation
Distinction between objects by means of object size and speed
Classification of objects by means of the movement pattern (insects in front of the camera, birds, loitering)
Detection of attempts to sabotage the camera (defocusing, rotating, spraying, covering)
In perimeter protection applications, industrial estates or public buildings increasingly tend to be designed more openly. We can observe a trend toward flexible monitoring methods of building exteriors, facades, windows, entries and exits and away from static facilities such as fences. In animated scenes, such as on tracks or in visitor halls, it may be a well-known scene but it is permanently masked by moving objects. Here it is necessary to either reliably detect a change in the background (objects left behind, objects that are removed without authorization) or to extrapolate key statistic data or behavior patterns from the mass of objects moving in the foreground (density of people, people counts, people's behavior). Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras Normally, video sensory analysis for Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras is used to support the operator with automatic camera control rather than to trigger alarms. For this application, objects that are either manually selected by the operator (click and track) or detected by a second sensor camera are automatically tracked. In the latter case, the coordinates of the objects are passed to the upstream "tracking sensory analysis" of the PTZ camera for further object tracking. By not having to load the particular PTZ or dome camera and to track the object manually, the process of monitoring is more efficiently configured for the operator. The operator still needs to choose an object or to acknowledge the tracking. Through appropriate positioning of additional PTZ cameras, the object is automatically passed to the subsequent camera for further tracking as soon as it leaves the range of view of a camera.However, when using PTZ cameras in combination with digital technology, completely new applications in the detection sector arise. Through the pivoting range, the entire surroundings can be scanned with a PTZ camera and merged to a single picture, a kind of panoramic image. Again, by periodically repeating this procedure it is possible to detect image variations and track objects.Real-time analysis or archive searchFor some video-based applications, it is not possible to define alarm criteria beforehand. During warehouse monitoring, processes are thus digitally recorded over a long period of time. Using an off-line video sensor function, the stored video data is then analyzed to search for stolen goods. Again, the efficiency is the user's primary objective. He still needs to define the type and the area of the analysis. By means of sensory analysis, all relevant events are automatically detected and the review of long video sequences is avoided. The choice between using sensory analysis for real-time events or for subsequent off-line searching in video archives mainly impacts the algorithms' required speed of operation. In real-time operation, the processing must be carried out within a period of 40 ms per image, in order to keep up with the incoming stream of video data. When searching video archives, this limit does not apply. Instead, the procedures are expected to operate distinctly faster than analyzing by hand. As with Sistore CX, smart search functions are executed approx. 50 times faster than manual searches.In future, even more effective options for searching in image archives will be available. During image recording, the images are preprocessed in real-time and the analysis data is archived to the image data in the form of metadata (for example, in MPEG-7 format). An indexing of relevant image contents is thereby performed. Intelligent IP cameras could add meta information (movement vectors, shape, color) for all detected objects to the video data online. A subsequent search for events or objects is put down to a metadata filtering (MPEG-7), without having to perform an extensive analysis.Pattern recognition and verificationIn addition to the classic usage of video sensors for security applications, there are a number of applications from the automation area. Examples include pattern recognition (object characteristics such as number plates, dangerous goods signs, container inscription) or image analysis procedures in the area of biometry (face localization; face, iris or finger print recognition). Contrary to the conventional security applications, the object to be detected is assumed to be cooperative. For such applications an action is usually released in favor of the object by means of video verification, for example, the approach of an automobile with authorized plates.Functionality of video sensorsToday, advanced sensors such as Sistore CX are able to real-time process images accurate to a pixel. Typically, work is performed with a so-called CIF resolution (Common Intermediate Format) of 352x288 pixels. With this more than 100,000 pixels are processed in real-time (40ms). Depending on the available processing power and the desired image rate for the evaluation, higher resolution images also can be processed. In the context of digital change, mega pixel resolution is increasingly used.Until now video sensors have typically been operated according to the principle of differential image processing. With this procedure the gray tones of two sequential video images are subtracted from each other and all static image portions (background) are removed from the image. All moving objects generate a measurable difference, predominantly at the outer edge of the objects. The attained "signal strength" is highly dependent on the image rate of the evaluation (~25 images/s) and the speed of the object. The faster the object moves, the higher the signal strength of the change is. To detect slow objects as well, a greater sensitivity must be set for the sensor, with which it is easier for disturbances or small, fast objects to trigger a false alarm.With procedures as used with Sistore CX EDS for example, not only the difference of two pictures is computed and referred to for the analysis. The higher capability of the video processors is possible with the use of the statistic procedures, which analyze the complete screen sequence image by image over a longer period of time. With this analysis, the sensor achieves an impression of the "normal status" of the scene and adapts to the background. The image to image difference is thereby no longer determined but the current image to background difference. Foreground objects are thereby extracted as a compact whole and no longer only the object borders. This approach offers a series of advantages in comparison to the differential image procedures:
A basic sensitivity for the respective scene is still configured. However, for the object detection the algorithm determines an individual, optimal threshold value for each individual pixel. With this, a reliable detection is possible, independent of the contrast conditions and the brightness distribution over the whole image, also in the range of brightness transitions.
The statistical analysis proceeds continuously during operation, i.e. the algorithm permanently optimizes its working point and adapts to the respective scene conditions (lighting changes, automobile headlights, lightning, weather changes) and camera or signal noise is automatically compensated.
The sensor sensitivity is independent of the object speed. Objects are always detected compactly as a whole, not just the object border, whereby the basic sensitivity can get lower, and the sensor adapts to the contrast conditions prevailing in the scene.
This results in a reliable detection of objects with very few false alarms.
In comparison to differential image procedures, this type of algorithmic process offers more application options such as motion detection and object tracking, detection of objects left behind or removed as well as the detection of sabotage attempts. Furthermore, typical movement patterns of objects (loitering or grouping of persons, insects, birds or flying leaves in front of the camera, snow or strong rain, classification of objects, for example, into vehicles and persons) can be derived from the information of object tracking (trajectory). Overall, these processes offer a very robust and reliable type of object detection with video sensory analysis in the professional security sector. ConfigurationNot only the functioning has improved, but also the configuration, the adjustment of the video sensor, has been strongly simplified. It has been possible to strongly reduce the steps for modeling the scene geometry and the number of necessary basic parameters, resulting in increased detection reliability. Thus perspective conditions of an area in horizontal and vertical planes are modeled for open spaces and facades (figure). In addition sensor elements such as static and dynamic virtual trip wires can be placed freely in the image (figure). As basic parameters, only a few, easily understandable values for the fine-tuning adjustment of the algorithm to the respective scene are necessary (adaptation speed for the background changes, basic sensor sensitivity, minimum object size to be detected, maximum allowed object speed).Disturbance impacts and undesired signalsDespite all the progress in video technology, there is no sensor system without unwanted signals. It is important that the user is aware of this and prepares for it accordingly. With video analysis, as with visual evaluation of an image, the real alarm detection rate and the false alarm detection rate are always negatively mutually dependent. The higher demanded sensitivity or tolerance should be in comparison to incomplete or rushed objects in not always the best environment, the greater is the chance of unwanted messages due to similarity with other objects or visually similar effects. A certain detection reliability is always dependent on a minimum false alarm rate. Essentially, video sensory analysis can only function optimally if the camera is operated in the "linear area" of the image recorder. That involves a scene lighting, which neither introduces overloading (glare) or underexposure in the image. Both cases increase the possibility of an unwanted message. The latest processes are also subject to the fundamental laws of the optics. Some disturbance can, however, be suppressed considerably better today with the statistical analysis of screen sequences. This includes global changes of light, light beams and cast shadow, cloud-drift, image noise as well as rain or snow. Outlook and further developmentThe trends of integration and miniaturization will proceed further. Soon intelligent cameras will be brought into action featuring similar processing powers for video sensory analysis as are only offered by intelligent video codecs today. In future, we can expect CMOS image recording sensors which will be able to carry out preprocessing of the video data in parallel with image formation.In a network of sensors and the three dimensional detection skills, new requirements arise for management systems. The object co-ordinates can, for example, be superimposed into site plans as dynamic icons, so that the movement pattern of an object can be easily followed on a site plan. Similar objects are thereby displayed on the site plan with the same icons. For example, objects classified as "good" without hesitation are shown up in green, while alarm-relevant objects classified as "bad" are shown up in red. Critical objects are shown up in yellow, before they trigger the alarm.In the current advanced state of algorithmics, objects are still defined through accumulation and clustering of individually detected "foreground pixels". As the next challenge, it is necessary to consider the neighbor relationship of the object's pixels when using the video sensory analysis. For this, not only the isolated individual pixels are analyzed for each pixel but also the surrounding pixels. From this environment, relative structural characteristics can be derived using image processing routines and generate so-called "characteristic vectors" from a number of characteristics. Thus, not only one 8-bit gray tone for each pixel must be evaluated but a complete set of values, depending on the environment considered, 9, 25 or even more values, whereby the required processing power of the sensor is strongly increasing.On the basis of these characteristic vectors, such typical objects as persons, dogs, cars or cyclists can already be learnt as a whole, in the development phase. For the in-field analysis with the sensor, the algorithm assigns every pixel the classes of the learned objects and can directly identify the objects learnt earlier. Thereby, static objects or objects in still images can be identified and overlapping objects can be separated. Even shadows cast from objects cannot affect the analysis.Today, these and similar new technologies are being researched in the academic field, for example when counting persons in highly animated scenes, where objects strongly overlap. The aim is to move stepwise from pure pixel processing toward picture understanding. At Building Technologies, 1,400 persons work on the research and development of innovative products. They are able to exchange information with 60,000 experts from 30 countries within the company. The main focus of innovation is found in the classical areas of control, regulation, sensory analysis and actuator technology and is always supplemented by system engineering, communications technology and human-machine interface technology for servicing and observing total building automation solutions.(Case 1)Advantages of intelligent codecs:
Integration of 3 device types in a single unit:Local storage of the video data - DVR function
High component density of 2-4 channels - per 19" height unit
Low power consumption, <10 W / channel (+ HDD power consumption)
Very good scalability – 1/4/8 channel units
Central and decentralized concepts realizable over LAN
Easy maintenance by operation software on flash ROM
High IT security via embedded OS (operating system)
High operation reliability with temperature management, protection from corrosion
High fail-safe characteristic

What is Burglar Alarm???

Central Control Unit
The Burglar Alarm control panels available in the market range from small compact type which incorporates a hooter / siren and can accommodate a few different types of Sensors (detectors) to a more advanced type which can perform more complex functions like, automatic dialing to a phone, cellular phone and convey a pre-recorded message informing about intrusion, in addition to or in place of, local audio visual alarm.The advance burglar alarm versions also have the capability of functioning with user codes for arming and disarming and of switching over to built-in power supply in case of power failure. Many control units also use a remote (infra-red or Radio Frequency based) for arming or disarming of the control unit.For larger installations that have more sensors, there is provision of Zones. Each Zone is associated with one or more sensors e.g. one floor could be controlled by one Zone. The advantage of Different types of Zones is that when the alarm goes off (alarm sounds), the control panel gives an indication as to which Zone has been compromised. This way one has to only check the sensors linked to that particular zone to see where the problem is.Please note that many times the sensor, control unit & alarms unit may be combined in a single housing for reducing cost or to provide easy localized, protection. However, larger systems involving multiple sensors will invariably have a separate control unit.Burglar Alarm control panel is the brain of your security system. It is typically placed in an area that is out of the way like a basement, attic, closer or office. The motherboard and additional components such as radio receivers, backup power supply and zone expanders are inside this metal box which is often locked. You will have little or no interface with the alarm control. Your alarm technician will need to access this unit to program it and wire it to general standards, or your custom standards.
Arming / disarming system
Arming a burglar alarm in a loose sense is switching on the system and disarming is disabling (switching off) the system. These functions can be performed using a simple switch or by using a keypad in which the user is supposed to enter a password.In advanced burglar alarm systems, this may be done by an (Radio Frequency) RF remote or an Infrared remote. In cost effective systems, this is done using a traditional key that operates an electric switch. Such key-based systems are convenient for use by all age groups and offer more flexibility in terms of increasing number of authorized users. Some of the systems also have a keypad in which the owner is supposed to enter the correct password to do any arming/disarming.The infrared remote requires that the operator of remote be in visual line of sight of the receiver that is on the control panel, where as the Radio Frequency remote can operate the control panel from anywhere (as long as the receiver is in the range) In addition to arming/disarming the control can support many other functions which may not be available (or even desired) in every control panel.
Power Back-up
All burglar alarm controls should be equipped with sufficient battery standby to operate the system for the maximum duration of outages you are likely to experience in your area. Do remember that the chargeable battery deteriorates with time. The life of a chargeable battery is normally half after one year of usage and requires replacement after 18 months. The amount of batteries needed depends upon the type and amount of devices used and how long you want the system to function without normal electrical power.
Wired or wireless
Central Control Panels can use wired, wireless, or a combination of wired and wireless devices to communicate with sensors or alarms. The type you use depends upon many factors such as ease of wiring, building construction, and cost.Wireless burglar alarm systems have a much higher equipment cost and require battery changing frequently, but can be installed very quickly. Wireless option, as the name suggests, does not require wires running all over the house. Wireless burglar alarm is also good when you want to have detectors installed in unattached garages or sheds. If you decide to use wireless make sure that the system supervises every transmitter for low battery transmitter health check. It is critical to check the wireless system for a few days to verify that it works properly and there is no interference for other electronic items. Wireless systems normally have special checks built-in to save from false alarms.Wired systems are more cost effective and reliable, as long as you can bear the inconvenience of wiring.
Burglar Alarm Zone, in general terms represent an area or collection of sensors that protect an area. Zones allow to pinpoint the area from where the alarm got initiated, otherwise one has to use guess-work & check all doors & windows for intrusion. In large premises, such a feature is very desirable, though it increases the cost. Make sure that your Central Control Panel can be expanded (or has built-in flexibility) to meet your future needs or you may be faced with replacing the control Panel when you want to add devices.Lets look at a typical zone layout for a control panel so that you can understand the way it is wired and programmed works.
ZONE 1 – (DELAY): This zone is where the doors from which most often enter and exit are. When you turn your alarm on, the exit delay will start a timer (programmed to your specifications, if requested) allowing you time to get out. Once the exit time has expired, (usually about 30-60 seconds.) the alarm will be in the on or “armed” condition.
When you return to your home or business and enter through the delay doors, an entry timer begins. This timer is usually set at about 15-30 seconds. You do not want to have a long entry time as a burglar entering through a delay zone has the same amount of time in your protected area before the alarm goes off. During this time you would go to the nearest keypad and enter your code to turn your alarm off.
In the Know!
The doors have chime feature that can easily be turned on or off. Most people elect to leave this feature on all this time, so that they can hear a tone when the alarm is off and someone enters.
ZONE 2 – (INSTANT PERIMETER): This zone would be for other than delay doors. The back yard door and the master bedroom to deck doors and good examples of these types of doors. There is no delay time timer on these doors and when the alarm is on and entry is made the alarm will go off instantly.
ZONE 3 – (INTERIOR): This zone is for your motion detector on the main floor. When you enter through a delay door the motion will delay also, giving you the ability to get to the keypad turn off or “disarm” your system. If you do not enter through a delay door first and the motion sees you it will go into an alarm condition instantly. When you are staying home or arming your business system without leaving, you can arm your interior zone or zones allowing you to move around without restrictions while still having your perimeter secured.
ZONE 4 – (INTERIOR): This zone is for your windows if your house is in Ground Floor and for the customers those who are asking selectively arm or disarm certain doors / windows to protect the particular zone specifically.
Types of ZonesZones fall in various categories depending upon kind of response desired e.g. medical, burglary, and panic. Each type of device could have a specific activation, alarm and response procedure. Some examples of zone are: Hold-up zones can be audible or silent but are always active. You may choose either or both. Audible hold-up can be used to "scare' away prowlers but care must always be exercised when activating hold-up devices since there is no way of predicting the action an intruder may take when he hears the alarm or when the police arrive. By connecting to an Auto Dialer the control panel can 'silently' call for help.
Burglary devices fall into various categories, 24 hour (always active), main entry door, and interior (motion detectors) etc. While going away, you will like to monitor the premises on 24 hours basis. Whereas, if you are at home, you might like to arm (activate) the external doors & windows but not PIR's which monitor the interior. You may also want to selectively arm or disarm certain doors / windows.
Information Input
Advanced Burglar Alarm control panels have displays that may be LCD (liquid crystal display) based or simple LED lights. They can prompt you for the required data, such as Enter Code when the system is activated and provide a clear visual indication of the system status. Some systems also give audible beeps depending upon if the input has been accepted by the system or not.Most of the systems have built-in checks to verify the authenticity of the person entering inputs. The key-pad based system requires the user to enter correct password to perform any function. By giving the password to near & dear ones, the need to have multiple keys is not these. Also, key protection & control could be a problem in case there are many authorized 'individuals'
All central control panels have some form of output or another. Most of them activate an internal and/or external hooter. Some can also be equipped with relays that can be controlled from the Control Panel itself. These relays can allow you to perform many functions such as AC/Heater control or as a means of interfacing with a home automation system.The output of control panel may be given to a Help intimation device such as an Telephone Auto Dialer.
Zone bypassing and forced arming
Sometimes you may want to disconnect OR bypass part of the protected area e.g. in case of a fault in part of the system or when for some reason you do not want to protect a specific area. Such situations can be handled only if the system allows selectively bypassing or arming at a zone level.
AccessoriesFor a complete protection system, it is important to assess the threat level and then carefully choose various sensors and accessories, keeping in mind the cost and utility. While for a smaller installation it is feasible to do the selection on 'do-it-yourself' basis, however for larger installations, it is advisable to take professional help. Using the expert advice, you might actually be able to get a better system at a lower cost.
Magnetic switchMagnetic switches are the most common sensing devices for sensing opening and closing of doors and windows. They are cheap and reliable.Such sensors consist of two parts - A contact switch that is installed on the door / window frame and an Activating magnet that is mounted on the door. The magnetic switch is held in no-alarm contact position when door / window is kept closed. These are installed on a door or window in such a way that opening the door or window causes the magnet to move away from the contact switch which activates the alarm. They have proved to be a tried and tested method of monitoring any of the operable openings in the houses / apartments. These contacts are available in variety of finishes & materials. Heavy duty versions are also available for heavy doors, shutters and gates. The magnetic switches normally have both 'Normally open' & 'Normally Closed' contacts for easier integration with existing systems. While installing care should be taken that alarm should go off when the door just opens. If the sensor is wrongly placed then it is feasible that a person may be able to squeeze in without activating the sensor. A series of such sensors can cover the whole house including every door / window / ventilator. The Magnetic switches need to be connected to Control unit , which senses the change in the position of door and activates an alarm.In Wireless burglar alarm systems , the principle is the same except no wires are required to connect the sensor to the Control Unit.In cases a window has to be left a little open for ventilation, it is made possible by using 2 magnets and 1 switch. In this configuration the first magnet is mounted in the window closed position and the second is mounted in a location where it will align with the switch when the window is open a few inches, typically 3 or 4 inches. This allows for ventilation but will sound the alarm if the window is fully opened. Window or wall mounted air conditioners and Coolers may also require protection if they can be easily removed from the opening. The standard method used to protect these units is to install a sensor on the unit.Advanced versionFor more sensitive control of the door, there is an advanced version called Balanced Magnetic Switch, in which the electrical contact of the switch is held in no-alarm condition by two magnets - one is fixed to the door frame and the other magnet is fixed to the corresponding position on to the door. As long as the magnetic field remains balanced with the door firmly closed, the contacts within the switch would be in no-alarm condition. Even with a slight movement of the door from the door frame the magnetic field gets unbalanced causing the Control Unit to sound an alarm. The balanced magnetic switch is more tamper-resistant than a simple Magnetic switch but requires higher skill and time for installation.
Passive Infrared Sensors (PIR)
Passive Infrared (PIR) Motion Sensors protect space by 'looking' for changes in infrared (heat) energy levels caused by movement of an intruder. The passive infrared detectors are passive devices. i.e., they do not transmit any form of energy. When a person enters and moves within the detecting zone, his body which is at its normal temperature of 98.6 degree F., radiates more (or less) thermal energy than the surroundings and such minute difference in thermal energy is detected by the PIR. In simple words, PIR keeps a picture of the heat levels in its view and keeps on comparing the new view with the stored one. In case there is any change then they activate the alarm. PIR's come with a wide variety of detection patterns to meet various needs of indoor movement sensing. Depending upon the type of protection needed and the size of the protection area / volume, the specific parameters of angular and area coverage can be chosen from the vast array of PIR types available. The standard PIR has wide angle coverage with a typical range of 20 to 30 feet. The Narrow angle PIR is for long range covering a long and narrow corridor. The Extra wide angle PIR is for sensing movements through an angle of 150 degrees. Then there are certain specialized PIR:
Roof counted PIR to detect movement in a circular space in the room.
Curtain type vertical pattern to detect access through windows, doors and other entry points and also to give protection to objects hung on a wall
Curtain type horizontal pattern to detect access through ceilings or skylightsWhen installed outside the entrance, this may be used to warn of any one approaching the entrance. Lighting also can be coupled to come ON automatically along with the chiming / alarming on sensing movements. PIR's can be used as a stand-alone system (when connected with an output device) or it can also form part of an integrated system along with other types of security devices. If PIR is used as a sensor in a larger Security system which is controlled by a Control Unit , then the Control Unit decides about the action to be taken.Some PIR's units have a built in key pad to enter the password for activation and deactivation. Some come with a remote control to activate and deactivate. Such PIR’s usually have a built in alarm also, which keeps on till it is deactivated.
Avoiding false alarms with PIRPIR must not point towards a heat producing source like Refrigerator, AC, heater etc. Also, while installing it should be so positioned that the intruder cannot approach the PIR without coming in view of the PIR else he can point the PIR elsewhere or deactivate the same without sounding the alarm. Precaution is required if there are pets in the house. PIR's are sensitive enough to detect dogs and cats. There are special lens available (or a tape can be put on lower part of the existing lens) so as to avoid detection close to the ground. At the same time, it should be kept in mind thatthe intruder can also crawl and avoid detection. So placement and subsequent testing of PIR's is a must to avoid false alarms.If PIR is being installed outdoors then one must keep in mind that the large birds and even pigeons can activate the alarm. So, it must be placed at such a location that PIR does not aims at the flight path of the birds. Due to such restrictions it is not always possible to use a PIR outdoors but it is one of the most used security device.
Glass break detector - vibration type
Glass Break Acoustic detectors "listen" for the specific sound pattern generated when glass breaks, while Vibration type sensors "feel" for the vibration of breaking glass. The vibration type of glass break detector is fixed on to the glass surface and is designed to respond to the specific higher frequency energies generated in breaking glass and not to the low-frequency vibrations produced while hitting the wall.Such sensors have lesser range of detection.
Vibration detector
Most of the sensors detect opening of a door, window or breakage of glass or movement of human beings. But it is equally important to detect if there is a break-in attempted through walls, ceiling or floors. This can be detected with the help of vibration Detectors.The detector operates on the principle of resonance of frequency. When the external impulse frequency due to hammering or chiseling matches with the resonance frequency of the sensing element, the alarm is triggered off. False alarms are avoided with proper setting of the intensity controller. The vibration detector can be fitted to windows, door frames, walls, ceilings etc. A typical vibration detector is effective up to 2.5 meters depending upon its location and the material to which it is fixed. Each detector can set to its own optimum level of sensitivity. There should be a sensor for every 20 ft of wall accessible to the intruder. Sensitivity should be adjusted to suit local vibration requirement.
Automatic Telephone Dialer (Auto dialer)The Automatic telephone dialer is an instrument that can automatically dial a fixed number of telephone numbers and deliver a message at each of the telephone numbers, without the help of any operator. The telephone numbers and the message can be stored by the user (in his own voice) and can be modified whenever required. When this instrument is activated, it starts dialing the telephone numbers in sequence and delivers the recorded message on each of the stored numbers. The system can re-dial to take care of busy numbers. The system works on normal telephone line. It does not need a dedicated telephone line. There are two types of Auto dialers in the market - One that uses electronic chip to record and play the voice message and the other one uses the usual Cassette for this purpose. The electronic chip is the preferred one on account of following:
There is no fear of jamming of the tape
No deteriorating of performance with time because of rubber belts getting weak
Requires very low current to operate since there are no mechanical parts nor are there any motors that require heavier current.
Always the same quality of voice as the playing speed is not dependent of the voltage of batteries.
Salient Features of an Auto dialerAn Auto dialer has small microcomputer that controls all functions. The emergency dialer takes priority over all incoming phones and faxes. This implies that the dialer cannot be disabled by keeping the line busy on which the dialer is installed. The salient features of popular Auto dialers are:
EPROM retains memory permanently
Can be activated by NO/NC contacts
Password protection to guard against unauthorized use
Test dialing facility
Can re-dial up to 3 times
Can work on Tone and Pulse telephone lines
Provision to activate external alarm if tampered (alarm system not included)
Special protection against lightning effects on telephone line
The Wired Auto dialer is connected with wires to the main control unit whereas the Wireless Auto dialer does not use wired to connect to the Control unit. It is to be noted that in both cases the connection to the telephone wires is by physical wires.
Panic Alarms
Panic devices are manually activated units that you can activate if you need immediate assistance. These units can either be silent or activate loud alarms. If you desire the silent version then you must have your system monitored. You should bear in mind that activating these units (especially those raise an alarm) may alert the intruder to your actions, so care must be exercised in their use.Panic devices can be fixed buttons, portable wireless buttons, or a special combination with a keypad. A variation on the panic device is Medical Alert. When the Panic Alarm is activated, then it can trigger off the alarm that can scare the intruder as well as alert everyone in the house. Optionally this can be connected to an Automatic Telephone Dialer also which can call up predefined numbers & convey pre-recorded message in your voice (to friends or police).Such systems are ideal to face emergency situations e.g. confrontation with intruder at night, holdups in office/banks/homes, confrontation with a visitor at door etc. The Wireless system consists of a small hand held transmitter unit which can optionally be worn as a pendant with a neck chain or worn as a wristwatch or simply kept in the pocket and a receiver unit which is mounted on the ceiling/wall. At the time of an emergency, the compact hand held units are simply operated by pressing the button or pulling off the neck chain. The signal transmitted is picked up by the receiver unit which in turn sends it to the security personnel or any other designated device/person.Alternatively, the receiver could be interfaced with an Auto dialer which can dial automatically any desired number or the Receiver may simply activate an audible alarm. Larger version of the system provides for a multi-channel receiver which can handle multiple transmitting signals from one or more individual transmitting units. Each transmitter is individually coded which makes it possible to identify the initiator of the alarm and hence the location where the incident has taken place at the receiving end. Such systems are useful for nursing homes, apartment complexes etc. With a single multi-channel receiver, the system can be extended to cover most of the apartments in the same / adjacent block falling within the operating range of the system. Effective functioning of the system will give the much needed peace of mind and reassurance to all the families covered by the system, especially to house wives and elderly couples, who live alone in unpredictable circumstances.
Security / Automatic Lights
Security lights get switched on whenever it detects an intruder within its field of view. Such systems may be based on PIR or Photosensitive sensors. A PIR may be connected to normal lights to make security lights (requires technical knowledge). Security lights are very useful to scare the intruders especially if these lights are employed in the compound or on the roof tops. When the lights are switched ON, the intruder feels that he has been detected and the owner is trying to confirm this. Normally this will deter the intruder for making any further attempt.For safety and security of homes and offices specially when there is no one in the house automatic/timer based lights are very helpful. Such lights are automatically switched on after a predefined time. Normally, it is feasible to program these lights to switch ON or OFF at any particular time. However, if the house is going to be alone for a long time then a thief can see that the lights are switched on or off at the time same time every day (provided he is keeping a vigil over days). This may arise his suspicion and such a light may not be useful in such situations.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Intelligent CCTV" to identify Unusual Activity

CCTV cameras could soon be able to spot any suspicious behaviour, thanks to smart software that automatically detects unusual activity.
The statistical approach used should mean the technology can be used in many more situations than current systems, which are usually designed to detect specific objects or events.
The new system, developed by Roke Manor Research in Hampshire, UK, aims to overcome a common problem with CCTV - having too many cameras and not enough pairs of eyes to watch them all. Roke Manor estimate there are approximately 25 million CCTV cameras in the world.
Their Video Motion Anomaly Detection (VMAD) system will help by alerting a security operator when something unusual is happening on screen. This would include, for example, someone running through an airport or trying to enter a restricted area.It might even be able spot when a baggage handler was interfering with a passenger's bag.
Pixel motion
Rather than attempting the difficult task of recognising specific objects and their particular behaviours, VMAD simply looks at how groups of pixels move within the image. It uses these movements to construct a statistical model of "normal" activity. Movements that are out of the ordinary can then be flagged up.
Existing "intelligent CCTV" systems tend to be more limited in their applications. For example, a system currently being tested at London Underground train stations also monitors pixel behaviour, but only flags up a lack of activity, to indicate crowd congestion or loitering.However, statistical systems do also have drawbacks. A key one is that by not identifying specific objects, they cannot account for the context of an unusual behaviour. For example, lots of people wearing bright clothing might set off an alarm, whereas someone entering an airport with a rocket launcher slung over their shoulder might be ignored

Serial Blast in Bangalore, Ahmedabad-The importance of CCTV

Another week, another blast happened in Bangalore; by the time one tries to recover from the event, another serial blast happened in Ahmedabad.Looks like Ahmedabad blast is keenly planned and executed similar to the one in Jaipur. Hence, we are at the mercy of terrorits rather than indian police.State Governments should step up their activity to modernise the police force, equip them with CCTV cameras, phone monitoring and above all allow them to work independently to prevent crimes instead of forcing them to perform mundane activities.
Leaving no room for chance in the wake of the serial blasts in Mumbai trains, the Railway Ministry is considering the installation of more closed circuit televisions (CCTV) and metal detectors at all important railway stations.
“We will arrange for closed circuit TV surveillance, sniffer dogs and metal detectors at all important railway stations,” Railway Minister Lalu Prasad told mediapersons

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tackling terror with CCTV(Bangalore and Ahmadabad BLAST

“It’s coming,” said an IPS officer during a personal interaction recently. He meant that cameras in public places were to be set up, to help better evidence gathering and preventive policing. But that agenda is not really moving.
Look at what it could have achieved. It is possible that an intelligent police using closed circuit cameras in key places could have averted the Bangalore and Ahmadabad blasts. If such cameras existed in the major Indian cities, and perhaps other sensitive ones, we could find patterns that smart policing can analyse to stop terror in its tracks. Some may argue that the most-watched of cities, London, experienced blasts. It can also be argued, however, that London busted all bomb squads subsequently, arguably helped by close monitoring.
The moral of the story is that Indians are not helping themselves. Their leaders and police brass are not helping the citizens, although they themselves are well-protected. It is time we put our major cities under CCTV camera surveillance, to bring some order to our public places, although constant surveillance means a loss of privacy and an advantage for Big Brother.
But let’s face the truth. What is the state of the citizen today, without the cameras? Our muscular police is waiting for the slightest pretext to trample free speech and impose all manner of curbs. Often, there is no burden of evidence on them to explain their actions. It will actually help law-abiding citizens when camera evidence is available, which can be demanded in court. That will take the pressure off the good people, and produce sufficient evidence about illegal activity. Of course, that means a disadvantage to crooks in uniform.
In the case of Bangalore, it would be possible to pin-point the individuals who are seen in camera footage, at the points closest to the blast sites. Cars can be identified, and individuals screened in slow motion. Rather than crude sketches drawn by a police artist, there will be genuine footage of real people and perhaps the culprits available.
Cameras will also deter a lot of crime, because criminals know they have no chance of escape, and their masters are at risk of being caught in turn.
There is not much expense involved, given that safer cities are good cities: for people, and for commerce. It helps the economy. Let’s hope the State Government helps Bangalore live up to its name of an “intelligent” city in the area of evidence-gathering also. The answer is not to enact some draconian law that will put innoncent, helpless, profiled people behind bars to be tortured, while the perpetrators of violence are able to wriggle out to strike elsewhere.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Biometrics Basics

Here's a quick definition of biometrics: As it pertains to security, biometrics is an emerging field of technology devoted to identification of individuals by employing biological traits, such as those used for iris scanning, fingerprinting, face recognition, and others.
Fingerprints use patterns found on the fingertip — some use optical images, while others use electronic field imaging. Ways to identify the fingerprint image include pattern matching, fringe patterns, ultrasonic and others.
Face Recognition analyzes the characteristics of an individual's face. Facial recognition uses features of the face such as the location and position of the nose, outlines of the eyes, areas of the cheekbones, and the mouth.
Hand Geometry measures the shape of the hand. Some hand scanners measure only two fingers, others use the entire hand for verification. These scanners look at the length, thickness, bone structure, curves and distance between the joints. This is accomplished by the reader capturing high-resolution three-dimensional images of the hand and comparing and verifying it to a database.
Iris Scanning uses the unique characteristics of the human iris to identify an individual. Iris scanning begins with a picture. A camera with an infrared imager is used to illuminate the eye and capture a high-resolution picture. The information about the iris is converted to an algorithm, which maps the iris's distinct patterns and characteristics.
Retina Scanning involves the layer of blood vessels at the back of the eye. This technique involves a low-level light reflected through an optical coupler to scan the unique identifiers of the retina. Retinal scanning requires the user to look into a scanner and focus on a specific point.
Voice Authentication, not to be confused with voice recognition, is where software and hardware technology convert voice into text data that can be analyzed by voice response systems and other computers. Voice authentication uses the unique characteristics of an individual's voice for positive identification.
Dynamic Signature Verification is the process used to identify an individual's hand-written signature by analyzing the shape, speed, velocity and pressure of the act of signing. The main difference between plain signature verification and dynamic signature verification is that the former is only the comparison of how the actual signature looks, while dynamic signature verification analyzes how the signature was made.
Multi-modal biometrics combine different biometric applications. By integrating two or more biometric methodologies, these types of solutions meet the highest and most stringent security requirements.

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What is Building Management Systems??

Building Management System (BMS) is a computer based control system installed in buildings that controls and monitors the building’s mechanical and electrical equipment such as air handling and cooling plant systems, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems. A BMS consists of software and hardware. The software program, usually configured in a hierarchical manner, can be proprietary using such protocols as C-bus, Profibus, etc. Recently however new vendors are producing BMSs that integrate using Internet protocols and open standards like SOAP, XML, BacNet, Lon and Modbus.
A BMS is more typical in a large building (>50K sq ft). Its core function is to manage the environment temperature, CO2 level and humidity within a building. As a core function in most BMS systems, it controls the production of heating and cooling, manages the systems that distribute this air throughout the building, and then locally controls the mixture of heating and cooling to achieve the desired room temperature. A key secondary function is to monitor the level of human generated CO2, mixing in outside air with waste air to increase the amount of O2 while also minimizing heat/cooling losses.Systems linked to a BMS typically represent 40% of a building's energy usage; if lighting is included this number approaches 70%. BMS systems are a critical component to managing energy demand. Mis-configured BMS systems are believed to account for 20% of building energy usage, or approximately 8% of total energy usage in the United States.