Monday, August 25, 2008

Steps to design Wireless CCTV

While wireless can uniquely solve certain challenges, it is far riskier to deploy and use than wired networks. As such, it is critical to understand when to use wireless systems and the key risks in designing such systems. If you use wireless networks prudently for video surveillance systems, the financial benefits can be quite significant. However, miscalculation in choice and design can result in significant reliability and scalability problems.
As a general rule, you should avoid using wireless networks unless wired networks costs are significantly higher than a wireless system. This is because deploying and maintaining wireless networks is far more risky and expensive than it is for a wired network. Wireless systems face much more serious problems that wireline networks do such as constrained bandwidth, signal obstruction, higher maintenance cost and scalability restrictions.
Let's review these key elements:
- How much bandwidth is available?
- How far can away can the wireless cameras be?
- How many cameras can I deploy?
Wireless networks have far lower bandwidth than wired networks. On a wired network, bandwidth available for video surveillance can be easily 70 Mb/s to 700 Mb/s. On a wireless network, your available bandwidth is often no more than 5 Mb/s to 25 Mb/s. It is a dramatic and often overlooked aspect of wireless video surveillance design.
Wireless video surveillance usually has significantly less bandwidth the wireless system states. This is because the way bandwidth is calculated in wireless systems is the opposite of the more traditional wired approach. With a wired network, if you say you have 100 Mb/s bandwidth, this means you have 100 Mb/s going up and another 100 Mb/s going down. In a wireless network, if you say you have 11 Mb/s bandwidth, that is the total for both upstream and downstream. Some wireless systems are fixed to allow half the bandwidth for upstream and half for downstream. This is a big problem for video surveillance because almost all the bandwidth used is in one direction (upstream). Make sure your wireless system lets the upstream take up the whole bandwidth if needed. This is common with wireless systems dedicated to video but none in common commercial gear.
Environmental conditions often reduce the bandwidth further. Wireless networks are much more prone to effects from the environment than wired networks. Wireless networks will only achieve their maximum if the strength of the signal (signal to noise) is sufficiently high. If there are partial obstructions or if the antenna shifts slightly, the bandwidth from wireless systems can drop further. In our previous example, the 11 Mb/s wireless system only offers 5.5 Mb/s for streaming video. However, common environmental conditions can drop the bandwidth to 2.75 Mb/s.
Distance of Cameras
It is quite hard to set up multi-mile wireless links to video surveillance cameras. A number of factors including obstructions, frequency limitations, power limitations, and installation precision drive this. Note: this tutorial assumes the use of unlicensed frequency, by far the most common choice for deploying wireless video systems. If you are using licensed frequency, where you can use much higher power and ensure no interference, these issues are not as significant. However, obtaining licenses are expensive and time consuming so most application use unlicensed spectrum. The rest of the discussion assumes unlicensed frequencies.
You are constrained in how powerful your signal can be, significantly reducing the distance that you can transmit. The government restricts the power of your signal so that you do not drain out other users. However, this means it is much harder to push through obstacles and go greater distances. It also means that other users of the same frequency can reduce the bandwidth or block your signal. This is a major factor in the emergence of the 4.9 Ghz range for use in video surveillance projects as that range is dedicated to public safety.
Obstacles are very seriously problems for wireless video surveillance systems. Most wireless video surveillance system use frequency ranges that are easily absorbed by buildings and trees (2.4 Ghz through 5.8 Ghz). Practically speaking, you may want to transmit to a building 100 meters away but if another building is in between, the signal will be absorbed and the link will not be possible. You can and should use mesh networks to accommodate this but you must factor in the impact on the cost of the overall network.
Installation precision is key but issues can go wrong that may increase long term maintenance. Because of power restrictions, wireless video systems commonly use high gain antennas that increase signal power by concentrating it into a narrower area. This can help greatly in going longer distances or overcoming obstacles, however, it means the antennas must line up very precisely. If they do not, the performance of the system will degrade significantly. Also, if during the life of the system, either antenna shifts, the performance of the system could degrade 'out of the blue.'
Number of Cameras
The number of cameras on a wireless system is severely constrained due to bandwidth limitations and constraints on how far cameras can be placed. For any given wireless connection, the maximum number of cameras that can be supported is generally between 5 and 15 with the cameras being less than a mile from the receiver. Even 'VCR' quality video using a good CODEC will take about 1 Mb/s. This is significant when your are dealing with wireless links that may only support 5 - 20 Mb/s. The total number of wireless cameras can be increasing by using multiple wireless connections or by combining wireless and wired networks.
A prudent practice is to use both wireless and wired networks with the wireless portion minimized to only the specific scenarios where deploying a wired connection would be cost-prohibitive. A typical example is getting a network drop in a building (either off the internal LAN or from a telco) and deploying a wireless link from the building to camera locations close to that building on poles or fence lines.
In any of these approachs, CODEC choice and resolution selection are key factors in the number of cameras that can be supported. In a wired network where 70 - 700 Mb/s networks are common, not compressing video heavily can work. However, in a wireless network, with 5 Mb/s to 15 M/bs available total, a single MJPEG standard definition camera could consume all of the available bandwidth by itself. Similarly, given the bandwidth constrains, megapixel cameras are especially challenges. Even with various optimizations, megapixel cameras can consume far greater bandwidth than standard cameras (assuming you use the same frame rate).
Wireless networks can solve applications where wired networks are far too expensive. By relieving the need for expensive construction projects, video surveillance can be deployed in places where it would otherwise be cost unjustifiable. However, wireless networks offer far greater challenges and risks in design and maintenance. As such a clear understanding of these elements and when to prudently use wireless systems will contribute to success wireless video surveillance systems.

Bandwidth Basics for IP CCTV Design

When using IP cameras, Megapixel cameras, NVRs or even DVRs, understanding the basics about how much bandwidth is available and how much is needed is critical in planning, designing and deploying IP video surveillance systems. Everyone in the industry should have an understanding of the basics as bandwidth is a critical factor in video surveillance
This article is focused for a non-IT audience such as security managers, electronic technicians, sales and marketing folks. I am purposely ignoring details and edge cases to help a broader audience better understand the basics.

How Much Bandwidth is Available?
To figure out how much bandwidth is available, you first need to determine what locations you are communicating between. Much like driving, you will have a starting point and destination. For example, from your branch office to your headquarters. However, unlike driving, the amount of bandwidth available can range dramatically depending on where you are going.
The most important factor in determining how much bandwidth is available is whether or not you need connectivity between two different buildings. For instance:
In the Same Building: 70Mb/s to 700 Mb/s of bandwidth is generally available
In Different Buildings: .5 Mb/s to 5 Mb/s of bandwidth is generally available
The amount of bandwidth available going from your office to a co-worker's office in the same building can be 200 times more than the bandwidth from your office to a branch office down the block.
This is true in 90% or more cases. Note the following exceptions:
If these are different buildings but on the same campus, more bandwidth may be available.
If you are in a central business district of a major city, more bandwidth may be available.
If you are a telecommunications or research company, more bandwidth may be available.

Different Buildings
The key driver in bandwidth availability is the cost increase of deploying networks between buildings. Generally referred to as the Wide Area Network or WAN, this type of bandwidth is usually provided by telecommunications companies. One common example is cable modem or DSL, which can provide anywhere from .5 Mb/s to 5 Mb/s at $50 to $150 per month. Another example is a T1, which provides 1.5Mb/s for about $300 to $600 per month. Above this level, bandwidth generally becomes very expensive. In most locations, getting 10Mb/s of bandwidth can cost thousands per month.
Many talk about fiber (sometimes called FTTH/FTTC) but fiber to the building is not and will not be widely available for years. Fiber to the home or to the business promises to reduce the cost of bandwidth significantly. Nevertheless, it is very expensive to deploy and despite excited discussions for the last decade or more, progress remains slow. If you have it great, but do not assume it.

Same Buildings
By contrast, bandwidth inside of buildings (or campuses) is quite high because the costs of deploying it are quite low. Non technical users can easily set up a 1000Mb/s networks inside a building (aka Local Area Networks or LANs) for less than $1,000 installation cost with no monthly costs. Contrast this to the WAN, where the same bandwidth could cost tens of thousands of dollars per month.
The cost of deploying networks in buildings are low because there are minimal to no construction expenses. When you are building a network across a city, you need to get rights of ways, trench, install on telephone poles, etc. These are massive projects that can easily demand millions or billions of dollars in up front expenses. By contrast, inside a building, the cables can often by quickly and simply fished through ceilings (not the professional way to do it but the way many people do it in deployments).
A lot of discussion about wireless (WiMax, WiFi, 3G, etc) exists but wireless will not provide significantly greater bandwidth nor significantly better costs than DSL or cable modem. As such, wireless will not solve the expense and limitations of bandwidth between buildings. That being said, wireless absolutely has benefits for mobility purposes and connecting to remote locations that DSL or cable modem cannot cost effectively serve. The point here is simply that it will not solve the problem of bandwidth between buildings being much more expensive than bandwidth inside of buildings.

How Much Bandwidth Do IP Cameras Consume?
For the bandwidth consumption of an IP camera, use 1 Mb/s as a rough rule of thumb. Now, there are many factors that affect total bandwidth consumption. You can certainly stream an IP camera as low as .2 Mb/s (or 200 Kb/s) and others as high as 6 Mb/s. The more resolution and greater frame rate you want, the more bandwidth will be used. The more efficient the CODEC you use, the less bandwidth will be used.
For the bandwidth consumption of a Megapixel camera, use 5 Mb/s to 10 Mb/s as a rough rule of thumb. Again, there are a number of factors that affect total bandwidth consumption. A 1.3 megapixel camera at 1fps can consume as little as .8 Mb/s (or 800 Kb/s) yet a 5 megapixel camera can consume as much as 45 Mb/s.

What Does this Mean for my IP Video System?
Just like dealing with personal finance, we can now figure out what we can 'afford':
Between Buildings: We have .5 Mb/s to 5 Mb/s to 'spend'
Inside Buildings: We have 70 Mb/s to 700 Mb/s to 'spend'
IP cameras: Cost us 1 Mb/s each
Megapixel cameras: Cost us 5 Mb/s to 10 Mb/s each
Using these points, we can quickly see what combination of IP and megapixel cameras we can use between buildings or inside of buildings.
Inside of buildings, it is easy to stream numerous IP and megapixel cameras.
Between buildings, it is almost impossible to stream numerous IP and megapixel cameras.
Because of this situation, the standard configuration one sees in IP Video systems is:
A local recorder at each building/remote site. The local recorder receives the streams from the building and stores them.
The local recorder only forwards the streams (live or recorded) off-site when a user specifically wants to view video. Rather than overloading the WAN network with unrealistic bandwidth demands all day long, bandwidth is only consumed when a user wants to watch. Generally, remote viewing is sporadic and IP video coexists nicely with the expensive Wide Area Network.
The local recorder has built-in features to reduce the bandwidth needed to stream video to remote clients. Most systems have the ability to reduce the frame rate of the live video stream or to dynamically reduce the video quality to ensure that the video system does not overload the network and that remote viewers can actually see what is going on the other side. Generally, the live video stream is sufficient to identify the basic threat. In any event, bandwidth is generally so costly, especially the upstream bandwidth needed to send to a remote viewer, that this is the best financial decision.
Knowing how much bandwidth is available for DVRs and NVRs and how much bandwidth IP and megapixel cameras consume are key elements in planning and deploying viable IP video systems. Though this is simply a broad survey, my hope is that this helps identify fundamental elements in understanding the impact of bandwidth on IP video.

PTZ Camera Working

Friday, August 8, 2008

Beijing Olympics visitors to come under widespread surveillance

The government has installed about 300,000 cameras in Beijing and set up a network to spy on its citizens and foreigners.
The blocking of human rights websites in China leading up to the Olympics is part of an information control and surveillance network awaiting visitors that will include monitoring devices in hotels and taxis and snoops almost everywhere.

Government agents or their proxies are suspected of stepping up cyber-attacks on overseas Tibetan, human rights and press freedom groups and the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement in recent weeks. And China is spending huge sums on sophisticated surveillance systems that incorporate face recognition technology, biometrics and massive databases to help control the population.China has installed about 300,000 cameras in Beijing under an estimated $6.5-billion, seven-year program dubbed the Grand Beijing Safeguard Sphere. Although face recognition software still can’t process rapidly moving images, China hopes that it can soon electronically identify faces out of a vast crowd.

“China is trying to project a picture and a narrative about the Olympics,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Hong Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch. “By limiting journalists, shutting down the Internet, arresting activists, it’s hoping to control the message.”

The world’s most populous nation has legitimate concerns, as seen this week in an attack in the far western province of Xinjiang that killed 16 police officers. Few expect the security infrastructure to be even partially dismantled, a step Greece took after hosting the 2004 games.
Critics said these systems give China more advanced tools in its bid to control domestic critics, activists and media. In recent months China has recruited thousands of Beijing taxi drivers and hundreds of thousands of neighborhood busybodies to keep an eye on foreigners and its own citizens.

“Everyone feels they’re entering a police state, which by the way it is, duh,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of New York-based Human Rights in China. “So they’ve got people reporting down to the lowest neighborhood level, which is not new, overlaid by state-of-the-art technology. It’s the best of the old and the new.”

Another technology that raises concern involves the new identity cards China is phasing in for its 1.3 billion citizens. The cards, developed with help from Plano, Texas-based China Information Security Technology, carry radio signal devices and a chip that records not only a person’s height, weight and identification number, but also health records, work history, education, travel, religion, ethnicity, reproductive history, police record, medical insurance status and even his or her landlord’s phone number.

Near the Second Ring Road in downtown Beijing, Wu Naimei, 74, sat on a folding chair fanning herself. “If we see any suspicious people, we call the police and report on them,” the retired subway worker said, adding that she can’t define a suspicious person but knows one when she sees one. “We are happy to help protect our motherland, assist the nation and help our leaders relax.”

The West might have a stronger argument in questioning China’s potential for intrusive surveillance if it weren’t moving rapidly in the same direction. London is believed to have the largest number of closed-circuit TV cameras of any city in the world. Many countries have seen vast troves of personal data lost or stolen. Financial records and phone calls are now routinely monitored.

The difference is that Western countries have better checks on police power, some human rights activists said, even as they expressed concern that the U.S. could soon be using technologies developed in China.
“Every country wants to avoid abuse of police power,” said Xu Zhiyong, a lecturer at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. “It’s getting better in China, but we still have a ways to go.”
In addition to blocking online information about corruption and human rights violations, the government is suspected of collecting information on visitors’ Internet search activity.
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) said late last month that foreign-owned hotels in China were under pressure to sign contracts authorizing police to install hardware and software to monitor their guests’ Internet activity. Hotel managers contacted in Beijing declined to comment.
This followed a State Department warning in March that “all hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang quickly called the U.S. report irresponsible and denied that China employed more surveillance than normal.
In Beijing, two taxi drivers who asked not to be identified while discussing confidential matters displayed a pair of black button-sized devices just to the left of their steering wheel linked to the vehicle’s navigation system. They said the devices allow a central monitoring station to listen to anything inside the taxi.
One driver said that besides listening in on passengers, officials can hear any griping he might do about the Communist Party, which could result in punishment.
The Danish women’s soccer team caught two men spying on its members in September during a FIFA World Cup meet in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, Lars Berendt, the group’s communication director, said in a telephone interview from their headquarters in Brondby.
Berendt said team members were in a hotel room having a tactical meeting when they noticed some movement behind what turned out to be a one-way mirror. In an adjoining room, they found two men, at least one of whom wore a hotel badge, and they held them until police arrived.
Berendt said the hotel denied any knowledge of the incident, and the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, said it was a matter for local authorities. Chinese police haven’t commented on any investigation.
“We’re not holding our breath,” Berendt said.
The state-run New China News Agency quoted fans as saying the Danes were just sore losers.
Security experts say company executives attending the Olympics are being advised to bring computers that have been wiped clean and to safeguard their smart phones. In extreme cases, they are also weighing the laptop to the gram to test whether ultra-light hardware devices have been added.
But a Western security consultant for one Olympic sponsor who asked not to be identified given the sensitive nature of his work said many of these fears were overblown, and that Chinese police had better things to do than spy on every “self-important corporate executive.”
Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, a semiofficial research organization, said most Chinese surveillance was in line with that of other Olympic host nations and didn’t dangerously compromise privacy.
Still, experts such as Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and author of a recent report on Chinese surveillance, believe that China is pushing the envelope.
“With Internet controls, there are ways around,” Rotenberg said. “But with surveillance technologies, you’re getting into the fabric of the state.”

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wireless security alarm connections forecasted to grow

Traditionally, security alarm systems used fixed telephone lines to pass information from the security alarm panel to a central monitoring facility. Today, however, that communication is increasingly being delegated to a digital cellular link. ABI Research forecasts that the 2007 number of just fewer than 2.5 million wireless security alarm connections will increase to more than 7.5 million in 2013.What is driving this transition? According to senior analyst Sam Lucero, a number of factors have combined to create this new market trend: “In North America, formerly analog wireless security alarms are now shifting to digital cellular services as a result of the AMPS ‘sunset’ in February 2008. More importantly, the continuing decline of landline voice services and the increasing utilization of second phone lines for DSL broadband services have made cellular connectivity more attractive, even necessary, for security alarm connectivity.”Other factors promoting cellular security backhaul include the general trend for cost-optimized alarm systems to rely on wireless connectivity exclusively, particularly in Europe. In addition, wireless operators and broadband service providers are increasingly entering the security alarm service industry and are utilizing wireless either as a primary connection or back-up connection to a primary broadband connection. Also, unlike wired connections, cellular connections cannot be cut, and current cellular module technology includes anti-jamming features.Lucero does caution that there are challenges to the adoption of wireless technology by the security alarm industry. “Wireless is a relatively new option and many security alarm dealers have to be trained in the installation process,” he says. “In addition, the relatively high cost of modules, particularly CDMA modules, is an inhibitor. Despite these barriers, however, there is an opportunity here for most if not all cellular module vendors, as well as for carriers and specialist M2M providers.”AT&T appears to have positioned itself as a key player in the North American market, as has M2M mobile operators Aeris, Jasper Wireless, and Numerex. M2M mobile virtual network operator KORE Telematics is also strongly positioned in this market.ABI Research’s recent study “Home Automation and Security” analyzes these trends and provides forecasts for home automation shipments and revenue, as well as the growth of the use of cellular wireless technologies in the security market. It forms part of three of the firm’s Research Services: Home Networking, M2M and Short Range Wireless.ABI Research is a leading market research firm focused on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets. Utilizing a unique blend of market intelligence, primary research, and expert assessment from its worldwide team of industry analysts, ABI Research assists hundreds of clients each year with their strategic growth initiatives.

US Network Video Surveillance market slowing down

Network video surveillance is without doubt one of the fastest growing markets in the security industry. In a recent report from IMS Research, the US market for network cameras, video servers and NVRs is estimated to have increased by a massive 45 percent in 2007. However, the market has got off to a slower start in 2008 and it seems unlikely that the market will grow as fast this year as it did last year. The main reason for the slow-down is the struggling US economy, which narrowly avoided entering a recession in the first quarter of the year, recording a modest increase of just 0.9 percent. Economists are divided as to whether a recession will take hold in the second quarter of the year. In this current climate of economic uncertainty, many companies are delaying capital expenditure and several major security projects have been put on hold.The retail industry, which is the largest spender on video surveillance equipment in the US, has been particularly hard hit. Soaring energy and food prices, together with the credit crunch, have curbed consumer spending. In the first quarter of 2008 consumer spending rose just 1 percent, the slowest since the second quarter of 2001, when the US was suffering its last recession. As a result, many retailers are scaling back new store expansion plans which will impact sales of video surveillance equipment.Simon Harris, senior research director at IMS Research, commented: "In spite of the stagnant economy, the US market for network video surveillance products is still growing strongly, albeit at a reduced rate from 2007. We anticipate that the market will grow well above 30 percent in 2008 and may even top 40 percent, particularly if the economy picks-up in the second half of the year".Whilst 2008 may prove a more challenging year for suppliers of network video surveillance equipment, the long term outlook for the market is very positive. The trend from analogue CCTV to network video surveillance is still in the early stages and last year network video surveillance products accounted for less than 20 percent of total video surveillance equipment sales. IMS Research anticipates that the trend to network video surveillance will be ongoing over a number of years, ensuring high growth for the long term.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Photos: Inside San Francisco airport's secure operating centre

From the observation room inside the secure operating centre (SOC) at San Francisco International airport, staff are able to check out every alert as they are raised by the technology analysing real-time CCTV footage.
This is less labour intensive than previous systems and more reliable as staff only check out events which raise alerts, rather than watching an innocuous event unfold on one screen while a threat goes unnoticed on another.
The reduction in head-count required means security guards can actually be deployed more effectively out on the airport concourse, according to Guy Morgante, VP of services at Vidient, whose technology is being used under a federally funded grant programme.

Inside San Francisco airport's secure operating centre-Photo 1

The system picks up a vehicle which has remained static for too long in a specified area.
Paul Foster, aviation security manager at San Francisco International airport, tells it could be somebody who is lost and is sat reading a map but if the vehicle raises an alert, based on parameters such as vehicle size, location or length of time it remains stationary, the incident will be checked out.

San Francisco Airport secured by 'all seeing CCTV'

Security at San Francisco International airport - the gateway to Silicon Valley - has been tightened up with the introduction of CCTV technology which not only observes but analyses footage and alerts security teams when necessary to ensure no potential threats go unnoticed.
The rollout is at the vanguard of improved airport security worldwide in the wake of increased fears about terrorism. But it is far from a simple question of stopping terrorists - it's more an issue of ensuring the airport operates in a secure manner every day, according to Paul Foster, aviation security manager at San Francisco International airport.
Thirty minutes could cost you millions of dollars.

Foster told one of his biggest concerns is around access control: who goes where; and why. And in a busy airport environment it would be too labour intensive to have every door and every CCTV monitor under actual physical human surveillance, he said.
Guy Morgante, VP of services at Vidient which, under a federally funded grant programme, has been providing the video analysis service to the airport, said a major problem with monitoring CCTV coverage currently is with the human sat in front of multiple screens, often divided further into multiple camera views.
Morgante told : "Anybody who has been in a control and command centre knows that is a huge problem. How alert can you be monitoring these cameras for hours?"
Vidient claims its algorithms can monitor what those cameras are seeing and can flag up any suspicious events. Most commonly they are looking for individuals "tailgating" - following another person through an opened door - or static objects, either in secure areas or at kerbside.
Foster said a "one swipe per person" system for passing through all doors is rigorously enforced. The cameras can detect if two people pass through an open door, and can even differentiate between one very large person and two smaller people.
Even staff who are entitled to pass through that door must swipe, in order to prevent an alert being triggered.
And those who do trigger an alert, Foster said, are "admonished" for failing to follow security best practice. "People now know we have a system in place," he said Foster, adding that alerts have fallen considerably after some re-education and admonishment.
The running of a tighter ship therefore makes the task of detecting the genuine alerts far easier.
Asked whether he believes he has ever stopped an incident which could have escalated into a genuine threat, Foster claims that is not really the question: "Did I stop a bad guy or did I just stop an employee from doing something they shouldn't be doing? I can't be certain.
"People in security look at things differently. There is no immediately visible return on investment. You don't see a cash return but what you do see is that nothing occurs. Now, did nothing occur because of the system in place or did nothing occur because nothing occurred? It doesn't really matter which it was. What is important is that we're not dealing with a security incident, and that makes me happy."
Where Foster claims the real returns come are with the obvious non-cashable advantages of running the airport in a secure manner where all staff realise the benefit of doing their bit.
The technology is also employed in access and exit lanes through security checks to spot people moving in the wrong direction and also with traffic around the airport - at secure locations such as the fuel farm. Again tailgating either by another vehicle or by a person following a vehicle through a gate can be detected, even under the cover of darkness.
The Vidient system will also allow for parameters to be set whereby alerts are triggered for vehicles of a certain size, waiting in a certain location for a certain length of time.
If the airport's team can spot an anomalous event and raise an alert to investigate it or stop it proactively then it saves on more costly reactive procedures. A person heading the wrong way through security checks could be lost or could be posing a threat. Either way the outcome could be costly if they proceed and manage to bypass security.
Pointing to the high costs associated with flights missing their timeslots and air carriers having to accommodate passengers, Foster said: "If the TSA [Transportation Security Administration] has to close down an airside and rescreen everyone, then physically inspect the entire airside, there will be a tremendous ripple effect.

"Thirty minutes could cost you millions of dollars."

UK Police plan national database of CCTV images

British police forces are to explore the feasibility of a national database of CCTV images that would be on a par with the existing national databases for DNA and fingerprint samples.
This is despite news reports that the Metropolitan Police success rate in using CCTV to secure convictions is as low as 3%, and the cancellation of a national facial image database due to lack of funds.
Graeme Gerrard, deputy chief constable of Cheshire Police and chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers' working group on CCTV and video, said CCTV was very useful in preventing, detecting, and investigating crime. Police also use it to monitor activity in potential and actual crime scenes, he said.

Gerrard said press reports on the poor success rate had ignored the fact that some sections of the Met had a "20% to 25%" success rate in using CCTV. But he said the lack of a national strategy in the past meant CCTV was less useful than it could be for police work.
The Home Office published a national CCTV strategy document in October 2007, which made 44 recommendations. Gerrard, a co-author of the report, said there were severe technological, managerial and logistical issues to overcome.

He said that most of the estimated 4.2 million CCTV systems now installed are owned by local government and the private sector. Few produce images usable by police to secure convictions without corroborating evidence, he said. "Even if we have a usable image, we still have to identify the person," he said.

He said his group would explore the feasibility of storing CCTV images of crimes and matching them against databases of known and unidentified offenders, as happens with DNA and fingerprint samples from crime scenes.

However, the National Police Improvement Agency announced the cancellation of fhe Facial Images National Database (FIND) project as of 31 March 2008. "The FIND pilot will not be rolled-out beyond those forces currently involved because there is no clear line of funding for a full national service," it said.

Gerrard said that funding for national CCTV projects was also tenuous. His group was working with others such as the British Standards Institute, the Department of Justice, the Information Commissioner's Office and others to develop standards for anyone who wanted to produce CCTV images that the police could use.

Smart Surveillance system eyes up Violent behaviour

Scientists have developed a new type of surveillance that can differentiate between a friendly hug or a punch in the face.

The smart surveillance system, developed by boffins at the University of Texas, is capable of automatically detecting violent crimes.The system could soon be available to monitor huge quantities of CCTV security footage.

The software behind the system analyses each frame of footage to spot any suspicious behaviour.
Real CCTV is low resolution and people don't usually walk up 'nicely' to one another.
The system was tested using six pairs of people who were asked to carry out various actions on one another, including sequences where the actors throw a few (fake) punches and push each other around.
Each frame was then analysed by the system with 92 per cent of single actions (for example, a simple shake of the hand) accurately detected and two-thirds of longer sequences correctly spotted.The images used to test the surveillance system are of a high resolution. "Real CCTV is low resolution," adding "people don't usually walk up 'nicely' to one another".

"Next Generation-Talking CCTV

'Talking' CCTV cameras that shout warnings to litter louts and those engaged in anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 trouble hotspots across England following a successful trial in Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough has been using the talking CCTV cameras since last summer and has declared the project a success in cleaning the streets of litter and tackling anti-social behaviour in trouble hotspots around the town centre.
Speakers on the cameras allow the operators to broadcast warnings when they spot people dropping litter or committing public order offences, such as drunkenness or fighting.
Home Secretary John Reid has now announced £500,000 of funding from the government's Respect taskforce to extend the talking CCTV cameras in trouble hotspots in 20 towns and cities.
Reid said in a statement: "Talking CCTV is another tool in creating safer communities. It uses modern technology to allow camera operators to speak directly to people on the streets to stop or prevent them acting anti-socially. We know from Middlesbrough's experience that this works."
Some of the areas the CCTV scheme will be extended to are Blackpool, Coventry, Derby, Gloucester, Mansfield, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, Salford and Wirral.
Graeme Gerrard, chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers CCTV working group and deputy chief constable of Cheshire Police, said in a statement: "Talking CCTV increases the effectiveness of town centre cameras because it allows the camera operators to intervene and let the offender know their anti-social behaviour has been spotted and is being recorded. In many cases this is enough to stop the offending behaviour which in turn results in safer and tidier streets."
The government is also running competitions in schools in the 20 new areas for schoolchildren to become the voice of the talking CCTV in their town or city for one day when the new cameras go live later this year.