Open CCTV management software the best way forward for CCTV systems

February 11, 2010

It is plain to see that the CCTV market will embrace IP as the dominant technology for CCTV systems very soon. The next thing to examine is how the industry is able to quickly integrate IP into today’s new and existing installations.

One of the most attractive things about the IP-based open management platform is the ability to help migrate existing systems to IP without replacing existing infrastructure or the cost of upgrading relatively new components in order to get an attractive new feature. This is why one of Controlware’s fundamental approaches when working alongside partners is to make system design as modular as possible so that components can be integrated as and when required to meet operational requirements, phased project management or simply budgetary needs. By utilising an open management platform over the life of the project (be this one month, one year, 10 years) it allows us to work with partners to meet these requirements in a flexible and logical way.

It would be very difficult to achieve a project successfully if you were tied to a proprietary system because you would need to be able to ensure that you could get all the interoperable components over the lifetime of the system (How many times have we been involved with projects where a key component has gone end of life and the replacement isn’t similar at all?). The use of a proprietary solution could also force you to use inferior parts of that vendor’s overall system that don’t meet your requirements. Other vendors’ products would probably fit your needs much better but you can’t use them because you are held hostage by the very nature of selecting a proprietary system!

By taking the open management platform route the future is far easier. You can mix and match non-compatible edge devices from different manufacturers, you are free to choose which storage and recording hardware vendor you want to work with and also how storage is deployed in relation network topology to help with redundancy or resilience continuity planning. Also you can integrate other technology options including analytics or access control and actively manage migration of legacy systems to meet operational / budgetary requirements.  This is an example of how  Controlware works with its partners – We ensure that the operational requirement of the end user is met rather than just sell you tin.  In order to meet the needs of our customers and partners we work closely to ensure you don’t buy a square peg to fit a round hole – and have to live with the consequences.

If you would like to challenge Controlware to prove that open management can be just as cost effective as proprietary systems, provide a better service than analogue or allow you to enable an upgrade to IP without replacing your entire system then please contact Controlware or have a look at the Cware open management platform.


CCTV video released of fatal cash machine raid

November 17, 2009

CCTV footage has been released of the moment that raiders broke into a supermarket to get at cash inside a cash machine.

Minutes later one of the raiders can clearly be seen using an angle grinder to get at the cash. Although alerted that a robbery was taking place police arrived too late to stop the raiders getting away.

In this instance Intelligent Video Analytics could have helped raise the alarm much sooner.  By constructing invisible trip wires in the video security personnel or police could have been warned the moment the raiders entered the store. In this way  Intelligent Video Analytics linked to a flexible open management platform could have helped the CCTV become more proactive.

The break in happened in the town of Driel, Netherlands but the raid ended in tragedy for the robbers when a traffic accident was reported in nearby Maarsbergen. When police arrived at the scene they found five men in the car, which also contained a substantial amount of cash covered in security dye. The men who are all British were taken to hospital where 3 have since died of injuries received.

To view more instances of CCTV in action click here.


IP knowledge is essential for CCTV

November 16, 2009

The second part of  an end user’s response to Mark Harraway’s article “Don’t Go Hybrid” that can be read in full here.

Richard Quinn is Food Retail Loss Provention Manager for the Co-operative Group.

IP has been muted by the industry for some time as the end of analogue and the entry of a new digital age in CCTV. The predominant limiting factors to this are in my opinion restricted firstly to technology and secondly to capability and awareness.

Capability and Awareness

Despite talking about IP for a number of years, it remains still a relatively unknown subject to some installers, who do not have the required skill sets, or knowledge to be able to integrate and communicate effectively with IT functions and appear to have the confidence to install the equipment correctly.

Our own experience of this is relatively mixed and we still seem to have issues with the knowledge and capability of people installing the equipment. Whilst I do not wish to ‘badge’ all installers as not having the capability, we need to ensure that there is adequate knowledge within the sector and from experience across a number of installers – This depth of knowledge is simly not there at the moment.

That said, I am sure that those installers who wish to develop their capability and understanding in this area, should focus their efforts on building knowledge in the short term in order to communicate confidently with Clients, including their IT departments regarding the benefits and drawbacks of such a solution and its implementation.

I also believe that manfacturers collaborating together to develop common standard protocols will also benefit the end user to adapt and migrate across to IP led systems.

In summary addressing these key points will help the market to evolve and conifdence to be generated around identifying whether IP is indeed a viable option. In the current climate the market certainly has to adapt and go the extra mile in demonstrating it’s viability to end users, more importantly end users are becoming increasingly aware of the requirement to demonstrate a rate of return on any capital investment – These systems are not exempt from this and I believe therein lies another challenge, additional spend often requires different styles of thinking, in order to identify whether there is a clear business case for this type of investment.

To read the initial Dont Go Hybrid article that started the debate click here.


Growth spurs new Tech Support Manager

November 12, 2009

Controlware announce the appointment of Mark Ashbolt as Technical Support Manager

Leading IP CCTV specialists and Value Added Distributors Controlware have appointed Mark Ashbolt as Technical Support Manager. Mark brings over 15 years technical experience to the role and will be responsible for managing UK support operations.

Prior to joining Controlware, Mark was most recently IT Manager at the Halcrow Group where he was responsible for managing a team that supported over 600 users. At Controlware, Mark is responsible for the management of all Customer Support operations including the Help Desk and onsite Technical Field Engineers. He is currently managing the transition of the company’s traditional Help Desk to an integrated Service Support model based around the introduction of procedures that will streamline operations to assist all areas of the business.

Customer focused support services

Mark and his team provide expert Technical Support for Controlware’s existing customers and new surveillance projects that can range from a few cameras to thousands across multiple sites. Having provided support services for more than 20 years Controlware engineers have a reputation for providing exceptional technical assistance enabling service contracts to be tailored to exact requirements for individual products or complete solutions. In this way the Controlware support team can help make CCTV more effective than before through regular firmware updates, configuration management and maintenance checks.

As the primary UK Technical support team for Controlware’s Cware open management platform the team also has expert strength in depth to deal with the most technical of enquires. The Cware open management platform enables users to benefit from integrated surveillance and recording solutions. Based on open standards Cware supports integration with leading vendor codec’s and cameras, external systems such as access control, video analytics and intruder alarms as well as technologies such as H.264. Systems based on the Cware management platform are future-proofed and provide a real-world return on investment for users, reseller and integration partners.

“We are pleased to welcome Mark Ashbolt to Controlware and are already seeing the benefit of having someone with his extensive experience on board,” said Mark Harraway, Country Manager, Controlware UK. “Mark has joined us during a period of extremely strong growth both in staff and customer numbers and we look forward to his input as we continue to evolve and expand our support services. “

Rapid growth of IP based CCTV

Mark Ashbolt’s career began with the RAF providing support for flight simulators before leaving to join the private sector. Having spent the majority of his career in management roles for the likes of IBM where he managed a multi-lingual Pan European team Mark Ashbolt is looking forward to this new role assisting Controlware’s integrator and reseller customer base especially at this time of exciting growth for the company.

“I am looking forward to helping Controlware meet the growing demand for IP based security systems in the industry at this exciting time and aim to ensure that the support team continues to provide the highest levels of support for our customers.”

For more information about Controlware click here.

Mark Ashbolt joins Controlware


CCTV video of warehouse accident demonstrates importance of Health and Safety

November 6, 2009

Much has been discussed about the wider merits of CCTV and how it can reduce crime and make people feel safer but a topic that is often over looked is how CCTV can help with health and safety.

It is sometimes a shock to find staff carrying out tasks that completely go against the training, regulations and processes that have been put in place. CCTV if well monitored can therefore be highly important in preventing the occurrence of accidents. Also if employees having received training and been made aware of regulations are involved in an accident, CCTV is a tool that can be used to help clear your company of blame and potential legal action that might follow.

The video below filmed at a warehouse in Russia shows a major health and safety incident occurring. Fortunately no one was badly injured, but five million roubles (£105,000) worth of alcohol was destroyed in the accident, according to the website that posted the video, scandalim.ru.

If resource for live monitoring is not available technologies such as Video Analysis (Video Analytics / Smart CCTV) can help. When using an open management platform such as Cware, Video Analysis from IP cameras, analogue (analog) cameras or codecs can be easily integrated into the CCTV system. Video Analysis continuously checks for activity, events or behaviours that might be considered suspicious against user-defined policies. When activity is detected the system will classify the objects of interest (people, vehicle etc.), track and identify the direction of moving objects, interpret what the objects are doing and determine if a customer-defined policy has been broken. Once a policy is broken, for instance an intruder climbing over a perimeter fence or a vehicle parking in a forbidden zone, a wide variety of automatic countermeasures can be taken. PTZ cameras can automatically zoom in and track the object to get images of evidential quality, audible alarms can be broadcast to frighten away trespassers and emails or text messages can be sent to notify security personnel.

For more information about IP CCTV, the Cware management platform and Video Analysis click here.

Plus what do you think about CCTV? Is Britain becoming a Surveillance Society? Discuss here.


College benefit from advanced IP CCTV system that improves security and safety

October 13, 2009

Leading IP CCTV specialist Controlware with partners ntl:Telewest Business, has supplied an advanced security solution to The Oldham College that saves costs and delivers improved flexibility and video quality over their previous system.

The Oldham College is in the process of producing strategy that will see 70% of the college’s building portfolio being re-built with plans for a £70 million regeneration of their campus. The IT and Estates teams knew that their existing analogue system would not be good enough to provide the level of security they needed throughout the course of the campus redevelopment and into the future. An analogue solution would be expensive and inflexible as the cameras would need to be moved frequently during the redevelopment of the campus. They looked at IP solutions that could integrate with their IT network and enable cameras to be quickly redeployed around the campus as building work progresses.

Having fully examined the advanced IP CCTV solution at Warrington Collegiate, The Oldham College had no doubts about developing their system around Controlware’s Cware management platform and replacing their three old analogue systems with a single powerful platform.

Bob Leigh, Estates Manager for The Oldham College, who manages the security team, is extremely pleased with the improved quality and usability of the new solution. “Cware’s management interface is great and much easier to use than our old system, best of all the image quality is superb allowing security staff to really see what they are looking at, which we didn’t have before. Everyone who has seen the new solution says how impressed they are”.

From day one Cware was so easy to use that staff taught themselves how to use the system in hours and this has made the team more confident in managing security incidents. Reviewing archive video recordings and exporting video to DVD has also become much easier. Specific footage is easy to find and video export takes a few mouse clicks instead of a lengthy process that required the help of a network specialist in the past.

Costs savings have also been made. Jon Evans, IT Services Manager at The Oldham College explains that “Since IP CCTV is so flexible we don’t need to call in an external contractor to move cameras like we did before. The IT department can move a camera in 15 minutes when it would have taken an external contractor the best part of a day and cost the college £500. This also enables us to be proactive about security by moving cameras to potential hotspots in order to make the most of our resources”

The college can also take advantage of further cost savings from PoE (Power over Ethernet) technology which requires fewer cables to be run to cameras than traditional cabling. The network is also protected against power failure by UPS’s (Uninterruptable Power Supplies) that deliver increased resilience over analogue or hybrid based systems where each camera would rely on its own power supply.

“The IT and Estates teams at Oldham College can see that the Cware management platform delivers real benefits. The new integrated system improves security and support operations enabling students and teachers to feel more secure and confident in security as the college develops as a world-class learning facility.” said Mark Harraway, Country Manager for Controlware UK.

Please click here for more information about Controlware.

The Oldham College


IP is the only viable option when compared to analogue or hybrid CCTV systems

October 9, 2009

Even if an existing CCTV network has analogue cameras we can take these analogue feeds and convert them to IP via encoders either at the edge or in the control room, and once they are converted to IP, they are simply treated in the same way as any IP camera.  At this point some people will say that this is a hybrid solution, which in the truest sense of the word it is.  However, what we have achieved here is to start to implement IP at the edge which then allows us to build a complete IP infrastructure with all the benefits this brings rather than having the unhappy compromise of a hybrid solution at the most critical point of recording.

The benefits of IP that hybrid can’t offer are features such as iSCSI recording through RAID arrays to provide a 100% fail proof redundancy.  There is no single point of failure in the recording and storage system either in the individual discs, the recording servers or RAIDs.  The use of RAID arrays also brings in another key element in IP superiority – namely that as these solutions run over an IT platform, such a Windows Server, linked to industry standard storage. It becomes so much easier to build a scalable system, because the boxes have a larger capacity (the latest iSCSI are taking 16 x 2TB drives – so 28 TB of useable storage in only 7 inches / 17 ½ cm!) and you can just add additional capacity as required.  Standard IT platforms also deliver a more competitive market approach for purchasing additional or future upgrades of security systems and software capability.  IP based solutions offer further benefits such as intelligent alarm handling, and integration with other systems, such as intruder or access control, to promote a completely integrated solution.

If you are looking at expanding, migrating or a new CCTV solution, there should be no reason not to look at IP.  IP is here today. It’s reliable and offers so much more than hybrid. So why buy twice? Don’t Go Hybrid. Choose the superior IP option.

Taken from Controlware Country Manager Mark Harraway’s “Why go hybrid?” article as published in the September edition of Professional Security Magazine. To read the complete article click here.