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IP video innovates access

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Integration between video management systems (VMS) and access control systems (ACS) will soon offer the ability to incorporate ACS access and biometric data with video surveillance footage. But there are some pitfalls to look out for, writes MARC VAN JAARSVELDT.

Currently, there are integration options available, but not all solutions offer a seamless link-up of the traditional ACS data with the IP network. This is according to.

There are some convincing implementations locally, where the integration is solid and results are positive. We have no doubt that the integration will improve over time, but for now users need to be aware of the pitfalls.

What is making a difference and an impact on the ACS market is the continued growth and acceptance of IP networking as the de facto standard for video management systems. “We have seen that several access control (AC) vendors have started to offer IP interfaces with their hardware because of the prevailing nature of the network-based security technology. Some examples are Suprema, which produces biometric units with IP interfaces and Genetec that offers an end-to-end AC plus VMS system, including hardware and full integration.

Typically the AC unit (a car or fingerprint reader)) is IP enabled and uses a UTP network cable to allow communication with the LAN, but it still retains traditional signaling interfaces like Wiegand or RS485, which need to be wired in via an IP enabled controller. Examples of these devices are made by Axis, a market leader in network video. In some cases the IP link-up happens where the main AC controller resides, but door units are still wired the traditional way. Even though there are various levels of integration, the ability to incorporate AC data with video surveillance footage has changed the game plan somewhat for ACS vendors. It has also had a positive impact on the role of biometric data within an overall VMS.

The main advantage of this approach is that it allows biometric data or AC information to be extracted and displayed on a suitable PC. It is here that the VMS comes in. Once that IP interface is available, developers can write a specific software program to interrogate the AC device and bring biometric or simple access data into the VMS and incorporate it with video.

The data will be included with the video footage, providing a deeper layer of security information as the video system now displays all AC data including personnel information, credentials and video images. This enhances security and situational awareness. The great thing is that in this instance, operators are now using a single interface for video and AC, as opposed to separate interfaces.

An example, he says, is that you are not just viewing a person as they enter the building, but now having access to all the data about that individual embedded or included with the video. In doing this, companies are able to set up alarms that allow for rule or exception management, which is a powerful security tool.

Integrated ACS and VMS systems are no longer science fiction. They are an important part of the future of the security industry. Locally, we still have a long way to go to get the integration with VMS seamless and deliver acceptable outcomes. Companies need to understand and have a quality VMS system installed first, and then work towards adding value and extra layers of security such as the integration of AC.

Tips for choosing your system:

1. Choice of VMS and ACS is critical because it will define which hardware can be integrated. Most VMSs offer basic AC integration with a very limited sub-set of brands.

2. Realise that there is intelligent integration where the door or biometric unit integrates fully with the VMS and all of its functionality is supported versus un-intelligent integration where the unit communicates with the IP LAN via a simple controller that allows the RS485 cable to be plugged in. These will only support basic functionality and limited data integration.

3. With very long cable runs, or in very noisy environments, you may need to stick with traditional RS485 and cabling and link to the IP network on the backend.

4. When the integration plug-in is written by a 3rd party company (as is often the case), keep in mind that VMS version upgrades or ACS firmware upgrades can break the inter-device communication.

* Marc van Jaarsveldt, consultant with the The Surveillance Factory

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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