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Smart route to digital CCTV

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Many organisations are upgrading to IP CCTV, but a complete and reliable system is out of reach for many due to budget constraints. This will however soon change, says ECKART ZOLLNER, Head of Business Development at the Jasco Group

There are a lot of analogue CCTV solutions out there – they account for over 60% of the current installed base – and they don’t work very well. Across industry sectors, organisations are slowly upgrading to IP solutions, especially in high risk and high value areas, but complete migration remains capital intensive and out of reach of budget-constrained organisations. That will not remain the case – within three to five years, largescale adoption of all-IP solutions is expected.

The increasing value that the advanced features of newer CCTV systems offer to the broader business is a big driver – but organisations will need to stop making short-term decisions if they want to access the long-term benefits of digital solutions.

From eyes to algorithms

We know that a pair of human eyes watching a bank of CCTV-fed screens in a control room will fail within a very short period to identify threats and anomalies – it’s not what humans are good at. And it’s a reactive strategy. Technology does a better job.

New IP and digital technologies can set virtual boundaries, use analytics to assess threats, and built-in intelligence that enables it to learn what behaviour is normal and what may constitute a breach. That same intelligence can be put to work within businesses to improve logistics, productivity and operations – for example, by alerting a retailer to add more cashiers when queues become too long.

These advances are making it hard for organisations to completely ignore new technologies.

While companies with high-level systems are making use of security platforms with integrated controls and incident management systems, companies with CCTV systems with workforce-based manual controls are augmenting their solutions with body-worn technologies as well as more advanced solutions at critical points. Integration of legacy and these newer systems is critical. So is establishing a closer relationship with external companies.

Integrating old and new

We see the requirement for the old to integrate the new where companies make use of physical security companies, such as ensuring that alerts and other inputs from their CCTV systems are integrated into the processes of these external companies, especially if these systems are capable of analysis. Alerts need to be acted on, not just logged, and this intelligence needs to be fed back into the overall system. If, for example, there is an incident every Tuesday night at 10pm, perhaps a pattern is forming – an advanced CCTV system may pick this up. Will the security company who may assign a different guard every week to the facility? The service provider may not even be aware that the incident constitutes a risk as they may not know what assets are at risk. The onus is thus on the company and the service provider to work together.

Own your data; upskill your workforce

As they upgrade to newer digital systems, the challenge for business is to ensure that the decisions they are making are not just for short term benefit. Data is going to be critical to future advances. If they are investing in digital systems, companies need to own the data and be able to access it – and it should be built into workforce and other processes, with alerts going to the right people who can act on it. That data should not belong to the service provider. Internet of Things (IoT) inputs will add value too, alerting organisation and service providers to performance issues, ensuring systems are more stable and reliable, and technology lifecycles are extended.

As companies continue to migrate to more advanced systems, they will also need to upskill supervisory functions and the security workforce – instead of watching a screen in a control room, security staff will be fulfilling higher function roles, analysing data and using outputs to enhance systems.

The long road

For companies with advanced systems, such as financial organisations, security will be a many-layered solution encompassing data centres, branches and ATMS. The value of these systems is that as they become more integrated and sophisticated deliver more predictive insights that enable proactive responses. This is where we are all headed in five short years.

There are smart ways to migrate, ensuring maximum value for the organisation. The challenge is to ensure that investments are also made with long term benefits in mind and to find ways to integrate the benefits of digital solutions with manual systems as the journey unfolds.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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