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How poor cam choice becomes security risk

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Poor surveillance camera placement along with a bad solution design could end up compromising a security system and may render some cameras of little to no security value, says MARC VAN JAARSVELDT, consultant for The Surveillance Factory.

Despite the exciting features of today’s video surveillance cameras, poor solution design and poor camera placement compromises the end result and renders most cameras of little or no security value. He says that this ultimately results in a camera-system that may fail to solve security challenges on a site.

There is a clear lack of risk-analysis skills and the ability to design a solution that offers to maximise security value. What clients need today is a detailed site-audit and a resulting solution that solves security challenges and enhances the client’s awareness of their security environment.

Traditionally, video surveillance systems have been poorly designed and are still compromised despite the plethora of advanced features that cameras now have: Todays IP cameras can take advantage of some incredible features that they now offer: ultra-high resolution, advanced WDR (wide dynamic range), built in analytics and edge storage. But the design methodology used often does not make the best use of these features and fails to deliver on a security level.

The Surveillance Factory has seen many camera solutions constructed using what is referred to as a “general-overview” camera: These cameras are chosen to provide a wide or broad overview of a large area giving the sense that this area is adequately surveilled, but in reality, they offer nothing more than a bird’s-eye or panoramic view with no specific intention to manage risk within that area. If there is an incident of any kind, there is often no forensic value contained within the video footage because the overview is too wide and the camera, despite the fact that it may be a high resolution camera, is not performing a specific function by viewing an identified target.

In nearly all cases the video-camera position selected was incorrect. Placing it too far away and not using it to manage a specific area, makes it generally impossible to identify a target. The issue lies in the camera’s inability to capture the right number of pixels-on-target required for identification from that distance and position.

The solution lies in selecting the correct video camera suited to a specific area and more importantly, making certain that the camera addresses a specific risk and does not fall into the general overview trap: “You will then get excellent, high quality footage all the time and when video evidence is required, it will offer forensic value as the camera will provide clear images that cannot be contested.

Interestingly, he says that in South Africa, with its high crime rates, cameras are frequently pressure-tested and security managers often end up with useless footage that has no evidentiary value: This brings into question the entire premise that the camera system installed is valuable to the organisation and is actually enhancing security.

The average number of cameras deployed per site has steadily been increasing and this trend reinforces the need for system integrators to design solutions more carefully.

Here are some tips for selecting a camera and designing a solution:

1.    Choose your video cameras and positions carefully. Have a specific surveillance goal in mind for each device.

2.    Avoid general-overview cameras unless they are needed for an operational or process-control reason (e.g. to view an assembly or production line in a factory).

3.    Make sure that the camera resolution is high enough so that the footage it generates has evidentiary value. i.e. the number of pixels-on-target should agree with the standards for detection and identification, that the camera and VMS manufactures all publish.

4.    Select fewer high-resolution cameras that record at a decent frame-rate (no less than 15fps) for a shorter time frame, as opposed to many lower-resolution cameras recording at low frame-rate for a long period of time.

Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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