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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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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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