Many of the world's top Integrators have selected iOmniscient as their preferred supplier.
iOmniscient's products excel by design. The company has a focus on ensuring that its products are designed to evolve and improve. Its products are designed to be scalable, flexible, open and maintainable. Its products are designed to meet the specific practical needs of its various customers.
But iOmniscient's focus is not just on products. The company has a culture of committing to its customer's success. Fulfilling the customer's need and ensuring satisfaction with the result is a key objective for all employees.
With three strategically placed support centers around the world, the company can provide 24x7 support to its customers. Internal processes ensure that outstanding issues are passed on between support centers to ensure that they are continuously worked on till they are resolved.
In addition, there are five special language support centers that can cope with issues in languages other than English namely Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi and Korean. All products are maintained through a comprehensive set of ongoing maintenance options which include regular software updates and upgrades and guaranteed response times for problems.
The company provides a wide range of Professional Services to assist the customer from the first step of analyzing risks, through system and network design and camera placement to implementation, training and configuration.
iOmniscient succeeds because it does not merely build good products. It designs them to meet the specific needs of the industry it serves, it focuses on providing extraordinary support to its customers with people who enjoy providing good service and it makes sure that the user has a very tangible return on investment.
A Smart City surveillance system will be successful if the objectives of the user are clearly defined at the start of the project.
A Smart City surveillance system is usually implemented as a measure to reduce safety and security risks to the people of the city. A successful system provides the right information in a timely manner for emergencies, automates all standard events and allows sufficient time for humans to make a judgment on more unique and special events.
Therefore, it is important to establish the objective of the system as early as possible using a systematic risk assessment to identify and assess the risks and the best measures to mitigate these risks.
Defining System Objectives
The best method for defining the system objectives is to perform a systematic risk assessment to ensure that the right problems are being solved. There are numerous examples of cameras that have been installed pointing in the wrong direction or at the wrong place. The priority risks lay unattended while systems are installed to solve the wrong problem.
There is now an international standard for Risk Analysis (ISO31000). iOmniscient can provide a service for a comprehensive Risk Analysis for any environment.
Once the key risks have been identified and their consequences have been understood, it is important to prioritize them.
Prioritize the Objectives
Prioritization of risks and therefore the objectives of the system ensure that the investment is made to address the most important objectives first.
Once the user has an understanding of the risks to be addressed, it is important to select the most appropriate risk mitigation strategies. These may not involve the use of cameras. There may be risks that can only be addressed by other methods, such as the presence of an armed guard or a lock on a door.
The systematic risk assessment assists the user in deciding where surveillance and automation technology is required and it explains the reasons for this decision. This ensures that the most appropriate technology is used to achieve specific purposes.
In security, the onion principle is important. According to this, it is best to have layers of protection just like the layers within an onion. If one layer of protection is defeated, there are still several levels of defence that have to be overcome. No single technology solves every problem. However, many technologies can collaborate to provide a secure and safe environment.
After prioritizing the risks, it is important to determine the types of event for which an automated response is appropriate and for which human intervention may be necessary. Many situations which were previously responded to by humans are simple to automate leaving the human with the bandwidth to address more complex tasks.
Once the objectives have been determined, there are two important elements to implement a successful system.
1. Follow a disciplined implementation process
2. Select the right suppliers for software systems, hardware and implementation services (the Systems Integrator)
Disciplined Implementation Process
To implement a successful Smart City system, one has to follow a 4 step process as follows:
1. Select the appropriate software to meet the objectives of the Smart City surveillance system.
2. Select the cameras and other hardware infrastructure.
3. Select the Systems Integrator.
4. Implement the system with appropriate camera placement and test the outcome to ensure the objectives are met.
Step 1: Select the appropriate software to meet the objectives of the smart city surveillance system.
It is important to identify and select the software that would be most suited to addressing the objective of the system. This determines the core of the Smart City System.
Step 2: Select the cameras and other system hardware infrastructure.
As a next step, the user should identify the sensors including the cameras that should be used. Without going through this process, the organization may select inappropriate cameras for the required task and place them incorrectly according to the applications. Of course, the software would not work optimally then.
Once the cameras have been selected, the next step is to select the computers, storage and networking infrastructure and to ensure its appropriateness to the software which is to be used.
Step 3: Select the Systems Integrator.
Next, it is important to select the Systems Integrator who has the capability of bringing all the components of the solution together.
Step 4: Implement the System.
The final step is to proceed the implementation of the system. Cameras and sensors need to be placed as per the directions of the Video Analytics supplier (not the camera vendor).
It is also important for the user to establish a test plan to ensure that all the objectives of the system are met once the system has been implemented.
Frequent Mistakes in Implementation
Unfortunately, many users of such systems have started with Step 2. First, they select the cameras and even install them without determining if they are appropriate and if they are placed correctly for the application.
Some users select the Systems Integrator at Step 3. They hope that this organization implements a working system. However, without going through the previous steps, the Integrator has little chance of implementing a system that actually meets the needs of the user.
When a system fails to deliver the results, the fingers are pointed at every direction - except at the core problem which is the user not following the disciplined approach that is prescribed.
Questions you should ask your Vendors
Smart City systems are large and complex with many suppliers involved. The key suppliers are:
1. The software suppliers
2. The hardware suppliers
3. The Systems Integrators
Most Smart City systems are implemented by Systems Integrators. These companies acquire the software and hardware for the surveillance system and manage the integration of these to implement the system. It is important that the purchaser understands and specifies the requirements of their system, especially for a Smart City project.
The user needs to ensure that:
1. The system requirements are clearly specified. iOmniscient can provide sample specification documents to help the user with this exercise.
2. The selected software and hardware solution meets these requirements.
3. The selected software and hardware is delivered and implemented (not a cheaper and less effective alternative).
The user has a test plan to ensure that the system delivers the required capabilities in a realistic complex environment and that the objectives of the system are met. Sample test plans are available from iOmniscient.
Does the system achieve the objectives of the key stakeholders of the system?
1. What is the iQ-Rating of the systems being offered?
2. Does the system have the ability to operate at higher levels of iQ? Or is the acquired system not capable of being upgraded to higher levels of intelligence in the future?
3. Is the software so smart at optimizing resources that a system with the software can be less expensive than a system without the software?
4. Is the system the most advanced one that is available to date? A comparison with the iQ-Rating Chart would confirm this.
5. How robust is the system? This can be determined by establishing if similar systems have been operational for long periods of time.
6. How committed is the supplier to enhancing capabilities in future to ensure that the system does not become obsolete?
7. Does the system use other senses including noise and smell?
8. Is it necessary to record and implement videos all the time? Most advanced systems may record video only for events and for their verification. Only in very few situations, all videos have to be recorded and archived for long periods of time.
9. Can a single system provide all the capabilities required including Face Recognition in a crowd, License Plate Recognition, Automated Response and Audio and Smell Analytics? Remember that interfaces between different suppliers are often the weakest link in the system.
Face and License Plate Detection and Recognition
1. Can the system perform Face Detection and Recognition in crowded and complex environments?
2. Can the system recognize vehicles and people based on the events that it has detected?
3. Can the system track people and vehicles from camera to camera?
Jump to Event and determining the identity of the person involved in an incident
1. For complex events that might take some considerable time, can the system go back to the time before that event commenced at the press of a single button and recognize the person who was involved? (Consider an event, such as a person abandoning a bag for ten minutes. Can the system recall the video of the person bringing the bag into the scene?)
2. Once the start of an event has been determined, can the system automatically identify the person or vehicle (or other objects) involved in that event?
Automated and Mobile Response for Emergency Management
1. Can the system automatically show the human operator where events are happening on a map of the environment?
2. Can an operator view all events on a smartphone and can these be archived and managed from this device?
3. Can the system locate the nearest responder and automatically advise them of an incident, e.g., a police car, an ambulance or a fire brigade?
Big Data Capability
1. Does the software generate Meaningful Meta Data?
2. Can this data be used to provide reporting, analysis and forecasting capabilities?
3. Can the system pull together unstructured information from a variety of different sources and use it to understand the environment and predict future events?
System Cost Effectiveness, Reliability and Efficiency
Some questions to ensure that the system operates cost effectively and with a minimum of human intervention are:
1. Can the system intelligently store information of interest or does it simply record all video footage?
2. Can important information, such as faces and number plates, be stored in higher resolution than other irrelevant details
3. Does the system know if it is not working or if the cameras cannot see properly?
4. Can the system be scheduled to perform different functions on a camera at different times?
5. Does the system have a Nuisance Alarm Minimization System (NAMS) capability?
6. Does the system have a Universal Connectivity Module?
7. Can the system be configured, implemented and maintained remotely?
8. Can the system operate as an Intelligent Network rather than just as a smart camera?
Some questions to ask when selecting the software vendor for the Smart City surveillance system are:
1. Can the technology actually meet the objectives of the surveillance system?
2. Is the proposed solution comprehensive enough so that the number of interfaces to other vendors is minimized?
3. Is Video Analytics the core business? This is a very specialized field and many organizations and many software suppliers are relatively inexperienced. Ensure you are working with an expert in the field who has been around for a long time.
4. Is the software supplier knowledgeable? Make sure your supplier is recognized as knowledgeable in the field. Have they published significant books, guides or other information that demonstrate their knowledge?
5. Is the software supplier committed to openness? Engaging a vendor with proprietary interfaces which do not work openly with others will greatly restrict the user in the long term.
6. Is the software robust? Has it been implemented in a large number of different circumstances? There are many new players who are essentially attempting to commercialize university projects. The resultant products tend not to be sufficiently robust in meeting the real user requirements.
Some questions to ask when selecting the hardware vendor for the Smart City system are:
1. Can the camera vendor commit that the selected cameras are suited for the Video Analytics that have to be used?
2. Is the vendor able to provide the other sensors needed to enhance the capability of the overall system?
3. Does computer hardware meet the specification required for the Video Analytics and is sufficient network bandwidth provided for the system to perform adequately?
4. Is the vendor able to supply hardware required for the mobility and Automated Response applications?
5. Has all the hardware been certified by the supplier of the analytics as being fit for use and as being suited to the objectives?
Some questions to ask when selecting the Systems Integrator for Smart City surveillance system are:
1. Is the Systems Integrator experienced in the implementation of smart surveillance systems?
2. Make sure their experience is not limited to implementing simple VMS/ DVR systems.
3. Has the Integrator developed a test plan that has been approved by every stakeholder and that meets all the objectives for the system?
4. Has the Integrator been certified as trained by the supplier of the Video Analytics?
5. Are training and documentation provided?
6. Does the user have a commissioning plan that covers everything that has to be implemented including the advanced VA, Automated Surveillance and Automated Response?