Plustek enhances transit security and surveillance
Table of Contents About Plustek Security
Get onboard video surveillance with 4G and Wi-Fi for buses
By Robert Fuchs
Choosing the right in-vehicle surveillance system
By Johnson Yang
4G video surveillance meets GPS fleet management
By Johnson Yang
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ABOUT PLUSTEK Plustek Technology is a manufacturer of surveillance and imaging products since 1986. The Plustek Security division designs and manufactures commercial quality embedded surveillance solutions. The product portfolio consists of a range of NVR, DVR, mobile DVR/NVR, video encoders and management software. These devices are ideal for edge recording, mobile applications and harsh environments Plustekâ€™s mobile line products are the Mobile VX-C540 (4-channel mobile DVR) and Mobile VX-C580 (8-channel mobile DVR). These all-in-one mobile DVRs have built-in cellular module, WiFi, GPS receiver, G-sensor and ACC control integration that includes everything you need to capture and secure mobile surveillance video. The mobile DVR also equips with P2P technology that can be integrated easily with fleet management software. Plustek helps transportation meet their surveillance requirements providing reliable products, support, pre-sale consulting and integration services from our California and New York offices. Plustek Security is a proud member of ONVIF, APTA (American Public Transportation Association), ESA (Electronic Security Association) and SIA (Security Industry Association). For more information, please visit www.plusteksecurity.com and www.plustek.com/usa.
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Security & Surveillance
Get onboard video surveillance with 4G and Wi-Fi for buses By Robert Fuchs In-vehicle surveillance is widely used in public transportation and it is now being embraced more by commercial vehicles operators, which includes delivery trucks, shipping cargo, even law enforcement. Since safety is first priority, fleet management may need to view vehicle situations in real time, or need a way to review an incident and quickly retrieve the surveillance video for an investigation. Today many in-vehicle surveillance videos are offline, which means there is no connection between the vehicle and the command center. Whatever is recorded on the local storage will not be seen until it is back to the depot. In this circumstance, when something happens, or a potential threat may occur, drivers sometimes only have cell phones to rely on as a communication device. The videos that are stored on the local storage can only be retrieved when a system engineer or IT personnel does so. The best way to get a real-time video is to leverage a cellular network, the same one millions of people are using every day. Many tasks can be achieved when mobile surveillance is embedded with a 4G network. The biggest benefit is being able to access surveillance video “live” and knowing instantaneously the activities onboard. At some point, an event may happen at an undetermined time where live video streaming will be needed. With live video, an agency can instantly know the likelihood of a threat escalating, and managers are able to see what drivers are doing on route. Alternatively, other operators may prefer a solution that lets communications between the driver and command center to take place at the push of a button. Alerting management to a potential threat in real-time requires the blazing speed that only 4G can deliver. Compared to the previous 3G network, which some of the fleet operators may still be using, 4G network provides a faster and more stable network environment for video streaming, especially on a moving bus. With the pervasiveness of 4G, the future of video is no longer just a passive record of a recent event; live video will take a more dynamic role in the way operators make decisions on the fly. Agencies should make sure their solution is compatible with their 4G carrier. Having an integrated video system that cannot backup video passively will be a labor intensive chore without Wi-Fi. Not long ago, the onboard hard drive (or other storage type) would be removed to retrieve footage for backup (this removal also made the hard drive prone to damage). Today, DVRs with Wi-Fi offer a more convenient way to access footage for backup. Especially when a fleet manager requests backup of everything from the road, the surveillance system should be 4
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able to set on to an “automatically back-up” feature whenever the buses return and are in range of the command center’s Wi-Fi network. Not only does it enable fast and cost-effective backups and access to recorded video, it also opens up more efficient system maintenance alternatives. With a Wi-Fi enabled mobile DVR system, it’s easier for technicians to log-in for system maintenance, or to update software and change settings remotely when needed. It is also important to mention that good software that can correspond to these activities is very crucial. Always remember that simple and easy system maintenance is the key to running buses with less down time. When considering a mobile security system, choose a solution that will not be out of date in a few years. Having a truly integrated surveillance system will maintain that software and hardware work effortlessly together, and agencies do not need to bolt on additional devices when their surveillance requirements change in the future. With all of these advances in live video technology, we expect that onboard live video surveillance and automatic video offloading with remote maintains will be a big consideration for bus operators in 2015. Plustek VX-C540 (4ch) and VX-C580 (8ch) are in-vehicle surveillance solutions that have built-in Wi-Fi with 4G options. Robert Fuchs is the marketing manager of Plustek Technology Inc., Sante Fe Springs, CA, a manufacturer of ruggedized and high-quality security products that provide a variety of recording solutions for all surveillance needs for mobile and in-vehicle recording systems, including fully integrated software hardware solutions. For more information, please visit www.PlustekSecurity.com .
Security & Surveillance
Choosing the right in-vehicle surveillance system By Johnson Yang
Mobile technology is taking video surveillance to new frontiers, and challenging professional applications are demanding new technology requirements, from enhanced durability, to wireless connectivity and improved onboard power management. With all of these advancements to consider, what is the right system for your bus and what features or technology should be considered? Before moving forward, we see everything going back to the basic principle of: What is the purpose of installing video surveillance on board? After that question is answered, it should lead to one simple question: How much budget should we commit? After these basic questions are answered, below are four of the next areas to consider when choosing the right in-vehicle surveillance system: Number of cameras This is easier to deal with. The purpose of installing cameras on board is for a bus manager to consider what should be seen. Normally four to eight cameras for a large 40-foot bus should be efficient: one pointing toward traffic, another facing the driver and the front door, and one to watch the back door. Additionally, a couple of cameras for the cabin and a surveillance camera installed outside can also be used as backup cameras. Bus managers can also consider cameras outside for each side of the rear mirror. This kind of camera setup provides the bus driver and management with “blind-spot free” vision. Ruggedized ready Hard disk drives have been widely used in every data storage application, and it is the same with surveillance video recorders. The spindle type of disc is delicate though, and may get damaged on a bus without proper protection. An anti-vibration mechanism would make the video storage more secure and able to handle all kinds of road conditions. Solid State Drive (SSD) is another nice way to store video; however, the smaller capacity with higher price makes this option less desirable. In addition to having anti-vibration design, the recording system must have temperature control for both heating and cooling adjustment. This keeps the system running in different weather conditions, especially when the system is installed in a hidden or non-air conditioned compartment. Interaction Wireless networks for cell phones are now in the fourth generation (4G) and that provides wider bandwidth with faster data transfer speed. This creates a better environment for video transmission, especially for on-the-road situations. An onboard video surveillance system with 4G provides a connection tunnel between the vehicle and the fleet operator, allowing the driver to have the ability to report any unusual situations in real time so the operator can take immediate action when needed.
Technology with antivibration mechanisms, like this Mobile VX-C540, make video storage more secure and able to handle all kinds of road conditions.
For example, when a potential threat occurs, the driver is able to contact the fleet operator via a silent panic button. To achieve this, the system with General Purpose Input and Output (GPIO) control will be needed. Fleet operators can also communicate with the driver to identify the incident through two-way audio, if this is also important to the operation. These actions cannot be done without a 4G network. Of course, the cost of a monthly data plan (with reasonable bandwidth) needs to be taken into account. Backup and maintenance When the bus returns from a route full of video recordings, fleet managers often like to move these assets to another place even though they’re secure on the system’s hard drive disk. However, backup to a server would be best. In the past, staff simply grabbed the hard disk drive and gave it to IT personnel to do the backup work. This may seem simple enough, but don’t forget the backup job has not started yet and staff still rely on IT personnel to finish the process. Therefore, a system with Wi-Fi is more automatic and will reduce the labor required. When uploading videos, the system still needs power to complete the work, which means it uses the battery when the vehicle’s engine is off until the backup job is completed. Without good power management (and lower power consumption), the battery will drain fast and the bus may not start the next day. System maintenance or any updates can be troublesome and labor intensive. Software that can do all-in-one batch processing while utilizing Wi-Fi can definitely save labor and possibly overtime work. Maintenance is always a huge cost that is often overlooked, and this work will need to be performed regularly to keep the system working properly. No matter what you choose, an onboard video surveillance system should meet all the challenges and get the job done. Protecting the bus driver and the passengers is the top priority for bus management. With the right video surveillance system, it keeps an eye on everyone and every aspect of the bus by making it more efficient while on the road. Johnson Yang is the vice president of sales at Plustek Security in Southern California. Plustek Security is a manufacturer of ruggedized, high quality mobile surveillance products. To learn more, visit www.plusteksecurity.com .
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Security & Surveillance
4G video surveillance meets GPS fleet management By Johnson Yang
Web-based in-vehicle surveillance and is more important to todayâ€™s fleet management than ever before. At this time, the majority of fleet management activity is web-based in some way, giving operator and dispatch managers easier access regardless of the location of the buses and drivers. Still, a large portion of fleet management systems donâ€™t offer video capability. A lot of fleet management systems can only monitor using GPS, but not view a situation with video. When dispatch managers are eager to know for sure what is occurring during an incident with the fleet, the GPS-only technology only goes so far. 4G with GPS delivers the bigger picture 4G is the cellular connection tunnel from the driver and vehicle to the command center that allows a video surveillance system to transmit streaming data immediately to the dispatch command center when a significant event occurs on the route. While fleet management relies heavily on the wide use of GPS, additional video coverage is much more difficult without 4G capability. 4G in combinationwith GPS allows managers to view routes and drivers to instantly assess weather, road conditions and outside circumstance, and to communicate and respond in real time. Dispatchers have the capability to tap into the surveillance visually, which alleviates the guesswork and having to call the driver on a cell phone. 4G system integration varies Streaming video over 4G is the fastest connection currently available. However, as prevalent as 4G is today, the question then becomes why fleet management video surveillance is not in use everywhere. For a variety of reasons, it has mostly to do with the technical aspects of system integration. With so many video surveillance providers, the specifications may be different for each system, which make it more difficult to integrate and still attain flawless 4G video streaming. 4G integration is a different scenario for every company. Each one will have its own way of implementing the technology, meaning myriad different compression ratios as the cloud fills with more and more videos. One bus may have as many as eight cameras that use much more bandwidth for video streaming and thus take more time to integrate. Some companies use H.264, others MPEG4, and others still use Motion JPEG. Those videos are typically not easy to handle, not to mention when having to transmit over 4G. With so many surveillance providers, the specifications may be different for each one; making it very difficult to integrate with web-based fleet management and still attain flawless 4G video streaming. Traditional surveillance access goes through a firewall, involving DDNS and port forwarding, which increases the complexity of integrating video with fleet management. For example, to access a DVR or camera remotely, the dispatch manager must go through a router. Most transportation companies put the DVR and camera behind a firewall. Given the nature of transportation, port forwarding set-up and remote access configuration become necessary. One way to simplify the process is Unique Device Identification (UDID). Similar to an iPhone or Android, every device carries its own unique identification number for easier contact. 6
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Video Over Fleet Management
With fleet management aided by video surveillance, dispatchers have the capability to tap into the bus via GPS and video feed.
The Plustek solution incorporates a UDID for each device to help with the 4G integration process, and also utilizes peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to leverage the UDID through the Plustek software and mobile app with a server. The software directly connects to the device without going through those complicated settings. P2P is very easy to code into existing fleet management systems. The integration involves only a few lines of code. HTTP coding with a correct UDID, channel and camera number is all it takes. Integration does not require back-end servers and the other complexities. It is quick, secure and streamlined. UDID and P2P are not new technologies. Traditional surveillance began using them some time ago for consumer applications. Regular maintenance is not required after implementation. The system is operative so long as long as the video and 4G/GPS are live and the vehicle is running. P2P software is the solution that forgoes the integration process. By streamlining the complexity, it eases the barrier for standard fleet management to integrate with video surveillance, and provides flawless streaming video over 4G connections. Johnson Yang is the vice president of sales at Plustek Security in Southern California. Plustek Security is a manufacturer of ruggedized, high quality mobile surveillance products. To learn more, visit www.plusteksecurity.com