SecurityBrief UK - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
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QIC collaboration leads to Project Safe-Guard creation
Tue, 27th Feb 2024

QIC had existing security infrastructure across all their commercial sites, which has been used to monitor shopping centres in a traditional way - watching and scanning live from a Control Room and collecting footage after an incident. However, the way of thinking changed after an investigation into a self-harm incident. 

The Situation: passive and reactive to proactive
“The investigation that followed the self-harm incident led me to conclude that we were using our cameras in a dumb way. When the incident occurred, our partners at Milestone Systems, along with integrators PMT Security and camera vendor Axis Communications, came together to look at high-risk areas throughout the infrastructure. And Project Safe-Guard was created.”
– Deb Palmer, National Programs Manager at QIC

A full QIC in-house survey of the shopping centre was conducted, including reviewing data from a Self-Harm Audit Tool, created with assistance from Lifeline and reviewing two years of Incident Reports to identify security breaches and potential self-harm areas.
 
These areas were plotted onto a map of the shopping centre and used as a guide for the Safe-Guard Team to physically walk to each risk area. The Team did not leave until a solution was reached.
 
This remains the base template when surveying each shopping centre for Project Safe-Guard. They also investigated the data sets around certain types of anomalous behaviour and looked at ways for the system to identify these, learn from them and set up automated alerts.

Old vs new
“The question was, how could we trigger on those actions? We looked at using technology that was quite new in the industry, including some deep learning cameras. Should a person or a vehicle enter an area in a certain manner, or at a certain time, the system could then alert the operators,”
– Ben Tooth from Axis Communications
 
Although it was still functional, the legacy system relied on standard hardware and a traditional, passive setup that was geared towards centralised, human viewing and intervention. With the evolution of technology in recent years, it is increasingly common to use an enhanced, integrated system of cameras and data analytics for more sophisticated and automated monitoring, with Video Management Software (VMS) at the core of the solution.
 
“I’m not historically a security person. Based on my background I am more of a problem solver and project manager. So, I didn’t understand why we couldn’t proactively stop incidents from occurring with the existing system.”
–  Deb Palmer, National Programs Manager at QIC.
 

“We were moving from a reactive system to a proactive one.
This allowed us to innovate even more on objects that wouldn’t have been picked up if we were just watching screens in a typical operations centre.”
– Joshua Serdzeff of Milestone Systems
 
The Solution: analytics and alerts

This innovative approach led to the development of a high-tech security system for QIC shopping centres, which uses the capabilities of advanced devices at the edge of the network, along with smart analysis and automatic notifications to help keep the public safe and enhance property protection.
 
The heart of this solution is Milestone XProtect, which was implemented by PMT Security and connected to cameras from Axis Communications. The QIC Control Room was revamped, both in its layout and how the system works.
 
As a result, previously vulnerable areas now have protection, and the system can detect vehicle and human movements and behaviours in the shopping centre, helping to prevent potential self-harm incidents and security breaches.
 
With its open-platform architecture, Milestone XProtect software can be integrated with thousands of complementary products and services. This includes speakers in some areas, which allows the Control Room to communicate effectively to remote parts of the shopping centre like external car parks. It’s important to note that the speakers are not used for any welfare checks – human intervention only.
 
“We needed to source cutting-edge technology that would enable us to come up with a solution that was unique. Working with our partners Milestone and Axis, we were able to do this.”
–  Andrew Noble, National Retail Solutions Manager at integration partner PMT Security
 
“Milestone really lends itself to innovation because of its open platform, which other products can integrate with. As new technology comes out - whether for analytics, new cameras or other sensors - it helps to have that capacity to integrate already in the system. So, if we’re looking at smart analytics, like facial recognition or just an individual physically crossing over a line, we can set an alarm on that in the XProtect Smart Client. This makes it easier for the security operator or a guard to see things instantly.”
–  Fraser Larcombe of Milestone Systems

The Result: Return on Investment

Based on months of monitoring and analytics, Deb Palmer and her team are convinced the system has worked and saved lives, proactively stopping many security breaches from occurring. It has detected anomalous behaviours in specific areas and enabled staff to intercede.
 
“There’s no doubt that we’ve saved multiple lives based on seeing people possibly considering some self-harm scenarios. The alerting system has been able to provide a resolution before anything actually occurred.”
–  Joshua Serdzeff of Milestone Systems
 
“It’s future-proofing the sites. It’s not just everyday video management, it’s cutting-edge technology that we’re using for a specific purpose.”
–  Andrew Noble, National Retail Solutions Manager at integration partner PMT Security

With the deployment of Milestone XProtect and associated technologies, QIC has significantly upgraded its retail environment to safeguard human lives and stop security breaches. Automated alerts have enabled Security Control Room Guards to be proactive in their monitoring of the properties and increased the efficiency of the entire system.
 
Milestone XProtect is infinitely scalable, and the open platform can be integrated with current and future technologies to continue the evolution of QIC’s security and customer experience mission.
 
“There’s always a way, and that’s the positive. Project Safe-Guard has gone beyond the way the hardware and software were originally intended to be used — thanks to the collaboration of the three companies and QIC. Nobody said, ’No, it can’t be done.’ It was always, ‘Let’s find a way.’”
Deb Palmer, National Programs Manager at QIC