WHEN Forcefield
was first released it gave Challenger users functionality previously only
available in the most advanced enterprise systems – essentially serving as a
link between multiple Challenger panels. Now, that functionality extends to GE
DVRs on the client’s network.

A particular
attraction of Forcefield is that it leverages legacy Challenger panels,
building them into a globally networked solution.

Forcefield is a
multi-node device that sits on a network and is able to support 2560 Challenger
panels and up to 200 workstations – enough for the largest organizations.

According to
Direct Alarm Supplies’ product manager Troy Payne, when combined with multiple
challenger panels and GE DVRs, Forcefield becomes an enterprise solution that’s
very cost effective.

“Forcefield can
control multiple Challenger panels, it’s got database partitioning – it’s
designed to manage multiple tenant sites or multiple locations,” Payne says.
“If you have more than one site managed from one head office, then Forcefield
is the ideal solution.

“Now Forcefield’s
ability to handle video too makes the system even more capable than before and
it’s easy – adding video to Forcefield is just a license upgrade. You load the
license and it takes a few seconds to set Forcefield up to handle integration
with GE DVRs,” Payne says.

“The way it works
is that Forcefield tags images in DVR memory so they can be linked to any event
generated by the system such as an access or alarm event from the Challenger
panel. Importantly, the actual video streaming is done to the client, not to
the Forcefield – the Forcefield only sends a text tag to the DVR of an event
that you preset as an automatic action when a given event occurs.

“If somebody
attempts to access a door to which they don’t have access, then video of that
event is text-tagged by the Forcefield,” he says. This allows fast searching,
fast retrieval of the footage of an event and you can also search via text on
the DVR.”

Payne says
Forcefield’s video functionality is delivered through an operator viewing
platform that allows users to search for video of tagged access control events.

“It doesn’t just
enhance the access event – it enhances the video,” he explains. “When you have
to search through footage usually it’s via time and date – especially if an
event happened long ago. You have to sit through a lot of footage to hunt that
event down.

“With this
system, if an alarm occurs, that alarm is what you use to search for video
footage on the DVR. When an alarm event occurs in the Forcefield software you
can just pick up that event using the footage button and it will take you to
5-mins pre and 5-mins post recording, depending what is set on the DVR, of that
event – you’re not searching at all.”

Payne says that
in terms of a user’s interface, operators are essentially working on the alarm
history screen of the Forcefield GUI.

“The Forcefield
GUI has a video menu through which you access video management capability – you
can also go in directly through a map and just click on a camera and get into
recorded events that way,” he says.

As Payne explains
it, the Forcefield system with video activated becomes a pseudo control room on
a single workstation.

“If you’ve got a
quad-head video card on your PC you can connect the Forcefield and have 4
screens up – one with the access control events displayed and 3 spot monitors
with virtual matrixes – 16 cameras per monitor,” he says.

“Forcefield is
really just a pipe for events – the thin client software on the client
workstation is what connects to the DVR for streaming and it retrieves the
video footage”

“Cameras can be
coming in from one DVR or from multiple DVRs – you can mix and match sites and
cameras when you’re programming the system – it’s very flexible.

“And this is a
powerful solution,” Payne says. “Forcefield can be integrated to 99 DVRs
seamlessly – so on screen you don’t look at the DVRs separately – you look at
the cameras and/or the sites. The system is built around a logical naming
convention so it’s easy for an operator to use.”

According to
Payne, it’s straightforward to link a DVR with 16 cameras to a Forcefield

“It would take
you 5 minutes,” he says. “That’s because Forcefield is really just a pipe for
events – the thin client software on the client workstation is what connects to
the DVR for streaming and it retrieves the video footage. Just think of
Forcefield as the path for the tagged events and the quick retrieval of search
while the thin client does the rest as far as streaming is concerned.”

System operation

With Forcefield,
every operator or site can have their own tailored permissions and controls to
provide simplified and secure system management. And Payne says however the
system is set up driving a Forcefield-based video surveillance solution is

“For a start the
system supports multiple monitors – one can show a matrix – and you can select
multiviews – or have up to 16 cameras – up to 8 monitors per workstation.

“Depending on the
DVR – there can be multiple people on playback and live monitoring – this
depends on the DVR hardware.”

Users can have
the event view running on the screen and because programmed recordings to the
DVR are tagged with a text tag event number, a text file comes up on the screen
after an alarm event.

“When an event
occurs you drill down through the text to the video and view it in D1,” says
Payne. “Alternatively, you can get to the video through a map or an alarm
screen. You click on the flashing alarm point on the map, click on the alarm
and look at the footage.

“Or if you want
to go to the actual alarm event you just click on a footage icon alongside the
text report and watch the recorded footage while viewing a live feed from the

It’s also
possible to use maps to conduct tours. Payne says that on some sites maps are
the primary interface and they’re restricted to only those cameras and
functions they’re authorized to access.

“From any point
on the map you can just call up a camera – bring the camera up live and have
PTZ control,” Payne says. “And you can just jump between maps, control doors
and control alarm points – it’s very easy to use and it’s very capable.”

According to
Payne, wider investigations are easy, too. He says that if you want to search
an event from a week or a month ago you’d go to DVR footage then call up tagged
footage. The system will then show you all the related events recorded as pre
and post footage.

“You can also
create speed bar icons that will take you directly to that menu so the system
is customizable to the operator making operation easier still,” Payne explains.

Another neat
feature of the system is a touchscreen interface that is integrated into the
system as part of Forcefield. The touchscreens can be set up with maps and
users can drive all the system’s video functionality through a local

Forcefield was
already hugely scalable from single sites to multinational deployments
providing the network architecture so critical to seamless real time multi-site
and multi-user operation. This flexible video management functionality rounds
out what was already a powerful security management solution.

GE Forcefield
features include:

* Video
management of 99 GE DVRs

* Automatic
triggering of video recording based on system events

* Integrated
Photo ID

* Advanced alarm

* Flexible
operator permissions and menu options

* Powerful
reporting features

* Real time
graphic display

* Fully
integrated maps and icons

* Guard tour
feature provides time-based checkpoints for patrol staff

* Distributed by
Direct Alarm Supplies