Interview: Mr. Anton Mladenov, AxxonSoft
Mr. Anton Mladenov, could you present yourself to our readers: when did you start working for AxxonSoft, what duties are your performing, your educational and professional background, etc.?
My name is Anton Mladenov, I am a Regional Sales Manager at AxxonSoft since 2017. The territory that I am currently responsible for is the Balkan region. Before joining the current team I was representing Russian Access Control Systems – Castle, as Regional Sales Manager for Bulgaria. At university I studied Business Information Technologies. My first steps were in Bulgarian company for software solutions for the retail sector, as Partner Manager.
AxxonSoft has been in the market from 2003. Now, it’s one of the most recognized VMS and PSIM software developers in security industry. What were the most important milestones, what helped you the most during these sixteen years, how many people do you employ, revenues, etc.?
The company’s initial success was due to the development of a proprietary video compression algorithm called Motion Wavelet and the concept of a universal security platform that was implemented in the Intellect software product. Motion Wavelet proved to be an effective codec in terms of the ratio of compression level to resource consumption. It paved the way for building large digital video surveillance systems with rational use of the resources on servers, clients and the network.
The idea of a universal platform assumed the need for a unified software product capable of effectively managing all major security systems: video surveillance, perimeter protection, access control, and fire and security alarms. Today, such systems are known as PSIMs.
In 2006, work began on the Next Generation Platform (NGP), which later became the basis for the Axxon Next VMS. The creation of this platform involved implementing new concepts for AxxonSoft, such as micro-modular architecture for increased fault tolerance, and a file system for storing the SolidStore video archive that completely eliminated data fragmentation.
In 2007, the company began international expansion. A number of international distribution contracts were signed, and representative offices were opened in Spain, Canada and Argentina. In 2008, the company emerged as the market leader for Open Network Video Management Software in the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), and third in the world in this category according to IMS Research, U.K.
Now AxxonSoft has about 50 offices across the Globe and operates in more than 100 countries through a network of certified partners that includes 5,800+ companies. Our portfolio for the Safety & Security market boasts over 150,000 projects with 2.5 million cameras installed. We employ over 400 people.
What are the most important AxxonSoft core technologies? Could you present your product portfolio in brief?
The company’s key products are the Axxon Next VMS and Intellect PSIM, which integrates with access control systems, perimeter protection, and fire and security alarm systems from numerous manufacturers. It also includes POS and ATM integration, face recognition, ANPR, and wagon and container number recognition. Among VMS vendors, AxxonSoft is one of the pioneers in Forensic Search technologies for recorded video. Forensic Search tools greatly reduce the time you spend searching for incidents recorded in the video archive. Moreover, AxxonSoft actively develops AI video analytics based on deep learning. In 2017 the company implemented a full cycle of creating neural network video feed analysis methods for the requirements of a particular facility.
Your premium product is Axxon Next open-platform video management software. Tell us about its system architecture and remote access?
Video surveillance systems based on Axxon Next can scale infinitely: there are no restrictions on the number of video servers, workstations or video cameras. The Axxon Next VMS includes a web client, iOS and Android apps and a free cloud service — AxxonNet. AxxonNet connects to your Axxon Next surveillance servers via the Internet. SSL encryption ensures that data is transmitted securely. You can use AxxonNet to: create users and roles, view live video streams and recordings from cameras, receive email notifications, send push notifications about certain events to mobile apps, store Axxon Next license files, etc.
Latest version, was released this year. Updated version brought a remarkable 43 new features and improvements. What are the most important ones?
Axxon Next 4.2.1 presents new features for video analytics and archive search, an enhanced web interface, and some more important improvements.
We introduced a neural network filter for Object Tracker that analyzes moving or abandoned objects to filter out false alarms from situation analysis detection tools. The filter precisely recognizes specified types of objects, e.g., humans or vehicles. We also added a false alarm filter for Facial Recognition. It filters out objects that are most likely incorrectly identified as faces.
We added a Large Number of Objects detection tool which triggers an alarm upon reaching a specified number of objects within a specified area.
In addition to Object Tracker, the basic Video Motion Detection tool now generates metadata that can be used for MomentQuest forensic search. Since the VMD requires much less computing power, you can lower the cost of your system by using more cameras per server.
The user security policy was expanded: it is now possible to set the password length, strength and expiration interval, store the password history and preventing multiple simultaneous sessions with the same user name. Privacy settings are now GDPR-compliant: in recorded video, you can now hide any static or moving object from specific user roles.
One can now view search results in two modes: TimeCompressor mode, or the MomentQuest forensic search. How do they work?
These two modes can be used for different tasks. If you know your search criteria, use MomentQuest. It is a customizable forensic search tool that quickly retrieves video footage based on object color, size, motion direction etc. Searching in MomentQuest is fast because it is based on metadata, which are calculated for all moving objects in the field of view. In case you need to simultaneously view multiple events that occurred at different times, use TimeCompressor. It allows you to set a time range for video footage and get a short video clip of all moving objects in the scene. Objects and events captured at different times are displayed simultaneously in a condensed “video synopsis”. When you spot an object of interest, click to play the corresponding video fragment in full.
One of the most important new features is the integration of fire and smoke detection tools. Tell us about it?
Our neural network-based fire and smoke detection tools are designed for early detection of fires in conditions where standard fire and smoke sensors are ineffective, such as in open areas or in large enclosed spaces with high ceilings or intensive air circulation. They are already applied for early detection of wildfire in Belarusian forestry.
A Tag&Track Pro feature is also a new one. How does it uses PTZ cameras?
Axxon Next Tag&Track Pro feature allows you to get the «big picture» of everything that’s happening at a protected site while obtaining the detailed imagery of the objects moving around it, by locking onto them and continuing to track them across multiple cameras. The feature requires at least two cameras: a fixed one, and a PTZ camera. The fixed camera is configured with a tracker, which detects objects moving in the frame and calculates their coordinates. These coordinates are mathematically converted into the pan/tilt/zoom values necessary for the PTZ camera to automatically track the object. Both sets of images from fixed and PTZ cameras can be recorded, which is important for event investigation.
You introduced Failover mode, what are its benefits for users?
Nobody wants to be in a situation when the server is down and the important video recordings are lost.To help avoiding that, we’ve introduced the Failover that takes the security system to the next level of stability and continuity. It is a crucial solution for the large and geographically distributed sites. If the main server fails, the standby server immediately steps in and automatically takes over all functions from the off-line or malfunctioning server.
Axxon Next features a number / license plate search algorithm. Which advanced heuristic methods it uses?
To identify as many potential matches as possible, our LPR search algorithm involves such advanced heuristic method as substitution of similar looking letters/numbers. If the license plate image is not clearly visible, the system builds several hypotheses. For example, the LP number ”AK 170 B” appears in the camera FOV but the number plate is dirty. In this case the system will create the variants “AX 170 B”, “AK 178 B”, “AK 170 H”, etc. Then the user enters the required number as a search criterion, and the system provides one or several corresponding options as a result. Our LPR works for USA, Canada, Mexico, Uk, Germany, Europe, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, India, latin america and other countries.
„Imagine a system that no longer needs a security guard to physically watch every camera, a platform that integrates all your security and business systems, a system that’s intelligent enough to interpret people, actions and events and enforces fast, automatic actions when necessary“ is the intro to your PSIM software. What is Axxon Intellect Enterprise?
Axxon Intellect Enterprise is a remarkably advanced distributed PSIM software platform that combines intelligent video analytics, universal IP connectivity and event-driven automation capabilities in a single environment. It supports integrated security systems of any level of complexity. One of the most compelling reasons to choose the Intellect ecosystem is the range of industry-specific vertical solutions that are tailor-made for the needs of specific businesses and client ranges, including banking, transportation, retail, government and infrastructure sites.
Intellect Enterprise forgoes classic client-server and three-tiered architecture for a distributed model. What are those three components, what is Intellect Enterprise built on, and with what types of security products can it work with?
Intellect Enterprise is built on an object-oriented architecture — because of that, the software is convinient to install, use and manage and can be easily scaled to match your changing requirements. It’s extremely flexible, so you get all the functionality and capabilities you need without paying for features you don’t want. And, because Axxon Intellect Enterprise is an integrated IP-based platform, it can help you increase the value of your existing systems and avoid the cost and effort of replacing legacy systems.
Axxon’s softwares have been used in number of verticals, for different industries’ properties and scale. Can you present or at least enlist some of the most important case studies?
Our most recent big project was the 21st FIFA World Cup 2018. The Intellect PSIM platform was employed in various areas of 10 out of the 12 stadiums where 49 World Cup matches were played. Over 9,000 Intellect-powered video surveillance cameras were used to monitor the security of over 2 million spectators who attended the games. AxxonSoft software was also widely used at training camps, fan zones, transportation infrastructure, and other sites where teams and fans arrived and moved around the country.
Regarding the earlier projects, the AxxonSoft software has been installed at the following sites: the facilities of Autonet Group, the leading provider of automotive components and spare parts in Central and Eastern Europe; the Grand Trade Business Center in Bosnia-Herzegovina; the AlbChrome company’s two ferrochrome plants in Albania; the Balticon transport terminal in Poland; the Academic Computer Centre Cyfronet AGH in Krakow, Poland; the Manuel Martínez Valero football stadium in Elche, Spain, and others.
As a software developer, how you do you battle an increasingly cyber security issue? You use SSL encryption to ensure that data is transmitted securely?
Recently AxxonSoft products successfully passed independent cyber security tests, and no critical or blocking vulnerabilities were discovered. Moreover, in the latest update of Axxon Next we introduced new security policy settings that strengthen protection of your VMS from unauthorized access. To help ensure data privacy and security, all data is owned by the end customer and data collection follows the compliance requirements of legacy security policies. AxxonSoft does not collect data from the platform, so we did not have any data breaches. Also, we use SSL encryption in the AxxonNet cloud service for remote video monitoring to ensure secure data transmission.
What are the most important global trends that definy VMS and PSIM industry nowadays? What can we expect from AxxonSoft in the years ahead?
AI and deep learning have become the Big Things in the security market. Neural networks can learn to analyze images and solve difficult tasks in situations where creating a classic algorithm is either too expensive or nearly impossible. Since 2016, we’ve been actively developing deep learning-based video analytics tools. And now AxxonSoft has developed a process for adapting neural network filters to the needs of a specific site. To resolve issues of high resource consumption related to AI, AxxonSoft uses a blended approach with a neural network filter applied to an object tracker. This technology is applied to video that captures high movement from interference, such as trees blowing in the wind, light reflected off water, traffic, etc. In the years ahead we will continue working on the AI and deep learning technologies to make it possible for the surveillance cameras to analyze live video without involving human operators.
Your opinion on Adriatic region security market and your company’s position in it? Do you have any special plans in this area?
Our goal is to expand our partner’s network in the region. We are always looking for new partnership with ambitious companies. We are confident in our products and we know we can provide great world class functionalities.