IP cameras: Protecting people and property

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: IP cameras: Protecting people and property.

Integrated security and surveillance systems with high performance IP cameras at their core  improve offer a host of added value benefits, transforming access control and productivity, says Tony Easingwood, senior account manager at technology specialist Advantex.

CCTV camera technology is constantly changing and smart IP cameras offer far more than images on a monitor. They can, for instance, provide intelligent behaviour analysis to determine if an alarm should even be triggered. For example, an IP camera looks for a person crossing a restricted line. They could be entering a restricted area or moving into a parking zone. IP cameras can also detect if someone leaves a package or takes a laptop off the table and some have audio capability, making it possible to warn a person to move away from a sensitive area.

We are seeing industrial and manufacturing organisations increasingly adopting unified solutions with user interfaces that display all the requisite physical security functions of access control and video surveillance but with the added capabilities to integrate with centrally monitored and control vehicle number plate recognition, intercom, fire and intrusion alarms, telecoms, building management systems and more besides.

Indeed, unified systems allow operators to leverage every connected system and improve the flow of information across a wide range of activities and functions at every level of an organisation. Whether they are in a security operations centre or simply accessing their system remotely using a web-based application, operators benefit from one seamless experience. And here information is critical - having all the requisite information you need in a single interface at your fingertips, you have the ability to make more informed decisions  and react to incidents faster and more intelligently than ever before.

It aids forensic investigations with accelerated video management systems allowing the user to more effectively search for objects, people and incidents to assist in for example, post incident reports and inform business critical functions such as health and safety, enabling operators to develop new strategies and plans to improve operating procedures or better share evidence with third parties in investigations. Greater interoperability combined with emerging AI technologies, creates cutting edgy systems that reduce the chances of human error, lower staffing requirements and yield tangible returns. 

When thinking about ways to improve monitoring and access control across your property, it’s important to consider from the outset what it is you want your system to do (after all, we see that modern CCTV systems are now so much more than simple sentinels). With the huge demand for the correlation of data from sensors, alarms, video surveillance, card access, visitor management, asset tracking and other systems that share data and intelligence across an existing network infrastructure, IP camera technologies make it possible to provide a potent single-site solution with secure and reliable monitoring and reporting capabilities. 

Indeed, sensory cameras can provide metadata - information about the video data - through advanced analytics that adds another layer of information and value. The opportunity is bountiful to combine this data with that from other sensors monitoring temperature, noise, air and water quality, vibration, weather etc to create an advanced sensory network to accelerate data-driven decisions. We are already seeing the application of such networks in industrial environments through the monitoring of processes and supporting proactive maintenance. 

You can now track everyone on your property at all times, recording their identity, activities, role in the business, reason for entry and when and where they left the site. This facilitates enhanced premises management, improved health and safety, greater security, identification of employee operations as well as highlighting issues that might impact on productivity. In short, it resolves specific problems, improving the protection of people and assets in the process. 

Installing a business security system is a seamless process, and IP access control systems are easy to implement and integrate, providing you with data that can be effectively used to provide customised access in-line with your commercial operations and specific work patterns. Moreover, access control can be integrated with building management systems, adding value through easy-to-programme lighting and temperature control that can be configured to significantly reduce energy bills.

Remote access and data protection are also important considerations. Cloud based systems enable access control systems to be accessed from anywhere with a reliable, secure internet connection. The advantages are myriad but include the ability to change access levels, temporarily unlock doors for authorised individuals, add or remove accredited people and print security reports without physically being in the workplace. It also helps to lower the cost of equipment and maintenance by eliminating the need to purchase dedicated hardware and associated licensing and software update agreements. 

It’s important to consider too how active IP camera-based access management can be part of a ‘smart’ holistic monitoring and access control solution that saves time and resources. For instance, attempting to manage security risks across many devices and platforms without a centralised strategy can be draining but utilising modern IP camera-based platforms allows employees to have the necessary access credentials to log into networks and workstations, providing more layers of protection. Even replacing lost or resetting passwords can cost businesses through lost productivity, but incorporating so called ‘password-less’ applications as part of biometric-linked access control tightens security while making things easier for users.

Rapid change

New technologies are driving rapid change across the access control sector and wider security industry, too. They are shaping a future in which IP cameras are improving evidence gathering with forensic analytics that enable the seamless review, search and examination of hours of video footage to locate people and objects of interest. And as companies move more and more towards hybrid work models and seek more flexible co-working spaces rather than long-term office leases, their access control needs change. The right access control system will continue help keep buildings secure in an uncertain world while ensuring seamless access for remote workers who may only need access to the office a few times per month.

As we move forward, artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly featuring in IP camera systems that deliver advanced analytical functions. Some of these are self-learning systems with the capability to analyse normal behaviour for certain areas and therefore able to build up a definition of typical behavioural patterns, including the size, speed and colour of specific objects. They then ‘normalise’ the data, tagging any objects and patterns observed and so when the AI camera eye catches any movement that falls outside of this typical behaviour, it alerts security. Along with self-learning systems, features such as object tracking, two-way audio and facial recognition herald AI cameras’ place as an advanced and effective future proof commercial video security solution.

The emerging ‘intuitive’ nature of IP cameras reduces the requirement for personnel to physically be onsite to oversee systems, allowing resources to be diverted elsewhere. The day may even come sooner rather than later when AI tech will enable cameras to predict how likely people are likely to commit a crime or undertake a risky action so that security staff or management can intervene before it happens.

When it comes to integrating access control it’s clearly important to think long and hard about what type of IP-based access control devices will best suit your needs and protect your business and employees. It’s a nuanced and complex decision - for instance, how will the addition of IP camera technology affect my organisation and existing network performance? And make sure that with the plethora of options available, you ensure that you choose technology that meets you current and future needs – it will save money in the long run and make life easier for everyone involved.

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