Smart thermal cameras have entered the mainstream. As prices fall while capabilities increase, new opportunities are emerging to use the best perimeter detection technology available – a smart thermal camera – for many outdoor security applications, at costs that now meet or beat less effective approaches.
When combined with video analytics, thermal cameras offer real-time perimeter protection with instant notification about security violations that occur over outdoor areas. In the past, these sophisticated security solutions were typically deployed to protect large critical infrastructure, where a disruption in operations would have serious impact. Now, as prices fall and sensitivity increases, the thermal imaging cameras now make sense in less mission-critical environments. In fact, one of the most fundamental of security functions – theft prevention – can be addressed economically using the same sophisticated thermal camera technology. Smart thermal applications include copper theft for electric substation security, securing equipment at maintenance yards, protecting car lots, securing the millions of oil and gas well heads in use, and other areas where theft prevention remains a key objective.
Historically, the approach for these applications has been to use a “blind” sensor such as coax on the fence acting as an intrusion detector, which required augmentation by a camera to determine the cause of the alert. These systems were not fully effective because the sensors would generate many nuisance alerts, and they were costly because they involved use of two separate systems – a sensor system and a video system. Thermal detection cameras offer a key functional advantage over these traditional solutions because thermal cameras simultaneously detect and “see” an alarm event 24 hours a day, providing instantaneous validation for prompt action. The result is a viable, single-technology solution that reduces costs for securing and monitoring assets and facilities around the clock.
Smart Thermal Camera Applications Beyond Security
Smart thermal cameras open up a new world of understanding about what is happening outdoors beyond security, from early detection scenarios to looking at behavior that increases a company’s operational efficiency. For instance, a company could use a thermal camera to determine if there is a leak at a refinery, or if transformers are overheating at a power station, or to monitor storage tank levels. The possibilities for thermal cameras also extend to highway safety, measuring the volume of traffic in a road, or automatically determining if a car is driving the wrong way on an on-ramp or road. New return on investment (ROI) scenarios and greater functionality now make smart thermal cameras a perfect solution for such applications.