The excitement around using remote video monitoring to secure outdoor sites continues to grow. Like any system used for security services, success rests on a foundation of reliable alarms that can be quickly video verified. Central station operators need to trust the legitimacy of an alert and be able to determine the urgency and scope of the situation in real time, so they can respond appropriately.
There’s a long history of using managed services for indoor burglar alarms, where the stable environment allows smart sensors to work well. Outdoor security is very different, and subject to many more variables that can overwhelm a system with nuisance alarms or worse – outright missed detection. This is why outdoor sites need smart solutions that are designed to detect with high accuracy and low false alerts in the tougher environment.
There are two key needs to make video monitoring services for outdoor sites viable. The first is a sensing system that is accurate, 24-hours per day, particularly in detecting and distinguishing between what is a security risk and what is just natural movement of the outdoors, like trees or small animals. The second is a system that remote guards and police can use to see what caused the alarm, giving the alert credibility.
Of all the sensing systems used to detect intrusions outdoors, thermal cameras represent the best choice for accurate, verifiable alerts needed for successful video monitoring services. Because smart thermal cameras “see” heat rather than light, they are a perfect “human detector,” and will ignore headlights, reflections off water, or other activity that trigger false alerts for visible light cameras used for detection, which are better used for viewing the source of the alarm as an assessment tool.
Today’s thermal cameras operate very accurately in both complete darkness and bright sun, and can include visible imagers for assessment, making them an excellent 24-hour-day intruder detection solution. Smart thermal cameras can use georegistration to create very accurate size filters that ignore small animals and other non-security activity, reducing nuisance alerts and raising detection accuracy.
In short, smart thermal cameras extend the functionality of an indoor burglar alarm to the outdoors – with virtually none of the nuisance alerts or misdetects that have plagued other solutions in the past.
Conventional wisdom would make one think that visible camera solutions would be the least costly approach. The reality is that thermal cameras can cover greater distances – hundreds of meters in some cases – reducing infrastructure needs such as poles, cabling and power that would be required with a visible camera solution. And smart thermal camera prices themselves have been dropping significantly in recent years, and are now available at costs that come close to a high-quality visible camera – with the added bonus of being an outstanding intruder detection technology.
Most important for video monitoring services, these systems deliver not only accurate detection, but they also combine 24-hour video verification into a single system. Such verification is needed to give credibility and priority to first responders. Rather than having to purchase, deploy and integrate two disparate systems for detection and for video, smart thermal cameras utilize a single system to accomplish both. This is clearly a more cost-effective strategy for installation, maintenance and use.
A similar situation arose in the early days with home burglar alarms; when their accuracy improved, the business model for monitoring services became viable. With the accuracy and affordability of smart thermal solutions, remote video monitoring as a service is now viable for outdoor sites as well.