IP cameras can pull double duty by providing security services as well as complement operations such as beaches, hotel pools and recreational parks. People can go on the Web to determine surf conditions or crowds at numerous Southern California locations.

Security cameras are for security. Right?

But as security camera technology advances, there are piggybacking practical solutions for non-security related applications as well.

“There is definitely room for the security industry to learn from other industries,” said Will Ferris, president of the San Diego-based Dotworkz Group, a provider of IP-based video security camera systems. “Security camera technology is becoming more prevalent, easier to use and more cost-effective. Now with the networking aspect of it, there are a lot of different reasons why security cameras can cross over into other industries.”

Web connection

One such application is in delivering live, streaming video to the Web. Dotworkz has been installing scores of pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) network video cameras at surf beaches, national parks and ski resorts across the United States for a variety of clients. Able to capture fine detail from far distances, the cameras provide live, viewer-controllable interactive Web video that surfers, beach goers and even skiers can access at home to determine if conditions are right for heading out to hang ten, catch some rays or glide down fresh powder.

The cameras enable Web viewers to see a much broader vision of the slopes or the beach than they could with a static camera.

“We mainly spec the camera for live interactive Web-based video presentations, which produces the most professional results in Web attraction market,” added Ferris. “We do recommend that these cameras be sold with our custom line of outdoor protective domes and wireless kits. The cameras just go right into the domes and it’s essentially ‘plug and play’ if the product comes from us, so we don’t need to have installation people go through great pains to get the system up and running.”

Remote location use

Dotworkz’s outdoor domes are especially important for remote locations, where cameras may be exposed to harsh temperatures because of either ice or extreme heat, which could cause problems with the camera’s internals. “We have had very little reliability issues with the cameras once all the proper domes and networks kits are configured properly,” explained Ferris. “When we put these things on a remote island or beach somewhere, the reliability is very important, and we chose technology for that reason.”

Ferris sees a myriad of other possibilities for the use of security cameras in non-security applications, ranging from monitoring toxic environments to doggie daycare. “Where else but from the security industry can someone buy a reliable network-based camera that will allow them to see and hear their dog at work for under $800 per unit? Nowhere,” Ferris declares. “You could hook up a camcorder to a PC, but that’s ridiculous, and that’s not going to give you the network component needed or the remote pan-tilt-zoom control.”

As security camera technology progresses, so will the markets in which the technology can be used. Ease of use will be a major selling point, which is why Ferris feels that network video cameras are the right choice.