At the edge” camera decision-making, less expensive cameras, video motion detection, IP and wireless applications all come together to let security leaders implement security video as a perimeter protection solution.

Although security video is used for many purposes, its most common application is for surveillance and alarm assessment. Systems make it possible for fewer individuals to maintain a constant watch, record and archive activities under surveillance, and provide a visual record that can be used to document activities for investigative use.


Video cameras comprise only one component of a perimeter protection system that includes smart fences, buried cable, lighting and other technologies. Following trends in other markets, the cost of cameras continues to fall while functionality increases due to the availability of more powerful and less expensive electronic components. As a result, low-cost, high performance cameras are widely available creating the opportunity for large scale exterior surveillance applications.

Security video systems configured with hundreds of cameras have become commonplace. IT network technology and low-cost hardwired and wireless IP networked video cameras, with embedded video compression technology, have taken hold to mitigate the escalating communications and electrical infrastructure and network administration costs.

Traditional CCD and CMOS video cameras require illumination, either from visible or from very near infrared light sources in order to produce a usable display picture. Reproducing a usable image becomes exceedingly difficult as illumination decreases, which creates the need for an exterior lighting source. Yet the cost of these systems is considerable and for many applications completely impractical such as borders, waterway areas, city-wide surveillance, power generation, refinery perimeters and airport applications. In other situations, lighting can either offend local residents or draw unwanted attention.

Likewise, administration and infrastructure costs for video and network equipment are considerable. Multiple IP addresses and dynamic network configurations require management. Network security requires constant and vigilant monitoring, and user demand for network speed and performance requires investment in system infrastructure to ensure the bandwidth is there to support the system.

One solution for using security video on the perimeter: Integrated electro-optical surveillance such as systems from Axsys Technologies and comprised of passive, long-range thermal imaging video cameras with companion bore-sighted visible spectrum video cameras mounted on precision pan and tilt positioning.


As another example, at the Panama Ports Company (PPC), a member of the Hutchison Port Holdings, which operates 255 berths in 44 ports across the world., security leaders sought an overall high resolution image quality, low maintenance system able to withstand the weather conditions of an ocean environment and the ability to survey wider areas in greater detail with each individual camera.

During an initial phase, more than 50 Mobotix IP cameras were installed, typically at 300 feet, with two cameras on each crane. The cameras are aimed at entrances and remote perimeter areas where manual surveillance would have been very labor intensive. The multiple configurations with the network camera, including single or dual lens, wide-angle or telephoto, day or low-light provide the flexibility to deploy the same basic camera type into a wide range of specific viewing requirements with varying lighting conditions. The video footage from the IP cameras is recorded on a server. Live video as well as recorded clips can be viewed on any authorized computer in the port facility.

Port officials had particular concerns related to the weather conditions of a tropical coastal environment: salty air, frequent wind-driven rain, intense heat and humidity. The cameras chosen are built to withstand extreme environmental conditions: from -30 to +60 °C (-22 to +140 °F). The fiberglass-reinforced and shock-resistant cameras protect the network cable and connections against vandalism as well as severe weather conditions.

With the cameras boasting both audio and video features, it’s a big advantage for PPC. “We don’t just need to see what’s going on, we need to hear it as well,” said Michael Hernandez, PPC CIO. “Our overall security and safety is dependent on having both those features.”

SIDEBAR: What Goes Up Must Come Down, Sometimes

With the growing use of security video to protect perimeters, the cameras – often megapixels, wide angles or infrareds – go high up on poles or other infrastructure.  Such installations are more costly but boast a strong return on investment. On the flip side, maintenance of the cameras way up there is more complex.

Security Magazine editors touring the exhibit floor at the recent ASIS International discovered a unique solution. From Videolarm, a lowering arm eliminates the need for lift trucks and reduces safety concerns. With its self encased motorized system, the Lowering Arm is capable of lowering and raising most camera system enclosures with a simple yet secured operation. The system is factory-wired, and incorporates an augmented cabling system which prevents long cable runs and wire entanglements.