Maintaining Awareness with Day/Night Cameras
River Islands has been advertised as the ideal place to raise a family because of extensive surveillance technology, security checkpoints and other policing strategies.
There’s a community in Lathrop, California, called River Islands that has been advertised as the ideal place to raise a family because of extensive surveillance technology, security checkpoints and other policing strategies.
According to a CBS Sacramento report, the community is surrounded by waterways and accessible only by four bridges. Each bridge will be equipped with fiber-optic video technology that will scan each license plate and compare it to a Department of Motor Vehicles database of stolen vehicle records, says CBS Sacramento. In addition, says CBS Sacramento, the Lathrop city manager has said he may invest in even more high-tech surveillance equipment to investigate crimes more efficiently and deter potential criminals from breaking the law.
Officials in other small U.S. towns who admit that their areas are anything but crime-plagued have also invested in surveillance technology, including day/night cameras that allow for 24/7 surveillance. Violent crime has either steadily declined or increased, depending upon the part of the country, although consistent budget cuts are one reason that lawmakers in some municipalities have been forced to hire fewer police officers when new camera equipment will do.
For example, one of the largest water treatment facilities in California turned to video surveillance to help officials protect the vast grounds surrounding where water is stored for public consumption. The existing analog systems provided adequate quality video during daylight hours, but could not deliver the resolution and accuracy required for 24-hour surveillance. Without installing some form of fence line protection system, the need for cameras capable of seeing in the dark became a priority. To compensate for the cameras’ nighttime deficiencies, facility management looked into IR illuminators, but soon realized that the power requirements would require a massive overhaul to the system’s entire infrastructure. Additionally, the cost of the illuminators ran into tens of thousands of dollars, plus the installation material and labor costs to install them. After initiating a test, it was quickly determined that adding illuminators was too expensive of a fix that yielded marginal results at best.
The treatment facility is using Samsung’s Spider Cam built-in IR LEDs for nighttime viewing at distances up to 328 feet. The camera’s IR function illuminates objects by focusing the beam as the camera zooms, giving clear imaging in total darkness.
According to the project manager at the water facility, “the differenc
e between the existing cameras with illuminators and Samsung’s Spider Cam was like day and night. It was phenomenal. The infrared and optics were so good we could see the tips of the barbed wire on our fence that was approximately 70 to 80 feet from the camera.”
The Samsung Spider Cams provide the unique capability to cast light everywhere the PTZ points, the project manager says. To do this with conventional PTZs, you would have to have the entire 360° focal range of the camera illuminated in order to see in pitch darkness.
The cameras are monitored in three different locations that require three streams from each camera. Streams are transmitted to the locations via encrypted microwave signals or via fiber.
While hospitals may not need day/night cameras for very large outdoor areas such as a water treatment facility, two hospitals in New York City and South Carolina are very much benefitting from the use of them.
Jack Hendrickson is Assistant Director of Corporate Security for a large hospital system on the Upper East Side of New York City.
“When I came on board three years ago, we only had 86 cameras. We now have 200 cameras, internal and external, and day/night cameras for external areas and internally for areas where the lights are shut off at night,” Hendrickson explains. “We work a lot with the New York Police Department and surrounding agencies, and being in a high-profile area, we are using the cameras to track people through the hospital and see across every floor.”
Outside of the hospital, Hendrickson recently used the Sony day/night cameras to help catch a purse thief and a hit and run. “There was a hit and run in front of the hospital at 5:30 in the morning, as the sun was coming up,” he explains. “The security cameras have filters that kick in for those types of situations so we don’t get any white wash out. It’s a clear picture. Even if it’s raining, we still have clear images to report to the police and other agencies.”
In Clarksburg, South Carolina, hospital security staff are using day/night surveillance images to give operators the information they need to help ensure the safety of staff working and patients admitted at the facility. The hospital provides intensive psychiatric/mental health inpatient services for adults, adolescents and children.
More than 240 high-definition IP cameras from Bosch are installed throughout many sections of the interior and exterior of the hospital. Cameras are mounted in the pharmacy area, in hallways, on the interior and exterior of entranceways, as well as at elevator access points and in other non-private areas. With high sensitivity, the cameras allow for round-the-clock monitoring, even when lights are turned off to conserve energy in areas not actively being used at
The cameras deliver crisp images in well-lit locations as well as in areas with low ambient light. In outdoor locations, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras provide coverage of external areas and parking lots. These cameras are monitored outside main hospital hours to watch vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the parking lots.
“The clarity of the high definition PTZ cameras on the exterior of the building is phenomenal,” says Mike Casdorph, Director of Facility Development and Construction, Highland-Clarksburg Hospital. “We don’t lose any clarity at all when zoomed in.”
In the central security room and at nurses’ stations on each patient floor, the video management system from Bosch provides intuitive monitoring of live video. To make the system easy to manage, nurses on each patient floor have access only to the 15-20 cameras installed in their respective units.
Protecting Overseas Facilities
Moog Inc., a designer and maker of high-performance sensor and surveillance systems, has provided the U.S. Department of State an around-the-clock imaging system for overseas facilities to detect terrorist and security threats in low-light and night-time conditions. The Moog imaging system helps the State Department upgrade security at its overseas facilities and protect employees from threats.
Moog developed the rugged imaging system, which includes a positioner, night vision technology, camera, sensors, illuminator and search light, specifically for the State Department’s needs. The Moog imaging system recognizes and identifies threats that are impossible to see with thermal sensors and conventional surveillance tools.
For example, the State Department’s requirements included a high-power spotlight that Moog identified and integrated with its imaging system. Moog also tapped its defense industry experts to provide an illuminator and hybrid lens capability, which gives security staff a way to easily adjust their field of view as conditions change.
Wayne Ashbery, Director of Office of Security Technology, Bureau of Diplomatic Security for the U.S. Department of State, tells Securitymagazine that implementing the camera system is more effective than adding more security staff because, “The intention of our cameras system is not to replace security staff; the purpose is to extend the area in which they patrol, to enhance their ability to see and to view areas and not themselves.”
“We continually review the technology that we use at our embassies, and we always look to take advantage of advances in technology,” he adds. “In the world of security cameras, we see many advances, and we are always revising and changing and installation criteria. The newer cameras have higher low light capabilities and resolutions, and that’s what we need to look at dark areas. The newer cameras allow us to look at areas with natural lighting, as many of our embassies and consulates are in areas that are not well lit.”