The best security is preventive security. This is what the security industry does; it looks to prevent unwanted and criminal behavior with preventive measures, awareness, training and technology. What if we placed some of these resources in the hands of everyday citizens so they could play a part in their security and safety? Much of modern security technology is designed to assist security professionals in their mission by providing tools to increase their awareness and observation efforts. A major help in this cause is security video, which provides the security industry with incredible tools to prevent, respond and investigate unwanted activities. The typical set-up consists of cameras mounted strategically around a facility, and a security officer sitting at a desk watching camera feeds on various monitors. In the event the officer sees an incident on the monitor, it is investigated. Surveillance systems can also record footage. Recording technologies have improved in such a way that recorded video now takes up much less physical space than before. Cameras are now integrated with intrusion detection systems to focus on alarm trigger, and they now have advanced analytics to provide users with additional valuable event information. Remote viewing is also an option with many VMS systems. Surveillance technology is indeed one of the biggest tools of the 21st century for the security industry.
These systems provide live footage and recorded video footage, and they rely on the security professional to respond to or investigate what the camera sees. While security technology advances to free the security professional from too many responsibilities, much of security and safety has been and will always be the responsibility of the individual. The security system or the security professional cannot always quickly respond to every breach. It may be easy to assume people can take simple steps to prevent unwanted behaviors against them, but it may be necessary to further equip the public to effectively avoid dangerous situations. People can lock doors and can be observant, they can report suspicious behaviors and can look out for one another; however, this may be the extent of the responsibility they can assume. Most people do not have access to such powerful technology as the security industry does, such as surveillance systems, in their everyday life. Could the industry give people better tools to prevent dangerous situations?
Placing Security Technology in the Hands of the Public
One way the industry can share their resources is by placing technology in a place where it can be utilized by the public. Although not necessarily a new application, placing camera technology where people can access it may be one of the best offerings the security industry can give the public at this point. For years, some integrators have mounted camera monitors in public view, sometimes as a deterrent, and sometimes due to lack of space. Customers walking into the gas station can see the monitor with the gas pump “scene” and customers walking through department stores can see themselves on monitors placed randomly throughout the store. This deterrent method has proven to work in reducing thefts and other petty crimes, and now, this method is being applied in a new way. What if we combined security video technology with self-awareness and enabled people to see into spaces they are about to enter to determine if the area is safe?
Remote and dark places are attractive to those wanting to harm others. Parking garages, stairwells and elevators can be potential points of attack on innocent people. Those who frequent these types of places can have the same security technology at their disposal as the security industry does to help protect themselves through prevention. There are many stories of assaults in these remote areas. Here are just a few stories of what can happen in stairwells and elevators.
In September 2013, The New York Times ran a story written by Joseph Golstein about crimes being committed in public housing elevators in New York City. Goldstein references 3,330 elevators in the Housing Authority projects and the fact they have become frequent crime scenes.
In October 2016, NBC New York ran a story about an elderly woman who was helped up after she fell, only to be sexually assaulted in the stairwell of her apartment seven blocks away. The man who helped her then followed her home and assaulted her in the stairwell in the same building where she lived.
CTV published a story in July 2019 about a man who was attacking young girls in stairwells in southern Ontario. Three of the girls were under the age of seven.
Stories like this are more common than we may realize. Desolate places make the perfect setting for assault crimes. From assaults to robbery to drug transactions, stairwells, elevators and remote places draw crime. People walking from or to the parking garage could benefit from seeing what is on the other side of the door before they enter the stairwell. By mounting a camera on the inside or outside of the area, the camera becomes the eyes to see through the door or the wall so the individual can decide whether it is safe to proceed through the door. This security concept is called Pre-Entry Video Observation (PEVO).
How it Works
PEVO monitors are mounted on the wall for viewing before the entry or exit door. The camera is mounted in the space to be accessed with a clear unobstructed view of the area. For stairwell applications, cameras can be mounted in such a way as to cover the stairs above and below, and these “scenes” can be all placed on the same monitor. PEVO monitors can be placed outside elevators as well. Each floor can have a PEVO monitor and the person waiting outside can determine if they should enter or not. Other PEVO applications include areas that may be away from human activity, remote locations and any location where it is beneficial to see a space before entry.
PEVO monitors do not have to be directly connected to the cameras. With a Video Management System (VMS) utilizing IP cameras, monitors can be placed on the network and can be mounted wherever a network cable can be accessed. For multi-stream applications, one stream can be dedicated to the PEVO monitor while the other is pointed to the VMS.
With recent breakthroughs in video analytic technology, users can be notified of loitering, motion detection and situations where the room or space capacity has been exceeded. All of this can be indicated on a remote network monitor that can be mounted anywhere. To make this an easy addition to existing systems, manufactures have designed a remote monitor that needs no PC client or required IT permissions to integrate with the VMS. This takes the complicated setup out of providing PEVO for the general public’s safety.
PEVO can also break through the boundaries of security and creep into the convenience realm. Businesses with waiting areas could install a camera on the wall and allow customers to view it remotely via a video server, so they can decide whether they want to arrive now or wait until later. A perfect example of this would be restaurants and car washes.
Here are some examples of PEVO applications:
- Stairwell entry and exit
- Elevator interior and exterior
- Parking garages
- Remote hallways
- Safety and social distancing applications
- Car washes
There are many other possible applications as well. The PEVO concept is to provide a view into a space that could potentially be unsafe. PEVO gives individuals the ability to see where they are going before opening a door and entering an area. PEVO marries security technology with self-awareness and safety.
As stated here, mounting a video monitor where the public can see it is not a new concept, but utilizing it for PEVO applications is the next big breakthrough in public safety security applications.