Providing Security

Making effective security integral to healthcare, corporate and education campuses

IP technology makes it easier to secure a campus environment. This is true even for very large corporate, healthcare and education campuses where many points of security concern are spread across large geographic areas. With a campus-wide IP network, access to any point, anywhere on campus, is as close as the nearest desktop terminal, or even handheld device. Benefits for video surveillance and security are especially important, but networking also provides a starting point for new campus-wide solutions that incorporate other IP systems as well.

The information network is the nervous system of today’s campus environment. With the growth of enterprise IT, campuses are now viewed more holistically, with security being an integral component of overall operations. Acknowledging and responding to this significant change is critical to expanding the value of video systems in the broader campus environment. The purchasing decision on new equipment, including video systems along with a range of other system solutions, depends on a rigorous, enterprise-driven process of demonstrating solutions that deliver a high return on investment. Fortunately, video plays especially well in that environment.

Networked video should become an integral part of the information infrastructure of any campus, providing benefits that extend beyond security. Focusing on the broader array of benefits can enhance cost-justification strategies. Video and data can be integrated with other applications such as process management, human resources and access control systems.

Protecting Healthcare Campuses

Hospital and other healthcare campuses are especially challenging environments for a range of video applications. Areas such as the emergency room are fastpaced and unpredictable places where the dramas of daily life can spill over into the public facility. A hospital’s campus setting requires broad security awareness across a large geographic area that includes a range of lighting and environmental conditions. Hospitals also must manage liability costs related to hospital visitors and staff, and respect patient privacy. This variety of factors specific to the healthcare environment can impact the choice of a video surveillance system in addition to all the necessary technology considerations.

There are cameras available to fit any need across a healthcare campus. For example, cameras that provide wider dynamic range can provide better video in extreme lighting conditions. This is important, for example, in a backlighting situation, when there is bright light behind a subject. The camera can see the darker areas clearly, which might affect the resolution of the face of someone coming through the glass door of a hospital. High-definition (HD) cameras provide greater resolution to see more detail in an image, which might be important in an application that involves reading a distant license plate. Some cameras are designed to withstand abuse, and some are specially rated to withstand environmental factors such as humidity and dust.

New technology enhancements also have a positive impact on the ways cameras are used in the healthcare campus environment. For example, the familiar PTZ cameras can be directed manually to zero in on anything of interest. Today, PTZ cameras with auto-tracking functionality can follow people automatically as they move around a property.

Increased intelligence inside new cameras also provides benefits. Video motion detection inside intelligent cameras can alert staff if patients are mobile in areas where they should be resting. Smarter IP cameras may include a privacy-masking option inside the camera. Various areas in an image, such as the door to a patient’s room or a patient’s window viewed from the outside, can be masked electronically in the camera’s image to ensure privacy.

Besides security, video cameras are used throughout healthcare campuses for numerous tasks, such as remote conferencing or broadcasting from an operating suite during surgery. Networking of healthcare systems, including emergency response and communication, enables security staff to call these IP cameras into duty in an emergency situation to serve as surveillance cameras.

Corporate Campus Solutions

Video is also an important element in system solutions for corporate campuses. Beyond security, video surveillance that spans the campus can help to monitor business operations, oversee and manage staff and provide evidence to mitigate liability claims, such as those related to slipand- fall accidents.

IP networking enables interaction of security systems with other business systems such as IP phone systems, video conferencing systems, interactive whiteboards used for meetings and conferences, and training room audio systems. In an emergency situation, for example, an instructor could notify authorities using a duress signal from a whiteboard or a pendant microphone, simultaneously activating surveillance cameras. IP-based phone systems have LCD displays, which can be interfaced with video cameras for remote monitoring.

Today’s IP video systems also are scalable and future-proof. In a campus environment, it is possible to install a small system now and build it over time to other areas of the campus as additional funds become available, while maintaining the benefits of an efficient and well-designed system.

Intelligent video offers many benefits for corporate campuses. Video analytics can be used to create an alarm when an object is moved. Video might be used to monitor expensive equipment at a remote location or to watch vehicles that should be left parked for only a specified time limit. Video can provide alarms when an object is left behind, such as a mysterious briefcase or other packages that might represent a security threat. Alarms also can be generated if someone crosses a virtual line or moves in a certain direction.

Educational Campuses

Keeping educational campuses safe is the primary mission for campus video surveillance systems, but the benefits of video on campus also extend beyond security. Video surveillance provides real-time information to campus police and administrators about what’s going on in the multiple buildings and remote corners of a sprawling campus. Response can be proactive rather than reactive.

Education campuses are typically open to anyone, so monitoring who comes and goes using video is useful for preventative security. Video can provide an early warning if something is amiss. Access to camera views from all over the campus are as close as the nearest computer or handheld device.

Classroom safety is vital, but the classroom has typically not been included in video surveillance systems because of privacy concerns. However, there are now systems that provide privacy “eyelids” around video surveillance cameras that remain closed to ensure privacy until activated to open by an alarm. Classroom audiovisual systems can be integrated with video security systems, too. Panic alarms from an interactive whiteboard or a pendant microphone worn by the instructor can alert authorities of an emergency and activate cameras to provide real-time video as an emergency situation unfolds.

Integration of Video Campus-Wide

Today’s video cameras provide clear, easily identifiable images that can boost the security of any campus environment. Beyond security, video provides additional “eyes” that can potentially see anywhere on campus regardless of geographic location. Operational and efficiency advantages extend beyond the security department. Integration of video in a campus-wide IP network enables interface of video with other campus systems. The common use of IP enables telephone systems, audiovisual systems, video conferencing and other systems to interact with video for a broader system solution that serves multiple needs campus-wide.

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Security Today.

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