Thinking Outside the Box
Affordable thermal security cameras bring new opportunities to light
There’s no denying it: Bad stuff happens at night.
Whether we’re talking about terrorists crossing
borders or burglars jumping the fence into your back
yard, nighttime is the right time for bad things to happen.
But thermal security cameras even out the odds
by giving homeowners and security professionals
alike the power to see clearly in total darkness.
Accepted throughout the industry as the best 24-
hour visual surveillance imaging solutions available,
thermal security cameras are vital tools in securing
homes, corporate campuses and industrial facilities --
not to mention their role in secure borders, airports,
sea ports, nuclear facilities and other critical infrastructure
And now that full-featured, full resolution, thermal
security cameras are available for a competitive price,
security dealers and integrators are finding scores of
new ways to use this effective, affordable technology.
Thermal security cameras have been the best
nighttime security imaging solutions for years. Until
just the last couple of years, however, they’ve just
been too expensive to be a viable component for residential
The last few years have seen the cost of high-quality
thermal security cameras come down dramatically.
Offering 320x240 resolution, network-ready models
are now affordable, greatly expanding their use
around the security industry in general, and in the
small business, residential and personal security fields
Most small businesses or home owners couldn’t
realistically stomach spending tens of thousands of
dollars for a thermal fence perimeter security system.
Now, people are coming up with new and innovative
ways of using thermal to keep their homes, families,
and businesses safe.
A single thermal security camera outfitted with a
wide-angle lens can play a multitude of roles in improving
the safety and security of a house. Perimeter
security is obvious -- point the camera along unsecured
avenues of approach, and let the analytics alert
anyone in the house about uninvited visitors.
But parents of small children also use thermal to
make sure that none of their little ones gets too close
to the pool when a parent isn’t around.
Many residential clients prefer thermal cameras
because they don’t need bright security lights to work.
They see heat, not light, so the amount of light available
to the sensor is irrelevant to its imaging performance.
Being able to see clearly without the inconvenience
of bright lights makes thermal the “good
neighbor” security camera solution.
Affordable thermal cameras are also popular solutions
because they protect the privacy and modesty
of family members, visitors and neighbors. Thermal
can neither recognize facial features, nor can it see
Small Business Security
Many of these same attributes make thermal security
cameras an ideal solution for businesses of every size.
Single-site businesses use thermal cameras and analytics
to watch entry points and loading docks, alerting
owners by e-mail of unauthorized entries.
Large business campuses use thermal for the same
thing, just on a larger scale. These same facilities use
thermal to guard server rooms and access to intellectual
property by monitoring large data lines under
false floors and dropped ceilings, as data theft can
ruin a business as fast as a physical break-in can.
Most businesses also tend to underestimate the
threats posed to their roofs. Criminals can gain access
to the roof and vandalize or steal metal components
from rooftop air conditioning units. They can also enter
buildings from roof access points. These areas are
quite often unlit and unsecured; a couple of thermal
cameras -- often even only one -- can close a gaping
hole in any facility’s security.
Thinking Outside the Box
Innovative security integrators are devising new and
exciting uses for affordable thermal security cameras
Telecom companies can use thermal cameras to
monitor the thousands of cell phone towers around
the country, safeguarding them against theft and
Energy companies use thermal to watch over small,
unattended substations -- not just the big ones -- staying
vigilant against copper theft and vandalism that
can cause expensive service outages.
Gated communities and homeowner associations
use thermal cameras to keep an eye on gated entries
and common buildings used by the entire community.
The expense to repair damage to any of these common
buildings is borne by the community as a whole,
so an ounce of prevention is seen as a pound of cure.
Even horse breeders and owners of equestrian centers
are getting into the act. Horses represent a significant
investment -- their acquisition and upkeep costs
thousands of dollars per animal -- so using thermal
cameras to solidify a farm’s perimeter security is a nobrainer.
But during foaling season, breeders can use
thermal cameras to keep a watchful eye on pregnant
mares and be alert to any potential problems in the
confined foaling pen or stall.
Thermal security cameras have broken the price
barrier, as promised for so many years. Now it’s time
for enterprising and entrepreneurial security dealers
and integrators to discover all of the new ways
people can put the ability to see in total darkness to
work for them.
This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Security Today.