Meet Modern IP Audio Solutions
Solution impacts more than just security or security applications
- By Chris Wildfoerster
- Jun 13, 2023
When Binghamton University decided to upgrade its security capabilities, university administrators made sure to include cutting-edge audio solutions. Those solutions included intercom systems to allow two-way communication at access control points, IP speakers as well as audio analytics designed to detect signs of trouble in high-volume areas. Binghamton recognized one of the primary advantages of audio solutions: they can add much-needed context to video surveillance, while picking up on things that cameras—or their operators—might miss.
Binghamton is not alone. Another school reported that after adding audio solutions programmed to detect aggression and raised voices, it was able to reduce response times to fights among students from two to three minutes to 20 to 30 seconds. This can save real lives and it represents a good introduction to the ways in which today’s audio solutions can augment video surveillance technology. Of course, today’s audio solutions offer benefits in areas that go far beyond education—and as IP audio continues to be more accessible, its applications will grow.
IP Audio Is More Accessible than Ever
One of the great things about today’s network audio devices is that they can be implemented without a full “rip and replace” of existing hardware. Devices like bridges and amplifiers can connect to analog sources, transforming a passive speaker into a network speaker by integrating it onto the network and into a broader security system.
This makes the technology considerably more accessible, as most users will be able to implement IP audio solutions using their existing equipment. For businesses without the budget to install a completely new audio system, these migration devices have made a significant improvement to their legacy system.
Modern audio management software also makes these devices easier to use and can integrate both bridge devices and advanced audio solutions under a single system. Today’s audio management software can enable direct control of device setup, content, volume, and scheduling and excel at things like zone management and system health monitoring.
This lowers the barrier to entry, making audio solutions easy to use and ensuring that users don’t necessarily need a vast amount of technical knowledge to effectively use IP audio.
Stopping Security Incidents as They Happen
Using today’s cameras, it is relatively easy to draw a virtual line on the ground and issue an alert over a speaker anytime a trespasser crosses that line. And thanks to modern analytics, the camera can tell the difference between a human and, say, a dog or a deer, reducing the number of false alarms.
If a human is detected, an audio message can be triggered to tell the trespasser to come back during normal hours. If the trespasser does not leave, a second message can be triggered, telling them that the authorities are on their way. There are advantages to being able to communicate remotely with a potentially dangerous person, rather than having to physically send staff to the area.
Authorities can and should be notified when a crime in progress is detected, but response times are not always swift. Audio alerts and messaging allow security incidents to be addressed in near-real time, often putting a stop to them before they have a chance to escalate. What’s more, because today’s video and audio solutions can be accessed over the internet, organizations may also be able to more efficiently deploy manpower.
Security guards do not even need to be physically on site to monitor their feeds, and today’s IP audio solutions enable them to speak directly to trespassers or have a 2-way conversation from any location.
Workplace violence prevention is another important use case for IP audio. Deploying audio analytics trained to identify shouting, aggressive voices, and other signs of danger can reduce response time and potentially stop violent incidents before they escalate. They can also ensure that security personnel understand what they are walking into when they respond to a situation, improving the odds of successful de-escalation.
Improving Operations and Safety
Today’s IP audio capabilities have allowed users to expand their definition of “security” to include broader workplace safety use cases. The ability to issue tailored public address announcements can help organizations provide detailed instructions in the event of a disaster. IP audio devices can be broken down into different zones, levels of priority and even individual speakers. This allows them to provide specific directions to different areas of the building. These messages and the speakers they go to can be changed on the fly, allowing security teams to provide real-time updates.
Today’s audio management software can also manage thousands of speakers at once, a significant step up from analog solutions. This is especially valuable in facilities like hospitals. Today’s IP video and audio solutions allow doctors to look in on patient rooms and speak with them directly without putting themselves at unnecessary risk. A combination of video monitoring and audio alerts tied to medical alarm tones can also quickly let a nurse know if a high-risk patient is attempting to leave their bed, or if a slip/trip/fall incident has occurred.
The simple act of setting a message to play when an emergency exit is blocked can even save an organization from significant workplace safety fines. Businesses have also found interesting ways to integrate video and audio.
Car dealerships, for example, are using it to alert the sales team when a customer is lingering around a specific vehicle during the day, allowing them to send out a salesperson to close the deal. At night, the same camera and speaker can monitor and deliver proactive deterrence messages as well as alert staff or police if a trespasser enters the car lot after hours. New operational efficiency and business intelligence use cases will continue to emerge as network audio is integrated with video and analytics solutions increases.
Audio Fills in the Blanks
Today, IP audio technology is an essential component of any comprehensive surveillance deployment. Modern audio capabilities can provide much-needed context into the situation on the ground, allowing security staff to deploy resources more safely and effectively.
In many cases, the technology can even defuse and prevent potentially dangerous situations before they can escalate. And integrating IP audio with other building systems will continue to enhance business operations, providing a positive impact not just for security and safety, but the bottom line as well.