Imagine stopping a potential theft instead of discovering it on recorded video footage … or protecting your facility without needing an army to stand guard. It’s possible with the emerging security solution of real-time Internet Protocol (IP) surveillance.
Real-time IP surveillance is a novel security idea using a relatively old technology, the Internet, and a newer one gaining momentum, IP, using cameras. What makes it so compelling is the way everything is integrated, allowing for a proactive and cost-effective system.
Intro to IP Surveillance
Network cameras have been around for years, but because of high-speed broadband, camera surveillance services are now affordable. Using network cameras, facilities can be monitored remotely via the Internet. The cameras transmit video images over Ethernet cables—the same transmission medium used in information technology (IT) networking. Because most facilities already have this network infrastructure, network cameras can simply tie into it. If not, installing the infrastructure is relatively inexpensive. Plus, once in place, the infrastructure can be used for other networking applications.
Many facilities use closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras for surveillance, some of which may be viewed remotely via the Internet using a digital video recorder (DVR). If anything happens, the recorded events may be retrieved for investigation. But wouldn’t it be better to catch the thief in the act rather than investigating the robbery later?
Whether utilizing network cameras or CCTV cameras anchored by DVRs, cameras can be monitored remotely via the Internet. This doesn’t solve the problem because rarely is there someone watching cameras at all times. Similarly, setting up a monitoring station can be expensive. Monitoring equipment, software and manpower can be costly. Plus, some systems require an alarm to be triggered in order for the proper authorities to be notified, but it can still take several minutes before an actual response. By then, it may be too late.
The good news is you no longer have to watch your own cameras. There are a handful of companies offering remote video-surveillance services. Real-time IP surveillance offers live video monitoring 24/7, without waiting for an alarm to be triggered. Using sophisticated, intelligent software, real-time IP surveillance services combine technology and human interaction to secure your facility. A person proactively watching the cameras can assess a situation in real time and decide to call the police or other first responders. If the police have Internet access, the monitor can forward a web link to the police dispatcher to help assess the situation. This interaction saves valuable time, and allows first-responders to arrive on-scene with valuable, often lifesaving information.
This system also utilizes Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows a two-way communication between the monitor and anyone in the facility. Moreover, the facility owner and any authorized individuals can access their cameras offsite, via the Internet, anytime. They may also access the same footage from their cell phone if they carry data service subscriptions.
Wonder how effective IP surveillance can be at a self-storage site? One facility in Mesa, Ariz., hired a national security company to monitor security cameras during off-hours. In the middle of the night, two individuals entered the facility with an authorized access code. The person monitoring the site—miles away at a central monitoring facility—noticed a suspicious activity. One intruder was fumbling to open a storage unit with objects that did not appear to be keys. As material was being removed from a unit, the monitor continued to watch and called the police. Minutes later, the police arrived and an arrest was made. As it turned out, one of the two suspects had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
In this real-life example, access control and security cameras would not have been able to prevent a possible crime. Only a logical human proactively watching the video in real-time was able to assess the event and act accordingly.
What’s To Gain?
Outsourcing camera surveillance has the following advantages:
- It is proactive. Human monitors watch cameras in real time, assess any situation and act accordingly.
- It’s not necessary to purchase monitoring equipment.
- You don’t need to hire, manage and train employees for monitoring.
- As opposed to camera recording from your facility, you don’t have to worry about data being stolen or destroyed. Video footage is rebroadcast from a datacenter that manages and stores video feeds.
- Likewise, you don’t have to worry about swamping servers with hours of video recordings, or accidentally deleting recordings that contained valuable information.
- A datacenter processes video footage and allows rebroadcast—via the Internet—to multiple users without degrading the quality of the video.
- Some companies will e-mail reports to facility owners every morning, including time- and date-stamped pictures, audio and video of events.
- Over time, combining a security camera system with outsourced real-time surveillance services costs less than traditional guarding services covering the same square footage.
Generally, storage facilities are not responsible for property losses incurred by tenants as a result of theft. Thus, security is a compelling selling point in the industry. Having security cameras in your facility with real-time surveillance make your self-storage facility more attractive to tenants.
Some facilities falsely advertise security by the mere presence of surveillance cameras; maybe they are continuously recording, but it is unlikely they are monitoring them live. If customers incur a property loss, a facility could be liable if insurance companies define surveillance as having someone literally watching the facility at all times.
Given the choice, customers will most likely choose a self-storage facility with cameras under real-time surveillance. If you go this route, market it to the max: on rental agreements, advertisements and other printed materials.
Shopping for IP Surveillance
Choose IP-based cameras with an open-source platform. This enables companies to develop a single software-management system to remotely monitor hundreds of cameras. Also, network cameras allow the use of standard PCs for video management and storage. Thus, replacement, upgrades and maintenance are easy.
Image quality is one of the most important features of any security camera. Using mega-pixel resolution, network cameras have surpassed image quality of analog cameras. Some network cameras have the capability of recording at high definition.
If your facility has an existing CCTV camera system, you don’t have to scrap your investment. The CCTV analog feed can be converted to a digital network video feed using IP-based video servers. Once converted, your facility is ready to utilize remote real-time IP surveillance services.
Network cameras can be integrated into an existing IT network infrastructure. The type of camera system may be deployed using:
—traditional electrical and network deployment and power over ethernet to establish connectivity to cameras.
—a distant camera can use wireless connectivity without ground wire, reducing the cost of deployment significantly by eliminating the trenching.
—a solar-power unit can sometimes provide camera power when it’s not feasible or convenient to run power to facility location. These self-sustaining units run three days or longer without direct sunlight.
Real-time IP surveillance is a new security solution for positive, measurable security results. Evaluate the differences between proactive- and passive-monitoring options, realizing your choice my be the key to reducing or eradicating theft and vandalism in your facility.
Luz A. Berg is the vice president of marketing for IntelaSight Inc., a full-service IP surveillance company based in Mesa, Ariz. IntelaSight’s unique integration of network cameras, the Internet, networking equipment, wired and wireless technologies, camera management software and highly trained intervention specialists allows IntelaSight to offer real-time IP surveillance services. For information, call 480-307-8700 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit https://www.intelasight.com/.
Luz A. Berg