When an integrator hears the words “audio monitoring,” thoughts may turn to configuring the microphone in a surveillance camera, while an end user might imagine an intrusion alarm sounding throughout a facility. The truth is audio is much more than a complementary solution in a security system or an auditory response to a security breach.
Audio provides another line of defense when used with video cameras in security systems. It can aid in verifying a visitor’s identity. Audio allows security officers to respond to tips that are recorded and simultaneously played back to staff in real-time. Audio offers a way to substantiate what really happened.
Let’s delve into actual cases of how audio is bolstering security and safety, potential applications, how integrators can introduce the technology into their businesses, and averting possible pitfalls.
Applications Where Audio Adds Value
Recently, there have been multiple situations where organizations have turned to audio to enhance security.
School administrations are now integrating audio intercoms into their visitor management and access control systems at the main entrances of their schools. A number of school systems are in the process of installing audio and video equipment on their district’s school buses. In fact, last summer, Boston Public Schools installed cameras and microphones on 750 buses. The audio and video technology is being used to aid officials in their investigations of bullying accusations and other conflicts.
RELATED: Audio Verification Equals More Apprehensions
End users in the transportation industry have also begun to rely on audio to provide accountability. When there is a train collision, what are the first questions people ask? It’s usually something along the lines of what happened and who is responsible. Without proper technology showing evidence and context, it is difficult to find the answer.
In December 2013, a Metro-North train in New York sped through a sharp turn and later derailed, killing four passengers and injuring more than 60 others. It was allegedly traveling at 82 mph when the maximum speed was 30 mph. A full review of the Metro-North train system was conducted and in March 2014, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to install audio equipment and video cameras on most of the Metro-North and Long Island trains. MTA’s statement explained that the primary goal of integrating audio and video was to “aid in post-accident/incident investigations” and to deter risky “behaviors that could affect safe train operations.” This highlights how audio can be used to ensure policies are upheld, regulations followed, and, in the event of an accident, provide additional evidence.
Transportation and education are among the many industries that look to audio to strengthen their security needs. Here are a few examples of how audio is used in the law enforcement, retail and medical markets:
Law Enforcement: Interview rooms are a prime location for audio monitoring. A powerful microphone can capture a suspect’s quietest comments during an interview, but may also be muted if the suspect wants to speak with his lawyer in order to protect the right to counsel.
Retail: Customer complaints can be a sore spot for many retailers. By installing microphones above cashiers at the checkout counter, management can ensure employees are following company protocol and providing an acceptable level of customer service.
Medical: Communication between hospital staff and patients is critical. Installing a two-way audio system will allow nurses at their station to speak with patients who are sitting in their rooms. Audio units can also be used in speech therapy labs and at the entrances to restricted areas in a hospital.
Integrators Should Listen Up
The aforementioned situations illustrate how audio helps the end user, but how does audio benefit security professionals in the channel?
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