Economic Factors to Consider
Smart thermal cameras have more than fulfilled expectations for economic advantages in managed outdoor applications. Conventional wisdom would leave one to believe that other sensing solutions, such as visible cameras, would be the least costly approach. The reality is that thermal cameras can cover greater distances — more than 600 meters in some cases — reducing infrastructure needs such as poles, cabling and power that would be required with a visible camera solution.
They can run over wireless, further reducing infrastructure costs. And smart thermal camera prices themselves have been dropping significantly in recent years, and are now available at an MSRP as low as $10/foot, making the most accurate perimeter security technology comparable in price to traditional visible cameras with analytics, fence sensors or buried cable systems.
Further economic drivers for deploying thermal imaging include new mounting capabilities made possible through GPS-based video analytics. Smart cameras that use such “geo-registration” can be mounted onto buildings and existing infrastructure, allowing the operator to draw detection zones that will ignore movement on the other side of a fence or demarcation, such as along a highway where passing cars should be ignored. Mounting cameras on existing infrastructure such as buildings removes the cost and complexity of bringing power and communications to the perimeter.
Geo-registration can also be used to automatically steer pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) cameras to zoom and follow a detected target for up close inspection. This is particularly important when large outdoor areas are under security management, where trying to manually locate a detected alarm with a p/t/z camera — especially over large outdoor areas — can be like finding a needle in a haystack. By automatically tracking targets in this manner, security personnel gain important information about the nature of the threat and can quickly and accurately formulate an appropriate response, even when protecting large outdoor perimeters.
Smart thermal cameras can also be easily deployed in managed service applications beyond security, looking at behaviors that can increase a company’s operational efficiency. For instance, a company could use a thermal camera to determine if there is a leak at a refinery or if transformers are overheating at a power station, or to monitor storage tank levels. The possibilities for thermal cameras extend to highway safety, measuring parking area occupancy, measuring the volume of traffic on a road, or automatically determining if a car is driving the wrong way on an onramp or road.
Thermal imaging is a powerful new tool to secure outdoor assets. Integrators who offer the technology as a managed service will find a business model that is viable, lasting and economically favorable, while meeting the critical security needs of their customers.
John Romanowich is President/CEO and founder of SightLogix, a provider of intelligent video surveillance systems.
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