Thermal Imaging Helps University Stop Intruders
FRESNO, Calif. — Since deploying Pelco by Schneider Electric’s Sarix TI thermal imaging camera system at its football stadium in June, California State University, Fresno, officials have apprehended several trespassers in 10 intrusion incidents.
Fresno State recently installed a new artificial playing field at the university’s 41,031-seat Bulldog Stadium. In addition to protecting students and employees, university officials also sought to add greater return on investment (ROI) by reducing the uses of nighttime lights at the stadium.
“The stadium has been here for decades and we have already interrupted crimes by using Pelco cameras,” Fresno State Chief of Police David Huerta tells SSI. “Upon completion of the installation of the new field turf, we examined what we could do to protect it because on occasion, people would go in there and vandalize the field. So, in addition to adding fencing and locking to the stadium, we sought technology that would allow us to see what was going on during the evening.”
Huerta, who has some familiarity in thermal imaging and law enforcement aviation, had some familiarity with thermal imaging technology, and wanted to implement it at the campus. It helped that Pelco by Schneider Electric, which is located only a few miles away from the campus, was in the final stages of developing the Sarix TI cameras. The university and the manufacturer have been partners for years, so when Pelco representatives offered Fresno State the opportunity to test the new cameras, Huerta jumped at the chance.
“Our partnership with Pelco is a very strong one and years ago we agreed that we would beta test technology for them. We didn’t even have to pay for the thermal imaging,” Huerta explains.
Huerta next contacted the university’s go-to integrator of 10 years, Integrated Electronics, to install two Sarix TI cameras in the stadium. Founded in 1999, the Fresno, Calif.-based Integrated Electronics is an electrical contracting company that designs, installs and services access control, CCTV, intrusion detection, commucation and life-safety systems for the education and health-care markets. The firm is also a Pelco by Schneider Electric value-added reseller.
The Sarix TI camera features a full sensor dynamic range and keeps the signal in the digital domain for all image and analytics processing rather than converting to an analog signal, Dave Stanfield, senior product marketing manager, Schneider Electric tells SSI. Additionally, the product comes equipped with camera analytics including adaptive motion, object counting, stopped vehicle, loitering detection and camera sabotage, which are customizable for a wide range of applications. Alarms can be integrated into the system and users can be alerted via E-mail with alerts, images and/or hardware alarms.
“Thermal imaging has been around for a while, and it has been moving into the commercial security market for some time,” Stanfield says. “It doesn’t require visible light, which is the main challenge for any visible light camera. But typically, costs have been prohibitive for thermal imaging cameras. The real power of this product is that it looks, feels and performs like a security camera. There is no complex integration; there is no putting together of parts. All an integrator has to do is pull the Cat-5 cable, apply power to it, plug in the camera and then the Endura enterprise-class video management system automatically recognizes the camera.”
For Norman Dimick, service director for Integrated Electronics, the ease of installation makes the cameras a selling point for all integrators. In fact, the only challenge facing the project was there were not enough pathways for electrical conduit to deploy the cameras. However, a week and a half before the project began, the university’s facilities management crew installed pathways and created new mounting locations.
“From our perspective, the install process is the same as any other type camera,” he tells SSI. “We had two technicians at the site, and it took a total of eight man-hours over the course of a couple of days.”
Prior to the cameras, patrol and community service specialists performed routine area checks. Since installing the thermal imaging cameras, the frequency has been reduced. In addition to the apprehensions of 10 unauthorized intruders, the cameras have also helped Huerta eliminate the need for routine area checks, which saves on the cost of personnel, as well as vehicle fuel, maintenance and nighttime lighting.
“With the technology, we know that it’s not probable to be a false alarm, so we can immediately dispatch to officers. Thermal imaging allows our staff to tell the officer the specific place on where to go, which makes search and response time much faster and more accurate.”
Dimick agrees, noting the cameras would also be beneficial for correctional facilities.
“With the alarm functionality of the Sarix TI camera, it’s really good for prison applications where they have perimeter detection,” he says. “It allows users to set up a zone within the frame. In the event that a person or object enters into a zone, it can be programmed to send out an alarm. Thermal cameras can look over very large areas and set up a digital perimeter within the program. Rather than dealing with false alarms from other types of perimeter detection, this is kind of a foolproof way to do it.”
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