How to Offer Thermal Cameras as Key Intrusion Detection Technology
Lower price points, among other key factors, is giving rise to the use of thermal cameras across a range of markets and applications.
A true end-to-end perimeter intrusion detection system requires an advanced, multilayered solution. It is essential that this system be easy to use and capable of not only defending against attacks, but also helping security personnel proactively anticipate an event before it occurs.
One notable technology that is being increasingly deployed in perimeter applications across all sectors is thermal imaging. By utilizing thermal cameras, facilities can detect intruders from greater distances regardless of light and environmental factors, giving security forces more time to react and respond.
Considering the Value Proposition
The value of thermal security cameras is that they generate images from heat, not light. This enables thermal imagers to provide a clear visual in complete darkness and see through obscurants like smoke, dust and light fog. For this reason, thermal imaging is one of the most effective 24/7 surveillance technologies on the market today.
Another advantage of thermal cameras is that they are cost-effective perimeter solutions. While traditional fiber optics and fence detection systems require extensive cabling, thermal cameras can be mounted on existing infrastructure, reducing installation time. Additionally, thermal cameras see in low-light or no-light scenarios, eliminating the need for lighting poles and external illuminators. All of these factors result in a significant cost-savings for the integrator and end user.
Fortunately, for end users thermal cameras have become more affordable in recent years. Only a few decades ago, thermal imaging was solely a commercially developed, military-qualified technology that few entities had the capital to deploy. However, increased demand and expanding production has led to lower price points for thermal solutions, making the technology more accessible for critical infrastructure applications.
Detection & Analytics Overview
Using thermal cameras, in conjunction with other alarm sensors, offers an interlocking web of video tools for intrusion detection, alarm verification and forensic evidence gathering. By combining thermal cameras with sophisticated sensor control and video management software (VMS), facility managers can create what is known as a virtual “Thermal Fence” to deter trespassing.
Thermal fences use data obtained from sensors, such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and radar, to identify and classify objects that have entered a designated area without authorization. This analytic tool is ideal for applications like airports, which cover large distances, or seaports, which are unable to have physical fences or barriers.
Today, thermal cameras embedded with military-grade analytics provide instant detection of persons, vehicles and other objects. Thermal’s unique ability to provide high contrast imaging, regardless of light or environment, allows for high performance video analytics. This results in highly accurate triggers for tripwires, exclusion zones, and temperature alarms, providing a much lower rate of false alarms.
Solutions such as these not only bolster situational awareness, but also act as a force multiplier, increasing monitoring coverage and efficiency with less physical staff.
Using Drone-Based Thermal
Another innovative way to use thermal technology to enhance perimeter awareness is through drone-based thermal camera surveillance. Utilizing remote controlled drones equipped with thermal sensors extends surveillance beyond the point of fixed cameras, allowing security teams to survey fence lines, towers, bridges, substations, and buildings.
Additionally, trip wires and virtual barriers set by video analytics can trigger drone flight through VMS software and track suspicious activity. The industry should expect to see more deployments of aerial devices with thermal sensors in the near future.
Experts throughout the industry agree that thermal security cameras are the optimal choice for 24-hour surveillance and intrusion detection. Additionally, the high-quality of thermal products in the marketplace accompanied by the knowledge of thermal technology will continue to mature, and thermal camera imaging should find its way into even more applications in the years ahead.
Dwight Dumpert is Director of Product Management, Security at FLIR Systems
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