Brian Sims

Protecting People and Property: The Role of IP Cameras

INTEGRATED SECURITY and surveillance systems with high-performance IP cameras at their core offer a host of added value benefits for the end user, duly transforming access control and productivity. Tony Easingwood concentrates on the fine detail.

CCTV camera technology is constantly changing. It’s also true to state that today’s smart IP cameras offer far more than just images on a monitor. They can, for instance, provide intelligent behaviour analysis to determine if an alarm should even be triggered.

For example, an IP camera looks for an individual crossing a restricted line. That person could be entering a restricted area or moving into a parking zone. IP cameras can also detect if someone leaves a package or takes a laptop. Some feature an audio capability, making it possible to warn an individual that they need to move away from a sensitive area.

We’re seeing industrial and manufacturing organisations increasingly adopting unified solutions with user interfaces that display all of the requisite physical security functions of access control and video surveillance, but with the added capabilities to integrate with central monitoring and concentrate on vehicle number plate recognition, intercom systems, fire and intruder alarms, telecoms, building management systems and more.

Indeed, unified systems allow operators to leverage every connected system and improve the flow of information across a wide range of activities and functions at every level of an organisation. Whether they are stationed in a Security Operations Centre or simply accessing their system remotely using a web-based application, operators benefit from one seamless experience.

Here, it’s very much the case that information is critical. If all of the requisite information needed is housed in a single interface, the end user can make more informed decisions and react to incidents on a faster and more intelligent basis.

Information assists forensic investigations with accelerated video management systems allowing the user to more effectively search for objects, people and incidents to assist in, for example, post-incident reports and inform business-critical functions such as Health and Safety, enabling operators to develop new strategies and plans to improve operating procedures or better share evidence with third parties in investigations.

Greater interoperability combined with emerging Artificial Intelligence technologies creates cutting-edgy systems that reduce the chances of human error, lower staffing requirements and yield tangible returns.

Determining the system’s function

When thinking about ways in which to improve monitoring and access control across a given property, it’s important to consider from the outset what’s required of that security regime. After all, we see that modern CCTV systems are now so much more than simple sentinels.

Given the huge demand for the correlation of data from sensors, alarms, video surveillance, card access, visitor management, asset tracking and other systems that share data and intelligence across an existing network infrastructure, IP camera technologies make it possible to provide a potent single-site solution underpinned by secure and reliable monitoring and reporting capabilities.

Indeed, sensory cameras can provide metadata – ie information about the video data – through advanced analytics that add another layer of information and value. The opportunity is bountiful to combine this data with that from other sensors monitoring temperature, noise, air and water quality, etc to create an advanced sensory network that accelerates data-driven decisions. We’re already seeing the application of such networks in industrial environments through the monitoring of processes and supporting proactive maintenance.

It's now possible to track everyone at a property at all times, recording their identity, activities, role in the business, reason for entry and when and where they left the site. This facilitates enhanced premises management, improved Health and Safety, greater security and the identification of employee operations as well as highlighting issues that might impact productivity. In short, it resolves specific problems, improving the protection of people and assets in the process.

Installation procedure

Installing a business security system is a seamless process. IP access control systems are easy to implement and integrate, providing the end user with data that can be effectively employed to deliver customised access in line with commercial operations and specific work patterns.

Moreover, access control can be integrated with building management systems, adding value through easy-to-programme lighting and temperature control that may be configured to significantly reduce energy bills.

Remote access and data protection are also important considerations. Cloud-based systems enable access control solutions to be interrogated from anywhere through a reliable and secure Internet connection. The advantages are myriad, but include the ability to change access levels, temporarily unlock doors for authorised individuals, add or remove accredited individuals and print security reports without physically being in the workplace.

It also helps to lower the cost of equipment and maintenance by eliminating the need to purchase dedicated hardware and associated licensing and software update agreements.

It’s important to consider how active IP camera-based access management can be part of a ‘smart’ holistic monitoring and access control solution that saves time and resources. For instance, attempting to manage security risks across many devices and platforms without a centralised strategy can be draining, but using modern IP camera-based platforms allows employees to have the necessary access credentials to log into networks and workstations, providing more layers of protection.

Even replacing lost credentials or re-setting passwords can cost businesses through lost productivity, but incorporating so-called ‘passwordless’ applications as part of biometric-linked access control tightens security, while at the same time making matters easier for users.

Rapid change

New technologies are driving rapid change across the access control sector and, indeed, the wider security industry. They’re shaping a future in which IP cameras are improving evidence gathering with forensic analytics that enable the seamless review, search and examination of hours of video footage to locate individuals and objects of interest.

As companies move more and more towards hybrid working models and seek more flexible co-working spaces rather than long-term office leases, their access control needs change. The right access control system will continue to help keep buildings secure in an uncertain world, while ensuring seamless access for remote workers who may only need entry to the office a few times per month.

As we move forward, Artificial Intelligence is increasingly featuring in IP camera systems that deliver advanced analytical functions. Some of these are self-learning systems with the capability to analyse normal behaviour for certain areas and,, therefore, they’re able to build up a definition of typical behavioural patterns, including the size, speed and colour of specific objects.

They then ‘normalise’ the data, tagging any objects and patterns observed. When the AI camera’s ‘eye’ catches any movement that falls outside of this typical behaviour, it alerts security personnel. Along with self-learning systems, features such as object tracking, two-way audio and facial recognition herald Artificial Intelligence cameras’ place as an advanced and effective future-proof commercial video security solution.

‘Intuitive’ nature

The emerging ‘intuitive’ nature of IP cameras reduces the requirement for personnel to physically be on-site to oversee systems, thereby allowing resources to be diverted elsewhere. The day may even come sooner rather than later when Artificial Intelligence tech will enable cameras to predict how likely people are to commit a crime or undertake a risky task such that security personnel or management can intervene before it happens.

When it comes to integrating access control, it’s clearly important to think long and hard about what type of IP-based access control devices will best suit the needs of – and protect – the host business and its employees. It’s a nuanced and complex decision. For instance, how will the addition of IP camera technology affect the organisation and the existing network performance?

With a plethora of system options available, it’s vital to select technology that meets current and future needs. This will save money in the long run and make life far easier for everyone involved.

Tony Easingwood is Senior Account Manager at Advantex (

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