Once encountered only in movies featuring the lair of a James Bond-type villain or a heist from a super-secure museum, commercial video surveillance systems have become economical, common, and easy to use. Digital technology has replaced passive analog videotape so that these smart systems exhibit hitherto impossible programmed-response integration. They help protect a business from fire and liability while strengthening its security and give owners a flexible, granular, and robust means of managing access control.
The National Fire Protection Association estimated that in 2012 the United States experienced almost half a million structural fires, causing about 2,500 deaths and 15,000 injuries. These fires resulted in $9.6 billion in property damage. Today’s fire monitoring and fire-suppression systems are linked to local fire, police, and other first-responder departments to minimize both loss of life and property.
The systems use sensors located throughout a structure to detect a fire from the presence of heat, smoke, or carbon monoxide as soon as the fire starts. They then send a wireless or wired signal to an automated control system that can begin fighting the fire with a local water sprinkler or through chemical means and oxygen deprivation. Moreover, because the system is smart, it will at first activate suppression measures only in the area nearest the fire, reducing unnecessary damage via a focused response. The system will detect when the fire is extinguished and can shut off any activated response mechanisms accordingly. Meanwhile, it can notify the fire department and any other designated responders.
Less than 20 years ago, the first networked camera could send only a low-resolution image at one frame per second over the Internet. Today, a confluence of improved technologies in video, audio, bandwidth, and security, along with economies of scale, is making high-resolution digital video both affordable and essential for commercial enterprises. These systems protect against obvious risks such as shoplifting and break-ins and constantly gather physical evidence in the event of litigation affecting the enterprise. Should a passerby, for example, claim that he or she has fallen in your store, surveillance video is available to verify or rebut the would-be litigant’s account.
Modern video systems have image enhancement, greater storage capabilities for longer data retention, and more built-in intelligence that can respond to highly customizable and specific alerts—such as a person’s lingering too long in one area of a monitored room. In turn, the intelligence provides for user-customizable responses, from sending a high-resolution image to a designated cell phone to alerting police.
Few contemporary businesses of any size rely on conventional locks and metal keys for access control because of a key’s limited flexibility, difficult change implementation, and lack of record-keeping. Card readers can integrate with other smart devices to operate gates and doors, as well as activate image recording and send alerts or alarms as needed. Moreover, modern control systems can passively track and record all building traffic and respond immediately to both individual and global access updates.
For help installing or upgrading security systems in your enterprise, contact SafeT Systems (865-693-0095).
This article originally appeared in the Cityview Magazine 2014 Home Automation Guide.