Individuals will also approach the station directly so a front view
can be achieved.
In terms of operational efficiency, video intercoms are a time
saver because badging issues can be resolved remotely, Mosebar
explains. Your security team can provide instant assistance if a
person’s access is denied. He or she could hold up a photo ID for
verification or say a preapproved security phrase to gain entry.
Beyond access control, video paging can amplify the effectiveness of emergency or push-for-help stations, adds Mosebar. These
devices are traditionally configured as a distress button or a call
station with two-way communication, but the only way you can see
that location is to have a separate surveillance camera in the vicinity. With a video intercom feature, however, you can visually monitor the location while receiving and sending information.
Distinguish Threats with Analytics
Video analytics can already interpret physical movement and
audio analytics are no different. Much research has gone into
mapping the human ear and watching how the cochlea transmits
sound waves to the brain as nerve signals. Software algorithms
replicate this biological process in order to identify signature
sounds. These apps can flag anything from cries of distress and
vocal aggression to the sounds of vehicle crashes, breaking glass
or weapon discharges, Surfaro says.
Note that these programs are a form of audio recognition –
they’re not continuously listening to every single noise, stresses
Surfaro. Only predefined or unexpected noises will trigger the
software to send an alert to your security team. And unless the
software is supposed to recognize key words, aggression detection is limited to vocal inflections rather than word choice. Not
only does this allay speech privacy concerns, but it saves on
bandwidth because the app doesn’t need to stream all the time.
Using analytics to identify specialized sounds helps you to
respond more quickly. A few seconds saved over scrutinizing
a silent video capture can get guards on location more nimbly
or a 911 call dispatched earlier. It’s the difference between
responding to a physical fight in progress and preventing
verbal aggression from escalating to battery.
You can also put sound detection to use outside of your security operations. In industrial or mission critical settings, you
can teach the analytics to recognize the hum of your machinery,
Surfaro explains. If a machine runs outside of business hours,
makes an unusual noise that points to a maintenance issue or
goes silent when it should be on, the analytics will know and
send a notification.
Another smart use of this capability is in parking areas.
While gunshot detection has become more prevalent in recent
years, don’t overlook more common occurrences like car accidents that affect life safety, says Surfaro. It’s far more likely
that a fender bender will happen on your property than mass
violence. In addition to recognizing the distinct sound of cars
hitting one another, analytics can detect car alarms and breaking glass. Thieves may think twice if someone can hear them
breaking into a vehicle and occupants can take comfort that
their car is less likely to be stolen or vandalized.
No matter which sound capture option you use, adding
audio will help solidify your due diligence. “You should do
everything in your power to make your facility safer,” says
Surfaro. “If you have the capability for audio, why not use it
to your advantage?” B
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human ear for surveillance purposes, says Brent. A poor quality microphone is about as useful as a poor quality camera.
Depending on what you want to register, you may need more
advanced microphones that have a high sensitivity and can
filter out ambient noise, suggests Steve Surfaro, Industry
Liaison for Axis Communications.
But don’t forget about the camera itself – the video is the
Video Intercoms to Control Access
foundation for audio. To achieve the right balance of visual
and audio acuity, you need a strong
resolution to have clear footage
and the right audio capabilities to
process cascading sounds, Surfaro
explains. Owners with CCTV or a
mix of analog and IP equipment
will have to work around their
existing systems to achieve useable
audio. If your video is for general
observation, a full system upgrade
may not be required – micro-
phones will be able to distinguish
classes of objects in the field of
view, recommends Surfaro. If you
want to isolate individual sounds,
however, installing HDTV cameras
with quality microphones can aid
in forensic investigations.
Another functionality you may
want to secure is two-way com-
munication. Not only will you be
able to listen to an area, but you
can deliver live messages using the
same speaker equipment, Surfaro
says. In a crisis, voice communica-
tion can deliver instructions or
reassurance to occupants as you
keep visual and audio tabs on the
situation. If an individual is detected committing violence
or vandalism, you can tell them to cease and desist and that
security is responding to their location.
What if you want to use audio in a more interactive way?
Video intercoms allow you to see and hear people as they
approach an entrance. These dynamic devices can interface
with your badging system so you can communicate with individuals as an added layer of authentication.
“Video intercoms are a bridge solution between access
control and surveillance, says John Mosebar, Vice President
of Aiphone, a communication systems provider. “They enable
you to engage with what you see.”
The systems are typically standalone and don’t need to
be networked, which simplifies installation. They are rou-
tinely used at external entrances, both main and back doors,
and can capture images during low light and darkness, says
Mosebar. You can also use them internally for restricted areas.
There are also software solutions that run on a computer or
mobile phone, a useful solution to reduce hardware on a recep-
tion desk and simplify guest verification, he adds.
One key advantage is the field of view. Security cameras are
traditionally placed high in a corner so they have wide coverage – useful for monitoring perimeters but not for verifying
identity. Video intercoms, on the other hand, are placed at eye
level because the depth is intentionally shallow to capture faces.
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