In the past, electronic surveillance within education has often been viewed as a ‘grudge buy’, especially in smaller institutions. Something that you have to have, a necessary evil. As a result, many schools and universities have spent only what they have to, looking for the bare minimum, and in some instances even using CCTV kits meant for small retail or domestic use. This is a mind-set that has changed over recent years with many sites, particularly larger campuses, adopting proper security and surveillance practices.
However, with growing pressure to protect both students and staff from a myriad of dangers, including abuse, accidents and even – at the extreme end of the scale – arson. As a result, this raises the question of how schools and universities can afford a system fit for purpose while keeping costs to a minimum. This is an area Dahua and the wider industry have been looking at, recognising the balancing act involved.
Sites such as large schools and universities tend to cover large areas, with some extending to several acres. This can make the number of cameras needed to provide a usable view of all relevant areas unfeasible. To help address this, there have been three main developments:
Traditional analogue cameras typically produced around 480 TV lines of picture quality, which was approximately comparable to VGA resolution. With the advent of IP and analogue replacement technologies, such as HD-CVI, camera image qualities have become exponentially better, with 12MP becoming a norm. This means a single camera can now monitor far larger areas than traditional cameras ever could. There are football stadiums in the UK that use this technology to watch several thousand people simultaneously using a single fixed camera providing the ability to zoom in digitally and recognise each individual.
A relatively new innovation, this is a single device, but with multiple cameras built in. These can operate in a couple of ways: by giving multiple camera feeds over a single connection or having all of the images ‘stitched’ together giving full 180° or 360° fields of view. This technology offers a number of cost-saving benefits. First, installing one camera rather than 3 or 4 in the same area saves significant installation time and infrastructure. Second, on a recording device these days you tend to pay for the number of recording channels, and many multi-lens devices will often only require 1 channel of recording. Third, is the cost of the unit itself. Because it sometimes replaces the need for 4 or more cameras, a single camera doesn’t carry the cost a larger number of cameras otherwise would.
Although not a new technology, thermal imaging used to be something that was far beyond the budget of a traditional CCTV system. Added to this is the physical size of the units; before now, it was relatively unheard of for this technology to be used outside military or petrochemical sites.
This is something that has changed in the past few years, with some thermal cameras now at a similar price to a traditional camera. Also, the size of a thermal imaging camera has reduced significantly, meaning it is also no bigger than a conventional system. The benefit of this technology is coverage. A thermal camera can detect movement and pick out intruders over huge distances. At night, these cameras come into their own, watching fence lines and open spaces such as playing fields, with a single camera able to monitor several hundred metres. Now, for less than the cost of a PTZ, you can monitor entire playing fields, even in the pitch black.
Security within education establishments is a necessity, there’s no getting away from it. And security measures come in many different forms, which does not make the implementation and management of such systems easy. But there are now many options out there – options you may not have been aware of, and ones that could mean you can afford a better system than you may have first thought. So, if you’re looking to implement, upgrade or expand your security measures, make sure you look at all the options and speak to the companies, such as Dahua, which are innovating in this area – not just the ones offering the cheapest equipment. Cutting corners in your CCTV system could turn out to be far more expensive than you first budgeted for.
Northwood Technology are Irish distributors for the Dahua range of security solutions. For more information on these products please contact our Dublin office on 01 8601880 or our Cork office on 021 2066853