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Sound the alarm

Published by
World Pipelines,

Håkan Hansson, Axis Communications, Sweden, explains how security guard callouts can be reduced by adding network audio to video surveillance.

Protecting and securing pipelines poses a number challenges. Be it illegal trespassing, vandalism, copper theft or even sabotage, security systems need to be able to not only alert to incidents, but also to enable operators to identify the type, scope and severity of an incident so that the proper action can be taken. Traditional security system components – such as microwave barriers, motion and trampling sensors – all require a second confirmation level in order to clearly identify an incident and to exclude the possibility of a false alarm. Pipeline perimeters are sometimes not easy to clearly define and to cordon off. This is especially true for pipelines in remote locations. Wildlife and weather conditions can trigger false sensor alarms.

Remote video surveillance monitoring with audio talk down capabilities is proving to be a very effective and powerful combination for protecting remote and isolated pipelines. Consisting of extremely valuable assets that are remotely located and often difficult to secure, they continue to be targets for sabotage, attacks and organised threats. Pipelines require constant protection; alarm monitoring services and security guard companies increasingly substitute manned guards with video surveillance and centralised control centres, which monitor the feeds. Therefore, there is a growing need to be able to address and respond to incidents immediately from a remote location.

Network audio enables an effective way to intervene directly at the scene of an incident. When video surveillance cameras or perimeter detection devices identify a breach of the perimeter or people loitering, an alarm message is displayed in the control centre. This can either automatically trigger a pre-recorded audio message to be played back at the scene of the incident, or the operator can quickly assess the situation from video footage and live feeds before responding by speaking through a microphone. The operator can also talk directly to the perpetrators at the scene of the incident before deciding whether to dispatch a security team. This adds an important human element to the security solution even if there are no guards in the vicinity, and can potentially de-escalate a situation without placing personnel in danger.

Network audio enables proactive video surveillance

If operators are able to speak directly to those that triggered an alarm or show suspicious behaviour, this makes a great difference compared to only being able to record their actions on video. Network audio can be used to communicate warnings, orders or requests from a remote control centre location directly to people trespassing, loitering or otherwise needing to be addressed. For instance, if a person in a video surveillance camera’s field of view demonstrates suspicious behaviour or is seen to be entering a restricted area, an operator in the remotely located control centre can send a verbal warning to the person. In a situation where a person has been injured, being able to remotely communicate with and notify the victim that help is on the way can greatly help with managing the incident.

Security services company, Securitas, is using network audio to make its video surveillance services more effective. The company is offering cloud-based remote video surveillance (security as a service). This approach reduces the cost compared to security guards patrolling customer premises. By adding network audio to video surveillance cameras, Securitas can offer its customers real time security services at competitive price points, as security guards are only sent out if and when needed. Besides the cost savings, network audio also enables the company to effectively address incidents by immediately communicating in a de-escalating and deterring manner.

“Horn speakers allow our operators to immediately intervene when video analytics alerts us of trespassing at customer sites,” says Lars Kämpe, Business Development Manager at Securitas. The company equips virtually all of its outdoor perimeter protection installations with loudspeakers. “Normally, a trespasser will flee the scene when notified of his detection. This saves cost for our customers due to reduced damages and also no unnecessary callouts.”

Easier to install than analogue speakers

Audio talk down is a function that is supported by most video management software solutions (VMS), either by allowing the operator to speak directly by pressing a button in the video view or by automatically playing back pre-recorded audio messages on different previously defined triggers. This native VMS integration makes it easy to add audio talk down to a video surveillance system. Many network cameras come equipped with onboard audio capability. If there is external power available, an amplifier and analogue speaker can be connected to the audio output of the camera.

Adding network audio functionality to video surveillance systems is even easier as network horn speakers can be added. Network horn speakers provide a simple to install and complete paging solution in a single unit. With Power over Ethernet (PoE), the unit gets power and connection over a single network cable, just like a network camera does. This means you do not need an external power supply or any additional equipment.

In a network audio system, every horn speaker is individually addressable providing great flexibility and scalability. Integration with other systems is made very simple with IP-based technology. Network horn speakers can be integrated directly into the VMS or into a standard voice over internet protocol phone system using session initiation protocol.

Smart functionality with network audio

Network horn speakers allow operators to monitor the connection and status of each unit at all times. This is not possible with analogue speakers. Operators would not be sure an analogue speaker is operational at any given time or that its volume or sound quality are sufficient. Multiple locations can easily be integrated and managed centrally. For securing and protecting pipelines, it is all a matter of network. Network horn speakers feature a built-in microphone and onboard analytics allowing for automatic self-checks to ensure the sound quality is always optimal. The microphone can also be used to listen in on the scene or for automatic intelligent detection of aggression, gun shots, explosions or vandalism.

“Securitas has worked with analogue loudspeakers until now,” says Kämpe. “With analogue loudspeakers, there is always an uncertainty since there is no way to remotely detect if they are actually working correctly. Network horn speakers allow us to remotely monitor the heartbeat of the speaker and check the sound quality. The speakers also support PoE, which makes them easier to install and lowers installation costs. It also gives us the possibility to use pre-recorded messages.”

Network horn speakers are a simple yet extremely effective addition to video surveillance systems. They allow remote operators to directly address people and deter unwanted activity. Security guard callouts can be reduced and incidents are better managed by being able to communicate with those present at the scene from any location and at any given time.

This article was first published in World Pipelines. To receive your free copy, click here.

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