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Switching Gears: Situational Awareness to Situational Assessment

As technology progresses, it becomes increasingly reliable, refined and effective. When IP-based security technologies were introduced more than 10 years ago, many were concerned about the reliability of building a physical security system on the network infrastructure. Look how far we’ve come — IP is expected to surpass analog sales in 2015.

In this article, we take a look at two technologies that are finding new uses in security and video monitoring. Both were once considered emerging solutions but now have demonstrated real-world value to customers in a variety of markets across the globe.

Wireless Advantage

As more people and businesses recognize the value of mobile applications, wireless devices are in high demand. Today, wireless devices are more robust than ever and are now capable of transmitting data across greater distances and within more difficult environments, including industrial installations and outdoor areas.

When it comes to security and mission-critical operations, however, many building managers still believe that technologies such as video surveillance cameras, must be wired to be truly effective. But today’s wireless technology is more reliable and robust than ever, making wireless cameras a great solution for many environments. Wireless devices can be located anywhere, without worrying about where to place data cables. This is especially beneficial in more challenging locales, such as parking lots and building perimeters, in mountainous areas, or in geographically distributed and remote locations. 

By eliminating cabling, wireless cameras – particularly those that are also solar-powered – eliminate the need for trenching. This practice can cut entire weeks from a project, which means the cameras can be deployed more quickly without disrupting a facility’s operations, as well as save several thousands of dollars per project. Not only are wireless camera networks easier to install initially, they’re also easier to scale over time as a new camera can be added as needs change.

Wireless technology also is ideal for temporary event security, since it can be quickly relocated. For example, the University of California, San Diego, uses solar wireless security cameras to cover temporary events, such as concerts and festivals, as well as to secure remote areas of campus.

Solar Trends

Solar technologies still hold an aura of mystery – often being viewed as unreliable or unproven. But today's solar technologies are robust, reliable, and well suited for a wide range of applications. Solar energy can even be used to power video surveillance solutions, allowing organizations to realize cost and power savings and enabling security to improve building sustainability. Thanks to continual innovation and falling prices, solar power has enjoyed steady growth over the years — and that growth is about to accelerate.

At the end of 2013, the global installed solar power capacity was 139 gigawatts (GW) — enough to meet approximately 1 percent of the world’s energy demands. Experts expected about 50 GW to be added in 2014, according to research by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association. And by 2018, solar power capacity will have tripled from current levels.

Several factors are contributing to the growth of solar power. First, more manufacturers in a growing number of industries are producing solar-powered technologies. As a result, the global solar capacity increases every year, and prices for solar panels fall. As prices come down, customers are turning to solar power to improve their sustainability, increase reliability and flexibility, and save money. In fact, more than half a million U.S. homes and business have gone solar.

Sustainable Video Surveillance
Extensive research and development investments have allowed for new innovations that leverage wireless networking, solar technology, and power reduction; and these advancements have opened up a new technology segment: solar-powered, wireless surveillance platforms. These products have been optimized and combined into a solution designed to enhance safety and improve business operations.

In today’s dynamic and ever-changing technology landscape, it is critical that solutions help customers answer their most challenging questions. End users frequently want to secure a perimeter or monitor operations at a remote location but often hit a critical roadblock: How do we avoid spending a small fortune to accomplish this?

Wireless and solar security technology allows customers to realize significant cost and infrastructure savings, as the need for cabling is eliminated. Surveillance platforms that eliminate the need for on-site network infrastructure, cabling and power requirements also allow customers to place cameras virtually anywhere. These solutions enable building managers to monitor activity at property perimeters, unmanned isolated locations and parking areas in a cost-effective manner.

Beyond safety and security needs, building owners and managers can leverage wireless, solar-powered video surveillance to monitor operations, especially at remote locations such as those found in the energy and utility markets. Often these sites need to be monitored to ensure safety and operations continuity, and sending a guard to these sites can be cost prohibitive and time consuming. Extending the use of video to ensure consistent and proper operation of machinery and systems at isolated sites allows property owners to make the shift from situational awareness to situational assessment. 

Dave Tynan is vice president, global marketing and sales at Micropower Technologies

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