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Switching Gears: Situational Awareness to Situational Assessment

Posted on 3/31/2015 9:46 AM by Dave Tynan

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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3 Tips to Make Better LED Lighting Decisions

Posted on 3/27/2015 8:41 AM by Jeffrey Goldstein

With so much information about LED lighting and rapid changes in the technology, it can be challenging to determine the best options for your building. Following are three notable tips to help building owners and managers navigate the current LED environment. 

Consider part replacement capability

Today, building managers looking to switch to LED lighting have two general options: luminaires with LED boards and luminaires with tubular shaped modular LED light engines.

Modular LED light engines use similar LED components to typical board-based versions and package them in a self-contained form similar in size and shape to T8 fluorescent lamps. They offer significant energy savings and can provide comparable performance to many board-based systems. If dimming is required, many board-based LED luminaires are available with dimming capable drivers. Line voltage powered modular light engines are currently unable to dim, but many external driver and ballast compatible types offer dimming capabilities.  

However, units with removable modular LED light engines have one significant advantage in the current state of the market where there is little standardization of components and replacement parts among LED manufacturers. When luminaires with modular LED light engines fail, building managers can replace the LED light component just as easily as a fluorescent lamp, and external driver or ballast if so equipped. Most LED board-based fixtures will need to be completely replaced at the end of their life or in case of component failure because the LED components used will likely be obsolete by then and the lack of uniformity among manufacturers makes finding direct replacement parts difficult. These are all factors to consider when making the decision about the type of LED luminaire to purchase. 

Take care when things get hot

Heat is the enemy of all things electronic, including LEDs. If they get too hot, they will fail or change colors. Many inexpensive imported LED products are poorly designed and do not properly get rid of the excess heat. Building owners and managers need to consider the environment when choosing LED luminaires and select fixtures from reputable manufacturers with properly designed thermal management. The practice of identifying a solution that will perform best for the longest time and with the least maintenance in a specific environment remains key, both with LED and traditional lighting sources.

Look for the right LED fixture certifications

Most LED fixtures that will be submitted for a utility rebate will likely need to be certified by the DesignLights Consortium® (DLC). Many of the country’s utilities use the DLC qualified product list for their rebate programs. Not every project needs a rebate, though, and many building owners see the potential energy-saving benefits and satisfactory payback for upgrading their lighting to LED. 

All DLC listed luminaires are also required to be tested to LM79 specifications, which evaluates several product functions, including energy use, light output and color spectrum. This is a supplementary, voluntary certification done by the manufacturer, unlike the mandatory UL or equivalent mark indicating the fixture has been tested for all applicable safety requirements. 

Jeffrey Goldstein is CEO at LaMar Lighting



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