Businesses are looking for solutions to adapt to the new requirements of social distancing, improved hygiene and screening people for COVID-19 symptoms. Health and Safety protocols and standard operating procedures (SOP) are being reviewed and rewritten in response to the new rules. The increased use of digital technologies is playing a critical role to businesses running their operations in new ways, home working and video conferencing being the obvious examples. We also see increased interest for IP camera technology as a key tool for adapting to the new situation.
Networked camera systems help with managing spaces remotely. There is virtually no limit to what you can see or monitor, whenever or wherever you are, and whether it is live or recorded footage. It perfectly fits with working from home or remote from the activity. This is core to what makes IP camera technology such a helpful tool in the current environment. But advancements in recent years have made IP cameras even more relevant for dealing with today’s problems.
Video Analytics (VA)
Video analytics have become much more mature in recent times and this has resulted in improved, more accurate alert systems and better business intelligence. Video analytics to manage the occupancy of a space already existed but have gained more relevance now, the same for analytics that automatically alert on group forming or loitering, or an individual moving in the opposite direction in a one-way system. Camera-generated heatmaps are another existing tool that can help with analysing the movement of people in spaces, e.g. shops, to identify where the busy areas are and change layouts.
But since the start of the pandemic new algorithms have been developed. Interesting ones include applications that monitor the distance between humans and can alert on individual rule breaches or create reports to provide intelligence on social distancing behaviour in a particular area, allowing for breaching hot spots to be identified.
There are also new analytics that can identify if someone is wearing a face mask. This is useful in areas where wearing a face mask is compulsory with the system creating an alert if someone is not. It can also be used to allow or deny a person access to a building or area, via integration with an entrance door or turnstile.
There has also been much interest in human temperature screening using IP cameras with thermal imaging technology. This to identify if somebody has a raised temperature, which may indicate a fever due to COVID-19. Thermographic cameras are typically installed at entrance points to screen people entering a building or area, with wider follow-up procedures in place when the system alerts of an individual with a heightened temperature. We have previously discussed our note of caution on the use of thermal imaging cameras.
In most places, signs have been put up and markings made on floors in order to help and remind people of the need for physical distancing and extra hand hygiene. In addition, IP audio speakers can help with verbal reminders. For example, a reminder message or instructions can automatically play when a person enters a building, room or area.
A network speaker can be simply attached to an existing IP camera system with the camera to trigger for a message to be played on detection of an individual entering an area. Alternatively, there are also IP-based speakers (for indoor use) such as the Axis C1410, with an in-built PIR detector, which can play a message on detection of a person without it being networked to a camera.
With the speakers being networked, live verbal instructions or warnings can also be broadcasted, for example from a security control room.
Body worn cameras
The need to manage people in public spaces so that physical distancing rules are adhered to increases the risk of conflict or abuse. Law enforcement officers have been using wearable cameras for years in order to have access to hard video evidence of such events. Security guards and crowd control officers involved with managing social distancing in public spaces would feel more confident in their actions too if video would be recorded to evidence their interventions. It is good practice for officers at risk of conflict to be kitted out with body-worn camera units for this reason.
Back at base the wearable camera is placed in a networked docking station, which automatically uploads the day’s video footage to the video management system, securely stored and watermarked.
Design and methodology are key
IP video technology is used at a huge scale and in a large variety of applications. It also has an important role to play in getting and keeping operations going in the much-changed environment due to the coronavirus. But there are a lot of different solutions and products to choose from with the differences in performance and suitability not always easy to identify from the vendors’ marketing materials on offer. We find these materials often over-promise without mention of the complexities involved, creating unrealistic expectations in the market.
It should also not be forgotten that technology on its own is rarely the answer. In the case of the new coronavirus-related health and safety rules technology is a key tool in helping businesses to manage, as part of wider procedural and operational changes that will need to be implemented. Expert advice is therefore key to come to a design specification and implementation methodology that is effective in helping you to resolve the new operational challenges you are facing.
--- Established in 2004, NW has been at the forefront of networked camera technologies supporting a sizeable customer base with smart video systems that deliver operational and business results. We offer professional, independent advice to the interest of our customers.
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