Historically, the high costs associated with thermal imaging have been prohibitive for use in mainstream physical security, limiting this technology for military and specialised law enforcement applications. However, over the past few years, lower pricing along with the development of a range of thermal CCTV camera hardware and software options has made this technology more accessible in the mainstream.
What are thermal cameras?
A Thermal Imaging Cameras (also known as TIC) is a type of thermographic camera used in video surveillance and firefighting.
These cameras form an images using infrared radiation, in contrast to traditional optical cameras that form images using visible light. These can allow the operator to ‘see’ areas of heat through smoke, darkness, or heat-permeable barriers.
Thermal camera imaging has been in the spotlight recently in relation to ‘elevated temperature screening‘ amid the Covid-19 pandemic. But of course, it’s applications go far beyond just that.
Thermal CCTV cameras are used across many industry sectors, from utilities, refineries, substations, solar farms, airports, railways, manufacturing facilities and even data centres to not only compliment their physical security defences, but also to provide predictive maintenance and business critical analytics that play a role in their operational efficiencies. These include being able to monitor HVAC systems, equipment, power lines and machinery etc. Importantly, these cameras are increasingly being used to enhance fire safety controls too.
An example of the effectiveness of a thermal CCTV camera system being remotely monitored by Farsight is this…
Behind the parked lorry (above) at this logistics site in Oldham you’ll notice a fire that started outside a neighbouring premises. Thanks to a thermal CCTV camera alerting Farsight’s remote monitoring team to a temperature anomaly which was supported with visual verification, the Farsight CCTV operators were able to alert the fire services and keyholders quickly and efficiently to avert complete disaster.
Thermal CCTV Camera Monitoring Case Study
The Farsight team have recently worked with one of our security systems installer partners – Action Surveillance & CCTV Ltd., to commission the remote monitoring of a thermal CCTV camera system into our central monitoring station. This will allow Farsight to monitor a Household Waste & Recycling Centre site which naturally has a higher risk of both intrusion and of course fire.
Typically, thermal CCTV cameras were not designed for an optical view that is needed to identify people, but for thermal imaging to provide early warning prevention. However, there are now cameras available that will allow a channel change between thermal imagery or an optical view.
In this particular case, the system installed is part of Hikvision’s bi-spectrum thermal camera range which offers an ideal solution for a site of this size and unique profile. The smart linkage of thermal cameras with IP cameras puts the advantages of both into one system – thermal camera images that provide high-precision video analytics and IP optical camera imagery that offers HD video footage and facial recognition functions for the Farsight CCTV operator to get the full picture and for the facilitation of future event investigation/prosecution.
The above CCTV image on the left shows visual verification that a person is onsite allowing the CCTV operator to discern whether he is an intruder, and if so, appropriate action can taken.
But what is he up to?
In this test, the man in the image on the right is actually lighting a gas burner which has been instantly picked up by the thermal camera, with the analytics showing that the temperature of the fire being lit is 69.9 degrees – comparing it to the ‘acceptable’ ambient temperature of the surrounding areas which is up to 30 degrees.
Clearly, this is more that an intruder alert, it’s an early fire warning too, allowing the Farsight CCTV operator to take the appropriate action to call in the relevant emergency services and keyholders. Obviously, with the presence of visual verification, an incident such as this is treated as a high priority. The CCTV operators can also use multiple views from other cameras onsite to update and advise the emergency services of further activities on the site as they unfold.
The primary benefit of thermal cameras for fire protection lies in their ability to detect the temperature anomalies that occur just before a fire starts, or if the fire has already started before the smoke can be detected by a conventional smoke detector.
Want Farsight to monitor your security systems?
With Farsight’s renowned ‘commitment to vigilance’, your security will be in safe hands. In fact, Farsight was recently awarded ‘Best Security Services Provider 2020 – UK’. Awards are nice, but for peace of mind see what our clients think of us: here
We’ve created a short video to help you understand how remote CCTV monitoring works.
The video explains how Farsight can monitor security systems across the UK from the Farsight Observatory, through to how Farsight’s CCTV operators swiftly react to alarms, taking the appropriate actions when necessary to protect your premises, assets and people.
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