Keeping up with Mother Nature

The rapidly evolving nature of the modern world is driving strides of innovation to keep up with the pace of growing populations and the changing way people interact with each other and the technology around them. That’s why we’re seeing waves of new analytics tools, new biometric technology and the advance of the cloud. But what about variables that are out of human control, such as extreme temperatures, inhospitable sites, or coastal conditions?

As the world fills up and we branch into more remote, even hostile, environments our security solutions need to be able to hold their own against Mother Nature. I’ve been chatting to leaders in this field to find out what solutions are available to keep your security system operating to its full potential even the most extreme conditions.

Extreme temperatures are among the most challenging causes of security system failure that nature can throw at you, with sever cold being the biggest enemy – according to Mark Rees, Business Development Manager, 360 Vision Technology.

“Cold is the worst enemy to any security system, which is why we test and certify our units down to minus 40 degrees Celsius,” he said. “ There are two ways to test equipment for cold, either by gradual temperature dropping down to –40 degrees or by cold start power up AT –40 degrees. We have found that some manufacturers only quote test one, whereas we certify for both. This is essential because most integrators in Russia or Canada will be taking cameras out of packaging and installing without the luxury of warming them up a bit!”

Warming up systems enough to function in the cold is something SeSys also takes into account when supplying solutions to these environments.

“At extreme cold temperatures ensuring that the systems deployed generate enough warmth to keep them free of ice is a challenge,” said Dan Eames, Operations Director, SeSys. “We have seen cameras with icicles hanging from them but the lenses have been warmed sufficiently so the camera continued to operate.”

He went on to add, “At the other end of scale high temperatures can quickly cause problems. Having a no moving part philosophy enables us to not only mitigate many of the problems associated with extreme temperature but also reduces the maintenance schedules and cost of ownership.”

High temperatures and humidity can rapidly take your system offline by causing problems with electronics, moving parts and condensation on lenses. 360 Vision’s ruggedised Predator PTZ solutions have been designed to mitigate these effects, said Rees.

“Heat is a concern for electronics, which is why we rate our product to +65 degrees,” he added. “With the use of specialist light paint and also bespoke sunshields, we have an excellent track record of zero failure due to heat. When this is combined with IP68 rating humidity is also catered for.”

Canon Middle East also has a range of IP surveillance cameras that are tailored for extreme temperatures.

Hendrik Verbrugghe, Marketing Director, Canon Middle East, said, “The VB-H630VE Full HD fixed dome IP security camera is particularly suited for extreme conditions. With an alloy aluminium exterior housing and strong polycarbonate resin dome, the VB-H630VE camera is impact resistant up to 50 Joules. IP66 dust and waterproof rating makes it ideal for outdoor use. Operational temperatures of -10°C to 50°C and a built-in fog reduction mechanism makes it ideal for harsh environments. By adding an optional heating unit the camera can perform in conditions as cold as -30°C.”

Extreme Heat

Remote systems
There are many situations where a security system my need to be established in difficult to reach sites, such as oil rigs, where access for maintenance is tricky. Eames explained that SeSys have provided solutions for a wide range of extreme environments, and that these can be locations that are inhospitable as much as they are hard to reach.

“Using cameras to watch over these processes removes the need to deploy teams of people with lots of health and safety equipment to check on the performance of the asset,” Eames explained. “Having a camera in these environments all of the time saves deploying these specialist teams with their equipment until such time as human intervention is truly required. This can deliver tremendous cost benefits to our clients, save many man days of time and perhaps most importantly limit the exposure of people to these inhospitable environments.”

He explained that hard to each doesn’t necessarily mean inhospitable, like a camera system SeSys installed in a Swedish forest for Marks and Spencer. SeSys have also supplied cameras to waste water companies such as Wessex Water to monitor underground processes.

Speaking about the Marks and Spencer installation, Eames told us that Marks and Spencer wanted to use a camera as part of its Plan B environmental awareness campaign. SeSys installed a camera system in a remote forest in Sweden that used 3G for connectivity and wind and solar for power.

Eames said, “This camera was used to look over the forest and raise awareness of the sustainable way that the forest is managed, and the science is very interesting. Trees are harvested, but there are numerous ways that the habitat is left to sustain the environment for the wildlife that lives there. The camera had to put up with hot summer days and a long cold winter but continued to operate, without intervention, despite these challenges. Unfortunately though, we didn’t manage to capture a moose on camera, even though we saw evidence of them in the area, which we all thought that was a shame!”

SeSys ATEX certified cameras have also been used in the North Sea and other oil and gas installations to help manage the asset and remove people from those extreme environments. Something Eames knows cannot be underestimated.

“Environments where harmful gases and liquids are found can be the hardest environments to work in,” he said. “Very careful material selection is essential. For example, stainless steel is essential in wastewater and marine applications.”

Canon Middle East’s ONVIF compliant systems also ensure easy remote control and monitoring of surveillance solutions in hard to reach areas.

“Canon’s VB-H630VE camera’s compliance with ONVIF v2.4 Profile S makes it convenient to create a solution with any ONVIF-compliant video management software. Canon also supports seamless integration through the use of the Canon network camera SDK and HTTP protocol specification and SSL/TLS encryption ensures a secure connection between the camera and server. Given its rugged, weather-proof housing, external protection is guaranteed. The camera’s Camera Angle Setting Tool makes setting up the view after installation easier, saving time, by allowing remote Pan/Tilt/Rotation/Zoom (PTRZ) functionality from a network-connected computer.”

A constant challenge
The environment is constantly finding new ways to challenge our technology, and that’s why it’s important that security solutions providers continue to innovate and evolve their offerings.

For instance, as far back as 2008 360 Vision Technology saw a gap in the market for ruggedised PTZ units that were truly manufactured in the UK, and so the Predator range was born, according to Rees. He explained that the company started with standard analogue before progressing to adding Illumination (patent pending White Light and Infra Red) and then it developed high resolution thermal and culminating in the industry’s first High Definition Ruggedised unit, 18 months ahead of its nearest competitor. And now, among a wide range of installtiong around the world, Predator cameras are deployed throughout Russia as early warning visual detectors for forest fires, detecting plumes of smoke at distances of 5km.

And yet, no matter how hard you work to keep up with mother nature, she’s always one step ahead – as Rees knows only too well!

“The generic heat of our Predator camera head seems to attract the attention of birds,” he explained. “They like to perch on top and keep their feet warm! Unfortunately, this leads to them also taking leave of their ablutions, so we have now developed a rather fetching ‘bird spike’ option to discourage our cameras being used as an avian seating area!”

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