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Surveillance technology in hazardous environments: a look at the future

14 February 2019

While the majority of industries keep safety and security as a core function of an operations department, there are a number of organisations, such as those in oil and gas exploration and production, critical infrastructure and manufacturing, where these two pillars are critical. This article by Simon Reed of Oncam looks at developing trends in security and surveillance and the critical role of video in hazardous environments. 

Technology being developed to meet the needs of these sectors is centred on the balance between providing innovation with functionality and security in an effort to protect these organisations. While these environments can often become the target of threats, such as vandalism, theft and even terrorist attacks, a measured response that incorporates emerging technology solutions to implement a comprehensive security plan can protect employees, assets and the surrounding communities.

At the centre of this innovation are a number of technology buzzwords, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, connectivity and Internet of Things (IoT), advanced cybersecurity measures, and video-centric analytics in a number of markets. Each one of these rely heavily on video at their core, and for these hazardous environments, the protection of video capture equipment and the implementation of robust camera functionality can bring increased insight into the state of a site.

Machine learning and AI-enabled devices. Software manufacturers are looking toward machine learning and AI to help propel advanced analytics in an effort to deliver more situational awareness to operators and an increased ability to proactively assess threats. While video and data analytic capabilities have been around for quite some time, some would argue they were rudimentary in comparison to software that uses AI and machine learning to make existing applications such as facial recognition much more accurate and to create new ways to detect anomalies in an environment. In addition, AI/machine learning will increasingly be used to make sense of the large amounts of data that are being generated by intelligent sensors and by analysing the growing amount of video.

Rise of connected devices. IoT has been a major trend for the past few years. This trend continues and is expanding to include environments that must meet stringent regulatory standards, as cybersecurity efforts are bolstered and sensors are integrated into a network. The collection and analysis of the data will give rise to a plethora of applications such as intelligent management of facilities, an increased ability to detect anomalies and ultimately perform predictive maintenance. Organisations can benefit by having additional intelligence for situational awareness, emergency management as well as opportunities to provide advanced asset performance management.

Increased focus on cybersecurity. Cyber-attacks have become, and will continue to be, a major threat to businesses, making this one of the most important trends. It goes without saying that as devices are increasingly connected along a network, the risk of breaches also goes up, which is why the shift over the last few years is around strengthening the cybersecurity of networked devices. All network connected devices such as DVRs/NVRs, servers, video cameras, access controllers, intrusion alarms, smart sensors, are vulnerable, leading manufacturers to build additional cybersecurity into their products. What's also emerging is that integrators and end users are starting to factor in cybersecurity as one of the major buying criteria for physical security hardware and software.

Increasing use of video in new markets and applications. Video is the cornerstone of security, providing both real-time and forensic coverage for emerging threats and incidents. The use of video will continue to grow for traditional applications in new markets (), as well as for use in newer applications that are not necessarily security related. In some industries such as oil and gas, there is a trend towards extending video coverage to monitor operations in extremely harsh and hazardous environments, so surveillance manufacturers will have to develop appropriately certified equipment to meet this demand. Manufacturing facilities such as food processing plants are also increasing their use of video for training and HSE compliance purposes to prevent incidents such as food recalls.

Video Central to Robust Protection in Hazardous Environments

One method by which the protection of these facilities can be achieved is through the implementation of robust video surveillance. It is critical for organisations to select security cameras with the correct housing for each application.

Video solutions that combine both exceptional video quality and protective enclosures are making the safekeeping of these critical sites possible and include the strategic placement of panoramic surveillance cameras. IP cameras are now available with ATEX, IEC and IECEx certified enclosures for explosive locations where combustible fuel materials are in close proximity. Combined with additional ratings such as IP69K/IK10, these enclosures are rated for resistance to high-pressure water jets, dust and vandalism, taking the surveillance of critical infrastructure to the next level.

Another consideration to make when exploring the options around video surveillance for hazardous environments is whether the solution is an open platform. Open platforms can deliver the kind of flexibility and scalability organisations require to utilize existing systems and continue to implement new ones as needs change. Incorporating solutions that allow for the flexibility to scale, as well as the means by which to achieve business intelligence and increase situational awareness, can aid security officials in establishing a comprehensive security plan that maximizes investment.

Open-platform solutions also bring forth integrations between disparate systems, incorporating not only video data capture, but also the ability to collect information from third-party systems, including access control, industrial control protocols, motion detection sensors, leak detection sensors, thermography, license plate recognition and other robust analytics features. The ability to combine data from these sources allows security leaders to achieve true situational awareness that will take security and safety to new levels in this ever-changing landscape.

Real-time video surveillance solutions have become the standard for facilities that are considered hazardous, as well as their related assets. Today, these organisations seek out platforms that drive not only security efforts but also provide business optimisation tools to meet process safety.

Additionally, specialized 360-degree surveillance technology has emerged as a major element in a comprehensive security plan, delivering wide angle views of large, open areas and providing full situational awareness in these locations. Panoramic coverage in 360 degrees offers security operators and facility manager the ability to see an expansive area with no blind spots, and also allows operators to zoom into areas of interest without losing the ability to simultaneously record video in real-time and playback. A single 360-degree camera can also replace between four and five traditional cameras, resulting in a more expansive, cost-effective solution for critical infrastructure and hazardous areas sites.

Whether it’s to defend against organized crime, discover vulnerabilities in the supply chain, provide evidence of incidents, keep strict HSE requirements or ensure compliance, panoramic surveillance delivers a robust, highly reliable and cost-effective monitoring and safety tool for hazardous environments.

About the author

Simon Reed currently serves as Vice President of Sales, EMEA and Asia, for Oncam, where he leads the implementation of the company’s strategic vision to expand market share, propel new deployments of the company’s award-winning technology, and boost strategic alliances. He formerly held senior sales and project management positions at Samsung Techwin and Wachter Inc.

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