IP cameras are one of the most frequently used security applications. Reliable and cost-effective, IP cameras play an integral part of most security programs, along with alarms, fire detection, and access control systems. IP cameras are used in virtually every facility that houses product with any degree of desirability, from electronics to tobacco to clothing. While IP cameras offer a reliable means for monitoring facilities and allow for detection of unauthorized access and a means for the apprehension of offenders, care must be taken to ensure that the systems are installed properly in order to maximize their full potential.
Although initially met with resistance by employees in the industrial community, IP cameras today are readily accepted as part of the working environment. As cargo losses have continued to rise throughout the supply chain, cost-effective means have been sought out to mitigate thefts and decrease the overall cost of investigating crimes (and to prevent them from happening in the first place); IP cameras play a definite role and has become a common part of this process. The greatest potential for IP cameras is its integration with other sensor systems (alarms and motion detection), as well as its use to view remote areas with potential security and safety problems. When used to its fullest extent, a video surveillance system can serve as a tremendous tool for detecting the presence of unauthorized personnel by alerting security staff monitoring the system. As part of an overall security policy, the reaction of the guards once an unauthorized presence is detected must be established in writing along with management notification procedures.
Beyond detection of unauthorized personnel, IP cameras can also serve in other roles, such as investigating accidents, employee misconduct, and more. The only way in which a video surveillance system can serve as a theft prevention tool is if the system is being monitored by someone who is in a position to respond immediately to a threat. Without a monitoring and reaction/response capability, a video surveillance system provides historical data and does not serve in a theft prevention capacity, but remains an integral part of a physical security plan.
In the role of asset protection, IP cameras can be used to detect unwanted entry into a facility, beginning with access through the perimeter barrier and following the intruder through a series of cameras throughout the interior and exterior of the facility.
Adequate IP camera coverage should include the following areas:
- Adequate IP camera coverage should include the following areas:
- 360 degree exterior perimeter
- Interior and exterior of all entry/exit points
- Interior and exterior of all dock doors
- The shipping yard
- High-value cage/vault
- Goods in storage
- Vehicle entry/exit (capturing license plates and truck driver faces)
- Security room entry point
- Information technology room or location of security systems entry point
As with the overall level of security, the number of cameras used, their capabilities, and the areas covered will be dependent on the product being stored, its desirability by thieves, and the overall potential loss to a company in the event of a catastrophic theft.
Typically, the video surveillance system serves as a deterrent to (internal) theft and provides visual evidence of crimes committed (internal theft and warehouse burglaries/robberies). The most common mistakes with IP cameras are a lack of coverage in critical areas, poor camera positioning, and no active monitoring when staff is available. IP cameras have to be integrated into the overall facility security program and therefore must be installed properly, designed to provide the desired level of coverage and be monitored by trained personnel.
The positioning of cameras is also important. Cameras set too low, too high or covering too large of an area can result in deteriorated images or blocked images altogether. Security managers should ensure that the camera capabilities and coverage requirements are clearly communicated to the provider/installer. Additionally, adjustments must be considered, for example, how the facility will be set up and operated during the day, before installation. While a trailer may not be present when the cameras are installed, if not taken into consideration, the entire field of view could be blocked once a trailer is backed into place.
The ideal camera-to-door ratio for the interior dock area is one camera for every three dock doors with the camera positioned so that the inside of each trailer can be viewed when the doors are open. Cameras positioned along the same wall that is being monitored can view product being loaded or unloaded, but are ineffective at identifying which dock door is being used during the activity being viewed.
The common location for exterior camera installation is on the facility, facing down the wall of the facility and/or out into the parking area facing the facility perimeter. While this method provides a more cost-effective means of installation and provides good coverage of parking lots and other areas, it generally fails to provide adequate coverage of areas closer to the facility, particularly entry/exit points and dock doors.
Just like high-value goods and other critical components stored within a facility, the video surveillance system should also be stored in a secured environment. Too many times criminals escape capture or detection because they were able to access the video surveillance system, destroy the DVRs, or disable the monitoring component of the system. Internal rooms with reinforced doors and locking systems are ideal for video surveillance system storage, along with limited access and an alarm or motion sensors inside the room for detection of unauthorized access.
A video surveillance system is most effective when integrated as part of the overall physical security program. As with any layered approach to security, this system combines personnel, procedures, and technology (equipment) in such a way to maximize the use of each individual component. When designing a program or examining additional security features, each element should be assessed to determine how it will contribute to the overall goal of preventing loss of cargo.
Other important features of a video surveillance system include continuous recording DVRs (vs. motion only), pan-tilt-zoom cameras (vs. stationary cameras), and infrared capable cameras (vs. those requiring an external light source). It is important that the objectives of the video surveillance program are understood when selecting cameras types and their positioning to ensure each camera is utilized to their fullest potential to maximize all systems being used.
Management must understand that a complete video surveillance system can be composed of components from several manufacturers; therefore, they need to ensure that all equipment is compatible.
Other electronic components can also be tied into the video surveillance system to provide overlaps in security coverage, such as alarms and motion detection by zone, as well as access control systems to ensure that any activity within the facility (or on the facility grounds) is covered by IP cameras and recorded.
Adapted from Science Direct