Rethinking the Possibilities of Perimeter Protection

Solar-powered, wireless video surveillance systems can now provide a cost-effective means of securing outdoor settings that traditionally involve expensive trenching. Find out how technological advances have negated concerns surrounding these systems and the benefits they offer.

Perimeter security isn’t only needed where and when it’s convenient. Now more than ever there is a great necessity to conquer the challenges associated with outdoor perimeter protection projects, including the influx of remote installations, temporary events, among others.

Most of these sites do not have the power infrastructure to support a typical surveillance system. That forces installing security contractors to trench in order to deliver a power source to the camera site. Of course, this leads to skyrocketing installation costs and can have a negative effect on the environment.

In recent years, the issues associated with trenching have caused it to become increasingly unpopular. Trenching costs add up quickly — especially in locations where asphalt has been laid — with excavation costs totaling, on average, between $75 and $200 per foot. In addition, special permits and other bureaucratic requirements for trenching further inflate prices, leading to exorbitant final costs that can range between $22,000 and $45,000 for every 100 yards. Trenched systems also require inspections and maintenance, and can take weeks, if not months, to be completed.

The practical considerations of everyday perimeter security installations can be truly limiting. For example, how can a university best provide video surveillance for a weeklong outdoor event? Unless the company and the institution want to spend countless hours and untold amounts of money to trench for power and data cables, there is really only one choice: solar and wireless video surveillance.

Let’s explore the state of modern solar-powered, wireless IP video surveillance. Installers and campuses may be pleasantly surprised to discover the technology now offers operation and integrity in a variety of climates and weather conditions, long backup battery life, supervision capabilities and system status checks — all of which enable reliable round-the-clock surveillance.

Not Your Father’s Outdoor Surveillance System

Thanks to significant advancements in the fields of solar and wireless solutions, a new generation of surveillance cameras is available today. These advanced solutions benefit a perimeter surveillance project in several ways. First of all, they incorporate disruptive, ultra-low power wireless technologies and solar cells, which enable them to provide round-the-clock operation — even at night. In addition, the cameras are truly wireless; no data or power cables are necessary.

These traits give installers the ability to provide hospitals, schools and universities with solutions that can protect a wide range of outdoor environments in a cost-effective and reliable manner. Yesterday’s misconceptions regarding the limitations of wireless and solar security solutions no longer hold any weight.

Today’s surveillance cameras meet much higher levels of efficiency than those from only a few years ago, enabling them to be easily integrated with solar panel technology in perimeter environments. Power consumption is reduced thanks to the wireless data transmission protocol, which is an alternative to Wi-Fi. The protocol sends data through traditional Wi-Fi connectivity; however, it is also capable of detecting interference and traffic loads, which allows it to determine the ideal times to send data as well as when to avoid sending data.

Naturally, this allows for much more reliable transmission, but it simultaneously minimizes the amount of required electricity for each camera. This means that even the most remote cameras only need small, unobtrusive solar panels for a power source, simplifying each installation and saving money all the while.

Campus security professionals can forget the myth that solar surveillance only really works in climates with extensive sunshine year round. Improved solar arrays and battery technologies have enabled solar to fit more geographic areas than ever before. For example, new surveillance cameras with a solar cell array reduce power consumption more than 90% and provide continuous operation, even in low-light situations. The solar panels are designed for 20 times the actual power consumption, so they operate in most locations in the United States without issues. And for additional back-up, an embedded battery, with up to 10 years of life, enables the cameras to operate continuously. These days, a battery subsystem is designed to maintain a full 24-hour operation over several days without sunlight.

How do these new solar panels accomplish all this with such a small footprint? The underlying solar cells in glass panels capture photons. Even on lightly cloudy days, photons still pass through the clouds to be captured by solar panels, which is the same reason people can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day. In fact, next-generation wireless solar IP surveillance cameras have measured a significant increase in power generation in cloudy weather compared to sunny days because of the camera’s unique integrated design.

Modern solar technologies also bust the myth that they cannot generate enough current to power an IP camera. In fact, they are capable of that and more, without the use of onerous — and expensive — “trailer” cameras, pole-mounted solar cameras or enormous solar panel groupings. The result? A sleek, self-contained system that is easy to deploy, discreet, effective and relatively inexpensive that can be used almost anywhere.

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