With Security Camera Systems, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Hybrid security surveillance systems provide scalable solutions for education and healthcare facilities.
Published: March 20, 2013

When it comes to video surveillance, IP systems are paving the way to the future. Recent advances in surveillance technology and the ability to integrate existing analog structures with new IP-based products and software have made it even easier to increase system scalability, enhance functionality and reduce costs.  For many schools, universities and hospitals, surveillance technologies provide safety and security for the countless individuals that visit and work at these facilities every year. In fact, research forecasts predict that this year the world’s network video surveillance equipment sales will overtake analog video surveillance equipment sales.

Although  the benefits of the  technology is clear and growing in popularity, analog systems are still widely deployed and there is a common misconception that upgrading to IP video surveillance technology is too expensive.

Crime Costs Campuses Dearly

Non-violent and violent crimes including vandalism, theft, bullying and assaults affect the lives of students, faculty and administrators every day in our nation’s educational institutions. According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Education, incidents of burglary, rape, robbery and aggravated assault are among the most common violent crimes that occur on school campuses each year. As for theft, a study by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) revealed that computers and AV equipment are typically the most common objects stolen and are often located in the most exposed areas of a campus. The same study revealed that damage and vandalism to a school’s exterior is also a major concern and costs an average of $400 per incident to repair. These incidents not only reduce the ability of school faculty to foster effective learning environments, they also drain education institutions of valuable resources and put the safety of students and instructors at risk.

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Similarly, hospitals and healthcare clinics struggle with crime. A 2010 report by The Joint Commission reported a nearly 300% increase in the number of homicides, assaults and cases of rape reported within hospitals and medical centers from 2005-2010. A separate study by the Emergency Nurses Association recently revealed that every week in the United States, between 8% and 13% of emergency department nurses are victims of physical violence, with approximately 55% reporting they had experienced physical or verbal abuse at work within the last seven days. The emergency department is especially susceptible to violence and liability due in part to the presence of patients who may be mentally troubled or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Despite these struggles, hospitals and clinics face increasing pressure to develop stronger safety and accountability practices, as crime rates pose a growing threat to nurses, doctors and patients.

For many administrators working in education and healthcare facilities, the concept of migrating from existing analog equipment to a comprehensive IP video surveillance system can be daunting due to budget pressures and competing priorities. Unlike for-profit companies and businesses that can more easily offset the costs of investment and operation, many schools and hospitals rely heavily on state and federal funding to support maintenance and operating costs, which include the cost of technology upgrades. As federal and state governments continue to grapple with their own fiscal challenges, investing in new technology can be difficult for institutions that are tied to public funds.

Hybrid Video Offers an Affordable Surveillance Solution

Despite these challenges, a hybrid video surveillance system can bridge the economic divide and help education and medical campus administrators capitalize on the benefits of new and improved security systems. By definition, hybrid video systems combine both analog and IP video inputs into the same unit. Hybrid video surveillance systems enable administrators to take advantage of investments in existing surveillance products while minimizing the potential costs associated with new installations. 

Hybrid systems also make it possible to manage multiple disparate systems through a single surveillance infrastructure. For example, administrators can upgrade to IP video in select, high-traffic areas of a building while utilizing existing analog cameras in less demanding or low-traffic locations. This flexibility dramatically improves campus operations and security while making the most of existing equipment.

Designed to support both analog and IP cameras, hybrid video systems provide the scalability needed to help education and healthcare facility staff and administrators create and manage a comprehensive surveillance network. Because they rely on IP technology to communicate, hybrid video surveillance systems are not restricted to the incremental 16-channel jumps typical of analog cameras. Instead, they can be scaled from one to hundreds of cameras without impacting the storage space and compatibility of digital video recorders (DVRs). This gives instructors and medical personnel the freedom to take advantage of the high-definition megapixel, 180- or 360-degree formats produced by IP cameras, while still utilizing analog cameras that are typically proprietary and more difficult to integrate. Even if the use of IP surveillance increases, a campus’ analog cameras will still offer great value and can produce and store zero-latency video recordings for lower traffic areas.

The improved ease-of-use and lower cost of entry offered by hybrid systems is especially appealing to healthcare and education facilities with tight budgets. By allowing administrators to adapt system tools to suit their unique needs and settings, hybrid systems also make it easier for campus decision makers to expand — or restrict — surveillance efforts as campus security requirements shift. As a result, organizations are able to take advantage of the enhanced capabilities and scalability of hybrid surveillance systems while preserving precious funds to support other important educational and healthcare campus needs.

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