The Building Channel

Posted on 3 August 2010 at 1:31 pm in Compliance.

Recently, a building manager asked if the lobby’s existing closed circuit cameras could broadcast images through Shortpath. Yes, certain cameras equipped with the ability to broadcast to an IP address allow web-based viewing. In addition, typical IP-driven software with contemporary security features permit broadcasting of specific cameras to specific individuals. For example, a security guard might be able to see four cameras, a tenant one and a building manager twenty. Viewing lobby activity, watching building staff at work, making sure the front of a building has been cleared of snow or observing a loading dock, the applications are limitless. With the pervasive nature of the Internet, viewing, storing, and accessing data no matter where it resides is possible. So, the questions that come up should not be whether it can be done, but rather what will be achieved and to what effect will the installations have on building security.

New tenants mentioned the desire to see what was going on in the lobby. More specifically, they wanted to observe visitors and authorize their entry without having to come downstairs. Traveling to the lobby and vouching for unexpected visitors was disrupting meetings and was affecting productivity. Based upon what this tenant wanted, quality was not important and the picture could be delayed as much as five seconds. Achieving this solution, not just for this tenant, but also for the entire building would be simple. Once installed a building could turn the image broadcast on and off like a faucet. Tenants desiring the functionality would purchase the broadcast. ie. Property TV.

On the technological side, one of the relevant issues in IP broadcasting and security cameras is the delay. A security incident can take place in as little as two seconds. In fact, a person can commit a crime and run 30 yards in five seconds. So, IP cameras require significant bandwidth in order to broadcast quality digital images in real time and be effective in alerting security guards on premise of suspicious activity. Many buildings already have this bandwidth and have either applied it or could apply it to digital broadcasting. Some of the great reasons to go with digital feeds include price and ease of storage, transfer and search.

Eventually, tenants are going to want access to lobby cameras and other views of the building in order to manage their own security. The nanny cam was merely the beginning, and an accessory that could be included for individuals at work as well. With all the installations of cameras by the Department of Transportation to enforce traffic laws, people’s expectation of privacy is quickly eroding. Larger tenants are looking at new and different ways to control their own security. Increasing the number of background checks, scrutinizing people’s lives, now owners and officers are going to find themselves liable for the safety of their employees and businesses are going to look to their landlords for help. One way to economically deliver this kind of help is through the Internet.

Building on IP technology allows owners to integrate existing systems and augment security as necessary with new technologies as they become more affordable. For residential, tenants can see if the laundry room is busy or whether the freight elevator is in use. For commercial, confirmation of identity or even a look outside at the weather might be of interest. Whatever the application, secure and economical, through cables or wireless, the Internet provides a great delivery system for broadcasting images throughout a building community.