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Amping up the audio in surveillance

Amping up the audio in surveillance
Whenever people talk about “physical security,” discussions typically revolve around systems that employ cameras, barriers or locks. However, companies are now realizing the potential of audio technology to enhance existing surveillance systems.

Speaking at a recent webinar on the topic, Richard Brent, CEO of Louroe Electronics, said, “Audio is everywhere. We are not deploying it to the extent that we could in the security industry.” Companies that are not taking advantage of this may be losing out as audio can be an important tool to enhance overall security and management of ongoing events.

Audio as a Complementary Technology
Network cameras act as the “eyes” for the system and audio technology can add another dimension to security by serving as the security personnel’s “ears” and “mouths.” Using a two-way audio system, the staff will have the ability to not only remotely hear what is going on, but also to communicate and interact with suspicious individuals. Thus, handling incidents in real time and even potentially preventing it from occurring in the first place.

According to Brent, this technology is now being increasingly employed across multiple verticals. One such field is in law enforcement, where detention facilities and interview rooms are now being equipped with management systems that can capture audio which can be used as evidence if the need arises. Businesses can also leverage this technology to investigate claims and requests for workers’ compensation.

Audio can also be used by governments to enhance public safety, especially in safe city projects. Authorities can quickly identify crimes in progress via alarms triggered through monitoring sounds and activities in place, and proactively manage events by issuing verbal warnings.

Transportation is another strong vertical for this technology. For schools, the addition of audio can be used as a strong deterrent to bullying incidents. “They want to not only catch the activity on site with the cameras, but be able to hear whose voice that was bullying – male or female, and maybe help to corral the situation,” said Brent.

Audio Analytics
When used for surveillance purposes, audio presents a huge amount of data. The next step would naturally be to find a way to sift through it, isolate what’s important and interpret the information.

“This is all about managing big data and using analytics to turn data into information so useful decisions can be made. We do the same thing now. We are in the middle of an audio analytic sweep of technologies where we can determine if someone is acting aggressively in the environment or if someone is having a seizure in the environment; whether there is a young person setting off firecrackers in the schoolyard or if someone is actually taking a ballistic to the environment…” said Brent.

As surveillance technology – cameras, alarms and video management systems – continues to develop at a rapid pace, audio technology is continuously evolving to keep up with it. It might not have played a big role in physical security thus far, but this is set to change as the industry is waking up to the many advantages it can bring to existing security systems in place.

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