Blind spots in surveillance coverage, incompatible video and access control systems, lack of adequate perimeter measures—these are common issues that facility directors must address with their security teams. At the end of the day, facility executives need technology that accomplish more with less—that expand situational awareness, overall system functionality, and real-time response capabilities while generating cost-savings.

By leveraging technology like thermal imaging, this is possible. Security directors who want to improve facility management—specifically 24/7 monitoring for heightened security and elevated skin temperature frontline screening for entry control—should consider incorporating thermal cameras into their next security upgrade or new installation project. 

Levelling up your security with thermal

By using thermal security cameras, facility directors can better protect their property and tenants from external threats. Backed by decades of successful deployment in the government and defense sector for reconnaissance, thermal imaging is a trusted technology. New innovations have expanded the use cases for thermal cameras and made them widely available to commercial and industrial facilities. Today, corporate offices, manufacturing plants and healthcare campuses all use thermal cameras as a core component of their security strategy.

All use thermal cameras as a core component of their security strategy

Thermal security cameras perform in adverse conditions where standard surveillance cameras cannot. Visual cameras require a light source, and thus, additional infrastructure, to produce an image. If there’s no light, there’s no video. Because thermal cameras measure infrared radiation, or heat, they do not need illumination to produce imagery. In fact, thermal cameras can see in total darkness as well as in rain, smoke, and light fog. They truly enable 24/7 surveillance.

Enhancing video analytics

Further, thermal cameras yield high-contrast imagery, which not only enhances video analytics performance, but also situational awareness. For example, a security operator viewing a thermal camera feed can easily spot a trespasser attempting to camouflage in the foliage at night by alerting the operator of body heat on premise. Thermal cameras also enable alarm validation. While motion sensors, laser detectors and fiber optic cables need another technology to visually verify the alert, thermal cameras already provide this function. With onboard analytics, thermal cameras detect objects, classify whether it’s a human, animal or vehicle, and provide video clips for remote operators to assess the alert. Consequently, thermal cameras minimise unnecessary dispatch of guards or police for false positives, saving valuable time, money and resource for facilities.

In the event of a true alarm, thermal cameras enable superior suspect tracking. Upon receiving an intrusion alert, a long-range pan-tilt thermal camera can widely monitor the area and scan the property. The camera can then follow the movements of an intruder, and if equipped with both thermal and optical sensors, provide both thermal and color video of the person. With this data, a security officer can ascertain the threat level and determine whether the person is an employee who forgot their ID or an unauthorised person trespassing on private property. It is important to note that thermal cameras cannot detect a specific individual or their personal information, rather they classify whether the object is a human and then further analysis is required through of the use of visual cameras for identification.  For these reasons, facility directors, especially those managing large campuses or properties, should consider deploying thermal cameras to maximise their intrusion detection capabilities for stronger overall security.

Thermal cameras maximise intrusion detection capabilities

Streamlining entry control with temperature screening

Facility executives can also improve their access and entry control security procedures by using radiometric thermal cameras for temperature screening. COVID-19, classified as a global pandemic in March 2020, has permanently changed how facility directors build security and environmental, health and safety (EHS) plans. Now, facility directors are prioritising protocols and technologies that minimise both the risk of exposure as well as the spread of infectious diseases among employees, visitors and contractors. Temperature checks have become one of the most widely adopted as a key component of frontline screening practices across facilities. In fact, General Motors plants and the Pentagon Visiting Center are notable examples of critical facilities deploying radiometric thermal cameras for skin temperature screening. 

Radiometric thermal cameras for skin temperature screenings allow for a non-contact, frontline diagnostic tool that enables high throughput. These thermal cameras specifically measure skin surface temperature at the inner corner of the eye, the region medially adjacent to the inner canthus, which is known to be the best measurement spot. The most reliable thermal cameras yield accuracies of ±0.3°C (0.5°F) over a temperature measurement range of 15°C to 45°C (59°F to 113°F).  Available in a handheld, tripod-mounted or fixed-mount form factor, elevated skin temperature thermal cameras are deployed inside entryways, immediately screening people as they walk into the facility. These cameras scan a person up to one to two meters (or three to six feet) away. Premium thermal cameras can scan individuals in two seconds or less.

Premium thermal cameras can scan individuals in two seconds or less

Thermal cameras are intended for use as an adjunct to clinical procedures in the screening of skin surface temperature. Upon detection of an elevated skin temperature, a person must then undergo a secondary screening where a medical device can determine whether the person has an actual fever or should partake in virus specific testing. By implementing these screening procedures, facility directors ensure a faster, non-invasive method to quickly detect possible signs of infection before an individual enters a populous area. This minimises the risk of communal spread of viruses among employees in the workplace, which ultimately increases workforce health, safety and peace of mind.

Today, a total security solution designed to detect both physical threats as well as environmental and health hazards is one that includes thermal cameras for elevated skin temperature screening. Facility managers can strengthen their risk management plans by proactively expanding their security systems to include these solutions. Many physical security solutions are already in place at key entry points as well as additional checkpoints, such as indoor surveillance cameras, visitor management and access control. Implementing screening stations with specific radiometric thermal cameras is a logical integration at these locations.

Choosing the right solution for your facility

While thermal cameras for perimeter protection and elevated skin temperature screening are valuable components to the overall security system, facility directors need to know that not all thermal is created equal. Thermal cameras need to be carefully researched and evaluated before deployment. Here are a few best practices for choosing the right thermal camera for your facility and application.

  • Define your application: A thermal camera made for long-range perimeter monitoring functions differently than a thermal camera built for elevated skin temperature screening. Make sure to choose a camera designed for your specific use case.
  • Know the distinguishing characteristics: Be aware of which technological features separate high-performing cameras from low-end options. For perimeter thermal cameras, resolution, detection range and integration capabilities matter. For elevated skin temperature screening cameras, resolution, sensitivity, accuracy and stability are critical.
  • Check for certifications: Select a thermal camera with proven interoperability. Consider one that is ONVIF-compliant to ensure integration with the overall security system and chosen video management software. Additionally, for elevated skin temperature cameras, consider one that has a 510(k) filing (K033967) with the U.S. Federal and Drug Administration as well as one that supports other screening standards such as ISO/TR 13154:2017 and IEC 80601-2-59:2017.
  • Work with experienced partners: Work with a system integrator who is knowledgeable in thermal. Choose thermal cameras from manufacturers with a solid track record of success for both security and elevated skin temperature screening deployments. Leverage guidebooks, site planning tools and online trainings that these experienced manufacturers have to offer to maximise performance.
Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Daniel Gundlach Head of Global Business Development and Key Account Management, Critical Infrastructure, FLIR Systems

Daniel Gundlach is part of the Global Business Development team for the Solutions Business at FLIR Systems, Inc. Before moving into this role, he was the General Manager of FLIR Security, leading all facets of the business, including strategy development, product innovation, sales and marketing, and operations. Gundlach joined FLIR from Apollo, a United Kingdom-based fire detection company, where he served as VP of Sales and Marketing. Prior to Apollo, he spent nearly 20 years at Bosch, including seven years as the VP of Marketing and Business Development for their Security and Safety Systems business. He served in numerous roles during his tenure at Bosch Security and Safety in both the United States and Europe, including VP of Marketing, VP of Business Development, and Chief of Staff to the President and CEO of Bosch Americas. Gundlach has a Master of Science degree in Physics from the University of Hannover, Germany and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Rostock, Germany. 

In case you missed it

Panasonic AI-driven cameras empower an expanding vision of new uses
Panasonic AI-driven cameras empower an expanding vision of new uses

Imagine a world where video cameras are not just watching and reporting for security, but have an even wider positive impact on our lives. Imagine that cameras control street and building lights, as people come and go, that traffic jams are predicted and vehicles are automatically rerouted, and more tills are opened, just before a queue starts to form. Cameras with AI capabilities Cameras in stores can show us how we might look in the latest outfit as we browse. That’s the vision from Panasonic about current and future uses for their cameras that provide artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities at the edge. Panasonic feels that these types of intelligent camera applications are also the basis for automation and introduction of Industry 4.0, in which processes are automated, monitored and controlled by AI-driven systems. 4K network security cameras The company’s i-PRO AI-capable camera line can install and run up to three AI-driven video analytic applications Panasonic’s 4K network security cameras have built-in AI capabilities suitable for this next generation of intelligent applications in business and society. The company’s i-PRO AI-capable camera line can install and run up to three AI-driven video analytic applications. The AI engine is directly embedded into the camera, thus reducing costs and Panasonic’s image quality ensures the accuracy of the analytics outcome. FacePRO facial recognition technology Panasonic began advancing AI technology on the server side with FacePRO, the in-house facial recognition application, which uses AI deep learning capabilities. Moving ahead, they transitioned their knowledge of AI from the server side to the edge, introducing i-PRO security cameras with built-in AI capabilities last summer, alongside their own in-house analytics. Moreover, in line with the Panasonic approach to focus more on collaboration with specialist AI software developers, a partnership with Italian software company, A.I. Tech followed in September, with a range of intelligent applications, partially based on deep learning. Additional collaborations are already in place with more than 10 other developers, across the European Union, working on more future applications. i-PRO AI-capable security cameras Open systems are an important part of Panasonic’s current approach. The company’s i-PRO AI-capable cameras are an open platform and designed for third-party application development, therefore, applications can be built or tailored to the needs of an individual customer. Panasonic use to be a company that developed everything in-house, including all the analytics and applications. “However, now we have turned around our strategy by making our i-PRO security cameras open to integrate applications and analytics from third-party companies,” says Gerard Figols, Head of Security Solutions at Panasonic Business Europe. Flexible and adapting to specific customer needs This new approach allows the company to be more flexible and adaptable to customers’ needs. “At the same time, we can be quicker and much more tailored to the market trend,” said Gerard Figols. He adds, “For example, in the retail space, enabling retailers to enhance the customer experience, in smart cities for traffic monitoring and smart parking, and by event organisers and transport hubs to monitor and ensure safety.” Edge-based analytics offer multiple benefits over server-based systems Edge-based analytics Edge-based analytics offer multiple benefits over server-based systems. On one hand, there are monetary benefits - a cost reduction results from the decreased amount of more powerful hardware required on the server side to process the data, on top of reduction in the infrastructure costs, as not all the full video stream needs to be sent for analysis, we can work solely with the metadata. On the other hand, there are also advantages of flexibility, as well as reliability. Each camera can have its own individual analytic setup and in case of any issue on the communication or server side, the camera can keep running the analysis at the edge, thereby making sure the CCTV system is still fully operational. Most importantly, systems can keep the same high level of accuracy. Explosion of AI camera applications We can compare the explosion of AI camera applications to the way we experienced it for smartphone applications" “We can compare the explosion of AI camera applications to the way we experienced it for smartphone applications,” said Gerard Figols, adding “However, it doesn’t mean the hardware is not important anymore, as I believe it’s more important than ever. Working with poor picture quality or if the hardware is not reliable, and works 24/7, software cannot run or deliver the outcome it has been designed for.” As hardware specialists, Figols believes that Panasonic seeks to focus on what they do best - Building long-lasting, open network cameras, which are capable of capturing the highest quality images that are required for the latest AI applications, while software developers can concentrate on bringing specialist applications to the market. Same as for smartphones, AI applications will proliferate based on market demand and succeed or fail, based on the value that they deliver. Facial recognition, privacy protection and cross line technologies Panasonic has been in the forefront in developing essential AI applications for CCTV, such as facial recognition, privacy protection and cross line. However, with the market developing so rapidly and the potential applications of AI-driven camera systems being so varied and widespread, Panasonic quickly realised that the future of their network cameras was going to be in open systems, which allow specialist developers and their customers to use their sector expertise to develop their own applications for specific vertical market applications, while using i-PRO hardware. Metadata for detection and recognition Regarding privacy, consider that the use of AI in cameras is about generating metadata for the detection and recognition of patterns, rather than identifying individual identities. “However, there are legitimate privacy concerns, but I firmly believe that attitudes will change quickly when people see the incredible benefits that this technology can deliver,” said Gerard Figols, adding “I hope that we will be able to redefine our view of cameras and AI, not just as insurance, but as life advancing and enhancing.” i-PRO AI Privacy Guard One of the AI applications that Panasonic developed was i-PRO AI Privacy Guard Seeking to understand and appreciate privacy concerns, one of the AI applications that Panasonic developed was i-PRO AI Privacy Guard that generates data without capturing individual identities, following European privacy regulations that are among the strictest in the world. Gerard Fogils said, “The combination of artificial intelligence and the latest generation open camera technology will change the world’s perceptions from Big Brother to Big Benefits. New applications will emerge as the existing generation of cameras is updated to the new open and intelligent next generation devices, and the existing role of the security camera will also continue.” Future scope of AI and cameras He adds, “Not just relying on the security cameras for evidence when things have gone wrong, end users will increasingly be able to use AI and the cameras with much higher accuracy to prevent false alarms and in a proactive way to prevent incidents." Gerard Fogils concludes, “That could be monitoring and alerting when health and safety guidelines are being breached or spotting and flagging patterns of suspicious behaviour before incidents occur.”

What is the best lesson you ever learned from an end user?
What is the best lesson you ever learned from an end user?

Serving customer needs is the goal of most commerce in the physical security market. Understanding those needs requires communication and nuance, and there are sometimes surprises along the way. But in every surprising revelation – and in every customer interaction – there is opportunity to learn something valuable that can help to serve the next customer’s needs more effectively. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: what was the best lesson you ever learned from a security end user customer?

What is the impact of remote working on security?
What is the impact of remote working on security?

During the coronavirus lockdown, employees worked from home in record numbers. But the growing trend came with a new set of security challenges. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the impact of the transition to remote working/home offices on the security market?