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Network / IP - Case Studies

Axis network IP cameras help concerned parents monitor their newborn's progress

Axis's network cameras assist parents to keep watch over their newborns
Image shows Axis' network cameras placed over the incubators

The VU University Medical Centre has placed cameras over incubators to let parents see their child at any time they wish via the Internet.


The VU University Medical Centre chose an IP-based camera, particularly because they are easy to use. As the newborns are mostly incubated in a darkened environment, the VU University Medical Centre thought it important for the cameras to produce images of excellent quality under these conditions.


The VU University Medical Centre is extremely satisfied with the Baby Viewers and believes them to be a great step forward for the parents and children involved with this department. The VU University Medical Centre's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) consists of two units situated on the eighth floor. It is a well-ordered department with the capacity to admit twenty newborns, fifteen in Intensive Care and five in High Care.

VU University Medical Centre's NICU is one of 10 perinatal centres in the Netherlands. This department and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) work together to provide care to the regions of North Holland and Flevoland. If other units do not have enough room, newborns from other regions are admitted here. The NICU is a unique nursing ward. It cares for newborns with complex and acute issues at birth. This is where their vital bodily functions are monitored, supported and, if needed, supplemented by machines. The infants are treated after a pregnancy term of 25 weeks or more.

Accessible and easy to use

The images are accessed via a single portal, a central point of access to the images taken by the cameras. The advantage of this portal is that messages can be posted on the screen. Perhaps the child has been removed from the cot as part of its care. If parents log on while this is happening, rather than seeing an empty cot they will read a message saying: "We are looking after your baby." The camera may have a technical fault or might have switched off for some reason. If so, the system displays the message: "No image is currently available due to a fault or because the camera has been switched off."

The system also has an emergency button. When this button is pressed, power to the camera in question is cut and the feed disappears. Each camera can also be cut simultaneously with just one push of the button. Once the situation has normalised, the camera images can be released once more.

AXIS 221 Network Cameras
AXIS 221 Network Cameras

The VU University Medical Centre approached J&K Automatisering, a company with experience in baby camera solutions since 2006, with a proposal for the Baby Viewer project. J&K Automatisering recommended the AXIS 221 Network Camera with built-in web server, because it has the best day and night functionality. Stichting DaDa, a foundation that works towards better healthcare for children in the Netherlands, made a financial contribution towards installing the cameras.

The camera automatically switches between colour and black & white when illumination levels change, which is important as the babies in the neonatology department are mostly in low light conditions. The combination of CCD and lens provides the Infrared sensitivity required to produce good quality images in low-light environments.

The camera supports Power over Ethernet technology and so receives its power supply from the network cable which makes installing and turning the camera on and off during emergencies easier and less expensive. The mid-span ensures that electricity is fed to the camera through the network cable. The images from the twenty cameras can be viewed live at both nurses' stations, even when access through the portal has been switched off. The nursing staff sees the Baby Viewer mostly as a positive development due to its ease-of-use.


Many parents have used this service offered by the VU University Medical Centre since its inception and their reactions are entirely positive. According to Van Elburg: "Of course, the system isn't designed to replace visiting the baby but people at home want to know that everything's OK. Plus viewing the images gives parents the feeling that they are closer to their baby. The images give confirmation and reassurance. Moreover, both the parents and the nursing staff find the system very easy-to-use. As soon as the baby is registered, the department prints a user guide to the Baby Viewer with a separate log-in code solely for the parents' use. This is linked to the camera trained on their baby. The camera is then activated with one click of the mouse. It's all very user-friendly."

Before placing the cameras, nursing staff were worried that they would receive increased numbers of calls from worried parents who, for example, saw their child crying in the Internet images. Their worries proved unfounded. Van Elburg concluded: "We have not seen a rise in worried parents calling us because of the images they see. In fact, it is just the opposite - we see a great deal of satisfaction in the parents who find the images reassuring. The service is highly appreciated."

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