Don't miss out on the business potential of network audio
Video surveillance has come a long way. When IP cameras got their big break in the mid-2000s, they changed the game for surveillance. You now could connect the cameras to an Internet-based network and get functionalities that were sci-fi back in the days of analog video cameras and VCR storage. And they brought unprecedented flexibility and scalability.
The technology has developed to let you see in low-light conditions, help you count people or recognize faces, to mention a few examples. There are systems in all sizes, catering to every customer need, from the corner shop to very advanced surveillance systems for large industrial sites.
But as a surveillance system installer, you already knew that, right?
What you might not know – and which may be a source of lost revenues – is that you can spice up your offer and grow your sales by adding network audio. You will benefit from systems that truly deliver the peace of mind that your customers crave. And you don’t need any specific competence to take that step.
Increasing customer demands
One company that is reaping these benefits is Securitas Direct Sverige. It is a big full-service security company that installs complete surveillance systems as well as provides intrusion alarms and services. Its security center in Linköping, Sweden, operates 24/7/365. Here, the security operators act with a high level of expertise and with a customer focus, to make sure that they use the right action in case of an incident.
Over the years, the company has built a strong relationship with Axis regarding cameras and accessories. “We started using Axis products back in 2010–2011,” says Henrik Larsen, Senior Product Manager at Securitas Direct Sverige. “It was quite natural for us to turn to network video surveillance when it became available. We saw increasing customer demands, first for indoor cameras, but often the customers also needed to protect fenced-in outdoor areas that provided a sort of pre-alarm.”
IP cameras connected to a security operations center is a very good solution. The operator can monitor in real-time what is happening, and then call the customer, send a guard, and inform the police.
However, Securitas Direct Sverige saw a way to improve this solution. “Quite early, we knew that we needed loudspeakers for live broadcasting of messages to go with the network cameras,” Larsen says.
While Securitas Direct Sverige was an early adopter, the integration of network audio in surveillance systems has generally increased sharply in the last 2–3 years.
Securitas Direct Sverige’s statistics show that it is effective. Their security center handles an increasing number of interventions. As a result of the threefold solution with security center, cameras, and audio, more and more intruders are arrested or deterred from the customers’ premises.
As the word spreads about the advantages, more customers want to integrate audio. Today, the majority of Securitas Direct Sverige’s new network surveillance installations include audio, and it has helped the company grow.
Voice messages are very effective
Larsen says that there is practically no limit to the sectors that can benefit from the services combining a security center with IP cameras and audio. In general, businesses that are located remotely and deserted during the day or nighttime are the ones most likely to benefit.
Securitas Direct Sverige uses live voice messages where the security operations center gets an alarm if there is an intruder. The operator reviews the video footage, including what happened just before and after the alarm was set off. Based on this, the operator acts according to the predetermined action plan.
Some companies choose to set up the system, so that analytics in the camera trigger a pre-recorded message in the speaker, which is then broadcasted to the intruder.
“A personalized live voice message is a strong remote tool that stops intruders in their tracks. The result is that the customer’s business can open as usual in the morning, even if someone broke into their grounds at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Larsen says. “Without it, the customer would maybe have arrived at the plant at 6 o’clock, finding the gates open, valuable equipment stolen, and damage to their buildings.”
Easy to get started
Integrating network audio is efficient and well worth the costs, especially compared to the expenses for unplanned downtime, stolen goods, or damaged assets. On top of this, you might also have insurance costs and fines for not meeting deadlines.
Larsen points out that, naturally enough, it takes more expertise to set up the backend of larger, more complicated systems. But in general, the equipment connects automatically to the infrastructure and sends the audio files to the right place in the system.
Quite early, we knew that we needed loudspeakers to go with the network cameras for broadcasting messages
It’s easy to see if the installation is working as it should, both during set-up and during operation. The speakers continuously self-test, automatically sending a message to the operator if there is a malfunction.
So, using network audio, you will get permanent monitoring of your system. You will also save on working hours. Manual tests usually mean that one person in a control room talks into a microphone and another has to be closer to the loudspeaker to check if it works.
Very flexible and user-friendly
Most leading video management software today supports audio integration. Axis uses open technology, so it’s easy to integrate the company’s audio equipment into existing surveillance systems, even those supplied by competing brands.
Network audio benefits from the user-friendliness of IP-based surveillance systems. For example, it’s easy to divide the system up in zones, and you get great flexibility in connected various speakers and cameras depending on the customer’s needs. Software updates are regularly available from Axis so that the system can always be updated.
Larsen says that the partnership with Axis goes a long way in meeting customer needs. “We meet with Axis several times a year to discuss new products, software, and functionality,” he says. “I’m very proud of the work that we do together, helping companies and society, in general, to prevent crime and making people feel safe.”