Time for a security health check

1 March 2020 Healthcare (Industry)

Just like any other business or commercial property, hospitals, clinics and medical facilities need adequate surveillance measures in place for safety and security purposes. This is not only to discourage crime by increasing security – hospital armed robberies are becoming increasingly common – but also to keep track of what occurs inside the facilities.

Laurence Smith.

Video surveillance is also an effective tool for cost control, helping to prevent theft of medical supplies and increase productivity by monitoring hospital staff activity visually. In addition to increasing productivity, surveillance cameras can be used to provide critical visual evidence that could prevent dishonest insurance claims against medical facilities. Thanks to Internet Protocol (IP) technology, medical facilities can get flexibility in surveillance installations with features like remote video monitoring and effective storage capabilities to increase security and productivity, along with a number of other benefits.

It’s not just visibility, cost-effectiveness and integration that hospitals will get with surveillance security. The benefits will reflect across the board, in almost every facet of hospital operations. The most important being, of course, an overall increase in security and safety with the prevention of crime and the ability to monitor for unauthorised visitors or escaped patients.

Visual surveillance also has a positive impact on worker productivity, as the presence of cameras can improve visual communication between hospital departments or buildings, allowing for resources and responses to be dispatched as and where they’re needed. Remote monitoring enables hospital or ward supervisors to check up on their teams from any Internet-enabled device, without having to be physically present.

Cameras can also provide evidence in instances of dishonest patient claims, such as fraudulent on-premise injury allegations. Visual evidence from hospital security cameras can disprove such assertions, saving hospitals from expensive insurance claims or false litigation. Furthermore, with visual evidence it becomes possible to better resolve employee disputes with clear visual proof and surveillance footage can also provide invaluable insight in criminal investigations into specific events that have taken place within or around the facility.

Zooming in on hospital surveillance

Despite the fact that each hospital is different, and would require a unique surveillance setup, there are some general considerations to think about during the planning phase. As such, it’s advisable to place security cameras to provide views of all entrances and exits, in order to have a visual record of the movement of people and cars throughout the facility. Here, it is advisable to have imaging of sufficiently high quality that it becomes possible to visually read licence plates and identify people by facial characteristics. Today’s UHD (ultra-high definition) cameras provide four times the detail of standard HD CCTV (1080p) cameras. This gives security operators options to improve digital zoom quality of CCTV images, to see the bigger picture in closer detail.

Healthy cost benefits

Unlike many analogue and HD cameras, 4K imaging isn’t just observational, it’s evidentiary. As such it is advisable to use these 4K cameras in high-traffic zones, fire escapes, elevators, restricted access areas and in places where valuable or dangerous medical stock is kept, to prevent security incidents.

It might sound like it would require many CCTV cameras to get the job done, but thanks to their high resolution, using 4K cameras means that fewer devices are required to monitor a larger area. Making such cameras effective in parking lots and reception areas, as a single 4K camera can cover the same area as two or three HD cameras. In addition to requiring fewer devices to operate, 4K cameras have built-in intelligent technology that automatically scales footage to drastically reduce the bandwidth required to transmit the video footage back to the video management system (VMS) at the hospital’s security operations centre.

Cost effective visual security updates

Fortunately, developments in IP technology over the past few years have reached the point where it is now possible to cost-effectively build 4K UHD surveillance cameras easily into existing infrastructure. This is good news for hospitals with limited security budgets, as most IT infrastructure and equipment like routers, switches and PCs are already easily compatible to 4K CCTV. There’s also the added saving that comes from VMS compatibility, which means that most VMS will operate with 4K cameras, making upgrade to an existing solution relatively simple. To enhance performance and utilise resources better, most VMS will record the 4K stream while using a lower resolution sub stream for display, live and analytics functionality, optimised for viewing devices in order to save bandwidth.

Safety and security are visual

Hospitals are critical community facilities providing life-saving services. Unfortunately, it is also their very nature that makes them vulnerable to security threats. From theft of medical supplies and equipment to armed robberies, there are a number of security risks that need to be protected against. Fortunately, ultra-high-definition 4K surveillance cameras are a cost-effective means for hospitals to take visual security to the next level and ensure that all eyes are firmly on patient, staff and visitor safety.


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