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Command and control, a subtle approach
November 2008, Integrated Solutions, Healthcare (Industry)

In modern hospital environments, security must be unobtrusive and non-invasive, yet wholly effective.

Security at hospitals and clinics demands a different approach, a solution that is security intensive yet discreet and low profile to ensure the work of doctors and nursing staff and the operation of casualty or emergency departments are not impeded in any way.

Advancements in image capture and analysis technology mean that hospitals and clinics – despite their need for easy access and egress for the families and friends of patients – can achieve high levels of effective yet subtle security.

Modern hospital environments are rather unique. They avoid at all costs any hint of an institutional atmosphere, and security must therefore be unobtrusive and non-invasive yet wholly effective with the objective of providing staff, patients and visitors a comfortable feeling of safety, while at the same time maintaining privacy and freedom of movement.

With major growth in the private healthcare industry there are commercial medical groups that own and operate many private hospitals and clinics countrywide. This has created opportunities for security solutions on a command and control platform that allows a group of hospitals and clinics to be monitored and serviced remotely from a single, centrally located operations room.

Command and control

The Argus is a fully network-centric surveillance system that operates on a command and control platform to integrate security across the enterprise. It is designed to present accurate, timely and high quality visual information to operators in the central control room, enabling them to activate a series of set procedures to deal with just about any situation.

The development focus of the Argus system was to provide security personnel and management with a solution offering command and control of all of the integrated security and emergency systems from a single screen, on a platform that accommodates DVRs, access control, perimeter alarm systems, fire alarms systems, sprinklers, fire doors, emergency exits and other items related to security and safety, including detection of unattended bags or cases. While the system is indeed capable of performing the tasks of access control and building management, Argus is primarily a security management tool – because that is the most important function. All information is managed in a security conscious manner, assisting to provide a secure environment.

The intelligent monitoring and command and control technology and equipment gathers all relevant information and presents it to the security manager in an appropriate format, including visual images, precise locations, layout of the surrounding area and what it contains, fire escapes, fire doors, emergency exits and the human resources at the manager’s disposal and their location at that time, as well as the ability to close or open fire doors and other exits.

The system offers communications with security staff as well as with external resources such as police and emergency services. It will record all actions taken and provide reviews that will allow the actions of suspects and the reaction staff to be back-tracked. If suspects are apprehended, the system will provide back-up information to achieve conviction, or if no suspects are apprehended at the time, it will provide review information and images that could lead to apprehension and successful prosecution.

System integration

Integration of a Sinon access control and vehicle parking security system to the Argus command and control system improves security outside the hospital buildings and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) can be used to monitor, secure and streamline access and egress for resident doctors, specialists and nursing staff as well as allied service providers such as radiography and physiotherapy.

Today’s technology aims to not only improve the capability of hospitals and clinics to safeguard patients and staff but also effectively manage public areas and incidents and improve patient and visitor relationship management. Security of and access to drugs and specialist medical equipment can be monitored via CCTV to reduce internal shrinkage. Camera surveillance systems are difficult to implement in hospitals because of a much greater need to prevent invasion of privacy, yet there are many benefits to be obtained from surveillance where, in the event of an incident or theft of equipment, security staff can quickly react and the recorded images can be used to identify those involved and secure convictions.

Now, with high resolution cameras and digital storage systems proactive camera surveillance can be used to secure the hospital pharmacy, coffee shop, front desk reception and accounts where cash is handled, drug and equipment storerooms, areas where valuable equipment is kept and bulk delivery areas where stores and goods are received.

Reception area surveillance is also important for another reason: to ensure that the persons presenting themselves for admission are in fact who they say they are as hospitals and medical aids have in the past been defrauded through false identity. Cameras also monitor mothers and new-born babies leaving the maternity section of the hospital to guard against baby theft.

Intelligent video systems

Until recently, limitations in technology meant that hospital security systems were reactive rather than proactive. Proactive security required full time monitoring by surveillance staff, an option which was not only expensive but also unreliable. The use of intelligent video (video analytics) offer major pro-active advantages by automatic detection of events before they happen. Also, the ability to easily control many hospitals from a remote control facility offers major cost saving in terms of staff as well as advantages in the quality and training of the staff manning these stations.

The technology advancements that have taken place in digital storage, motion detection, high resolution surveillance, intelligent video software, facial recognition, ANPR, object recognition, object behaviour detection and the ability to bring all of these elements together on a single central command and control platform, means that healthcare services groups can both centralise and standardise their security in a central control room and remotely monitor their hospitals and clinics in specific areas.

Dr Bennie Coetzer
Dr Bennie Coetzer

For more information contact Dr Bennie Coetzer, Protoclea Advanced Image Engineering, +27 (0)11 465 4312,

Supplied By: Protoclea Advanced Image Engineering
Tel: +27 11 100 0935
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