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From fog to foxes: How radar increases accuracy of surveillance systems


When people think about radar, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the radar shown in numerous military movies. Who doesn’t know the scene when the pilot of a combat jet suddenly detects the enemy or approaching missiles on the radar. Dramatic alarm sounds imply the danger that comes closer and closer before he can escape – all thanks to radar. But while radar technology has been around for many years – it was actually developed in the 1940s – this veteran of technology, hasn’t lost its relevance. Quite the contrary in fact, it has provided the basis for many new applications – especially in the surveillance sector. Because what used to be a costly part of the military equipment is now compatible with your surveillance systems and can help to detect the “enemies” of the safety and security of the monitored premises. Radar can thereby benefit companies in different modes of action.

What makes radar devices so valuable, is the fact that they can provide a high range of accurate data while barely relying on external factors, such as weather or light. The reason lies simply in their operating principle: The radar device sends out radio waves or electromagnetic waves within the radio frequency spectrum. If these waves hit an object – no matter what size – the signal reflects back. A receiver in the radar devices allows them to deliver information about speed, direction of travel as well as the exact location of the detected object. The whole process doesn’t include a camera so far, which is why these devices are also often known as ‘blind’ detection equipment.

Why radar and surveillance are a dream-team

At first sight, blindness might sound like a disadvantage, especially in the surveillance industry, but what sounds like a limitation is in fact quite helpful to reduce the number of false alarms. Since it’s not relying on a visual stream, this technology tends to be more accurate when it comes to false alarms. Without the visual factor, the devices don’t react to branches in the wind, shadows or small animals like foxes.

Operators can rely on accurate detection, 24 hours a day. The fact that radar has been used in critical sectors such as military, aviation and shipping industry is proof enough for the accuracy of this technology, which is why it is now used in the security field.

Radar offers a great benefit for the whole portfolio of network cameras and security solutions: First of all, with radar devices it is possible to cover wide areas with 180-degrees horizontal coverage and detect people at a distance up to 60-meter (200-foot) and vehicles up to 85 meters (280 feet. This makes it perfect for vast premises, such as industrial sites or storage facilities with enclosed (outdoor) areas. And as stated earlier, radar is seamlessly applicable for the use outside due to the fact that its ability to monitor is not affected by rain, fog or darkness.

Furthermore, radar and visual network cameras are great complements: The radar device can deliver exact coordinates, speed and size of objects and people so that connected PTZ cameras can automatically track the object once triggered. This doesn’t involve any human interaction and can save the costs for patrol units. Furthermore, it lets operators verify incidents before sending out security guards to handle potential threats.

When talking about cost benefits, it is worth mentioning that Axis security radars generally present a cost-efficient complement to video surveillance. They are based on an open platform, so they’re easy to integrate with Axis network cameras, audio and access control solutions as well as video management systems from Axis and our partners.

Keeping burglars off the roof

As outlined, radar offers several strengths and the features of radar devices are very specific and therefore most useful in environments that are difficult to monitor. Either due to the size or location of the area (e.g. when it’s outdoor and no artificial light is allowed for environmental reasons) or when the premises are difficult to access. Examples would be manufacturing, factories, critical infrastructure, warehouses and shopping centers.

For a big mall in Stockholm, a radar solution made all the difference. Said shopping center had issues with an increasing number of false alarms on the one side, often triggered by shadows and smaller animals that crossed the protected area. These false-alarms led to many expensive call-outs. On the other side, the institution reported also a growing number of burglars who managed to enter the premises by climbing up the façade and via the roofs. To keep their properties and customers safe, the management decided to approach Axis Communications and system integrator InSupport Nätverksvideo, a specialist in fully digital network video solutions. They installed an Axis security radar to complement the mall’s existing security system which already consisted of several Axis devices. Within no time, the shopping center could see an improvement and today the number of false alarms is largely non-existent.

Besides the obvious benefit, the shopping center could save hundreds of thousands of kronor per year just from reduced costs for sending out security personnel. “Businesses can save a lot of money by reducing false alarms and unnecessary call-outs. Ensuring ongoing service and maintenance can also result in major savings. We noticed that more and more companies are demanding secure operation and secure surveillance as a service, where we guarantee continued operation,” says Fredrik Westin, CEO of InSupport.

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