There has been increasing interest in the last few years in updating, upgrading, and increasing the protection of the nation’s water system infrastructure, including wastewater treatment facilities.
There are many good reasons for these efforts, including not only maintaining the safety and security of the facilities, but also promoting their efficient operation and maintenance. Whichever reason is the primary driver for a particular project, undertaking a modernization project is a perfect time to consider also adding cost-effective video capabilities to capture a variety of additional benefits. In many cases, public works and utility officials find that video surveillance can be leveraged for improved process and efficiency initiatives.
With a wide variety of camera types available today, it is easier than ever to find the right combination of units to cover a facility cost effectively. For example, the increasing resolutions of fisheye and panoramic cameras have now made them viable options to cover large areas without giving up the ability to resolve necessary detail. Using panoramic cameras, it is now even possible to digitally zoom in to review an area of interest—while the camera continues to record the entire scene to ensure a reliable record of events. Thermal cameras are another big progress area; in recent years their performance has improved significantly at lower price points, making them another viable choice for difficult imaging situations. And, many advanced surveillance systems can be equipped with analytics that automate and improve the detection process. This means that the video surveillance systems themselves can play a more active role locating areas of interest, letting operators concentrate on evaluation and response as appropriate. A single command center can consolidate video inputs from many remote locations, making the management and operation process easier and more efficient.
First and foremost, video surveillance goes hand in hand with safety and security. According to the Draft American National Standard titled “Guidelines for the Physical Security of Water Utilities,” video surveillance (called “Closed Circuit Television” in the standard) is indicated for both Alarm Assessment and for Surveillance purposes, and at both base and enhanced levels of security. The standard goes on to recommend specific installation locations including “main gate”, “all facility exterior doors”, and “interior protected areas”, among others, and to recommend specific tactics to detect and respond to a range of threats from Vandals, Criminals, Saboteurs, and Insiders.
Installed video surveillance systems that can be accessed remotely provide a range of safety and security benefits. For example, the mere presence of visible cameras can provide a deterrent that can prevent some undesirable events from happening at all. Another very tangible benefit is the ability to verify alarms from intrusion detectors and other sensors in real time. Without video confirmation, an employee would have to be dispatched to check on the situation – in many areas, law enforcement has stopped responding to alarms unless they are confirmed, because of the high level of false alarms and nuisance calls. Real time confirmation allows for the prompt response of law enforcement, with all the benefits therein.
But video surveillance systems can provide additional benefits beyond confirming the presence of vandals or intruders. For example, they can be used to confirm the responses of other system and process sensors, including water level sensors, flow and obstruction sensors, treatment chemical supply levels, pump operation, and more. In these cases, sensor alarms or readings can be visually confirmed using a camera, or in some cases, video analytics can be set up to detect certain conditions automatically. In cases of malfunction or damage, speeding up the detection, confirmation and response can make a big difference in minimizing the incurred repair costs as well as any service interruptions.
Another potential improvement involves the use of thermal cameras in a ‘site surveillance’ overview position. Not only are thermal cameras some of the most effective intrusion-detection device options, but during all times of day thermal cameras can be calibrated and set up to detect unusual temperatures in equipment areas. With a normal range set, temperatures lower than normal might indicate a lack of function or weak functioning, and temperatures higher than the normal range might indicate lubrication or electrical operational issues that could be precursors to equipment failure. As is the case with other sensors, these video indicators can act alone or in conjunction with other sensors specifically installed for the purpose, providing a backup or confirmation function to help increase the reliability of the overall systems.
These are just a few examples of how video solutions can be used to modernize wastewater treatment facilities and improve the overall efficiency of a site. If you are currently researching a modernization project for your facility and have questions regarding video solutions, we can help put you in contact with a project consultant. Click here to learn more.
Best wishes for your successful project!