Audio Security

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What is audio security?

Network audio security solutions are designed to both improve and integrate with an organisation’s current security system, enabling audio communication to be played from a device. Messages can be relayed either live, or via a pre-recorded message, to enhance a security team’s presence while covering their patrol area. Perimeter protection is perhaps the most obvious example where audio communication can improve security – a camera can relay the presence of a trespasser, for a security guard to give a live and explicit audio warning that they are being watched, for instance – but this is only one of many uses.

Speaker options vary, from the obvious to the more discrete. Some can even be integrated into a camera itself, although some believe this can impinge on the audio relay quality, unless opting for one of the more expensive options.

The market appears to be growing, too. There are numerous case studies of audio devices being used to enhance a security network, as benefits continue to be realised. Fredrik Andersson, Marketing Director with Securitas Direct Sverige, has commented on the demand: “Today, Securitas Direct Sverige’s IP camera-based installations increasingly include network audio. The operators at our security center use live video footage in combination with live audio messages. It is a powerful tool in deterring intruders.” In addition, IFSEC Global recently ran a webinar with Axis Communications, focusing on the benefits of network audio, which had hundreds of live attendees and registrants listening in and asking questions. In a poll asked during the webinar, it was found that around half of the audience were currently already installing audio products.

Below, Axis Communications explain a little more about how audio solutions can take your business from passive surveillance, to active deterrence.

Analogue vs IP

Much like video surveillance technology has come a long way in a short space of time via IP, so have audio solutions. Devices can now be integrated and networked in to new, or existing security systems – particularly easy if the devices are all open-source. In addition, sound quality has improved over the years, with digital audio ensuring that no quality is lost from source to speaker, and devices can be calibrated together.

Audio security solutions have developed beyond the security guard needing to be aware of a trespasser. Integration via IP now enables all aspects of a building’s or area’s security systems to link together, to provide a more holistic approach to the protection of a property, its assets and its people.

An example of this could be an IP surveillance camera detecting an intrusion into a prohibited part of a building, which would then trigger a pre-recorded message from the audio device to highlight the intruder has been detected. This helps to deter potential intruders, with Axis Communications – a leading audio security solution provider – reporting a 30% overall reduction in crime due to a networked audio solution, in some cases.

LISTEN: Access our recent webinar with Axis Communications regarding the benefits IP audio solutions can bring to your business

The benefits of an integrated network audio solution

Benefits of networked audio solutions include:

  • Scalable and flexible systems – speakers can be integrated within existing systems and devices can be added/removed if requirements change
  • Full integration – audio devices can be integrated with video surveillance, alarm sensors, access control, HVAC systems, and more
  • Alert security staff to potential incidents, and allow remote monitoring of a situation via live audio messages
  • Remote testing to ensure speakers are working, while troubleshooting can be undertaken remotely
  • Audio zoning – the software can enable speakers in multiple locations to play different messages, or the same, if needs require
  • Pre-record messages linked to motion detection to deter break-ins or potential security incidents, while reducing false alarms and additional manpower
  • Speakers can double up to play music or advertising announcements

Common examples of sector specific uses include education, retail, warehousing, alongside many others. As well as for security purposes, network audio can also be used for safety purposes and background music – particularly in the retail or hospitality sector. Ultimately, an integrated solution supports the real time monitoring of areas, alongside the use of surveillance cameras, which can then work together to improve your overall security provision.

Audio analytics

Once again, while video analytics software has become commonplace for a more well-rounded and developed security solution, audio analytics can still add to this. It enables security devices to operate in both the visual realm – via the surveillance camera – and the acoustic realm. Software can be integrated to provide security personnel with crucial information, such as sounds of verbal aggression, a window being broken or gunshots. This also helps to reduce false incidents, with new, developed solutions having the ability to differentiate between a gunshot or a car backfiring, for instance.

Augmenting video surveillance alongside custom audio analytics solutions can elevate security, by providing personnel with more information and increasing their situational awareness. Audio processing can take place inside the device, so there is no need for additional servers, while solutions often only operate when an incident takes place, recording a few seconds before and after an event. As the use of artificial intelligence, or AI, and machine learning has grown across industry, devices are becoming more and more sophisticated on detecting sounds and differentiating between them.

It is also important to note that audio analytics will only detect certain “patterns of sound”, rather than actual speech, which otherwise may go against a country or state’s regulations for recording devices.

What do you need to install or design a network audio solution?

The tools and needs when installing or designing network audio solutions vary, depending on the project. But in general, some things to consider include:

  • Dimensions of the room, height of the ceiling and floor space
  • Method of measuring the ambient sound level in the room – apps are available to support on this, this will affect the choice of speaker
  • What is the primary function of the audio system? Public address? Background music? Security announcements? In retail, you may have to think about the customer experience and aesthetics more, for example.
  • Physical location of the speakers – will the speakers be mounted? Or does the speaker need to blend in with aesthetics?
  • Acoustic considerations – echoes, reverbs and delays should be considered
  • Environmental considerations – are there hard or soft materials within the room? Warehouse vs office space, for example

Find out more about audio security from our most recent articles, below…

Mersey Tunnel network upgraded with IP-based public address and voice alarm system

Mersey Tunnel starting in Liverpool, has been upgraded by an IP-based public address and voice alarm system from Praesensa by Bosch.

“Networked, integrated IP audio can bring just as much value as cameras” – In conversation with Zenitel’s Koen Claerbout at IFSEC 2022

We speak to Koen Claerbout, the CEO of Zenitel, discussing the importance of audio security as part of a comprehensive security unit.

Security products round-up – May/June 2022

IFSEC Global takes readers through the latest product launches and software updates to hit the security market in April 2022.

Manchester’s MediaCity premieres new integrated security system from Axis

An integrated physical security solution from Axis is being used to ensure 24/7 protection for tenants and visitors at UK’s MediaCity. 

Zenitel continues EMEA expansion with new Centres of Excellence

Zenitel continues to expand in EMEA and has recently launched Centre of Excellence (CoE) hubs in both Spain and Italy.

Innovations in IP audio to help create a smarter, safer world

David Needham, Axis Communications, discusses the transformation in digital audio solutions and the benefits of network connectivity for improved security and public address

How IP audio can help retailers effectively manage security and operations

Axis Communications discuss the role of IP audio solutions in modern retail, and the benefits of occupancy management to staff and customers.

“The ability to hear, be heard and be understood is vital” – The importance of audio communication devices in security

IFSEC Global sits down with Zenitel to discuss why networked audio devices are becoming an integral part of the security and safety ecosystem.

Security and the pandemic – Utilising people and technology to improve resilience

James Willison explores how people and technology, such as that found in converged security platforms, can help the security sector in becoming more resilient in pandemics.

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