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Can Thermal Cameras Make Safe Cities Even Safer?


3 mins


Opgal staff writers

published published

March 16, 2016


Safe City

Imagine thermal cameras scattered throughout a metropolitan area ensuring that any risk to the city’s security, safety, and stability will be spotted and responded to accordingly regardless of visibility challenges including rainy nights or even the bright glaring sun. Thermal camera manufacturers for security and safety, such as Opgal, offer precisely these types of innovative safe city thermal imaging solutions.

Maintaining a safe city is an increasing challenge for local municipalities and its law enforcement agencies. Violent crime rates are increasing at a rapid pace throughout the US. Even in relatively small cities like Bangor, Maine whose violent crime rate is currently at a whopping 90.3% (a 46.8% increase from 2007 when their crime rate was a mere 61.5%). Sioux Falls, South Dakota is another example of a small city with big crime problems.  Their violent crime has risen at a dramatic pace of 49.7% over the past five years!   As crime rates increase, the demand for security measures doesn’t seem to be able to keep pace. Thermal cameras strategically placed throughout an urban area provides the law’s eyes with a tactical advantage allowing them visual contact and insight into practically every street corner regardless of lighting conditions and visibility. This dramatically increases the efficiency in their response.

Why thermal imaging

Thermal imaging cameras are devices that form images implementing infrared radiation.  In other words, these video cameras outline sources of heat whether it be the breath of a human being hiding behind a vehicle or the heat from the motor of the automobile he’s hiding behind.  This allows the viewer to see what he wouldn’t otherwise be able to see due to visual limitations. Rather than 450–750 nanometer range of the visible light of a regular camera, infrared optics function in wavelengths up to 14,000 nm.

The advantage of using thermal imaging cameras lies in its precise ability to recognize moving or stationary breathing images despite darkness, fog and even glaring sunlight.  The technology identifies crisp, clear images in all weather conditions.

Thermal imaging cameras are becoming more commonly utilized by law enforcement and private security due to their ability to vividly identify objects from long distances that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye or via binoculars.

Virtually all Safe City helicopter and airborne law enforcement units worldwide are now implementing thermal optics that make catching fugitives or any suspect on the run easier and more effective.

Extending the long arm of the law

Opgal’s Safe City thermal camera solution gives law enforcement a far reaching visual of virtually every corner, back alley and parking lot in any given urban environment (and remote topographical locations). Along with thermal video surveillance, these types of systems provide continuous zoom optics, allowing the viewer to get a closer look at a suspect’s actions as well ensuring officer safety. The company’s product also offers fire detection features which can help fire departments safely detect the source of a fire in real time from the comfort of an office.  The thermal imaging camera also provides enhanced contrast for VMD software, a molecular visualization operating program used for displaying and analyzing biomolecular operating systems and built-in scripting.

Visual Involvement of the Dispatcher

Whereas traditionally law enforcement dispatchers would communicate with either the witness or the first response, a network of thermal imaging cameras scattered throughout the city essentially transforms the dispatcher into an eyewitness who can not only relay real time information to the incident’s first responder, but can see what is invisible to common, non thermal security cameras such as a suspect hiding behind a car or a concealed vehicle’s engine emitting heat.  This cutting edge technology means that hiding from law enforcement has become dramatically more difficult.