In recent years, thermal imaging cameras have been a hot topic as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many establishments have adopted the use of these cameras to mass-screen visitors for elevated body temperatures in the attempt to control the spread of the virus. But before this, thermal imaging cameras were mainly used for border security.
How Thermal Imaging Cameras Work
Traditional security cameras work by converting visible light into images whereas thermal imaging cameras use infrared radiation, or thermal energy. Since thermal imaging cameras do not need visible light, they can be used in complete darkness. Even though it’s undetectable to the human eye, every object emits some level of infrared energy and this is referred to as their “heat signature”. We feel this emitted energy as heat so that’s why infrared radiation can also be called thermal energy. Objects that emit higher levels of infrared radiation will have higher temperatures. However, it’s important to note that thermal imaging cameras do not just detect heat; they can detect minute differences in heat which are represented by different colors.
Border Security Challenges & Resolutions
Keeping borders secure is a tough but necessary task. 24/7 monitoring is needed in order to protect against contraband smuggling, illegal immigration, terrorism, fugitives, etc. However, border security teams often face issues with monitoring at night and in harsh weather conditions. Additionally, borders will typically expand vast distances but the number of security personnel can be low. Security incidents require early detection and prompt action, but this can be hard to achieve when there’s too few people that are spaced too far apart for efficient communication. Besides that, borders are unique environments that will usually have natural elements, like bodies of water and shrubbery, that will conceal criminal activity.
Thermal imaging cameras have greatly improved border security operations since their development because of their ability to detect human activity in a variety of conditions. Unlike regular night-vision cameras that need some light to work, these cameras can function in complete darkness and any kind of weather since they rely on thermal energy instead of visible light. Thermal energy is something that every object emits naturally so the camera will still be able to detect people, even if they try camouflaging themselves. And as mentioned before, these types of cameras are capable of picking up contrasting temperatures. This means that they will still be able to detect human presence through water and from behind foliage.
Even though thermal imaging cameras are increasingly being used in commercial industries to detect fevers, they have a long-standing history with border security. Traditional surveillance cameras are flawed because they can be avoided by criminals or fooled with visual tactics but thermal energy is something that cannot be masked or altered easily. Using these cameras enable security teams to detect threats better and faster through a variety of conditions.