How camera technology is protecting vulnerable families

Tuesday, 03 October, 2023 | Supplied by: Axis Communications (S) Pte Ltd

How camera technology is protecting vulnerable families

A safe space for vulnerable families to heal

Created and funded privately, Peggy’s Place is a transitional shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence. The site functions as a stopgap for vulnerable families who have transitioned through a refuge but aren’t yet ready for independent living.

Peggy’s Place is set up to take referrals from other refuge centres throughout Queensland, many of which are at capacity, providing an alternative dwelling with childcare and other services for people who may be on the waitlist for permanent housing — a process that can take years to come to fruition.

Set on a property of 37 acres, Peggy’s Place provides more than 70 beds for women and children. It offers access to a full gamut of wraparound services aimed at helping families on the road to recovery, including trauma-informed counselling, occupational therapy, medical support, legal and housing support services, health classes and financial upskilling.

One of the most important elements needed to provide peace of mind for residents at Peggy’s Place is security and safety from violent spouses and partners. Given the size of the building and the expanse of the land upon which it sits, the team behind Peggy’s Place knew it needed a solution that would offer the security it needed without making it feel like a prison.

Securing the property for greater safety

Not quite knowing where to begin the journey to find the best solution to meet its security needs, the Peggy’s Place team turned to its managed IT services provider QCS Group, which offered its assistance and expertise to the project.

Working with its supplier, VSP Security Wholesale, QCS Group settled on Axis technology as the best option to solve the unique security challenges faced by Peggy’s Place, encouraged by recommendations from other organisations using Axis technology and the vendor’s prominence in high-profile environments such as airports.

Given the nature of the project, Axis wasted no time in providing its technology and resources to Peggy’s Place. Fortunately, Axis safety camera technology is National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) approved — a requisite for the project, and a factor that provides high levels of security.

In its bid to cover as much of the building and property with as little intrusion as possible, Peggy’s Place, QCS and VSP worked together to identify Axis products that were small but which also provided wide coverage and extensive direction options.

Axis P3719 network cameras were used in the outdoor areas, selected for their ability to provide 360-degree visibility and infrared illumination for coverage at night — a useful tool for securing the 37-acre property.

At the same time, the impact-resistant Axis P1447 network camera model was employed at the gates of the property, providing a clarity of vision with which forensic details can be captured even in challenging light conditions.

Meanwhile, Axis P4707 network cameras were particularly useful for inside areas, given their double-camera multidirectional visibility, which enabled Peggy’s Place to provide extensive coverage with minimal camera placements. This helped to make the safety camera system unobtrusive, a factor that ensures residents don’t feel like they’re being watched or controlled.

Strategically positioned for unobtrusive visibility

With a selection of the smaller Axis network cameras employed to provide extensive coverage while being able to stay largely hidden from view, QCS Group and the Peggy’s Place team worked with electricians and fencing professionals to position the camera posts in the best location for maximum visibility of the areas most in need of coverage, such as the front gates.

“The Axis network cameras are designed to be unobtrusive and discreet, which is crucial for ensuring the safety of residents at Peggy’s Place,” said Vicki Cole, Business Manager, Peggy’s Place.

“The cameras are compact and positioned in a way that does not draw attention to them, which is especially important for residents who have been controlled by their partners. The cameras provide the necessary visibility to ensure optimal safety and security for everyone at Peggy’s Place.”

The building at the centre of Peggy’s Place was constructed in the 1940s. Due to the construction methods of that era, it was sometimes difficult to lay new cabling for the network camera system. However, much of the cable routing was surface mounted, meaning the team didn’t have to access the interior of ceilings or walls to hook up the network cameras. In the end, the fibre-optic cable connecting the Axis cameras was installed smoothly, with just a few adjustments to the existing infrastructure needed.

Adjustments to camera positions and angles were also needed in some areas where there was a little more ambient light reflection than expected in the original layout plan of the network camera system, impacting visibility. However, only a few minor changes were needed to fix these issues and provide the coverage to meet the needs of the Peggy’s Place team.

With help from the Axis Site Designer, QCS Group has mapped out a plan of the entire site, which will provide invaluable documentation for any future amendments or upgrades to the network camera system. This will come in handy if network speakers are added to the safety and security infrastructure mix at Peggy’s Place further down the track.

QCS Group has extensive experience with this kind of project. However, the Peggy’s Place installation represented its first foray into the Axis Communications portfolio offering. Despite this, QCS Group completed the implementation of the Axis technology on schedule and with minimal interruption to Peggy’s Place and its management team.

Early alerts for increased safety

Creating a safe space for victims of domestic violence is at the core of Peggy’s Place’s mission — a crucial part of this is ensuring the safety of its own team members. Without its professional staff, Peggy’s Place wouldn’t be able to offer its services to those in need.

It’s not uncommon for people using violence in a domestic setting to track down their victims and try to break into the accommodation in which they have sought refuge. With the new Axis network camera system, if a perpetrator of domestic violence tries to breach the perimeter of the property, the Peggy’s Place team will receive an alert immediately. This gives them ample time to call police or other emergency services, ensuring timely intervention if the need arises.

In the absence of full-time security personnel, the safety camera network has dramatically improved how effectively Peggy’s Place manages and oversees what’s happening on the property at any given time. This gives the refuge’s staff the confidence to know they are empowered to bolster their own safety, and that of residents, through active surveillance and automated intruder alerts, should someone be successful in breaching the property’s perimeter.

Most importantly, the Axis camera system helps the Peggy’s Place team to improve the safety of residents, with vulnerable families given some level of respite from the fear of being in danger of violence.

Extending the system through added functionality

With the Axis network camera system in place, QCS Group and Peggy’s Place are exploring options to increase security even further. The team is already utilising some of the advanced functionality embedded in the Axis technology, such as licence plate recognition, which is used to record when visitors arrive and depart.

However, it is hoped that additional capabilities will be added to the system, such as facial recognition to identify certain people as they enter the premises. The integration of Axis’s network speaker technology is on the cards as well, in the hope that it will provide a way to communicate with or provide alerts to people onsite — an easy upgrade to the current system.

Another function currently being explored is the ability to record potential incidents and apply software-based image redaction to the recording before exporting it for use by law enforcement officials, if required in the aftermath of an incident or in the course of an investigation. In addition to certain legal requirements, such a capability — made possible by Axis’s analytics software — would ensure the privacy and anonymity of residents at Peggy’s Place.

Image credit: iStock.com/kieferpix

Online: www.axis.com
Phone: 0011 65 6836 2777
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