One of the most important services a fitness facility can provide to its clientele is a safe environment for exercise. The large number of visitors coming and going to fitness clubs and the late hours many of these facilities are open create numerous opportunities for theft or vandalism both inside and outside the clubs. Offering a secure establishment guarded by surveillance technology can help to retain members because it provides a reassuring environment in which clients' well-being and belongings are safe.

Recent advances in technology have made it possible to demonstrate to members that their security is a top priority. A common misconception that many fitness club owners have is that upgrading their security system is too expensive for tight budgets. However, a hybrid security system allows you to integrate existing analog cameras with Internet protocol (IP)-based products and software. This method has made it considerably easier for fitness club owners to begin the process of migrating or upgrading their security systems.

Historically, fitness club owners have met their security needs with legacy analog security camera systems. These systems operate with coaxial cables that run along or behind walls and provide low-end resolution video capture. Captured footage records straight to video, but to operate efficiently, the tape must run at a slow speed. Analog cameras typically have fewer features than IP cameras, their image quality is less reliable over long distances and their signal is not encrypted.

Contrary to analog, IP cameras operate through an embedded video server, having an IP address capable of streaming high-quality video and audio. The resulting footage provides more detail and clarity compared to analog and can be accessed and managed from virtually anywhere with Internet-ready devices. IP-based cameras can provide greater adaptability than analog cameras and can be installed in almost any location. They also offer built-in encryption to meet enhanced security needs.

Hybrid camera solutions combine IP and analog cameras and provide a great way for fitness club owners to bridge the economic divide when considering upgrading their security systems. A hybrid security system can provide the benefits of new and improved security without a major overhaul of existing infrastructure. With real-time camera management, hybrid video management systems come with all the tools necessary to allow analog cameras to pan, tilt and zoom remotely via mouse, keyboard or even a joystick.

Encoders and decoders can be used with analog cameras to access the network for high-definition quality viewing and recording output. Hybrid systems even make it possible to combine and manage multiple security systems through a single surveillance infrastructure. For example, a hybrid system can allow IP-based cameras to survey high-traffic areas of a facility, such as lobbies and walkways, while existing analog cameras can be used to survey less demanding or low-traffic locations, such as storage rooms and staff areas. This flexibility can dramatically improve facility operations and security while making the most of existing equipment investments.

By using a hybrid system that combines both analog and IP-based cameras, fitness club personnel will be able to comprehensively survey the fitness facility and all activities. As a result, fitness clubs maximize the protection they provide to clients, staff and their properties as a whole. Fitness facilities also benefit from enhanced situational awareness, allowing staff to better address property damage or mitigate false or fraudulent claims. Successful implementation of a hybrid security system may help to deter potential criminals and provide high resolution recorded images of a suspect should an incident occur.

For fitness club owners, hybrid video surveillance systems can provide the best of both worlds and demonstrate to clients that their security is a top priority. A hybrid system also can offer an economical "stepping stone" to a complete IP system since it allows owners to scale upgrades relative to their budget or as the facility grows. This affordability makes it difficult for fitness club owners to ignore the benefits that IP-based systems offer. They needn't be intimidated by the seemingly high costs of upgrading their security; they need only to execute their upgrade through a hybrid system and take advantage of the functionality, scalability and benefits that IP-based surveillance systems can offer.

When it comes to video surveillance, IP-based security systems are paving the way to the future. A hybrid system is versatile enough to accommodate both old and new in an affordable solution and ensure that the safety and security of everyone who visits and works at the facility is of the utmost importance.


Greg Peratt is senior director of the Video Solutions Integration Team at Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America. He leads development and implementation of fixed and mobile video security solutions for the Video Solutions Integration Team at Panasonic System Communications Company of North America. As a senior director, he works with Panasonic factories and partners to develop video security products and to deliver comprehensive security solutions tocustomers in a variety of industries.