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Video Monitoring

Selecting CCTV Equipment

A short CCTV guide for investors and developers -
12 questions and answers
The creation of detailed functional requirements, even before the start of an building investment, will make possible to prepare optimum project and to choose proper equipment (taking into consideration both the requirements and costs / available budget).
On the one hand, the installation company which takes up building an installation should - on its own initiative - expect answers for the following questions, on the other hand the investor ought to be sure that responsible company will not do anything until it has the information.
12 questions for those who plan to build a video monitoring system:
1. What types of threats are going to be monitored?
Is the system responsible for protection of human lives, big amounts of cash, or rather its job is to monitor e.g. waiting lines at checkouts? Moreover, it is important to reckon probability and incidence of assaults, to take measures against them already at the early stage of overall design of the system. It all should influence general concept of the surveillance system, selection of equipment, means of protection against devastation, emergency procedures, UPS in case of power failure etc.

2. What areas are going to be monitored?
On the design of the building there should be indicated important areas that are to be observed. It will enable the designer of the surveillance system to select adequate number of cameras with suitable lenses and to plan their deployment.
3. What is the purpose of observation of particular zones?
The aim of monitoring of a chosen zone may be the activation of determined alarm procedure. One should point out these zones. As opposed to the areas that are only to be observed, one should describe what kind of threats can occur in these particular zones.
4. What is the required level of automation?
One should aim at maximal level of automation, because man-operated systems are expensive and unreliable for a long term. On the other hand, there must be a possibility of manual operation in individual instances.
5. What reaction of the system should be exercised when individual areas are violated?
After breaching a zone, CCTV devices usually trigger automatic operation like activation of recording, switching on the light, closing the door, turning on the siren etc.
6. How long will the video footage be stored on the hard disk?
The archiving period, number of cameras and their parameters determine the necessary storage capacity of the system.
7. What environmental conditions will devices have to work in?
One should anticipate temperature and humidity range, dustiness level, occurrence of electromagnetic interferences, lighting conditions etc., but also some specific conditions, if needed, e.g. explosion hazard.
8. What is the anticipated method of system control?
The investor has to determine the place where the control over the system is to be performed from, the surveillance staff, fixed and variable parameters (all functions not intended to be changed should be blocked).
9. What are the required resolutions and frame rates of images from different areas?
These parameters determine the selection of the cameras (resolutions, frame rates , compression algorithms). Currently, we are experiencing a growing role use of megapixel cameras. They provide much more detailed images, however require adequate storage capacity (often cooperate with capacious NVRs or hybrid digital video recorders).
10. What is sufficient range and security level of signal transmission?
The use of digital signal processing techniques makes possible Internet transmissions - without any range limits. Network video signal transmission opens up new possibilities for monitoring of remote locations - improves security, reduces costs. However, already in the designing phase of the project, it requires the reservation of a specific telecommunication connection (with appropriate bandwidth, fixed IP address etc.), as well as decision about the layer where to digitize the video information: in cameras (IP/web cameras), after cameras (with video servers) or in recording devices (DVR cards, standalone DVR/s). Video surveillance systems based on megapixel cameras require implementation of gigabit networks (copper or fiber optics).
11. How to manage the training of surveillance staff / security guards?
Apart from conducting training course for the whole surveillance staff it is worth to complete written instructions for the system users, including preventive maintenance and procedures of eliminating simple faults etc.
12. What kind of maintenance of the system will be needed and who will be responsible for that?
Some parts of mechanisms of certain devices may require regular lubrication, housings - tightness check, lenses - cleaning, hard drives - exchange. It should be decided whether the basic maintenance is to be performed by the staff or outsourced.
Additionally, there should be taken into account all rational individual requirements, and it is well to remember that some surveillance solutions may be subject to the law.
The article has been based on the EN 50132-7 standard specifying requirements for the design, installation and maintenance of CCTV systems.
Internet CCTV guide - general and technical tips on video surveillance systems