Before starting to compare surveillance systems or evaluating potential vendors, consider what you want to monitor with your CCTV surveillance system. Once you decide what you want to see, choosing system components will become easier. Be sure you have the answers to the following questions before you spend any money for a video surveillance system…
Do you want to observe the general comings and goings? Vehicles? Or do you want to see specific faces, merchandise, or a crowd en mass? Do you need the surveillance to be covert, or do you want to avert any nefarious activities by making the cameras obvious?
Next, decide what picture quality you’ll need for your surveillance systems. Quality can refer to both how detailed the image is and how fast the frame rate is. Frame rate measures the number of individual pictures that make up the video. “Real-Time”, (what you see on television and on VHS tapes), is 30 frames per second. Most often, surveillance systems record at slower rates, which result in more jerky-looking images but saves on recording space. A system with higher Recording/Playback rate is preferred.
How will your surveillance system be monitored? Will you be recording at all times, and only review the tape when a problem occurs? Or will you have a dedicated employee watching for trouble? Also, with multiple surveillance system cameras, you have the option of connecting each to its own monitor, or combining multiple images onto one monitor.
What’s the priority for the surveillance system? Is it the deterrence of potential crimes or the capture of perpetrators? If you are more interested in deterring certain activities, large, visible cameras are your best bet. Trying to catch criminals without them being cognizant of the surveillance, requires hidden surveillance system cameras, which cost more for hardware and for installation.
One of the newest trends in the surveillance system industry concerns digital recording. Only a few years ago, most closed-circuit TV systems were paired with the familiar Time Lapse VCR to record images. However, digital video recorders (DVRs), which record onto hard drives instead of tape, offer a positive alternative.
For businesses that do not want to change tapes constantly, DVRs definitely are the way to go. While security VCRs offer a time-lapse mode that lets them record for long periods of time, they record only one snapshot every eight seconds. To get higher quality, the tapes need to be changed every day, if not more often. DVRs, on the other hand, can record for weeks or even months without the video data needing to be archived or written over. However, if you’re on a tight budget and willing to invest in fading technology, good time-lapse VCRs, designed specifically for security use, start at $300 to $400.
When choosing a CCTV camera, consider the space of your surveillance zone: Are you 5 feet or 15 feet away from your surveillance target area?
To determine the field of view required, take photos of the areas to be covered from the proposed camera locations. The type of lens you need depends upon what you want to see, how far away it is and how wide the viewing area. Do you want to capture a person’s face or a car license plate? Each camera location will determine which lenses would maximize your surveillance potential. For example: A 4mm wide angle lens will be able to view an area 20′ high X 26′ wide at 21′ away.