A business video surveillance (CCTV) system is truly effective only when it meets the individual needs of your company. Before you start comparison shopping, consider these five factors to decide what you really need in a surveillance system.
Number of cameras — In most cases, four cameras are enough for an area of less than 2,000 square feet. Most packaged surveillance systems come with two to four cameras. If you choose a system with only two cameras and think you may want to add more later, make sure you can. The ability to accept more cameras depends on the DVR (digital video recorder). The DVR can accept only as many cameras as it has channels available.
Camera lens capabilities — The camera lens’ field of view determines how much area it can cover. For a small, fixed area such as a check-out counter or entryway, a standard lens is sufficient. To scan a large area such as an open-plan office or factory floor, you’ll need a wide-angle lens. An adjustable lens is also an option. These let you choose the optimal field of view during installation. Pan/tilt/zoom (PZT) capability is another feature to look for. These cameras can adjust their view point in response to input from you and/or a specific trigger such as an alarm or movement.
Image quality — Detail (resolution) and recording speed (frame rate) determine your image quality. The camera’s TVL (TV lines) number indicates the level of detail it can capture. The cameras in the typical business video surveillance system offer between 350 to 400 TVL , but high resolution cameras can go as high as 800 TVL.
Frame rate, measured in frames per second ( fps ), indicates how smooth the moving images will be. The “full motion” images you see on TV are taken at 30 fps. Most surveillance systems have a slower recording rate than this. Slower rates produce jerky video, but save hard drive space and allow for longer recording times. For the video to appear as continuous movement rather than a series of snap shots, the recording rate should be at least 15 fps . If you need to record fast-moving objects, such as cars or machinery, you’ll want a faster recording rate, preferably 24 fsp or faster .
Color or black and white — With color imaging as affordable as it is, the little cash you’ll save by choosing black and white probably isn’t worth foregoing the benefits of color. Having color images makes it easier to catch identifying details of intruders, such as clothing color.
Software capabilities — Before investing in a business video surveillance system, make sure the software it comes with can do what you need. For example, your software should be able to record at the same frame rate at which your camera films.
Other features to look for include:
- Event-triggered recording — Motion detection recording saves hard drive space by recording only when movement is present.
- Electronic notifications — Many systems can send an email or SMS alert when they detect motion or any other problem.
- Remote access — If you want to access and watch recordings online, your software should provide a web-based control panel.
- Intelligent search — Look for a variety of archive search options, including the ability to pull up recorded footage based on date and time, camera, duration, and incident such as motion detected.
The right business video surveillance system will help you identify guests, prevent theft, head off potential accidents, and defend yourself from false accident claims. With some research and comparison, you’ll be able to find the system that can do all this for you without breaking your budget.