Five rules to help you make the most of your CCTV solution

BY SUPPLIED - AUGUST 13, 2014

CCTV surveillance is becoming an increasingly popular addition to the security portfolios of both business and home users. The presence of CCTV not only acts as a deterrent for many would-be intruders, it also gives users themselves additional peace of mind that their homes and businesses are being constantly monitored.

Access to CCTV footage gives users more control over what is happening, and when incidents do occur, they can be identified and dealt with before they can escalate into major issues. Aside from the security aspect, for home users CCTV enables a view into exactly what happens when they are not at home – whether they want to monitor their children, their pets or any workers on the premises. For business users, CCTV can be used to monitor operational aspects such as behaviour and productivity, to identify where improvements can be made and where problems lie.

While they can be immensely beneficial, CCTV systems often represent a significant investment. In order to leverage full advantage, it is vital to obtain the right solution to meet your needs. Follow these five rules to ensure that your CCTV solution meets your expectations and delivers exactly what you need.

Rule #1: Understand the why and the what

Firstly, you need to understand why you want or need a CCTV solution, and what results you expect to achieve from the system. Are you looking for visible cameras that act as a simple deterrent or do you want a solution that enables you to monitor your premises remotely at all times? Do you want high resolution, high-quality images with a lot of detail, enough to make out the facial details of a person, or do you need a general overview picture? Perhaps you might require a combination of both. The answers to each of these questions will affect the technology you would need to buy for your CCTV solution.

Rule #2: Research is key

Research goes hand-in-hand with Rule #1. Once you have decided what you need and want from a CCTV solution, it is important to do your homework around what is available. The unfortunate reality is that not all CCTV solutions are equal, and there are a lot of cheap, low-quality products on the market. Research what products are out there, read reviews, testimonials or recommendations if they are available, and use this to help you decide which solution you wish to implement.

Rule #3: You get what you pay for

The word cheap is often used to refer not only to price, but to overall quality as well, and for good reason. Cheaper is not necessarily better, and if the solution fails to deliver what is required, it will end up being a waste of money no matter how affordable it seemed at first. Once you know what functionality you need, and have done your research, leveraging full value depends not on buying the cheapest solution to meet your needs, but the best solution that fits all of your requirements.

Rule #4: Ask questions

To ensure you are getting the right solution, you need to fully understand the product and its features. Ask the supplier questions, bring up any areas of concern you may have. If you want remote monitoring, find out how this works with a particular solution. Find out how much bandwidth you require to view footage remotely. Ask whether you will be able to view this on mobile devices, and whether you need ADSL or 3G broadband in order to stream live video, or if the product can cope with low bandwidth areas. In general, for remote monitoring, you want a solution that uses as little bandwidth as possible such as 4 Frames per Second (F/s) using only 1 Byte per Second (B/s) to minimise bandwidth costs and allow you to view footage in areas that do not have 3G coverage.

Rule #5: Get professional help

CCTV consists of some fairly complex technologies, and if you do not understand the technology and the various settings applicable, getting reliable results can prove challenging. For example, a CCTV camera does not view the scene in the same way as the human eye – it cannot automatically adjust for different lighting conditions. Specific cameras also have specific purposes, from wide-angle lenses that give an overall view to cameras used to pinpoint specific detail. If you do not understand the technical requirements, you might well purchase the wrong cameras, install them incorrectly, and end up wasting investment without achieving value.

CCTV can be a valuable addition to security and operations, for both home and business users. However, it pays in this instance to obtain the assistance of a reputable professional implementation partner. Such a partner will be able to answer any questions you have, help you get the right products to meet your needs, and ensure they are installed correctly to make sure you get maximum value from your investment into a CCTV solution.