Perhaps George Orwell is to blame, but we as a technology driven community have at times seemed reluctant to install video surveillance. The media fans the flames of our fears with “Person of Interest” or “Eagle Eye” exploiting video cameras as tools of a paranoid conspiracy plot. Maybe it’s time we look rationally at this tool available to our offices.
Video surveillance offers both a deterrent to crime, and a tool to prosecute when needed. It can in some ways be the boss, when the boss is away, or be a comforting security to a lone employee. Whatever the motivation, the prices have been dropping on ever more sophisticated systems over the past few years, and though the cabling may seem unfamiliar, installation need not be performed by costly security specialists anymore.
When planning a system, the first consideration are the goals. What do you want the system to do for you? Understanding your needs is vital to placing the right cameras in the correct places. When determining placement, consider two types of cameras, those for overview, and those for detail.
Overview cameras may tell if your parking lot is full, how many tables are open in a restaurant, or if your employees are playing Xbox in the lunchroom instead of working. They are typically of lower resolution with wide angle lenses.
Detail cameras provide identification of a particular area, a cash register, license plates entering a parking lot, or people passing through a doorway. These are your HD cameras.
The specific placement and resolution for cameras is based on some simple math. The number of pixels per foot of viewing area will determine the discernible detail in the video footage. For instance, to consistently identify a human face requires 100 pixels/foot. If a doorway is 7 foot tall, and your camera views the top edge of its frame to the floor, you would want a camera with at least 700 vertical pixels. In camera resolutions, the second number (1024×768) is the vertical resolution. Depending on the zoom factor available for the camera, it can be placed anywhere so long as the field of view remains the same.
After you’ve determined placement, its time to look at some DVR options. DVR systems are feature packed, so choosing one that has what you need may take some analysis. Some of the more important features to consider are:
Output format – if you have to turn footage over to law enforcement, how simple is it to make a DVD or video file in a common format?
Storage capacity – How long can you retain footage at the resolutions and number of cameras you require? Average security needs are around 14 days. But specialized circumstances can require 30 or more.
Remote viewing – most systems have remote viewing from both a pc and some smart phones. How secure is it? You want to make sure your surveillance system isn’t used against you to find a good time to rob your office or store.
Audio – most DVR systems offer at least a couple of channels of audio. If you want to capture conversations, look over these options carefully.
After making your plan and choosing the features best suited to your needs, a team can come in and mount and cable your cameras. Setup your DVR and welcome to a new age. With 4 camera systems priced at under $500 including cabling, it’s hard to justify not having a system for nearly every business. Simpletech Solutions offers a suite of products and services to help with these choices, call us for a consultation.