It takes a number of integrated components to build a quality video surveillance system. First, you’ll need high-quality cameras selected for specific jobs. Generally, Lander foregoes low-light cameras for full-light models, which require plenty of light. “Color provides the detail you need during the day,” he says. “I also think you should buy cameras that will switch from color to black and white at night. Black-and-white video is crisper and more detailed at night.”
Full-light cameras need lighting that mimics daylight. While lighting at daylight levels when it’s dark outside can be expensive, Lander recommends pricing LED lighting, which is as bright as day, inexpensive, and long lasting.
Today, you can choose from three basic cameras.
- Traditional analog cameras come in color and black and white. Limitations include expensive cabling systems that may have to be installed. Another limitation with analog cameras is is low-light environments. Some analog cameras are equipped to switch to black and white at night, which helps.
- In some situations, where scenes cannot be lit, infrared cameras can fill in for conventional video cameras. Infrared cameras require their own infrared light sources.
- Increasingly popular today are Internet Protocol (IP) cameras. These color or black-and-white digital cameras can connect to existing IT network cabling. Lander prefers the added security of connecting cameras to a separate dedicated security network. “I encourage clients to run a parallel IP network,” he says. “Then the video runs through a separate system and doesn’t fall under the company’s IT bandwidth restrictions if you have to run cable. But, in newer buildings, the cable is often already there. All you need to do is connect the cameras.”
Lander equips many cameras with varifocal lenses that allow scenes to be fine-tuned. Varifocals come in sizes of 3 mm to 8 mm, 8 mm to 12 mm, and 12 mm to 20 mm. “A fixed lens might be too wide or too tight to see what you want,” he says. “By selecting a lens you can adjust, you can get it right.”
Lander also recommends integrating video surveillance systems with video analytics. Studies show that security officers who monitor video surveillance systems typically lose concentration after the first 20 to 30 minutes. “Video analytics has become affordable in recent years,” he says. “It enables the system – the technology itself – to monitor the video.”
Users can tailor analytics to look for the types of events they want to investigate: an abandoned package, a car or person in a secure area after hours, people running, and other activities that should be checked. You can request analytics that will scan for as many as 24 different events.
Finally, you should use signs to tell people about the surveillance system – but be careful about how you word them. Don’t use signs that say, “This video surveillance system is being monitored constantly.” A sign like this raises expectations and makes people think security officers will see a mugging and rush in to help. A security team would certainly try to help, but these incidents are over quickly – usually before help can arrive. Instead of making promises on a sign, use a sign that says, “Video surveillance in use.”