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By: Jo Chew
Date: 6/7/2005


Too many security systems are installed with no defined purpose. Cameras and monitors are installed with no proper plan for monitoring or recording. Cameras are installed with the wrong lenses which give a wide view but not enough detail of the armed robber at the counter!

Cameras are installed in car parks with insufficient levels of light, and cameras are installed in shopping malls where no one is watching them for shop lifters, hoping that the sight of a camera may deter shop lifters.

When installing a CCTV security system, its important to define your objectives and ensure that they are met. CCTV Security systems are not cheap, so its important that you make sure your investment performs!

Define your objective

You need to define your objective for the security system in general, and also for each camera, as well as the monitor and/or DVR.

For example, if the security system was being installed in a convenience store, the objective would be to capture clear and concise of any shoplifters or armed robbers. Therefore the system would be required to record footage. Each camera would also need to be positioned and focussed for maximum effect, so that the offenders face can be easily seen, as well as other vital information such as height etc.

It is straightforward and simple, but often the simple process of defining the objective is overlooked. It's very important that security managers understand exactly what the cameras need to see, and make sure that they do. For example in the convenience store example, there is no point having the camera located in front of the counter or on the side, where it will miss vital footage of the offenders facial features.

Humans have peripheral vision, but cameras do not. Humans see in full color, but certain cameras may not. Compared to human vision, cameras are 2 dimensional. This does not mean security cameras aren't useful, as they are a wonderful tool, but have their limitations.

You need to ascertain exactly what information you are trying to capture with each camera and ensure that it does, there would be nothing worse than to have an incident occur, only to check the footage and realise that it is useless because a camera was positioned incorrectly.

Some very expensive systems have been installed that have resulted in unhappy clients. This is not due to poor system design or poor installation. But because the objectives of the end users were not clear until the commissioning process is over! After a security system is installed, there is always a little fine tuning that will need to be done, but the objectives need to be defined clearly from the start.

There are a whole lot of issues to consider when installing a CCTV system. Are you monitoring a moving or fixed object? Is it a doorway, driveway or counter? Do you need to read numberplates or fine detail? Is color video required or will black and white be sufficient? How many days or weeks of footage need to be kept for record? Does the system need to be monitored? Does the camera need to be able to zoom? Is there sufficient light where the camera is placed?

There are many fundamental questions that need to be asked before the installation begins. One last important point is that no matter how expensive and capable a camera may be, if the lenses are rubbish it may affect your final picture significantly!