CCTV: A Buyer’s guide

Closed-circuit TV systems can monitor for illegal activities,
such as theft from a store or violence against an employee.
If something does happen, CCTV systems can provide valuable
evidence to police.  Just the presence of a system can deter
unwanted behaviors.

Many business owners are realizing they can’t afford not to
have video surveillance. At the same time, they want a system
that is reliable and fully featured without breaking the budget.
Nobody wants to be the owner of a system that failed to capture
a crime or produced video too grainy to be useful.

CCTV questions
Here are several questions to consider as you begin shopping for a CCTV system:

  1. What do you want to monitor? Some CCTV cameras are designed to work outside, while others are for indoor use only. Also, how much area do you want to monitor with each camera? Is it a tight, narrow angle? Or a broad swath?
  2. How many cameras? Count the areas that you want the system to monitor. If you are planning to watch only one entrance, a single camera will do. Otherwise, look at multiple-camera systems that can handle several feeds of video at once.
  3. How good is the lighting? CCTV systems use a variety of techniques to capture images in low-light environments. If you are planning to monitor in low light, an infrared camera is likely worth the extra money it will cost.
  4. Will someone be monitoring a live feed? If you have security personnel on staff, a system that generates a live feed may be the best option. Live feeds also are excellent deterrents when they’re shown at the entrance of a store. Shoplifters immediately get the message that they’re being watched!
  5. Do you want to record the video? There is no better evidence than a video of a crime being committed. Recordings also can have a useful role in training.
  6. If you do choose to record video, how long do you need to keep it? Video files are very big, and lengthy recordings require a lot of storage. Figure out how much time can elapse before files can be safely deleted.

Types of CCTV cameras
There are several different types of CCTV cameras, each designed for specific environments. Several enclosure options are also available, too, including domes and boxes. Both support a variety of lenses and cameras. In addition, cameras can either be placed in a fixed position or placed on a motorized mount that can be controlled remotely.

Here’s a sampling of camera types:

  • Day/Night Cameras: These record in standard color during the day, when light is sufficient. As light diminishes, the camera switches to a low-lux black-and-white mode so that more detail can be captured.
  • Infrared Cameras: These capture images when no light is available. They record infrared light that’s not visible to the human eye. Video appears in black and white.
  • Standard Color: These capture the most realistic detail but require sufficient light for the clearest images. These are ideal for indoor surveillance systems.
  • PZT Cameras: These can be controlled remotely to capture close-ups of activities of interest.

Recording video
Video captured by a CCTV system can be recorded on videotape or a hard drive. Advanced systems use technology similar to the digital video recorders (DVR) found in many homes. DVRs can record and play video at a variety of speeds and at very high quality. They also can be programmed to automatically delete recordings on a schedule – or when storage is tight. DVRs can be connected to a network – either a private LAN or the Internet – for remote monitoring.

CCTV companies
A number of companies offer complete CCTV solutions, including cameras, monitoring systems and networking equipment.

The original article cites two “leading” companies: Nuvico and GeoVision. Are you looking for a similar mention of these companies? If so, I’ll have to do some additional research because the original lacks sufficient detail.