Surveillance: The Commercial Imperative
When it comes to effective security there’s little doubt that CCTV has a fundamental role to play across both the private and public sectors, yet there’s still a concerning number of UK businesses not using modern surveillance systems to their best effect.
Many organisations will only invest in CCTV if they’ve experienced a crime on the site - an unfortunate but common situation. In addition, many end users remain skeptical about the technology, believing that cameras will only produce blurred images and not actually capture the right data for their purposes.
Surveillance technology has advanced at a particularly rapid pace, and more and more businesses are beginning to wake up to the numerous benefits afforded by today’s High Definition (HD) CCTV solutions.
The days of watching grainy, distorted images should now be a thing of the past. Within the last few years there has been a significant improvement in image quality and, it’s fair to say, the capabilities of CCTV are now greater than ever.
At ADT, we created a demonstration video allowing customers to view the same recorded scene in both analogue and HD technology formats. The difference in the picture quality is striking. Customers are immediately able to see the benefits.
If businesses adopt HD CCTV technology, this could have a positive impact on crime figures as the pictures produced and the level of detail captured is so superior that it makes the job of identification much easier.
In addition, CCTV cameras allow business owners to monitor and identify high risk areas and help protect any members of staff attributed to lone worker assignments. Higher resolution megapixel cameras mean that larger areas can be covered without compromising picture quality. Business owners are able to monitor and pinpoint specific areas (such as car parks and secluded entrances and/or exits) where capturing significant detail is crucial.
Upgrading for greater functionality
One of the main differences between analogue technology and HD is the type of cabling and network that’s adopted. Instead of running cameras on an analogue coaxial cable, an Internet Protocol (IP) network is created for HD cameras. This provides greater functionality, in turn enabling PCs, mobile phones and tablets to be connected to the network. In addition, such a set-up ensures that when a business owner is off-site remote viewing is possible for additional peace of mind.
CCTV using HD technology begets a faster transition time between an image being taken and the image appearing on the screen, thus allowing for a real-time footage. That assists in reducing the time taken to act upon a potential incident. Furthermore, given that only one cable is required to power an HD camera and video (unlike an analogue camera which required two cables), costs are reduced and the installation process is made that much faster.
It’s also possible to easily upgrade an existing analogue CCTV system with the more efficient HD technology. In some cases, existing cabling may be re-used so as to reduce costs, although new transmission devices, the cameras and the recorder must be installed.
HD cameras: compact and durable
The latest HD cameras are smaller, more robust and more aesthetically pleasing than their analogue predecessors.
There are two main types: the mini dome and the increasingly popular bullet camera. The latter is about half the size of the traditional analogue camera with no requirement to add an additional external camera housing. The lens, method of illumination and bracket are integrated as one complete end user solution.
New cameras can also run a variety of innovative software applications. An example of this would be if paint were to be sprayed over the lends by a vandal. An algorithm built into the software detects the lends has been covered and sends a message to the user indicating picture loss, allowing the issue to be swiftly rectified.
Cameras are also becoming standalone devices employing valuable additional features. For example, a standard SD card can be inserted into an HD camera allowing it to record directly onto the card without the need for for a separate recorder. The key advantage of the SD card is that the camera can still record vital information in the event of the main recorder failing or malfunctioning.
Another key development featured in the newer HD cameras is that the aspect ratio is much wider. The aspect ratio refers to the height and width of the picture generated. Put simply, a wider ratio enables the camera to capture more of an image. Instead of two car parking spaces that may be captured on a standard analogue CCTV image, the modern HD CCTV camera can pick up four. The main advantage of this innovation is that larger areas can be covered by fewer cameras.
Night-time security requirements
An important consideration that many businesses often overlook when specifying CCTV cameras and surveillance equipment is illumination. Although CCTV cameras work very well during the day, when light levels drop the cameras might become less sensitive and the image quality may deteriorate.
Again, this is an issue that can be addressed by HD CCTV cameras which may be specified with infrared illuminators built into them. When evening approaches the infrared illuminator switches on, producing a clearer picture.
However, the cameras are only sensitive to infrared illumination and will only produce monochrome pictures. if colour is important for identification purposes then end users ought to employ additional lighting which produces enough white light illumination.
The lighting element uses energy-efficient LEDs. Motion sensors can be fitted to the cameras and lights so that the latter only switch on when there’s movement. This is an important energy-saving consideration for the host business.
An increase in orders for HD CCTV systems emanating notably from small and medium-sized businesses demonstrates that confidence in the technology has greatly improved. As HD technology continues to embed itself within businesses, so the detection level of criminality will also continue to rise.
Ultimately, though, it’s the security industry’s responsibility to educate today’s business owners when it comes to their perceptions of CCTV and HD cameras.
At the end of the day it’s this community that will benefit markedly from the technology.