Remote Surveillance from the Ground Up

Factors to consider about your remote monitoring project before you even reach the design stage.

Many technological advancements have been made in the past few years in the CCTV systems market: the introduction of the digital video recorder, digital cameras, CCTV motion detection, video servers, video over IP and more. CCTV has developed into an integral part of security systems and operations. It has grown in capabilities, affordability and quality.

At the same time, new threats, budgetary constraints and staffing limitations have changed organizations’ expectations of CCTV. Companies and businesses with multiple sites or campus environments now find it necessary to consolidate their security operations into one central location. As the security director or CSO of a company, you may struggle with a common dilemma: how to recognize, among the wealth of technologies, the right solutions for remote surveillance at your facility, and how to combine them to create a successful system.

Carefully examining each aspect of the surveilance system and then examining the system as a whole can give you perspective on the nature of a comprehensive and time-survivable system. Often, applying multiple technologies can prove a cost-effective benefit to system design.

Bandwidth use is a critical factor for remote video surveillance. Each component of the system will affect the bandwidth needed for communication at remote locations.

Cameras and Views. What type of camera will you need? Will it have to monitor a sales counter at a 24-hour convenience store, a person exiting the building through a remote door, or an entire retail sales floor? What is the ambient light level of the area? Will you require incident detection? How detailed will the images need to be—do you need to read license plate numbers or identify drivers? Of course, larger images, higher resolutions and advanced features will likely mean more data to be transmitted.

Storage. How much online retrieval will you need? What is the backup plan? Will the cameras be recorded full time, or just upon incident? What recording rate (frames per second) will you require?

Transmission. Will the data from the remote sites and buildings be transmitted via the existing company WAN or a separate network? How much data will be transmitted from any given location?

Preparing for Expansion
Another area you must address at the onset of design is the future expansion of the surveillance system. A comprehensive system must anticipate future growth within the original infrastructure design. How many manageable systems have evolved into rats’ nests with piecemeal equipment, making maintenance and operation almost impossible?

The avoid this fate, first brainstorm an ideal system. Envision a system that will fulfill the anticipated needs and growth for the next five to 10 years. Define the capabilities of the central site, and then do the same for each remote location or building. For example, one location may be unstaffed with just a fence gate and door, while another may be a building with many employees, entrances and a parking lot.

Developing and applying templates for the various types of location will help define the size of the system. Specify the areas of responsibility and define resources. Next, go back and define realistically what can and will be done in the immediate future.

Maintenance Concerns
Another area that is often overlooked is the ownership and maintenance responsibility of the video equipment and software connected to the company network. Too often there are no clearly defined roles in this area between the IT and the security departments. To avoid problems, set up roles and responsibilities at the onset of design, and be sure all parties agree upon them.

One option is for the IT department to supply, set up and support all network-related devices, such as workstations, servers and mass storage devices. IT could also perform the back-up functions, since they typically perform these functions for other departments. A security technician could service and maintain all security-related devices, such as cameras and switchers. The security technician would also be responsible for video applications that run on the workstations and other network equipment.

This content continues onto the next page...