Planning a network video installation

Axis Communications' Steve Surfaro discusses the three essential documents needed to undertake a CCTV installation project


When you undertake a video surveillance installation, it’s easy to become mired in the vast array of details that go into the project. To stay on track, three documents are essential: the specification document; the video commissioning statement; and the acceptance test criteria.

Specification document – setting reasonable expectations

The specification document provides the framework for the system that the integrator is contracted to deliver. Usually created by the security system designer, it defines the system requirements for the video surveillance project, the scope of the solution and exactly what the customer expects to receive upon project completion. If there is no performance specification, the designer needs to sit down with the customer and create one before the project begins. Otherwise, timely payment for services rendered could be compromised.

Video commissioning statement – stipulating deployment milestones

The video commissioning statement is basically a master checklist that outlines the steps involved in deploying the system. It identifies the division of responsibilities between vendor and customer and verifies that the project is being delivered in accordance with periodic milestones. Like the specification document, you need to have the video commissioning statement in hand before you start ordering equipment deliveries and assigning a timetable for specific tasks so that each stage of the project will go smoothly.

Staging/programming/installation/commissioning tasks

Staging products relates to where, how and when the network devices get deployed in the project’s progress. Once you’ve verified that the performance specifications are doable, you need to develop a master bill of materials or list of equipment assemblies for each deployment location, such as the telecom room, the command center and the workstation.

For staging, consider grouping a sample set of products in each category – such as a network camera, lens, network switch, network video recorder and workstation – and get them to work together as a small test system on the customer’s network.
For pre-programming the camera’s image settings, you need to consider the environment in which they’ll be deployed. Outdoor cameras may be required to have a different white balance setting than indoor ones. It’s best to keep the camera’s network settings at resolution, refresh rate and image quality values applicable to the widest variety of applications as possible. For example, cameras used for forensic review and not typically operating in continuous surveillance mode should be set for as large an image size, low compression and high frame rate as possible, within the constraints of the end-user’s network or WAN connectivity. Make some sample recordings with your test system for your customer to review. You can always adjust the camera settings to balance the end-user’s needs and the constraints of the network.

Be sure to document these typical camera settings, along with the network connectivity information (IP addresses, communication ports, etc.) in a spreadsheet. You can simplify deployment by using the camera’s IP address or logical camera number in labeling the product groups prior to actual installation.

In addition to understanding how the products work together and any special installation requirements the customer may have, you also have to be cognizant of the consulting engineer’s specifications and all the local and national codes that have jurisdiction over the surveillance location. All the system devices and cabling will need to conform to the appropriate TIA and IEEE standards such as Power over Ethernet (802.3af) and Structured Cabling Systems (TIA/EIA-568-B). If you’re unsure how to interpret how these standards relate to the installation, it’s best to consult with a designer holding the RCDD (BICSI.org) credential prior to installation.

Division of responsibilities

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