Planning a network video installation

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


To avoid the finger pointing that often occurs during project meetings when task assignments are left open to interpretation, draw up a straightforward division of responsibilities document to which all parties can agree. For instance, the security director who is the end-user on site might be held responsible for storing and protecting equipment prior to installation. The security contractor would be responsible for staging, programming, installing and deploying the individual devices.

But if the network surveillance system is going to be part of a shared network, the end-user’s IT department would shoulder the responsibility of programming the network switches.

Periodic milestones

While it would be nice to have all the equipment delivered at the start of the project, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to shoulder all the expense upfront. Especially in large surveillance installations, equipment typically gets delivered in stages. To avoid undue delay as the surveillance project unfolds, it’s important to schedule deliveries in accordance with periodic milestones. For instance, if the main cross-connect area is scheduled for completion before the other telecom rooms, you need to take delivery of the equipment associated with that location before receiving equipment destined for other peripheral sites. Periodic delivery lends itself to achieving periodic milestones, so you can bill in increments and receive payment as you complete each stage of the project.

Acceptance test criteria – delivering on a promise

Even if you intend to bill in stages, you need to establish some mutually acceptable testing criteria to demonstrate that the system you’ve delivered works as expected. These are measurable criteria designed to demonstrate that all the components and the overall network video surveillance system are living up to the standards outlined in the performance specifications. They serve as the checklist for the customer to accept the completed project and pay you in a timely manner for delivering what you promised. A typical acceptance test might demonstrate that a certain camera covers a specific field of view and operates at a certain frame rate and resolution level.

If you hope to streamline your path to system acceptance you need to comply with end-user specifications and IT standards, standards and guidelines for the end user’s industry, as well as authorities having jurisdiction. With extensive installation preplanning you’ll not only greatly simplify deployment but also allow yourself – whether you’re the installer, designer or project manager – to concentrate on delivering functionality while avoiding any costly delays.

Steve Surfaro is the business development manager and security industry liaison for Axis Communications, the global leader in the network video technology.

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Installation Checklist

While no deployment is without its unique challenges, a detailed checklist can be a useful tool for keeping important details in the forefront as you progress through the installation process. The following is a sample to-do list for security technicians:

1. Verify system requirements during pre-install meeting with customer.
2. Verify that cable lengths comply with manufacturer’s specifications.
3. Verify PoE and non-PoE connections (cables and switch ports) for network cameras.
4. Verify site conditions and lens requirements (maximum aperture, light sensitivity, etc.) before ordering lenses.
5. Stage all network cameras for preprogrammed setup.
6. Program cameras for auto day/night operation, auto white balance setting, image size, quality and refresh rate according to available bandwidth.
7. Program preset positions for pan/tilt/zoom cameras.
8. Program static IP addresses according to customer’s IT department documentation.
9. Program time sync coordinates on all devices having built-in system clocks.
10. Program local connections according to product operating instructions.
11. Verify camera video quality and note any issues (backlight problems, digital artifacts, noise, washout, etc.)
12. General internal punch list.
13. Perform final inspection.
14. Set up system and complete installation.
15. Verify punch list compliance.
16. Execute acceptance test.
17. Train system operators.