The Changing Face of CCTV Design

Corporate acquisitions, IT convergence and systems integration have added new challenges to surveillance system infrastructure, so cabling and transmission options are evolving to stop system hubs from turning into disaster areas.

The physical topology of CCTV system designs is undergoing some exciting transformations today. Until the last 20 years or so, CCTV designs really hadn't changed much. However, the events of the last couple of years have created a need for more sophisticated CCTV system designs on the market. Companies are converging their networks so that IT infrastructure serves as part of the CCTV network. They are demanding that integrated systems—CCTV, access control, biometrics, building automation—be made available over the network. They want secure network access to recorded and monitored video from a common database.

The traditional analog CCTV designs cannot accommodate all of the new products and technologies being incorporated into video surveillance solutions. Newer, more innovative video surveillance designs have been created to accommodate some of the latest trends, products and technologies being deployed in the marketplace, including
• digital IP cameras and a large installed base of analog cameras
• high-bandwidth networks and wireless LANs
• handheld communication devices integrated with video surveillance
• mass storage solutions
• higher-quality video cameras
• Web/XML applications.

Basic Questions to Consider
Before exploring some of the new video surveillance system designs, let's review some of the basic questions you should be prepared to answer prior to purchasing a new video surveillance system or working with an integrator or distributor on a video surveillance system design.
• What specific organizational or departmental goals would you like the surveillance system to address?
• What business issues would you like to address (i.e. security, liability, theft)?
• If you currently have a video surveillance system, what have you liked and disliked about it? How happy have you been with the integrator? How many monitoring hours are currently being used? How much manpower is necessary to effectively use the system?
• Do you plan on monitoring your video surveillance system over the IP network?
• Do you plan on integrating your video surveillance systems with other security systems, such as access control, fire or burglar alarm?
• Do you have a specific video surveillance manufacturer or group of manufacturers in mind or do you need assistance evaluating your options?

Having the answers to basic questions similar to the ones above can help with your site survey and ensure that your CCTV purchasing process runs smoothly. A site survey will need to be conducted at your location in order to determine the appropriate products required to meet your needs. Integrators, architects, consultants, engineers and value-added distributors are available to assist you in making the right choices for your surveillance system design.

Designs That Make The Grade
It's important to design a video surveillance system that meets your needs today and well into the future. You want to purchase a solution that not only provides a great return on investment in the future, but that is also able to accommodate future products and technologies as they emerge. Below are some recommendations to make to your integrator or distributor to ensure the video surveillance system you choose meets all your requirements.
1) Select a video surveillance cabling infrastructure that can support tomorrow's technologies (i.e. new and emerging digital and IP-based technologies).
2) Choose DVRs over VCRs in your video surveillance system designs. Why? A 50GB hard drive in a DVR can store the same number of images as 10 VHS tapes.
3) Determine if you will implement an analog, digital or IP-only system. If you are interested in implementing a proactive, preventative video surveillance system, you should choose a digital system. Among other things, digital systems allow for content analysis, which provides you with searchable access to the valuable data and information your system is monitoring.
4) Video surveillance is migrating towards the network. A parallel video surveillance network, one that adheres to standards in network cabling, is recommended in addition to your data network.
5) When considering IP/digital video, choose a file transfer and compression technology that provides you with the image quality you require. Be sure to implement a standards-based, open file format.
6) Partner with a company that understands the latest products and technologies in the video surveillance market and can help you make informed decisions about your video surveillance purchases.

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