Getting the Most out of your CCTV System

When quoting on a security camera system, contractors may up-sell on the quantity or image quality of cameras than what is actually needed. Scare tactics like innovating on latest features and “what if” security scenarios are all used to rationalize installation pricing exceeding local phone numbers. Well what if the only thing a surveillance system exceeded was your performance expectations? That’s possible with the careful design and planning.

If the main purpose of a camera system is to deter criminal activities, then a highly visible camera system is sufficient. A highly visible camera system places cameras in areas where they are most likely to be seen, such as by entrance and exit doors, gates, middle of a room, hallway, corner of a building, etc. Assuming that prevention is strictly the main criteria, these cameras would not need to capture a level of detail that could not identify a person in the court of law, but would allow witnesses to recognize and point out criminals should they make it to court. This alone may be enough for most businesses security needs.

Where a higher level of risk is involved (where risk is the product chance a certain amount of loss may happen), a greater detail of camera footage is required. As a standard, footage detail is measured by pixel density, which can be expressed as pixels per foot (ppf) or meters (ppm). To give you an idea of the scale of detail, most facial recognition software requires at least 100 ppf, and license plate software requires 40 ppf. To find the pixel density of a given field of view, simply divide the cameras horizontal resolution (in pixels) with the field of view (in feet). This relationship means that the pixel density of a reference object drops as it moves further away from the camera. So, to cover a large area with great detail requires either a camera with a very high resolution, or a narrow field of view. Either way, it will cost more to cover a larger area in greater detail. In some cases, this is exactly what is required (casinos, jewelry stores) and has to be accepted as the cost of doing business.

An alternative to increasing pixel density over a large area is to increase it only when its needed. For example, rather than adding four high detail cameras in a room to be able to identify and capture criminal activities, a single high-detail camera can be aimed at the door which everyone must enter, and another low-detail camera aimed for a general overview of the room. By using two different types of cameras, an individual can be identified in one camera, and recognized in another, providing sufficient evidence should prosecution be sought.

These are just a few factors Bluewire Media Solutions considers when working with you to design a camera system. Please contact us to find out how we can get the most out of your next CCTV system!

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