While CCTV video surveillance has been an integral part of the loss prevention and risk management strategy for owners and operators of commercial premises and larger businesses, lower cost units are becoming available which put this technology within the reach of many Australian families.
The use of security cameras and recording systems deters would-be thieves and ensures a higher level of personal and property protection. Should a security or other incident occur, recorded images will assist police or other authorities deal with the event. Overall, they provide people who use your facilities with a feeling of safety and security both day and night. Apart from the deterrence factor, CCTV facilitates the monitoring and/or response to:
- The control of and access to secure areas;
- Staff and public access
- Unauthorized activities;
- Theft or criminal damage;
- Personal safety issues
A very simple CCTV surveillance system may comprise just one colour camera attached to a monitor, with or without a recording system. Such a basic system would be adequate for most domestic situations, say, for monitoring the main approach to the house or for a small business where only a basic deterrence and surveillance function is required. A self-contained, battery powered camera and recording system using a ‘photo-card’ is available for DIY covert installation or for use in caravans, boats and similar locations. More complex systems comprising multiple cameras, monitors and a digital recording system and incorporating all sorts of optional functions can be designed to meet the needs of most users.
As the selection of the “best” CCTV camera and recording system is a highly technical subject, it is best left to experts who will make recommendations taking into account the specific conditions under which it is required to operate and its intended function(s).
Modern CCTV cameras are universally based on CCD (Charged Coupled Device) technology which gives high-resolution, bright images in low light conditions. Most incorporate ‘smart’ functions which allow cameras to identify the optimum picture conditions and to automatically adjust to those lighting conditions, e.g. severe back lighting. A variety of lenses are available to meet the demands of the camera’s application and area of coverage. Higher priced cameras allow manual and automatic pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) control which increases the area covered by a single camera and allows it to focus and dwell on particular areas of interest.
Some cameras even incorporate motion detection capabilities which activate the cameras when movement occurs and optionally use the PTZ capability to track and image the moving object or person. Once activated, these cameras can receive recording priority and focus until the movement ceases. When hard-wiring the camera(s) to the control and recording system is not practical, wireless connectivity may be used. Outdoor cameras can be enclosed in vandal and weather-proof enclosures and even low-end cameras can be domed so that it is not possible to tell where they are ‘looking’.
A recent development which is particularly useful in warehouses and other storage facilities involves mobile PTZ cameras which travel along overhead, domed tracks. They can be moved manually or programmed to automatically move to and dwell on particular locations or points of interest.
Many CCTV users require a permanent record of surveillance activity as an integral part of their security system. Videotape recording has been replaced by digital video recording (DVR) where high-quality video footage is recorded as compressed files on a ‘hard disk’ similar to those used in personal computers. Depending on the size of the hard disk used and the recording settings used, several weeks of video recording are possible before the hard disk has to be swapped over or the DVR begins to overwrite the oldest images. Other features of a typical four-channel DVR include:
- Simultaneous recording and viewing of up to 4 video sources (cameras);
- Two video outputs allowing connection of a colour monitor and another device such as a printer.
- User selection of the image quality and resolution to be recorded;
- Activation of cameras manually or according to a programmed schedule;
- Recording on a specific camera can be triggered when any of 4 external sensors are activated;
- A search capability which can locate and playback a video segment instantly using a specific date and time. Forward and reverse buttons make video searching fast and accurate;
- Password protection to prevent unauthorized access to the system and recorded images;
- An easy-to-use On Screen Display (OSD) menu which enable users to control the system without any special knowledge.
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