A commonsense guide for chief security officers (CSOs), directors and managers on how to maximize the effectiveness of your surveillance solution by selecting the right combination of cameras for the task.
A Manager's Checklist for Cameras
There are a number of questions needing answers when choosing cameras. Following provides the list for decision makers to select cameras:
* What do you want the cameras to see and what is the distance?
* What types of lenses are needed? Wide-angle, normal, telephoto? Can varifocal lenses be used?
* What resolution is needed for each camera?
* Are megapixel, high-resolution or high definition cameras needed? How about thermal?
* Can the video management system accommodate the features of the cameras?
* Are licenses required for the digital cameras?
* How many images per second are needed for each camera?
* What is the total number of cameras required? Fixed or PTZ?
* What types of cameras are needed: dome/minidome cameras? Bullet cameras? Enclosures? PTZs? Wall or ceiling mount?
* If PTZ cameras are needed, are operators available, or will the PTZs be set on an automated panning pattern? Or will the PTZs be digital so they can be zoomed or moved after a recording is made?
* Are cameras in a special environment requiring enclosures, such as explosion-proof housings?
* What type of ceiling and walls are available? (Dropped ceiling, hard ceiling and walls, drywall?)
Among the Areas to Cover:
* Are cameras needed outside?
* What areas do you want to cover outside? Entrances, parking lots, open spaces, fences?
* Do license plate numbers have to be read?
* Is there any illumination at night? Are infrared illuminators needed? Day/night cameras? Thermal cameras?
* Are dome cameras appropriate or enclosures for cameras?
* Are heaters or blowers needed due to weather conditions?
* What type of wire is needed from the cameras: coax, twisted pair, Cat 5e, fiber-optic? Is it already installed?
* Can PoE be used?
* Where are or will the power supplies located?
Housings and Enclosures
Dome cameras are a good choice for video surveillance systems to address either of two basic needs. When the installation requires the added power and flexibility of a PTZ camera, dome housing is necessary to enable the camera to have an unobstructed view no matter where it is looking. And some end users see value in dome housing even when using a fixed camera for wall-mount or ceiling-mount applications because the dome can provide a more pleasing appearance. Smoked domes means villains don't know if the camera is pointing at them or not.
Whether PTZ or fixed domed cameras are part of a legacy installation or when buying new gear, security executives need to consider the environment where the camera will work. Some cameras have vandal-resistant and ruggedized domes, which can be important when a camera is mounted in an area that could be reached with a baseball bat or weapon. Other cameras may require a separate housing for vandal protection. Putting auto-tracking within a camera enclosure can speed reaction time as a PTZ dome camera follows a subject.
Special housings also may be needed if a camera will be installed outside. In certain climates, there is need for a heater and, for certain areas, need of a hidden blower. Sunshields also can play an essential role for some outdoor applications. Depending on an end-user's type of business or industry, housings that protect from water damage or dust are available as are housings with a pressurized seal.