Five Things You Need to Know When Choosing a Video Surveillance System

Security professionals are always on the lookout for new technologies to secure their facility, assets, and personnel. With dramatically new technologies available, it’s important to know what to consider when deciding on a new video surveillance solution.

  1. What are my specific security requirements?
  2. Who do I trust to install the system?
  3. How do I choose the best solution?
  4. How is new technology different from what I used in the past?
  5. How do I future-proof my investment?

Security Requirements

Your facility is unique and has specific needs based on physical attributes, corporate policies, environmental/geographic considerations, budgetary requirements, and internal stakeholder expectations. A fresh look at your current needs is a great place to start your decision-making process.

Physically, you may be on a campus or within a single structure. These attributes will determine the quantity and capability of cameras deployed outside and inside your facility.

Corporate policies or industry lawmakers may dictate a minimum retention time for recorded video or the Detection, Observation, Recognition, or Identification (DORI) requirements for camera fields of view. These will significantly impact the storage solution. The more days you retain recorded video, the more storage space is required. DORI is a standard that determines what evidence is captured in recorded video and sets stakeholder expectations in advance.

Environmentally and geographically, you may need to consider extreme temperatures, wind, or even crime statistics in the region. Likewise, determining the outer perimeter of the system may increase the types of cameras deployed. For example, short range cameras can be used indoors and at entrances whereas fence line perimeters may require long range, high resolution cameras.

Your budget is a major consideration. Knowing the budget in advance will keep the system evaluation process in check. Save time by considering only technologies and system designs that fit your bottom line.

Stakeholders have expectations that you need to meet. The IT department will need to provide the infrastructure for your new IP video solution. Human resources and administration will need a simple user interface to review recorded video for investigations. Security staff will need a system that is smart enough to call attention to camera views that contain pertinent information.

Installation Partner

Gone are the days when the company installing your system connected the last camera, showed your team how to play back video, and left with check in hand. Now, systems are highly complex, riding on an IT network, and requiring ongoing support. Picking your partner is more important now than ever. Be sure to verify installer training and competency. Verify that the company has an IT component that can work with your IT department to ensure a smooth installation and ongoing support without missing a step.

Manufacturer Selection

By choosing the right installation partner, the manufacturer selection process is made a little easier. Once your installation partner knows more about your specific requirements, they can choose the perfect cameras, user interface, and recording solution for your application. They will evaluate the newest technologies from a variety of manufacturers and present only relevant, proven solutions for your consideration. This saves a lot of time during demonstrations and ensures the system will meet your operational needs.

New Technologies

Quality systems make the user experience simple while providing comprehensive options in configuration settings. Managing and using these systems is very different than analog systems of the past. These systems are computer-based and require a different set of skills for operators and administrators. It’s important to outline the differences between your old and new systems. This will allow for proper training and preparation for when the new system is ready to be used.

Future-Proofing Your Investment

Legacy analog video systems allowed you to mix and match component manufacturers quite easily. When IP video revolutionized the video surveillance industry, it brought along some significant “behind the scenes” complexity and incompatibility. Incompatibility across manufacturers was almost guaranteed when IP video solutions first came to the market. After a decade of IP video advancements, manufacturer compatibility has improved considerably. New technology standards like H.264 and ONVIF make future upgrades possible.

The challenge is that technology is changing quickly. Legacy analog video surveillance technology could last for dozens of years without having to be replaced or upgraded. Today, we expect technology to continue to evolve rapidly in a three to five-year time span. The option for renting a system “future-proofs” the change in technology and delivers a higher return on your investment. Furthermore, your annual maintenance costs for hardware and software need to be a component of your system rental or system plan.

How a Solutionist Helps You Navigate the Process

The best advice we can offer is that you pick your partners wisely. Invest a significant amount of time in making sure you’ve assembled the best team from the manufacturer, to the installer, to the internal stakeholders you bring to the table to make big decisions. The right advice throughout the process will ensure a smooth deployment and long-term solution satisfaction. Be sure that your installation partner is both security and IT savvy. Your manufacturer partners need to provide solutions that are compatible with ONVIF and provide 3rd party integration options. Your internal stakeholder partners need to define their expectations for today and tomorrow and remain vested in the decision-making process from beginning to end.

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