The security industry and CCTV surveillance systems need standards

November 25, 2009

Mike Tolley, Principal Consultant at Cogent (fm) Solutions, looks at the issues that concern the CCTV industry. Today Mike argues the need for standards.

I still believe that there are huge amounts of good business to be had, but it is all too often like an old western out there on the streets. Sales companies are fighting to the death and, ultimately, it will lead to the death of their companies.

The surge of cheap CCTV products being offered, are being lapped up by the cheap CCTV installers and it is killing the industry.

The margin is reduced in sales, so the service cannot be offered; engineers are not trained and maintained, vetted or provided with the right tools. And the real loser in all of this is the end user … they get a cheap CCTV system by a cheap CCTV installer who cannot provide the service and back up to support the system.

There should be a specification of minimum standards of equipment adopted by the industry and its regulators. This will assist the un-knowing end user in getting a level playing field based on service and competitive pricing. You can buy CCTV cameras from some distributors for as low as £25. You cannot tell me there is any quality standards of manufacturing that have gone into that product.

Installation companies that wish to be accredited by SSAIB / NSI should sign up to this and fit only equipment that meets these minimum standards. Installers should be made to erect the correct DPA (Data Protection Act) signage and provide a DPA policy with every system. Compliance packs are readily available so it should be part of the system.

Too many end users still don’t know that CCTV is covered by the DPA. Maintenance policies must be taken out with every installation. It can’t be left as an option to be taken out later; it is stated within the DPA rules on CCTV. To be sold, all products must have a detailed specification sheet, not on a pretty picture and a made up specification.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know what you think below.

For more comment and insight about CCTV  click here to read CCTV articles.

Integrated CCTV – Greater than the sum of its parts

September 21, 2009

Security both inside and outside of the location is a key factor in developing a safe environment.  It is essential that the CCTV surveillance cover more than just site boundaries but ensure staff and public safety as a whole.

The application of new and future technology into an integrated solution can effectively assist in both crime prevention and management of incidents as they occur.  The key components of a security solution typically comprise of video surveillance, video recording, communication and alarm detection.   If each of these systems is implemented separately and independently, management, efficiency and usability will inevitably suffer as a result.  Alarms occur on one system, access control is managed on another system, recording and viewing by another and so on.  This means that operational usability becomes difficult, training needs more comprehensive, and maintenance more complex.

An effective security system needs all of these components working together in harmony to create a seamless unified solution.  When utilising multiple separate companies to provide these systems problems usually arise as there is no one company who is responsible for ensuring the collective parts all work together.  In addition, many systems are using proprietary technology that does not lend itself well to integration, often made worse when the manufacturers are unwilling to share necessary information about their systems.

By utilising a single organisation who can integrate these separate security components and technologies under a flexible CCTV and security management system, you benefit from a considerably more powerful and effective security solution with a lower total cost of ownership.

Like many sectors of the security industry, the devil is in the detail and system integrators and end-users who wish to see the benefits of an IP-based solution should look to someone who really knows the technology and can give an impartial view. It is common sense that manufacturers will only support their own hardware and will promise the earth for it, whereas a distributor will have evaluated a number of solutions from different vendors and be able to say that product A is the best for solution B because of XYZ whereas product Y is the best for solution C because of etc etc.

To find out more visit the Controlware website by clicking here.

CCTV: The truth about H.264 and image degredation

September 9, 2009

The third part of the case for H.264 by Mark Harraway, UK Country Manager

Q. As an H.264 adherent could you please fight its corner in terms of image degradation.

Again, this is all about how far you go with the compression or profile used.  Many vendors offer functionality within their products to support additional compression or bandwidth limitation. In this way they improve the tailoring of their product to specific projects.  For example, if you are using remote cameras over an ADSL line with a fixed maximum available bandwidth, then it could be acceptable to either drop frame rates or decrease image quality in order not to exceed the available bandwidth and avoid pixilation.

The H.264 standard sets the criteria for multi-picture inter-picture prediction which is an improvement over the previous standards of just examining the differences between one or two frames by sampling many more frames. If it is unlikely that certain images areas will change (fixed structures in the background for example), then bandwidth is not wasted by repeated transmission of redundant data that is in the frame already. This does mean that bandwidth can be very dynamic in locations with frequent motion or sudden scene changes as the algorithm has to deal with such variation. But theoretically, depending on the profile used, there should be no difference in image quality. And if the hardware encoder then makes a choice to drop frames or over-compress the data to meet a user defined requirement, the H.264 standard should not take the blame.

Part 4 continues tomorrow…..

Job Advert: CCTV Technical Support Manager

July 22, 2009

Controlware are leading providers of IP CCTV video surveillance software and solutions. Driven by our commitment and investment in leading edge technology and people, this is an opportunity for you to join one of the UK’s most progressive security solution providers.

With an expanding client portfolio Controlware are committed to the provision of best value solutions while maintaining our reputation for delivering the highest levels of quality and service. As a proven and trusted leader in the security industry Controlware are looking for a professional and motivated individual to manage our technical support engineers based in Newbury.

The Job

Our team of Technical Support Engineers provide troubleshooting and resolution to distributors, systems integrators and end users who have medium to large IP-based surveillance systems.  Reporting to the UK General Manager, the Technical Support Manager’s role is primarily office-based with some field activities.

The Person

You will be a positive, ambitious and enthusiastic team player who is interested in working with the latest cutting edge video surveillance technology.  A technical background in IT is a must, as well as experience of working with data networking and IP video surveillance or CCTV technology.  Previous experience of managing a small support team and working to SLA’s and deadlines is a prerequisite.

Technical Skills

  • Proficient in IP networking covering LAN and WAN hardware configuration
  • Thorough understanding of IT networking technologies
  • Thorough understanding of Network Hardware and Configuration & Support including Switches, Routers & Firewalls
  • Thorough understanding of Windows Operating System (specifically Windows XP and Server 2003 including installation, troubleshooting and management)
  • Ability to diagnose complex problems and resolve them in an expeditious manner to the customer’s satisfaction
  • Experience of working within the CCTV industry

To find out more and apply, please click here.

Take a closer look at the true cost of CCTV security systems

July 14, 2009

Two opposing articles from different sides of the fence outline the pros and cons for analogue / hybrid and IP based CCTV systems.

Mike Newton, CEO, Dedicated Micros argues for analogue / hybrid systems while Mark Harraway, Country manager, Controlware argues that IP based systems deliver more benefits. The debate further centres on costing a 750 camera system.

To read both articles in full and get the cost information click here and enter your name and email address

What is the difference between traditional CCTV and IP CCTV?

June 19, 2009

A traditional analogue system is a CCTV solution that operates over a closed network. Analogue CCTV provides poor quality video, is expensive to maintain and extend while offering limited integration with external systems.

IP based surveillance on the other hand runs as an application over your existing IT infrastructure. This enables IP CCTV to be more cost-effective and flexible. Support for integration with external systems such as access control and building management enables IP CCTV to help provide the basis for a more unified approach to security operations.

Controlware has nearly 30 years communications and IP networked video experience as a leading Value Added Distributor. We have more than 550 global employees and close working partnerships with market leading video manufacturers. We specialise in providing independent, best value IP CCTV solutions that deliver tangible benefits to public and private organisations across the world. For more information click here.