Key reasons to select IP CCTV in 2010 #1 Improved Image Quality

January 19, 2010

Here we look at the key drivers for selecting IP over analogue, and what people should be aware of when looking at specifying CCTV projects.

Improved image quality

There is a lot of talk in the industry at present regarding image quality and I feel that by working with the right partner there is no reason why “fit for purpose” IP based systems cannot help improve the perception of CCTV in the media and with the general public.  Image quality of CCTV recordings is dependent on three factors: the compression standard, frame rate and resolution size. IP based systems can deliver improved image quality in two ways. One way is through more effective algorithms, using improved transmission mediums like H.264 to increase either the frame rate or decrease the compression without impacting on the bandwidth or storage requirement.

The second way is through improved resolution quality. IP can significantly improve on 4CIF standard analogue resolution. It can provide HD (High Definition) images, which increase the 4CIF picture size by approximately fourfold to significantly improve the image detail. This can then allow greater surveillance area coverage, providing larger and more detailed images, which can still be effectively examined using post-event digital zoom on recordings without pixilation. Improved image quality is key to the future of law enforcement and detection, as it provides the necessary detail when presenting footage as legal evidence.  Even though the use of Megapixel or HD cameras could mean an increase in the bandwidth and correspondingly the amount of storage required, this is more than offset by the increases in storage with 1.5 and 2TB drives now on offer for the same price as 1TB, and even 1Gbps ports becoming standard on switches.  As above this increase can also be offset by the use of H.264 as well.

Previously we have spoken specifically about the cost advantages of IP over analogue systems. If you would like to read these arguments and a detailed cost breakdown then please drop us an email at ipcctv@controlware.co.uk or visit www.controlware.co.uk/tco.

Also if you would like to challenge Controlware to prove that IP can be just as cost effective, provide a better service than analogue or allow you to enable an upgrade to IP without replacing your entire system then please contact us.


Is CCTV regulation a step in the right direction?

January 7, 2010

While becoming more delivery and standards focused could be seen as a step in the right direction, it seems the Government is in need of broader and more in-depth expert knowledge to address the key concerns over image quality and the technical direction of the CCTV market as it accelerates towards IP.  This would then allow for influencing the creation of a robust standard or else they face the risk of creating a standard which will be outdate by the time it is issued.

Controlware Country Manager Mark Harraway comments on the news that the UK Government has announced the creation of a CCTV Oversight body and interim CCTV regulator.

Please click here to read the complete article. To find out more about the new Government Oversight Body or if you would like to discuss the OR / Functionality / Budget triangle – visit the Linkedin CCTV discussion forum or email me at video@controlware.co.uk.


Where is the Christmas spirit? As Scrooge is caught on CCTV stealing Xmas tree and presents

December 8, 2009

Ok, it’s early December, perhaps too early for any Christmas spirit and good cheer you might think? Well you’d be right, certainly this thief was in no mood for any festive goodwill when he helped himself to a tree and presents at a garden centre over the weekend.

This is the moment that unemployed Michael Brown was caught on CCTV taking the Christmas tree and toys from a  Santa’s grotto in Denbigh, North Wales. He can be seen below on CCTV firstly hiding and then taking the items away.

The thief steels the Xmas tree and presents

The images demonstrate what a good CCTV system can do in order to fight crime. Other images from the CCTV clearly show the face of the thief enabling conclusive identification to be made. However, many CCTV systems do not provide high quality video with which to make identification possible which is why the CCTV industry needs standards. CCTV systems must also be well designed and planned so that they can provide the most damning evidence.

Later Brown is picked up on another camera making his getaway as he drags the tree and presents behind him like some anti-Santa. Unfortunately for Brown the tree he was dragging away with him left a trail of tinsel that led directly to his arrest later by police.  Brown, from Greenfield, Flintshire, North Wales, was ordered to pay a £65 fine, £100 costs and compensation of £91 at Prestatyn Magistrates’ Court.

The thief drags the tree and presents away


Buy cheap CCTV surveillance systems buy twice

November 24, 2009

Mike Tolley, Principal Consultant at Cogent (fm) Solutions, looks at the issues that concern the CCTV industry. Today Mike identifies a worrying trend that ‘cheapest is best’.

I believe that the more recent companies entering the marketplace, seeing the amount of CCTV that is being installed, are turning to the cheap end of the market, but some established installers are also coming very close to falling foul of ‘cheapest wins’.

Many end users are now also falling into the trap of ‘cheapest is best’. There are some excellent products out there that are not leading brand names, but excellent quality products at reduced prices, and I don’t rule out their place in our industry. But ‘fit for purpose’ must be considered. Under DPA guidelines it states that it must be adequate – for the sake of poor old Dannie Parkes and many others like him who are expected to perform ‘Mission Impossible’ or ‘The Bill’ type miracles on useless CCTV images.

If you care, consider for just one moment how your customer feels. They have had a CCTV system installed by your company with products recommended by you. They have an incident and, due to the poor quality of images from both camera and recorder, the police have said that there is nothing they can do with the images from the new CCTV system.

Do you believe that this is the end of your relationship or an opportunity to go back and up sell them some new kit? Consider now how you felt that last time you were sold something that didn’t work. You ranted at the sales person in the store, making a big show of it and wanted the world in return for their failings. Where is the balance?

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.


The consultative approach to CCTV surveillance systems

November 23, 2009

Mike Tolley, Principal Consultant at Cogent (fm) Solutions, identifies the need to understand what the customer wants to achieve in order to deliver the right solution.

Coming back to work for an installer for family reasons, I found it difficult to adopt the approach of the salesman again, so I didn’t.

I was told to expect a 1 in 12 win ratio (moving from a 1 in 4 ratio back in 2000) … all that wasted time with no benefit! Surely it couldn’t be cost effective enough to employ me?

So I spent a couple of months looking at the industry again. I looked at where a CCTV installation company could still add value without playing in a Dutch auction on prices.

Using my consultative head (based on working in partnership with the client, rather than just being another contractor) we, as a company, used the same style of approach:

  • understand the needs of the customer and the site
  • offer advice first
  • advise on a need basis, not a sales one
  • recommend the right solution even if it isn’t in your portfolio of products
  • assist in finding a reputable supplier of that solution

This approach has led us to making partnerships with several suppliers of other security related products and services, so we are not ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’, we are a professional organisation working in partnership with other like minded individuals to mutually benefit our customers.

Through this approach, our partners will also benefit and the sales pro-rata will come around. We are now back into a 1 in 3, 1 in 4 win ratio of good quality business. We have won some very credible national contracts in the past three months and we have a rosy future ahead. We are also willing to walk away from those sourcing cheap alternatives.

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.


IP knowledge is essential for CCTV

November 16, 2009

The second part of  an end user’s response to Mark Harraway’s article “Don’t Go Hybrid” that can be read in full here.

Richard Quinn is Food Retail Loss Provention Manager for the Co-operative Group.

IP has been muted by the industry for some time as the end of analogue and the entry of a new digital age in CCTV. The predominant limiting factors to this are in my opinion restricted firstly to technology and secondly to capability and awareness.

Capability and Awareness

Despite talking about IP for a number of years, it remains still a relatively unknown subject to some installers, who do not have the required skill sets, or knowledge to be able to integrate and communicate effectively with IT functions and appear to have the confidence to install the equipment correctly.

Our own experience of this is relatively mixed and we still seem to have issues with the knowledge and capability of people installing the equipment. Whilst I do not wish to ‘badge’ all installers as not having the capability, we need to ensure that there is adequate knowledge within the sector and from experience across a number of installers – This depth of knowledge is simly not there at the moment.

That said, I am sure that those installers who wish to develop their capability and understanding in this area, should focus their efforts on building knowledge in the short term in order to communicate confidently with Clients, including their IT departments regarding the benefits and drawbacks of such a solution and its implementation.

I also believe that manfacturers collaborating together to develop common standard protocols will also benefit the end user to adapt and migrate across to IP led systems.

In summary addressing these key points will help the market to evolve and conifdence to be generated around identifying whether IP is indeed a viable option. In the current climate the market certainly has to adapt and go the extra mile in demonstrating it’s viability to end users, more importantly end users are becoming increasingly aware of the requirement to demonstrate a rate of return on any capital investment – These systems are not exempt from this and I believe therein lies another challenge, additional spend often requires different styles of thinking, in order to identify whether there is a clear business case for this type of investment.

To read the initial Dont Go Hybrid article that started the debate click here.


Is IP CCTV the next big thing?

November 13, 2009

The first part of  an end user’s response to Mark Harraway’s article “Don’t Go Hybrid” that can be read in full here.

Richard Quinn is Food Retail Loss Provention Manager for the Co-operative Group.

IP has been muted by the industry for some time as the end of analogue and the entry of a new digital age in CCTV. The predominant limiting factors to this are in my opinion restricted firstly to the technology itself.

Technology Capability and Platforms

Whilst in simple terms it is easy to build an IP infrastructure and effective back-up resource to ensure that single point of failures become a thing of the past, the capability and functionality is still not at the same level as analogue cameras, which can easily be bolted into an IP recording solution.  The quality of these devices has improved ten fold over the last few years, but there is still some way to go and the market (Buyers) are not yet demanding IP as a full solution, due to the fact that costs are still relatively high by comparison and they can adopt a hybrid IP solution that meets their needs.  These may include conecting to a data mining solution, taking images/recorded media across a WAN/LAN – In taking this approach it meets requirements both current and in the future.  In any event as the UK has earned the mantle of having more CCTV Cameras per 1,000 population, the likelihood of replacing these frequently is extremely high. Indeed this is something most businesses experience on an almost daily basis and a planned programme of asset renewal when the market requires the deployment of IP cameras, will ensure that systems are changed over time.

As with all good technologies, until a product reaches the market that provides the functional requirements and is as good as an analogue camera – It simply won’t get adopted.

To read the initial Dont Go Hybrid article that started the debate click here.