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CCTV – Frequently Asked Questions


Managing the safety and security of your facilities and the people that use them can be a complex task. However, the latest CCTV technologies can help provide around the clock monitoring with real-time data capture and playback options.

Here, Jack Rollins our CCTV sales manager, explains everything you need to know about CCTV and how it can help you safeguard your people and assets effectively.

People think CCTV is all about crime prevention, but it’s much more than this isn’t it?

JR: It’s true that crime prevention is one of the main drivers for companies to invest in CCTV, but there are plenty of other reasons as to why you might employ the technology. These range from safety of your employees, clients and visitors, through keeping an eye on health and safety such as on manufacturing plants, to protecting your stock.

So, what are the top reasons companies and public services organisations adopt CCTV?

JR: Safety is a big priority for a lot of companies and CCTV is a very useful tool to have. For instance, university campuses like to deploy it to keep students safe as they cross the site, particularly at night. Universities can have upwards of 700 cameras to survey a 60+ acre site. The goal is to provide 90%+ coverage to significantly improve the ‘eyes and ears’ of the security team and the overall confidence students have in safety.

Similarly, hospitals could have CCTV in place to ensure staff safety or for exceptional circumstances where prisoner patients are admitted for example.

Then there are more industrial uses. Manufacturers use cameras to maintain high levels of health and safety by ensuring machinery isn’t causing a risk, and that operators working on their own are safe.

It’s also useful for managing people flows. So, we work with a number of private and public companies that like to use it in their foyers to help manage who is coming in and out of their buildings. In the same way they use it on gates to manage what vehicles are entering and leaving their site. This can also be useful if there is an incident because management teams can track back and piece together a train of events to establish what happened and prevent it from happening again.

We’ve also worked with companies that need to keep products safe. One of our customers produces material that is stored outside, so the plant is likely to be targeted by criminals or opportunists. Using a thermal imaging curtain around the site, system alerts are sent to the management teams when there is unusual activity and the curtain is breached. It also monitors trucks coming in and going off site.

Are different technologies better suited to different scenarios?

JR: Yes definitely. If you have a main back and front door then static cameras that trap the comings and goings are ideal. These tend to be suited to situations where you won’t have a security team monitoring the activity. In these cases, an IT manager or system owner is alerted that something has happened, and they can review or remotely access the system to see what has caused the flag.

However, if you have a more complex site to manage, like a shopping centre or university campus for example, then you will want cameras that an operations team can pan, tilt and zoom in real-time. It allows a security team to focus in on activity and prevent incidents or intervene as they happen.

Finally, thermal imaging cameras are very useful if you have a site where there may be night-time activity. We talked about the use of thermal cameras to create a perimeter that when crossed triggers an alert, when they are combined with static cameras you can build a more complete record of what is happening at various points on the site to ensure maximum surveillance.

Are there any specific communication / network considerations I need to be aware of when adopting CCTV solutions?

JR: We encourage our clients to consider how they keep their CCTV solutions resilient and free from down time, so recommend a closed network system. That way, if there is a wider network outage, such as the main company network is down, the cameras aren’t affected. This sort of measure, coupled with our NSI Gold Accreditation, ensures that the security system is installed to the highest NCP104 standard.

How can CCTV be integrated with an existing security system and should it be added after you’ve introduced CCTV, or should you do it at the same time?

JR: A lot of our clients do introduce access control at the same time. It’s useful to see the records of who has swiped a badge in and out of a building when there is an incident – you can match the badge to the person identified on the camera, or not as the case may be.

We also have instances where cameras and door sensors are linked. For instance, if the sensor on the door of a cashier’s office was triggered a camera would automatically pan and zoom to ensure that door is always monitored in the event of motion.

Are CCTV systems complicated to install / upgrade?

JR: They don’t need to be at all. With the right project management team you can have a seamless installation. If you are moving from analogue then we always recommend a phased approach, in that we suggest moving the cameras and recorders at different times to ensure continuity. So, we suggest replacing the recorders and encoders first, and then replacing the cameras to suit the recorders.

A good tip when looking for a provider is to check their fitting standards, but also their approach to planning and fitting. They should fully document how they will take on the transition and maintenance thereafter.

Why would you upgrade from analogue?

JR: Quality and efficiency are the main reasons. You get much better resolution so things are easy to spot, better compression rates so you can store more images and built in analytics with features such as people counting. It’s a bit like the difference between dial up broadband and wifi.

Do you need to be aware of any specific legislation when adopting a CCTV solution?

JR: If you are filming, then people need to be aware of it so make sure you comply with those aspects of the law, and that you inform the Information Commissioner’s Office. And GDPR is of course another important consideration, especially when it comes to length of file storage and retrieval within 30 days if someone requests to see it. We can help companies get this right.