Guest Column | December 3, 2013

Six Common Mistakes To Avoid In Surveillance Solution Installations

By Jeremy Krinitt, Matrix Systems

No one can deny the value of integrating access control and video when it comes to protecting the premises. Used together, these two powerful security technologies not only control ingress, but also provide positive identification of the person presenting a credential. Video can also be triggered on alert to view specific areas using pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) presets, especially helpful if someone on the BOLO list or without a credential tries to gain entry, or tries to compromise the reader or other parts of the entrance or exit.

Designing an integrated access control and video solution requires proper camera placement, which is critical to the overall success of the installation. When deciding placement, think about the expectation with regard to the scene being captured relative to the alarm event that will be triggering the video. Is the goal a general view for overall coverage, or to identify people? Deploying analytics can also provide a benefit, and if the system uses facial recognition or license plate capture, the initial camera coverage area, and placement remains a top consideration.

There are other potential challenges with camera placement in any deployment. Consider mounting configurations and associated cabling runs for connectivity requirements. Lighting is also a critical element in setting up surveillance. Overall, make sure the scene has sufficient lighting for the camera to capture images properly. Consider higher sensitivity cameras for low-light areas, as well as LEDs or even infrared illumination to light scenes fully.

Here are six common mistakes to avoid in surveillance solution implementations:

  1. Poor scene placement. Make sure the frame of view is getting useful footage and not just seeing the tops of people’s heads.
  2. Wrong resolution. Low-resolution cameras looking at too large a frame of view won’t work well (e.g. a parking lot). Low-resolution cameras can, however, effectively look at smaller areas (e.g. a person standing at a door).  A good practice is to determine the space you’ll be covering with the camera and ensure you have at least 40 camera pixels per foot of area covered to ensure you can recognize someone’s face or a license plate in your video. 
  3. Cameras facing too much light without having wide dynamic range or other compensating capabilities.  This can be a challenge outside and in lobbies with large windows. 
  4. Cameras with backlit or close lighting sources can blow out the contrast/quality of the video footage.
  5. Cameras mounted in an unsecure location.
  6. Camera implementations that are not event-driven. Staring at security cameras waiting for something to happen is an ineffective use of surveillance. Rather, integrate video analytics and access control events and let your video management system do the filtering work for you.

The integration of access control and video significantly improves the efficiency and effectiveness of both systems and of the security team.  Some additional benefits include the ability to more quickly find the video in question and more efficient use of video storage through recording when an alarm takes place. Make sure your next access control and video specification provides the best in total integrated security by taking these elements into account in the design of the security solution.