How do I Choose the Best CCTV Surveillance System?

Mal Baxter

A closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance system is essentially a network of cameras and video recorders installed on a property to maintain security. With the advent of affordable digital technology, a choice of the best CCTV surveillance system depends on a balance of purpose, desired functionality and price. There are a wide range of choices, and you should take care to analyze your needs carefully.

A CCTV camera may be used to monitor traffic.
A CCTV camera may be used to monitor traffic.

The uses of a CCTV surveillance system can vary widely, such as observing a crowd, monitoring traffic or gate entrances, deterring trespassers or providing a general property security presence. CCTV technology can meet many custom property needs and can be monitored by the property owner, by a computer or even by a remote monitoring service. Digital technology has extended the abilities of conventional analog cameras, copper wires and video cassette recorders (VCRs) and brought surveillance technology into the age of the Internet, memory disks and portable computing devices.

CCTV systems may be used by retailers to catch shoplifters in the act.
CCTV systems may be used by retailers to catch shoplifters in the act.

Whether it's a commercial or home CCTV surveillance system, it's important to examine specifically the intended uses of the system before you invest in one. Large, visible cameras can dissuade trespassers, and hidden cameras can catch criminals in the act. Fixed cameras monitor predetermined fields of vision, and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras can be motion-controlled 360 degrees from a station or even over the Internet from another country. The purpose of the surveillance will determine choices in format, lens, network, control and recording.

CCTV footage can help catch home burglars.
CCTV footage can help catch home burglars.

Customizing the functionality of a CCTV surveillance system is a matter of understanding technical components, their applications and even their creative integration. Three chief aspects comprise the home or business surveillance system: cameras, networks and recording devices. Analog systems still serve well, but digital systems offer security applications to a very customizable degree.

Lighting and position will influence your camera choice. There are many features and options available in surveillance cameras, such as fixed or variable cameras, day/night cameras, manual or automatic aperture, zoom, infrared capabilities, motion sensors and all-weather protection. Cameras can even come equipped with image processing capability.

The next consideration is the frame rate, or frames per second. Thirty frames per second (fps) works is the standard rate. Slower speeds appear as time-lapse snapshots, and faster speeds, such as 120 fps, afford cameras to be networked without a loss in resolution. Networked video recorders (NVRs) are capable of linking cameras over a local area network (LAN) or fast Ethernet link, to be controlled and viewed by remote or recorded onto a single disk.

Recorders can operate continuously for months or can be programmed to rewrite existing data for more continual monitoring. They can specify cameras to activate or increase resolution during unusual events. They can also be integrated with alarms or access control systems, in order to monitor secure entranceways. These systems can respond to motion and even send property owners email alerts and text messages to their mobile devices.

Digital CCTV surveillance systems are capable of doing work once performed by humans. These tasks include video analytics, behavioral recognition and image analysis. Video analytics, sometimes called intelligent video, use algorithms to monitor video information for objects, facial or license plate recognition or crowd counts. Behavioral recognition tracks the movements and activities of people or vehicles for unusual activity. Image analysis can take unusable, dark or blurred footage to extract information, even in real time.

Finally, in comparison to digital technology, conventional analog security cameras and VCRs remain an affordable option for conventional surveillance duty. Security VCRs start at a price of a few hundred US Dollars. Protecting a home, commercial property or vehicle doesn't have to be a costly proposition with proven, well-accessorized analog technology. Analyzing your needs and selecting only the features and options that you will use can help you choose the best CCTV surveillance system to provide security for the property you want to protect.

Some properties have their own closed-circuit surveillance systems.
Some properties have their own closed-circuit surveillance systems.

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Discussion Comments


The best CCTV surveillance system watches a natural screen through tracking. Poor video quality is not be helpful to capture criminal activities. Thanks for letting me know how to choose the best CCTV cameras.

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