Security cameras have advanced well past the days of black and white, statically mounted units with no zoom capability. Nowadays you can not only obtain cameras that record in color and have pan, tilt and zoom capability, you can also set them up to operate in several types of adverse conditions and as a part of a sophisticated security solution. Before spending any money on a camera or a system, it is critical to examine your environment and your needs. Evaluating your environment and mounting requirements is the best way to determine the security camera type and features you need to best secure an area.
The first consideration is to determine how extensive the scope of your security system is. Do you need to monitor one interior location or several? What about outside? Do you have multiple sites that you need to monitor? A mom-and-pop deli may do fine with one interior camera and a security camera video recorder, where a corporation with multiple buildings and even multiple sites will need a complex system of security cameras, image recording, networking and staffing to monitor these locations adequately.
Another critical consideration is how much the system is exposed to adverse conditions like temperature extremes, exposure to chemicals and the potential for vandalism. An upscale bed and breakfast in Santa Barbara probably does not need security cameras that can operate from -40° to 120° F, but a transit center in Chicago would not only require that feature but also a vandalism resistant covering too. Regardless of if you are using a dome style security camera or bullet camera type, the environment will play a factor when choosing security cameras.
How tight should a security be at a given site? Many locations are set up with a more passive system that simply records activity. In these environments, no action is taken until after an incident occurs that requires investigation with video playback and examination. More active systems can be set up to monitor sensitive zones. This monitoring could amount to nothing more than recording activity in the zone or could be as severe as tripping an alarm if anyone enters the zone. This feature would be very useful in airports where numerous areas are off-limits to the public.
Privacy zones are another feature that are often part of a sophisticated security system. These are predefined areas on the screen that are covered up and do not get recorded.
In some applications it has proven to be beneficial to let it be known that the site has a security system. Retail stores have long used security cameras, but in recent years, they have taken the additional step of putting up monitors throughout the store to remind customers that they are being watched.
Administration of the system is something else that has to be determined. Does it require staffing and continuous monitoring or is an unattended system sufficient? Do you need a system that notifies you of events like security cameras malfunctioning or security breaches occurring? Or can you respond to such events on your own without these added features?
Data storage is also another huge consideration. If you have a system with multiple cameras recording 24/7, you will need a lot of storage to hold all that video content. On the other hand, a single camera system will not take up near as much space. Some systems have features that make it easier to submit video content to law enforcement for evidence purposes.
The technological advances of security cameras have been impressive compared to previous generations. It is important to ask the right questions and carefully examine your needs before committing to a system, since it is easy to fall into the trap of paying for features you do not need. After taking this extra step however, there should not be any problem setting up a system that closely fits your needs.
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