Capturing Better Video: Strategic Camera Placement Paired with a Standalone DVR

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Wherever there is new construction, it is likely that surveillance systems will be installed. Modern surveillance equipment is relatively inexpensive, reliable and effective for preventing crimes as well as providing visual evidence of a crime. Buildings equipped with external surveillance...


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Wherever there is new construction, it is likely that surveillance systems will be installed. Modern surveillance equipment is relatively inexpensive, reliable and effective for preventing crimes as well as providing visual evidence of a crime.

Buildings equipped with external surveillance cameras are less likely to be attacked by vandals and burglars. This is because surveillance equipment is usually advertised for legal reasons as well as preventative reasons. Thieves and vandals are on notice that cameras are present and video is being captured. This is especially advantageous when working in tandem with other systems (i.e. alarm systems, exterior lighting, heavy duty locks) that enhance the security profile.

Captured video is a reliable tool used to send criminals to jail, so thugs simply avoid buildings protected by surveillance cameras. Parking lots under surveillance are less likely to have vehicles broken into or vandalized. Passive loss prevention is implemented, as employees are aware the working environment is under surveillance.

Properly captured video is a valuable resource for building owners and company managers when litigation or libelous claims need to be addressed.

It wasn't that long ago that videotape was the only practical means of recording and storing captured video. There were drawbacks:

• Every four-to-five days, someone had to go to the recorder and change the tape.

• Tapes were often recorded over, degrading the viewing quality.

• To get days of duration, recorders were usually set to “super-long play,” resulting in single frames of capture and missed details between frames.

• Tapes often snagged or snapped.

• Motors, gears, and rollers within the recorder would wear out from constant use.

• Reviewing the tape was grueling as it required time-consuming fast-forwarding and rewinding.

Recording more than one camera at a time required an additional piece of equipment, a multiplexer or quad.

In a modern day standalone DVR, the only part that moves is the recording head built-into the hard drive. Even then this is only periodic. Video is stored into RAM (temporary memory) and written to the hard drive only as needed. Fewer moving parts equate to reliability.

Video from the hard drive can either be manually or automatically downloaded. An external storage device or laptop can download video at the location. The DVR can be connected to a network where video can be transferred.

Transferring video across a network can be automatically scheduled.

Digital video does not degrade. When properly encrypted, downloads cannot be “doctored” so capture video holds up in court.

The standalone DVR is designed to accommodate just about any type of input or output device available. The DVR will accept all surveillance-type cameras and microphones. The DVR can output to computers, printers, and monitors. Signals from sensors can trigger DVR activity. Signals from the DVR can signal security alarm, fire detection and building automation systems.

The DVR is the heart of the surveillance system and it is essential to protect it.

Most buildings today have a storage room dedicated to communication and electrical equipment. Electrical circuit breakers, telephone lines and computer servers are accessible and grouped. Typically fire, alarm and security controllers are installed here to gain access to conduits and the room is well protected.

The DVR in Figure 2 is mounted in the corner of the communication room. The door is self-closing, self-latching, and protected with a storeroom function lock with the operations manager having exclusive access.

Figure 3 is a close up of the monitor attached to the DVR. It is not necessary attach a monitor to the DVR while it is working, but a 19” flat screen costs less than $200 and provides a convenient means to check that all cameras are working as expected.

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