Off-site considerations

June 2010 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

When launching a remote monitoring facility, there are a few fundamentals to be considered before you jump into action.


The location of your proposed control room is critical, are you considering placing it in a high-risk area where your own security risk is greater than the clients you want to monitor? Can your surveillance staff get to work after hours and on weekends or during strikes or on public holidays? Is there a good landline telecommunication infrastructure in-place, is it also covered within wireless broadband coverage?


Connectivity is the most important factor when designing your facility, regardless of all the effort put into the rest of your facility, if you do not have good connectivity your control room just cannot prosper.


Redundancy is also a critical factor, unfortunately South Africa does not have a great track record when it comes to critical infrastructure such as constant clean electrical supply and telecommunications, therefore it is of utmost importance that you consider dual or triple redundancy in the following systems.

* Uninterrupted incoming power.

* Telephone communication infrastructure.

* Copper-based digital data connectivity.

* Wireless-based digital data connectivity.

* Connectivity server, firewall or VPN (virtual private network) switch.

* Video monitoring server and EMS (event management system) software.

* User station with associated software.


The second most important factor when considering a control room is definitely the training of your surveillance operators, unfortunately there is not a pool of well trained surveillance operators in the security industry. When considering employing operators some of the most important factors are computer literacy, observation skills and communication skills.

A well-organised control room will always consist of shift supervisors and a suitable control room manager. The managers and supervisors must know all your clients site instructions off-by-heart, to ensure your controllers get maximum benefit from their knowledge. The managers and supervisors must also be very IT literate, so they can assist with small day-to-day problems.

As training is not a fixed syllabus due to ever changing security requirements, it is impossible to train an operator to a point that he knows everything, training never ends.

Control room layout

When designing your control room it is important to take into account the SAIDSA specification for CCTV control rooms. From an operational point of view it is also a good idea to separate your surveillance operational area from your IT area, air conditioning and air-flow is also critical to ensure your equipment and staff do not overheat.

Your operator console design is also important for workflow, a well designed console will ensure an easy workflow for the surveillance operator, enabling them to view and respond to a situation with the necessary tools to complete the job with ease. The availability of a phone, stationery and workbooks within reach while an eye is kept on the monitors.

The field equipment

Once again there are a few fundamental items that should be well thought out, before you consider selling or installing a remote off-site monitoring system at your prospective client. A few of these items include the following.

Transmission and or recording unit

How will you send the images from your client’s site to your monitoring station? It is important that the product you select for remote monitoring has both recording and transmission capabilities, as well as a transmitter only capability.


It is important firstly that the software used to monitor your client’s site is not just a network remote viewer software, but a fully integrated server based event management system with unlimited workstation access.

The EMS software must interface between your client’s site and your operators, allowing them to access sites randomly and manage incoming alarm events.

Communications system

Although it seems that the services provided by telecommunication companies are improving, you can never rely on only a single service provider. Consider your secondary option carefully.


A wide variety of different cameras are available from models produced all over the world. Cameras are installed to assist the controllers viewing the site, why then install a camera in which the focus and aperture cannot be set? You, as the monitoring company will have to deal with the explanations when there is an incident. No client wants to hear that when you did the installation you only thought of cost and not image quality. The main purpose of off-site monitoring is to detect, view and respond to a situation before it results in damage or loss to your client.

Motion triggers

Video motion detection is generally very unstable, thus using VMD to trigger alarms to monitor the site is not a good idea, you should consider passive infra-red detectors and infra-red beams to trigger an alarm situation. Your local alarm supplier can assist you with selecting the correct product for your unique application.

Virtual remote monitoring

An alternative to doing it yourself is to find suitable monitoring that will facilitate your operation inside their existing facility, giving you a dedicated console or even an entire area, which you can advertise and sell as your own. The advantage of this is that there is no upfront capital outlay and you can generate income from your first client.

For more information contact Remote Off-Site Monitoring, +27 (0)11 425 0146,


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