Practical perspectives in evaluating digital surveillance systems

August 2005 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

I once attended a review session in a company evaluating options for a full digital surveillance system. With a new control room function being built, the time was ripe for the company to consider the move to digital, something that many other companies are considering.

This includes a fully networked system operating from a remote site with the potential use of PC monitors and digital recording devices. My knowledge of technical systems and specifications is very limited, but I was invited to attend because of my exposure to the management of different operations and human factor issues. The comments in this article in no way represent a recommendation of how digital systems should be reviewed, but reflect my own increasing awareness of some of the factors that came up in the discussions.

The first thing that struck me was that it was the IT specialist who was calling the meeting and requesting the security personnel to attend. IT had been given the mandate by the security manager to investigate and review possible options because it was felt that they were the people most suited to the task in the organisation.

This is a departure from the usual security approach, but is something that is probably going to happen increasingly as CCTV digital solutions become more common unless security departments acquire these skills or people themselves. The IT specialist also demonstrated a planned, well-considered set of criteria and system demands that were going to be relevant to an operational system. This was aimed at facilitating an objective evaluation on how well the different options and equipment would suit the needs of security personnel. I am sure many security personnel could have done the job as well, but my practical experience indicates that IT practice does bring in a structured method of evaluating systems that can benefit projects and can be used by other disciplines including security.

Different perspectives

It is also clear that people involved in reviewing digital systems approach things from different perspectives. IT specialists, engineers and security technicians all have different orientations in their view of the technical capabilities and priorities. However, it is notable that different security people can also see things from vastly differing perspectives. Some features are seen as important by some people, and not even bothered with by others. The quality of recorded video is also an issue that people take different views on, sometimes to their cost according to some sites I have seen that have gone the digital route. Because each security person was coming from a different perspective on what they were interested in, the IT specialist had to see if he could satisfy these different demands within the system. The importance of having an objective outsider to facilitate objective decision-making and to avoid group think was something that struck me as particularly useful. One of the dangers of having the senior security person determining key criteria is that people often tend to defer to him or her. The other thing that struck me is how important it is to have the different user perspectives and needs cleared up before choosing and implementing the system.

The second major impression is how the quality of digital recording is open for debate and how easily operational requirements for one aspect may get lost when considering another. There are a number of advantages to digital systems, but for me the key purpose of the system is to produce image quality on monitors that will allow recognition of incident conditions, and to produce recorded information that will satisfy requirements for a number of purposes. In the discussion, I identified four major aspects that I thought were relevant to satisfy before one could even think of the advantages of the digital system.

1. Can the system handle the data requirements from all relevant cameras at the resolution and frame rate required?

2. Is the visual quality of picture presented on monitors to operators at an appropriate quality to allow detection of relevant details, movement, and objects, and can viewing be done comfortably over a sustained period?

3. Is the quality of recorded data of a suitable quality for review and audit purposes?

4. Is recorded data of an appropriate quality to present for evidence purposes?

High-end systems

The third major impression in the discussions we had highlights the advantages that software interaction can produce with digital systems. The use of a graphics user interface to manage displayed screens or analyse and process data brings in a number of potential advantages on high-end digital systems. Features that struck me as useful for management and investigation included a variety of search capabilities and the ability to use graphics to chart utilisation, performance and camera detection issues. While not enthusiastic about matrix screens with more than one camera view being displayed simultaneously, the ability to call up configurations of screens around a specific area should there be an incident could have major advantages in seeing the presence of people and objects and where people are moving. Cameras that require little observation and where anything that occurs is very obvious, such as somebody standing at a door, could also be grouped together for space-saving purposes.

Different digital systems have different feature sets, and companies may choose to go to various extents in implementing a fully digital CCTV system. It is also one that is going to increasingly combine both security and IT input. Getting a well-planned assessment programme to evaluate the different options is going to be a critical part of ensuring the choice of system produces the right outcomes.

Dr Craig Donald can be contacted at Leaderware on 011 787 7811 or craig.donald@leaderware.com



Credit(s)




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Camera Selection Guide 2019
September 2019 , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
The Camera Selection Guide 2019 includes a range of IP, analogue, thermal and speciality cameras aimed at a broad range of surveillance functions.

Read more...
Intelligent analytics and the brains to match
September 2019, Bosch Building Technologies , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
What if the brains behind our security cameras could be trained to improve their cognitive ability to pay attention, learn, and problem-solve according to specific rules and situations?

Read more...
AI-powered autonomous Drone-in-a-Box
September 2019 , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
Organisations in the mining, energy and industrial, oil and gas, ports and terminals sectors can optimise security and business operations, whilst reducing risks and operational costs

Read more...
Cybersecurity for video surveillance systems
September 2019 , Cyber Security, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Video surveillance systems are increasingly accessible over any IP network, which has led to the rise of potential cyberattack.

Read more...
A platform approach to innovation and value
September 2019, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions, IT infrastructure
Moving to the platform model of doing business holds tremendous advantages for end users and smaller developers, but also for the whole technology supply chain.

Read more...
Back to manufacturer uniformity?
September 2019, Dallmeier Electronic Southern Africa , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Decision makers often have to choose between an all-inclusive, complete solution from one manufacturer and the products and services of several different providers.

Read more...
Open does not always mean easy integration
September 2019, VERACITECH, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
Customers who opt for best-of-breed solutions will have to rely on their integrators to develop customised integrated solutions for them.

Read more...
The impact of AI on the surveillance industry
September 2019, G4S South Africa, Hikvision South Africa, Myertal Tactical Security, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
What the impact of AI will be on companies, the services and solutions they supply, as well as on the jobs people do.

Read more...
Video analytics and AI
September 2019, Axis Communications SA, Dallmeier Electronic Southern Africa , Hikvision South Africa, Technews Publishing, Dahua Technology South Africa , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
Artificial intelligence has the potential to deliver real benefits in the world of video analytics and many companies are already delivering customer benefits.

Read more...
Cloudy with a chance of AI
September 2019 , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
One local company has developed an AI solution that can be added to existing surveillance installations, offering 24-hour intelligence.

Read more...