What is the most important function of a CCTV system?
6 Nov 2018
In the simplest terms, video systems capture and record video. But supporting these basic operations are a growing number of other functions that expand usefulness and the ability to interact with related elements in a larger system. As video system functionality expands, we asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the most important function of a CCTV system and why?
One of the most important functions of a CCTV system is its ability to deliver secure and timely information that leads to greater safety and improved situational awareness of security and operational environments. Live and recorded video captured by security cameras paints an actionable picture of an organisation’s security. With visual data, operators can respond to an imminent threat or operational situation, as well as proactively prepare for a myriad of incidents. A VMS should deliver additional awareness and understanding when correlated with other security data (e.g. access control or intrusion), operational data (e.g. analytics and building sensors), and business data (e.g. point-of-sale). Here, video complements existing data to offer a richer understanding of an event; the addition of timely visual (video) data to door events or intrusion events allows staff to verify the authenticity of events, and to respond with a better visual understanding of what is happening.
CCTV is a core component in an overall security strategy as it helps monitor for and deter crime. However, its functions are even more powerful when integrated with other traditional security solutions such as access control, remote management tools and emergency communication systems. When these essential parts of a building’s security network work in tandem and can seamlessly communicate, safety efforts can be improved. For example, if an unauthorised guest attempts to enter a restricted area, access control technology can immediately notify facility managers and activate CCTV of the area in question to monitor and assess the situation from one remote location. The ability to integrate CCTV with additional security systems is a functionality that shouldn’t be overlooked as we keep moving closer to smarter, more connected buildings.
There is not just one specific function that can be deemed more important than others. Rather, it is a combination of several functions and features that make up a good video surveillance system. In general, though, there are a few specific features to look for. First, your system should support a multitude of brands for easy integration. Specifically, support for ONVIF avoids any lock-in factor and allows for changing preferences and needs over time. The system should also be able to provide an audit trail feature, in case the export of data for external examination is needed. In addition, users should keep in mind how service upgrades are managed by the VMS – are they free or do they require a paid license? Lastly, there must be sufficient information available regarding system integrity and how the video management system can be incorporated in a wider system security policy.
Today’s CCTV systems must be more than just a collection of cameras recording hours of activity that requires 24/7 monitoring. Their most important function is to pick up on anomalies, vulnerabilities or security incidents and facilitate immediate action to resolve these concerns. This is made possible through video event management software, which helps users gain the most relevant information at any given time. Incorporating video analytics into a surveillance system is crucial, as specific events can be extrapolated and the appropriate personnel can be notified to resolve an issue. Though a surveillance system on its own is beneficial, the influx of footage generated must be filtered and organised in a way that is easily digestible and allows informed and efficient decision-making.
With the rise in video retention time, the amount of video being retained and the general requirements for improved video quality, CCTV systems are undergoing a drastic change. Where some might say the recording feature is the most important feature of a CCTV system, there is a combination of hardware features that facilitate this, and one of them is a specifically designed hard drive optimised for the heavy-workload of a modern surveillance system. Hard drives that are engineered for 24/7 high-temperature CCTV rooms are now more important than ever, as reliance on CCTV has grown. Such hard drives matter as they are engineered for quality video playback and are often optimised to support up to 64 cameras, giving the user flexibility to upgrade or expand. Low power consumption becoming a must in high-temperature, always-on surveillance environments to help reduce damaging ambient noise and vibrations.
Video systems are more than the sum of their functions. Today's video systems are expanding their value to end users and contributing important visual information to enhance the functionality of larger systems. Given the wide breadth of value provided by video systems, naming a specific function as "most valuable" may be beside the point. The totality of a video system's benefits is a more useful measure of value.
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