IP CCTV Systems Installation: A Nutshell Guide to Your High-Performance System

2018-06-21T14:05:06+00:0029th May, 2018|0 Comments
IP CCTV System

The immaterial character of valuables is one of the most interesting – and baffling – properties of modern economy; for many UK companies, the most important assets are electronic records, customer data, documents, confidential information stored in electronic form, the kind of assets that are targeted by hackers, not burglars. And yet even the companies dealing in the most immaterial values have been the target of a great deal of unauthorized physical entry attempts. According to a Home Office study (full data here), in 2015 alone, Information & Communication companies have been the target of an estimated 3,000 burglary attempts, about one third of which were successful. And this figure is insignificant compared to those reported by the Wholesale and Retail sector (29,000 burglary attempts, roughly half of them successful, and 92,000 cases of theft).

Physical access control and surveillance is one of the primary barriers against this sort of incidents, the main vehicle for asset recovery and a vital means of monitoring your London business’ premises. CCTV systems are one of the most critical components of your business’ security system.

The usefulness of video surveillance systems is not limited to security, even though that was what they were initially deployed for. Today, CCTV surveillance systems are also successfully used for emergency management, such as monitoring (and coordinating the reaction to) fires. The CCTV industry can now provide the solution to a great deal of problems, with increasingly sophisticated devices. Increased sophistication (and responsibility) has given rise to a great deal of challenges for security engineers and technicians, though. CCTV systems installation has always had a reputation for being challenging, but that has been especially true in the last 5-10 years. Today, skilled CCTV systems installers can work wonders for your London building’s security.

IP CCTV Installation

From Components to Systems: IT-Integrated Security

 Until roughly a decade ago, when most people thought about security cameras, they associated it with the odd surveillance cam placed strategically in the entrance hallway at work or above the ATMs. Surveillance and security systems were effectively centered on the monitoring nodes, and our image of a security system was, effectively, an alarm panel, a few cameras, and the noisy alarm. The strength of the security system was primarily in how good the cameras were – how sharp the images were, how good the frame rate, and how well it could “see” in the dark.

Since then, advances in video processing technology and in computer power have enabled us to build better, more integrated security systems, that now include sophisticated features such as automatic intruder detection and tracking, facial or number plate recognition. While IP CCTV technology has continued to improve dramatically, it is now increasingly leveraged, with far greater efficiency, as part of a more complex security system. CCTV cameras are now integrated with other types of components, such as intelligent door locks, in order to provide more comprehensive access control. They are cloud-accessible, enabling seamless integration with the rest of the IT infrastructure, and can be used, for instance, to provide video data for access logs.

Of course, this has led to a dramatic increase in complexity of an IP CCTV system installation procedures and techniques. Understanding these challenges is key to understanding the expectations that you need to have from your service providers, and the expectations that, in turn, those for whose assets you are caring for (including yourself!) need to have.

CCTV video analytics real time alerts
Cloud storage for CCTV benefits
CCTV facial recognition feature
CCTV Automatic Plate Recognition ANPR

IP CCTV Systems Installation: From Planning to Implementation

 For security professionals, the installation stage is to security systems design what the proverbial heel was to Achilles. Even the strongest, most well-designed security system can be wrecked by poor installation. Incorrect installation procedures, or poorly-followed ones, can create new flaws in a security system, and render a careful design completely ineffective. Thus, when you have to deal with CCTV systems installers or maintenance and repair work, you should never cut corners and always work with top professionals.

There are three major pillars on which a proper CCTV system installation process rests: compliance with electrical, H&S and building codes, compliance with security industry best-practices, and integration with other security mechanisms. Addressing these requirements is often complicated by the fact that many companies need to gradually transition to a CCTV-driven, integrated security system. Due to price constraints, reliability concerns when upgrading from a system that has worked well for years, or both, many companies tend to gradually upgrade, rather than fully replace their security systems – an approach that complicates design (and installation), but has significant advantages.

Security system

The most critical aspect of an IP CCTV systems installation is compliance with electrical and building safety regulations, H&S regulations and other legal requirements. This aspect is easy to overlook when – understandably – thinking about CCTV systems primarily in terms of security. However, non-compliance with any of these regulations is a major liability. The sanctions (which, in the case of H&S regulations, include not only fines, but potentially even jail time) that authorities can impose are the smallest risk that you are exposed to; not following electrical installation requirements, for instance, can carry significant fire risk. Anything that you gain in security is more than offset by the personal, financial and legal risks associated with general improper installation.

A significant part of the work required for ensuring compliance is carried out at design time. Selecting proper electrical wiring materials and choosing correct wiring methods and drafting the documentation and procedures required for the Data Protection Act, regarding issues like the retention of recorded images, are just some examples of the type of work required here. However, a great deal of responsibility – from using appropriate cabling to following colour-coding and cable segregation conventions – is left to the technicians who perform the IP CCTV installation.

Data protection

Of course, as a critical component of a security system, compliance with security industry’s standards and best practices. The high importance of these systems has resulted in a great deal of regulatory activity: the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), the leading certification body for security and fire protection industries in the UK, has a list of dozens of regulatory material for this field, ranging from international standards, such as EN 50133-7:1999, to recommended practices. It is not compulsory to follow all of these documents, but it is certainly recommended.

CCTV systems are specifically regulated by BS 8418 (a British Standard Code of Practice concerning the installation and remote monitoring of CCTV systems), and an NSI-issued document, the NSI Code of Practice NCP 104. These documents only regulate aspects specific to CCTV systems; IP CCTV systems design and installation falls within the much broader scope of designing and implementing security systems, which is regulated by many other standards and recommended practices.

Even CCTV-specific standards are too broad to discuss here in full, but we can cover the most important remarks that apply to CCTV systems installation. BS8418 includes a wide range of recommendations and requirements, meant primarily to ensure surveillance quality and integrity.

Quality is achieved through compliance to specific requirements concerning camera orientation and positioning, target illumination and data cabling. Camera orientation and positioning is critical to ensuring optical coverage; intuitively, its importance is easy to see, but many of the recommendations are not immediately obvious. For example, it is recommended that entry/exit routes to secure ares be viewed by cameras with fixed positions (either fixed cameras or functional cameras whose view is towards the entry/exit routes in their parked position). Illumination – the other factor that can decisively influence detection quality – is also meticulously regulated, because ensuring the illumination parameters required by each CCTV device is critical to ensuring its proper functioning.

Different IP camera types and positions

Positioning, orientation and illumination parameters are particularly important for CCTV systems with advanced features such as facial recognition or number plate detection. Discriminating subtle features, such as facial traits, is a very complicated process, and while the algorithms that perform it are very powerful, they depend on the quality of the supplied image.

Integrity is the other essential trait of a surveillance system: it refers to the system’s ability to resist tampering or disabling attempts. Integrity measures need to be taken at every level of the system, and implemented at every step of the CCTV system installation procedure.

At its most basic level, ensuring integrity is implemented by ensuring redundancy for power and data paths (using backup UPS and generators and, respectively, using multiple transmission paths), and by providing tamper detection for cables that supply detectors, detector enclosures, power supply housings and, if they are located outside the secure area, for pluggable connector enclosures and control equipment. However, IP CCTV system installation standards include additional provisions for reacting to potential tamper events, such as triggering an alarm in case of prolonged signal loss from a camera, and for controlling access to sensible parts of the CCTV system, such as ensuring comprehensive logging, proper authorization and identification procedures for access to control equipment.

These requirements concerning integrity suggest that cabling carries a great deal of risk and associated costs. Ensuring proper protection for power and data cables, multiple paths for data transmission (that is, multiple signal cables for wired CCTVs), backup power supplies – requires a great deal of materials and a great deal of time. Furthermore, the more components are susceptible to tampering, the greater the risk that your system can be disabled.

While there is no way to completely mitigate these costs and risks, they can be reduced by using wireless CCTV cameras. Wireless CCTV cameras still need to be powered, and the power cables still need to be secured against tampering; however, they can transmit data wirelessly, which makes the data path almost impossible to interrupt by an intruder who also needs to eschew detection. Wired cameras are cheaper upfront, but they do carry additional costs (as mentioned above), and their transmission paths – that is, their cables – are much easier to disable.

Wireless CCTV Camera
Wireless CCTV cameras

Virtually all standards and best practices documents require that comprehensive testing be performed as part of the CCTV system installation process. In fact, BS 8418 not only includes specific testing parameters for every section (camera orientation and positioning, illumination, performance and integrity etc.) but also a detailed commissioning and hand-over acceptance.

The commissioning and hand-over acceptance procedure recommended by BS 8418 takes several days; it includes testing of detectors and cameras both during the day and during the night, verifying the accuracy of all recorded data (including the labels used in the CCTV system) and a soak test of at least 7 days.

By this point, it is already clear that installing a CCTV system is a very complex procedure. It requires significant cabling effort, even for wireless CCTV cameras, and comprehensive testing. This is especially true for advanced CCTV systems, which are integrated with advanced video analysis programs or which can perform functions like facial recognition or number plate recognition and logging. The algorithms used to implement these features respond differently to a great deal of factors, like illumination and motion speed (hence the need for comprehensive testing) and require significant amounts of bandwidth (hence the need for high-performance network cabling).

The Critical Role of Correct IP CCTV Installation

 As we mentioned above, the performance of CCTV cameras (and of the entire security system that they spearhead) is greatly dependent upon a number of installation-related factors. How the camera is oriented, how the target area is illuminated, how difficult it is to disable the data and power paths, or even the camera itself – all these parameters greatly influence the efficiency of the security system that protects your business’ assets.

The important point here is that the nominal performance of a piece of equipment alone is not a reliable indicator of its ultimate efficiency. Even the best, most advanced, highest-resolution CCTV camera will be entirely useless if it is not properly installed – if, for instance, its field of view is obstructed by an artificial illumination source (the example is not random: this is an aspect that BS 8418 explicitly mentions in section 4.3.2.8). Of course, the reverse is true, too – correct installation ensures that a system works within its intended parameters, but not beyond them.

IP CCTV camera Installation

Consequently, there is a direct correlation between the efficiency of your financial investment in CCTV equipment and how well it is installed. High-end cameras with advanced video processing features such as face recognition can be a significant investment – but improper installation means that these features cannot be used efficiently (if they can be used at all). This is not just a bad deal up-front; it gets worse on the long term, too, as what you can save on installation costs is often a small fraction of what you can lose due to the security incidents that cannot be averted due to the improper installation.

 Correctly handling IP CCTV systems installation is one of the cornerstones of ensuring your business’ protection. If your system was installed properly from the very beginning, then CCTV repair and maintenance become a breeze (and an affordable one!).

Choosing the right company for your CCTV installation

ACCL is a CCTV installer company which has installed hundreds of IP CCTV systems in London and the surrounding areas. We only work with top manufacturers and we never cut corners when it comes to quality or your security.

Get in touch with our specialists and schedule your FREE audit! We can advise you on what CCTV system works best for you. Plus, we can match any deadline and budget.

Let’s talk!

Services mentioned in this post: CCTVAccess Control, IP Security Wireless CCTV

Related to post: Avigilon CCTV

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