Property security is very important for businesses. Assets must be protected in order to turn a profit, and CCTV systems are one of the most effective ways to deter criminals and recover losses in case of theft. Today’s systems come with a wide variety of high-tech features, such as motion sensors and mobile phone/tablet accessibility and management. Some systems can even be configured to automatically call the police in the case of an intrusion.

Thanks to a rapid technological pace of improvement, CCTV systems are now available for businesses of all sizes. However, picking the right system can be difficult because almost all vendors offer numerous customisation options. So what are the factors that come into play here?

The features of a CCTV system

To start, you will be able to choose the resolution of your cameras. The resolution can vary greatly, and this is one area where you can save money, if you have a smaller property, or would like to monitor internal activity. When recording in an office or warehouse for the purposes of management, coordination and employee theft prevention, clarity is not a top priority.

You then have systems which come with embedded video analytics capabilities. These systems automatically detect and track movement, and they can be configured to send mobile notifications or even contact the police. These systems are top of the line, and they remove the need for manual monitoring, which can help save money.

Nowadays, most systems come with IP cameras, which are connected through the internet and are the modern iteration of the analogue camera. Besides the previously mentioned features, these cameras are also compatible with network video recorders (NVR), and they can be connected to PoE switches. NVRs allow for a higher quality of recording, and systems built using NVR can be scaled up very easily. PoE, stands for Power over Ethernet, which is a capability where cameras are powered through Ethernet cables. These same Ethernet cables are then used to transfer information through the NVR.

Analog cameras come with none of these features, but they are slightly less expensive than their IP counterparts. However, if you have to cover a large area, a system based on IP cameras may be cheaper, because IP cameras have a larger field of vision, and as such, fewer cameras will be needed. There is also a middle ground between the two systems, where both IP and analog cameras are used. Based on an hybrid video recorder (HVR) infrastructure, a purely analog system can be upgraded using IP cameras. This is a perfect solution for older businesses that have expanded their property.

What to look for in a system

For a quality image, the minimum resolution of the camera should be 720p, which is HD. You can go for a higher resolution if you want the clearest image possible, but for most businesses, 720p is enough. You then want to consider the frame rate. Frame rate determines the smoothness of the movement within the recording. The standard for real-time movement is 30 frames per second, but you can go both higher and lower depending on your budget.

In terms of models, you have several options: bullet cameras, which are rectangular and they protrude from the wall; dome cameras, which can be attached to the ceiling and housed within a dome; and pan-tilt-zoom or PTS cameras. PTS cameras can be controlled remotely in order to adjust the field of vision of the recording.

The next step is determining whether you need indoor or outdoor cameras. Outdoor cameras are sturdier, and they are marketed as weatherproof, while indoor cameras will not be able to withstand the water, dirt and other environmental hazards which can mess with the quality of the image, or even destroy the camera. Outdoor cameras also range in sturdiness, so it is important to you fully understand the durability of the model you are purchasing.

Lighting is the next consideration. If you will be capturing footage at night or in low light environments, you have infrared cameras at your disposal. These cameras rely on infrared LED lights, which cover a dark area in infrared light. This light is then reflected back to the camera, and the footage becomes visible. Finally, you have audio as a component of the system. Some cameras are able to pick up audio, while others feature a two-way audio system, which allows a person to communicate through the camera.