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A CCTV system will protect your business, your people and premises, your home, and your family but how do you know which system to choose?
There are many systems out there, so what factors do you need to consider?

First of all you should ask yourself the following questions:

1. Why do I need a CCTV system?

2. Do I need to inform anyone of a new CCTV system?

3. Who in my organisation on do I need to involve?
4. What type of system do I need?

5. What in influences the type of system I need?

6. What British Standards and regulations do I need to comply with?

7. How do I choose the best company?

8. What do I need to do once the system is installed?

CCTV is not a solution on to all your security concerns, but part of an overall process.

1) You need to determine why you need a new system. Is it an insurance requirement? Maybe the police have advised you to get one. Maybe your business is in a high-risk area or your type of business means you are at greater risk of break-ins and vandals

CCTV can be used as both a surveillance tool and as a method of identifying and prosecuting thieves. The best placement for your CCTV system depends on what you want to gain from it.

CCTV used to observe activity on-site should be placed at a higher level to gain the best coverage whilst CCTV used to detect criminal behaviour should be placed at eye level in order to view faces more clearly.
However, CCTV can also be used for other purposes such as providing protection for lone workers, gathering marketing information, time management studies, and Health and Safety reviewings.

2) All companies in the UK who hold data on individuals must comply with the Data Protection Act. Specific guidance on using CCTV in business premises is given in the Code of Practice issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office. This Code of Practice covers all areas subject to the Data Protection Act such as deciding when surveillance should be used, selecting and signaling surveillance systems, conducting a privacy impact assessment, and your responsibilities.

It’s best to register for a licence for your CCTV through the Information Commissioner’s Office. This is necessary if you keep personnel and customer data anyway and also covers you for use of CCTV. If you will be reviewing CCTV footage internally there is no need to be licenced under the Security Industry Authority (SIA). However, if you are using an external party to monitor your systems it is essential that they are SIA licenced with Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) licences.

Obvious client signage should also be displayed on your premises warning people coming on and off site they are being monitored.

3) Once you’ve decided why you need a CCTV system you then need to assess which areas you wish to have covered. This will then identify where cameras should be sited in order to provide the best surveillance coverage. It is beneficial to have your site surveyed professionally by a CCTV systems expert.
You will need to take into consideration on what you want the system to achieve and then you can be advised on the best way of achieving your aims.

4) Selecting the right company to design, install and maintain your CCTV systems is an extremely important decision and one that should not be taken lightly.
The company should provide testimonials of their work. Any quality security systems company will have had great feedback from their clients and will be proud to have it in writing. Be very wary of any company who have not had this feedback or cannot be bothered to show how proud they are of their customer comments. They should be able to provide case studies of work completed?

After your system has been fitted do they guarantee its operation for at least the next 12 months if not more. And do you know the name of the person in charge – it should be the MD!
Can you rely on your security systems company at all times 365/24/7? The last thing you need is to wait hours on end for someone to attend to your needs.
Your system, when installed new, should carry a warranty of at least 12 months. It is important to determine with your supplier that this warranty includes labour as some companies (wrongly in our opinion) only include the parts.

This means you could have a valid warranty claim and have to pay more for the part to be fixed than the part is worth itself!
It is also important to ensure whoever maintains the system is also the company that carries out any corrective works or work on the system, as this could invalidate your maintenance contract if someone else works on the system.

5) Do your suppliers understand both Analogue and Digital systems
Cameras on a modern analogue CCTV system send their video images in the traditional base band format over coax or unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling back to a digital video recorder (DVR). Here, video is digitized and stored on hard drives. Most modern DVRs are a network device, and as such can be accessed remotely from the LAN (local area network), or with the proper configuration, from across a WAN (wide area network) or the internet. There are no tapes to change. Video is kept on hard drives, typically on a FIFO basis so there is always a rolling video archive. So, despite the fact that video is being transmitted from the cameras in an analogue format, live and recorded video is still available over the network.
Internet Protocol (IP)

IP video cameras broadcast their video as a digital stream over an IP network. Like an analogue system, video is recorded on hard drives, but since the video is an IP stream straight from the camera, there is more flexibility as to how and where that video is recorded. The DVR is replaced with an NVR (network video recorder), NVR so ware. Hybrid CCTV systems combine IP and analogue video, and can be a great way to transmit on an analogue system to IP without needing to replace all of the existing cameras. Many NVR boxes on the market today are actually Hybrids in that they accept analogue cameras, and IP cameras and combine them onto a single platform for the user.

6) The cost of your CCTV system will depend on a number of factors such as the size of your site, the number of cameras needed, additional lighting provision, the type of CCTV system you choose etc.
You should also factor in the cost of one or two maintenance visits per year. There is little point in installing a CCTV system if it isn’t kept in full working order – it could fail just when you need it most!

7) Standards and certification: CCTV schemes that process data about a known person are obliged to conform to certain legislation, most importantly the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act and the Freedom of Information Act.
It is essential that once the CCTV system is commissioned, the security engineers demonstrate how to use the system to the appropriate person in the organisation.

8) It’s worth considering whether to have your CCTV monitored or not. During business hours it may be that you monitor in- house. However, out of business hours there are a number of solutions when a CCTV camera is activated.

The activation could be sent electronically to your smartphone or computer. You can then log in to your remote CCTV and contact the police if necessary.
You could opt to have your CCTV monitored by a monitoring company. They will then contact you or your security company in the event of activation. The site can then be visited and the activation confirmed, and police contacted if necessary.

On-going maintenance of the system by a competent approved security systems company should be carried out. The contract should state to what standard the work is carried out, how often the tests are completed and what is included (call out and/or parts).

Every contract should include a call out facility with a minimum response me (the standard is 8 hours) to ensure any emergency breakdowns are attended to quickly.

We hope you have found this guide useful and it has given you valuable information with inside knowledge that will enable you to purchase your new CCTV system with confidence.

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How to choose my CCTV system – a blog by Covert Installations