How to Position Security Cameras and Avoid Callbacks

Determine the location for your Cameras

This short article will cover the basics of how to position security cameras for best results. While many factors exist for placing cameras I will touch on the basic ones of placement. I would consider the following to be the four steps in placing your cameras:

1.Determine the location of your cameras
2.Determine Camera Types
3.Determine what the camera will be watching/securing
4.Verify with stakeholder on camera position

What are you trying to secure or protect?

Cameras should be placed in a manner that they are protecting or securing your point of interest. Simply put, you need to watch what you want to protect.

Are there control points or means of access that can be watched?

Is there only one way to get in and out of the area or do multiple entrances exist?

You place cameras at control points/ Access Points so you can receive a notification when a subject enters the area, and so you can capture a clear picture/video of the subject.

This works the same whether it is a military base or a grocery store. Obviously, the assets and location of choke points differ but these guidelines remain.

For example, at a Gas Station, the things you are protecting would be the Cash Register, Store Inventory, Gas Pumps, etc. You would place cameras that would watch each one of these areas. In addition, at a Gas Station, the Control Points / Access Points are usually the front customer entrance and sometimes the back/service entrance. You almost always place cameras at those locations.

Camera Type Selection

You have 4 general types of cameras to choose from:

Fixed cameras: the view is locked on to a specific area
PTZ: the view can be manually adjusted by a user, but the camera will only record what it is watching.
Variable Lens Camera: These are fixed cameras that have an adjustable lens which can be adjusted manually or is motorized.
Specialty: Cameras made for specific applications. (Thermal, LPR, Fisheye, Panoramic)

Selecting the Right Type:

Use a fixed camera if you have a point of interest that needs to be watched all the time.(i.e. Cash Register)
Use a PTZ cameras if there is a wide area to cover and a PTZ operator is present to move/control the PTZ.
Use a Variable lens camera when a fixed lens camera can’t be used, or if you need to have a motorized zoom function.
Use a specialty camera as needed. This could be a fisheye, panoramic, or maybe even a License Plate Reader camera.

Views of Cameras

Picking the general location of cameras is the first half of the solution. This part is easily done because you know what you need to protect(i.e. Front Entrance, Register, etc.).

The second half of the solution is making sure that the camera is placed correctly so that the video being captured is useful. Selecting the Right lens size here is crucial as it directly affects the effective captured area. The four most common lens sizes in security are 2.8mm, 4mm, 6mm, and 12mm. Varifocal cameras can be in different ranges, but usually, they are 2.8mm-12mm.

Verify with Customer

Before you install any cameras, you should prepare and provide the following documentation to the stakeholder:

Take a photo of the approximate FoV of the camera
Take a photo of the place where you plan to mount the camera. Mark the exact spot on the photo
Prepare a map of the facility. Mark the location of each camera on the map
Submit all of this in a report
This may seem time-consuming and wasteful but I think it is critical for the following reasons:
(1) to ensure that the objectives are met and (2) to eliminate re-work and changes after installation.

Without pictures and plans, it’s very hard to imagine how exactly cameras should be placed. It is also very easy for misunderstandings to occur (“I thought you were going to mount that here instead of there”, etc.).

Summary

A carefully planned and documented design is a key tool in deploying optimized video surveillance solutions that preventĀ callbacks.