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 prevent callbacks.

Stream an IP Camera with RTSP & KODI on Raspbian.

Overview

I wrote a previous article covering the RTSP function of Arcdyn cameras and NVR/DVRs and how to use VLC to get a viewable live stream. In this write-up, I will walk you through the process to add your camera stream into LibreELEC which is powered by KODI.

LibreELEC powered by KODI

KODI is an open source entertainment HUB that is 100% free. I’m going to use the LibreELEC version of KODI that can be easily installed on your Raspberry Pi via NOOBS. You don’t need a Raspberry PI to run KODI; it is supported Continue reading “Stream an IP Camera with RTSP & KODI on Raspbian.”

Use RTSP to view your Arcdyn security cameras in VLC Media Player

Overview

RTSP is one of the most useful things that an IP camera provides over Analog counterparts. Since the encoding is done at the camera, we can pull the RTSP stream right from the camera. NVR/DVR’s also have an RTSP Stream that can be used for live viewing the streams. This write up will cover both products. An excellent tool for testing and implementing solutions is VLC media player. It is Open Source and free to use.

Continue reading “Use RTSP to view your Arcdyn security cameras in VLC Media Player”

Analog Security Cameras vs Digital IP Security Cameras

Overview

Security cameras come in two distinct types, Digital(IP) and Analog(AHD, TVL, TVI, HD-SDI, HD-CVI). Many types of these security cameras are still widely in use. However the security camera industry continues to push the limits of resolutions, and as a result, the use of digital IP security equipment continues to increase while analog continues to decline. Let’s take a look at the general differences in analog surveillance cameras and IP surveillance cameras.


RJ-59 Cable Ends

RJ-59 Cable Ends-Security Camera

Analog Security Cameras

1. Analog cameras send a video signal to an encoder(DVR) which then processes the signal and records it.
2. Analog cameras require a direct connection to the DVR.
3. Analog security cameras require two cables, one for power and one for video.
4. Analog cameras have a limited platform of resolutions available.

RJ-45 End

Cat5e and Cat6 can be used for IP cameras

IP Security Cameras

1. IP Cameras encode the video signal at the camera and send the video to Network Video Recorder(NVR) through an internet protocol(IP).
2. IP cameras require a connection to the same network as the NVR and don’t have to be directly connected to the recorder.
3. IP Security cameras use Power over Ethernet(PoE) which means you only have one cable going to the camera that supplies power and transfers video.
4.The worst IP camera resolutions are far superior to the best analog resolutions.


Analog Surveillance Camera Types:

Analog Camera Types: TVL, AHD, HD-CVI, HD-SDI, TVI

Television Lines(TVL) :

TVL is the oldest of all the analog camera resolution rating systems and was popularized by Chinese manufacturers in an effort to artificially inflate the resolution of their cameras, making them seem like they had higher resolutions. TVL cameras have incredibly low resolution, and are usually black and white. While most modern resolution ratings reference the vertical pixel count (1080p, 4k, etc.), TVL as a rating refers to the specification of an analog security camera’s horizontal resolution power. It is common to see TVL resolutions measuring 480 TVL,  600TVL, 650TVL, 700TVL.

Typical TVL Resolutions in Pixels:
480 TVL: 510 x 492 (0.2 Megapixel)
600 TVL: 768 x 494 (0.3 Megapixel)
650 TVL: 811 x 508 ( 0.4 Megapixel)
700 TVL: 976 x 582 ( 0.5 Megapixel)

Almost all of this equipment is phased out or in the process of being replaced. If you are installing new security cameras and using TVL cameras, you are installing old technology with hard to find replacement parts.

vcdto4k
Expect TVL cameras never to have a resolution greater than 720P

AHD, HD-SDI, & HD-CVI:

Analog HD, HD-SDI and HD-CVI CCTV cameras are capable of capturing video surveillance footage at a 1080p resolution. These high definition analog surveillance cameras must be used with a special surveillance DVR that supports their video signals for encoding. All of this hardware still uses the BNC Coax cabling (RJ59) and was introduced as a way to achieve High Definition over coax.

The current price, availability, and interoperability of these security camera systems makes it a bad choice for a new install or a retrofit.

vcdto4k
Expect High Definition analog cameras to have a max resolution of 1080P

Transport Video Interface(TVI):

TVI is currently the best and most affordable transitional technology available for upgrading your old analog system to High Definition without pulling new cable.  TVI solved what AHD, HD-SDI, & HD-CVI had problems with or failed to do. Able to acheive greater cable distances and better resolutions while still utilizeing the same coaxial TVI became a large contender in the analog cctv market. TVI supports HD video signal (1080P/720P), audio signal, and digital signal transmissions. If your looking to upgrade your old analog system and don’t have the option to pull new cable for an IP based Security System then TVI may be an option for you.Typical TVI Resolutions in Pixels:
720P: 1280 X 720 (1 Megapixel)
1080P : 1920 X 1080 (2 Megapixels)
vcdto4k
Expect TVI analog cameras to have a minimum resolution of 720P and a maximum of 1080P.

IP Surveillance Cameras

IP security cameras have impressive resolutions and ever-evolving technologies. IP cams have introduced some of the biggest changes in the security world with their crystal clear 4k resolutions and smart video analytics. If your buying a security system for the first time or upgrading an existing one you should definitely consider using an IP security camera system. It has many benefits over analog and the overall install is easier compared to conventional security surveillance systems.Typical IP Resolutions in Pixels:
1920 x 1080 (2 Megapixels) 1080P HD
2688 x 1520 (4 Megapixels) HD+
3840 x 2160 (8 Megapixels) 4K+
And More!
vcdto4k
Expect IP security cameras have minimum resolution of 1080P.

Summary

While this article is short and touches on the basics of analog security cameras vs IP security cameras many more differences co-exist between both styles of cameras. One of the easiest ways to identify an analog camera is by the camera cable end. Analog cameras will require two cables, one for power and one for video while IP cameras use PoE and only require one cable to work.