How to Choose a Video Surveillance System

Video Surveillance systems can deter criminals and help law enforcement quickly catch thieves.  Video Surveillance systems also improve the accountability of employees, help monitor productivity and may even reduce insurance premiums. The up-front costs of installing a Video Surveillance system can seem expensive, however the long-term payoff and peace of mind are well worth it.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR) -VS- Network Video Recorder (NVR) All Video Surveillance cameras require a video recorder to save/store the video footage they are recording. DVRs evolved from older VCR models, while NVRs represent the next step in the evolution of video recording technology. DVR’s use old technology Coaxial cabling.  NVR’s use New/Current technology CAT5e/CAT6 Ethernet/Network cabling. (the same cabling as computers, IP Phones, printers, etc.) NVR’s can record at much higher resolution than DVR’s.

Choosing Cameras:

► Resolution: This is one of the most important considerations when selecting a camera. For a sharper image, select a higher resolution/higher pixel count. (4K/8-Megapixel is very common today) In general, IP camera are going to provide much higher resolution (quality) than Analog cameras.

► Frame Rate: The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video. Video is a series of still images together in sequence to create a motion picture. The lower the frame rate, the less frequently a still is taken, which results in choppier footage. Real Time is typically considered as 30 frames per second (FPS).

► Models: There are different types of security cameras. Some of the most common are bullet cameras. Dome cameras are typically considered more aesthetically pleasing, while bullet cameras are considered more of a deterrent.

► Indoor/Outdoor: Some security cameras are produced specifically for indoors and shouldn’t be used outdoors. If you need cameras outside, obtain weatherproof (IP66 Rated) cameras.

► Lighting: several security cameras have the ability to capture video in low-light infrared, which enables them to capture clear footage in dark conditions. Low-Light cameras rely on infrared LED lights, which cover the dark area in infrared light.

► Audio: Audio recording is an option depending on the particular camera and the manufacturer. Some cameras pick up audio, others don’t. Some cameras enable two-way audio, so a person watching the camera on can communicate with persons in the camera’s field of vision.

Surveillance cameras that are hard-wired offer the greatest stability, since their power and video feed are both utilizing wires instead of battery or Wi-Fi. This means that they are great for areas with high signal interference or unstable connectivity. IP cameras are Power Over Ethernet (PoE), which means that they both draw power and feed video through the same CAT5e/CAT6 data wire, eliminating the need to run multiple wires (like with Analog cameras). When video is transmitted via wire, the file size and quality is significantly higher, all the way up to 4K.

Does the Video Surveillance system that you are considering require you to open any inbound ports on your firewall? The most secure Video Surveillance systems architecture will NOT require you to open any inbound ports on your firewall. We highly recommend against opening ports on your firewall, or, have a system integrator (like ECS) install a Firewall and program the settings for you.

Cloud Recording or Onsite Recording? A major factor in selecting a video surveillance system is whether your video will be recorded locally (NVR) or in the cloud.

Reasons why onsite recording may be a better fit:

► An onsite system will enable you to record higher resolution video.

► An onsite recording solution will enable you to store your video for longer.

► An onsite recording solution will not use your Internet bandwidth unless you are actively viewing video remotely. Cloud recording solutions will constantly use your bandwidth, even when you are not viewing the video remotely.

► An onsite recording solution will provide a better video streaming experience when viewing over your high-speed local area network.

► There are no recurring monthly fees associated with an onsite recording solution.

Analog or IP? There are many reasons for investing in an IP system over an Analog/Coax system. Here are a few:

► A digital (IP) format allows for more control and flexibility for video capture, recording, & playback

► A digital (IP) format allows for more efficient transmission of the video over the internet and to tablets and mobile phones.

► IP Cameras are capable of higher resolution for crisp video, image control and digital zoom.

► IP Cameras are easy to install with single CAT5e/CAT6 cable for both power and video

► IP cameras have intelligent features built-in, such as zoned motion sensing and privacy masking.

► IP systems can be updated with easy-to-apply software upgrades, extending the life of your investment.

Apps: Most Video Surveillance systems today are accessible on either Android or iOS devices. Many also offer web or viewing apps so you can log in from a desktop/laptop. The apps are important because they’re the main point of access to your Video Surveillance system. Make sure the system you purchase has an app available for how you want to view your system.  Make sure the app is easy to use.

ECS is a Video Surveillance System sales/Installation company located in Seattle, WA & Portland, OR.

ECS provides local technicians for on-site work installing and servicing a variety of voice/data equipment, ie; Low Voltage Cabling, CAT5e/CAT6, Fiber Optic, IP Office Telephone Systems, Voicemail, Telephones, Firewalls, Ethernet Switches, Circuit Extensions, Wireless Networking, Video Surveillance, Point of Sale, Overhead Paging, Avaya Aura Servers, Gateways, etc. 

ECS provides services in Washington & Oregon, primarily in the greater Seattle & Portland areas.

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