Do's and Don'ts of CCTV

Do choose a provider who specialises in education CCTV
Schools are fundamentally different environments to any other commercial or public organisation. There are virtually no parallels between the needs of the two, so do choose a provider who specialises in education. At TAS, we have partnered with one of the largest schools in the country to conduct a 12 month study in the practical daily operation of a CCTV system in a large school. We have conducted reviews of many incidents to hone our knowledge of the most effective camera positions and specifications. This has built a bank of knowledge that no other CCTV company can attain, and for our customers, results in a best-value solution as a result.

DO choose a digital-only CCTV supplier
CCTV has moved rapidly from analogue to digital. Most police forces in the UK have upgraded their analogue systems to digital. Digital CCTV implementation requires an entirely different skill-set to analogue (extensive computing and network knowledge, for example), and the upgrade is not a natural step for analogue CCTV companies. It is akin to asking a taxi driver to re-train as an airline pilot. For this reason, some analogue CCTV companies will stick with what they know and avoid the digital world.

Fortunately at TAS, our primary skills lay in the digital world, and in fact, our Managing Director is a qualified Electronics Engineer with a specialisms in firmware and software design.

DON'T buy a budget system
There are many budget CCTV systems on the market, and these are perfectly adequate for domestic-use. There is a reason why they are cheap, and a reason why no professional CCTV provider would use them. Simply put, they are not fit for purpose in a non-domestic environment. And selecting such a system would be like a doctor prescribing medication without knowing the symptoms. Our advice is simple: You cannot specify a solution until you have defined the objectives of your cctv system, and conducted a thorough survey of the premises.

DO use the Rotakin standard
Compliance with the Rotakin standard is essential for success. We have all squinted at really poor CCTV images on programmes such as Crimewatch, and wondered how anyone could possibly identify the person who is just a fuzzy blob on the screen. Poor quality CCTV images are such a source of frustration for the police that the Home Office Scientific Development Branch produced a document to address this: the Rotakin standard.

Rotakin defines the level of detail that a CCTV system should be able to provide to be fit for purpose.

Applying the Rotakin standard to CCTV design requires a thorough understanding of
- the objectives of the system
- the role of each camera in the system
- the environment that the system exists in
- geometry and trigonometry
- photography, lens speeds, angles and focal lengths.

DO ensure you use a provider who understands computers, networks and Windows server
In addition to Rotakin, in order to competently design, install and configure today's digital CCTV systems requires a thorough understanding of:
- local area network structure
- network switching
- managing bandwidth
- configuring Windows servers
- network security
- configuring iSCSI SAN devices for archive storage

DON'T fall foul of the law
CCTV intrudes on peoples privacy, which is why the Information Commissioner's Office has written a code of practice specifically for CCTV. Your system must be installed, implemented and used within the requirements of the Data Protection Act, the Security Industry Act and the Human Rights Act. Use a provider who understands your legal obligations, who understands the need for a Privacy Impact Assessment, and who has a thorough understanding of network permission and security.