The original security video systems were grainy images recorded by analog cameras within a closed-circuit system onto cassette tapes. Today, surveillance systems are totally twenty-first-century, using digital technology. This means clearer images that can be enhanced, much more storage space for video records, and the convenience of computer interfaces.
A digital video recorder (DVR) is hardware or software that records video data coming from a variety of inputs. Many people use these in conjunction with their TV sets for television programs, but DVRs can also be used to record information from video cameras. Instead of recording the images onto a film or tape, the images are saved as digital files that can be stored on a computer.
There are different types of digital surveillance systems. Some use DVR cards or interfaces, and others are linked directly to a PC. There are some basic setup steps that apply to each.
Installing the Cameras
Setting up a video surveillance system is fairly simple. First, you need to determine what areas of your business need to be watched. In most cases, this would be anywhere there are cash registers or money boxes, high end used office furniture, areas where high-value merchandise or commonly stolen merchandise is kept; the location of the safe; the business office; any doors; and warehouse areas.
Your surveillance cameras should be mounted at these key locations, ideally up near the ceiling, where you will get a better view of activity. Be sure that each camera is placed close to a power outlet so that it can be plugged in, or use an extension cord that is suspended out of the reach of people on floor level, both so that the cord is not a tripping hazard and people cannot unplug or damage the cord. Also keep cords out of the way of any merchandise or fixtures. Now you can set up your system.
Choosing a DVR System
For most businesses, a PC-based system makes the most sense. A special card is installed in your processor. It offers the convenience of reviewing footage right from the computer at your desk. This saves space, which is often lacking in smaller businesses, and money. Corporations with several branches or stores, or businesses that do not use PCs, frequently use dedicated DVRs. These are a more expensive option, but they hold more information.
The least expensive option is a DVD interface. There is much less memory, but the low cost makes it suitable for a small business or a new security system until you have the budget to upgrade. You will hook up the camera receiver to whichever DVR format you have. You may also need to install special software on your PC.
Getting Professional Assistance
Many systems are fairly simple to set up if you have some experience with computer hardware. If you don't, most dealers are happy to help you get set up. It may cost a little extra initially, but the peace of mind you will gain from knowing that you, your employees, and your assets are adequately protected will be well worth it.