The process of setting up an effective video-surveillance system hinges on a keen understanding of the layout, traffic patterns, and other spatial nuances of the piece of property you want to protect. With those things in mind, you can then focus on balancing your surveillance budget with available equipment on the market. With so many options on the market—from day/night cameras, pan/tilt/zoom cameras, and high definition cameras—it can be a daunting task to find the right combination. Luckily, there are a few general guidelines that security experts endorse. And, once those guidelines are factored in, configuring your surveillance system should be a simple matter.
Cover the entire perimeter
A comprehensive surveillance system will create multiple layers of protection, like concentric rings. The first layer of protection should be a 360-degree view of the entire perimeter, showing all possible entry and exit points. Notice how that didn't say the main entry and exit points, but 'all possible?' Chances are good that if an intruder targets your property, it won't be through the front door. Your surveillance system should be able to track someone's every step across the property.
Use a combination of openly-visible and hidden cameras
Surveillance cameras have a known impact on crime prevention. Where cameras are visible, intruders perceive a higher risk of getting caught. Most are turned away by the visible presence of a surveillance system. Still, there are those few who will try to minimize the risk by disabling the surveillance system either by cutting power an individual camera or the entire property. Hidden cameras are not about entrapment, they are put in place to make sure the misdeeds of even the most determined thieves get documented.
Place surveillance cameras out of reach
The prospect of disabling cameras should provide an added degree of difficulty for an intruder. Consider trees, light posts, the eaves of buildings—any spot the gives the desired camera coverage and elevates the camera to a height of at least nine feet is ideal.
Point the middle layer of surveillance at the perimeter layer
Although you’ll want the perimeter layer pointed inward with enough coverage to see the entire property, at least some of the middle layer cameras—especially the hidden ones—should point outward, even straight back at perimeter camera placements. Doing so provides redundancy in the field of coverage, and it may document an intruder's attempt to disable perimeter cameras, further incriminating them.
Cover blind spots with narrow-focus cameras
Typically, spaces become more complex the closer you get to the center. Places like hallways, corridors between buildings, stairways, and individual rooms are often obscured from the perimeter and middle layers of the surveillance system. To make sure those blind spots are covered, use stationary cameras with a focus range between 45 and 75 degrees.
All this may seem like the makings of a very labor intensive project. That’s true. It is, but doing it right the first time is well worth the effort. Fortunately, the monitoring part of the equation could not be easier. Old CCTV surveillance systems typically employed a single monitoring station comprised of several different monitoring screens that had to be manned round-the-clock by at least one security worker. Today’s IP-based surveillance systems can be monitored from any computer or mobile device. Remote video monitoring eliminates the need for expensive and limited monitoring stations, and frees up budget for camera placements while enabling remote access to camera views, audio recordings, Pan/Tilt/Zoom controls and video analytics. Those analytics features help inform how well your system configuration is working over time.