Call it a sign of the timeS; there’s much more closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance activity. An electrical contractor based in the southeast called to ask me more about this market, and it wouldn’t be the first time a contractor queried me about this niche. CCTV installation is a smart move for any electrical contractor, especially when you consider where this market is headed.

CCTV continues to grow and is expected to increase manufacturer/wholesale revenues to nearly $4 billion by 2007, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan, San Jose, Calif. In fact, traditional systems integrators, according to a recent report by security installing trade publication Security Distributing & Marketing magazine, logged some 18 percent of their revenues in 2001 alone from CCTV.

Innovation and flexibility in application keeps CCTV the product niche to ‘watch.’ There’s been a tremendous price drop in black-and-white and color cameras. Units are smaller and smarter, some with built-in motion detection and other sensing capabilities that can be interfaced with alarm detection. CCTV can also work seamlessly with access control, and control via the personal computer and World Wide Web is just the crux of what’s destined to continue in video innovation.

Along with the price decline has come a shift in manufacturers’ attitude. They are beginning to see more interest by electrical contractors and want to be able to fulfill their needs, whether it’s surveillance at a small “Mom and Pop” operation or a larger retail chain.

Pre-packaged sells

One of the easiest ways for contractors to get started in surveillance is to check out the packaged products or system components that make it nearly possible to install CCTV out of the box. Picture this: you crack open the box from the distributor and miraculously, everything you need for the CCTV installation is inside. There’s a camera, mounting bracket, cabling, lens and more.

Susan Weedin, product sales manager-Imaging Systems, Pelco, Clovis, Calif., said ease of installation is key to its surveillance packages. Pelco offers a line of imaging products that can be ordered as an ImagePak or CameraPak. Specified when ordering, ImagePak includes a camera, lens, enclosure and mount. “We install the camera and lens into the enclosure, back-focus the camera and add a feed-through wiring harness for ease of installation, at no additional charge.”

Packaged systems are not just for small jobs or one-camera jobs. For those who want to go the next level and have more area to protect, there are also products for the application.

“The advantage of packaged systems is that everything is pre-planned and included for installation,” said Michael Shatzkin, director of marketing, CSI-Speco, Amityville, N.Y. “Everything the customer needs is in the box, with the specification considered. It’s perfect for the electrical contractor just getting their feet wet or someone who may be a CCTV novice.”

Planning, especially with packaged systems, takes precedence.

“You have to decide which type of system is best for the application,” Shatzkin continued. “As with any security application, you have to focus on what you are trying to achieve. For example, are you simply trying to observe an area overall, or do you need to see details? The environment for deployment is critical.”

CCTV systems continue to incorporate state-of-the-art features, with many of the new systems packages on the market offering the latest and most popular ones.

Digital network camera systems with built-in Web servers have a following as well, according to Dave Walton, national marketing communications manager, JVC Professional Products Company, Wayne, N.J.

“It’s the equivalent of a PC system built into the camera. All you need is a network connection. You can connect to an existing Ethernet network and assign the camera an IP address. Direct Internet connections can be accomplished by adding a router and a global IP address. Cameras with FTP or file transfer protocol features allow the cameras to send images to a larger server,” he said.

Innovation in CCTV overall is a plus for the electrical contractor, he said. “Through technology, we are beginning to work around any cabling issues, using the wiring that already exists.” EC

O’MARA is president of DLO Communications Inc., in Park Ridge, Ill., and may be reached at 847.384.1916.