Make CCTV Work for You

By Deborah L. O’Mara | Jan 15, 2006
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In case you haven’t noticed, the market for closed-circuit television surveillance (CCTV) is through the roof. In cities and municipalities across the country, local governments are specifying CCTV for security, supervision, recordkeeping and general surveillance. For traffic incidents, transportation departments are deploying cameras at problem intersections and in buses. In police and sheriff vehicles, cameras partner with law enforcement officials and capture evidence. In process monitoring and control at an industrial site, CCTV adds instant manpower and supervision. In every vertical market, CCTV is working for the end-user.

CCTV plays a much larger role than ever before. For example, lenses from Rainbow CCTV, Irvine, Calif., are being used by a foreign currency provider in the United Kingdom. Rainbow’s 5–50mm varifocal auto-iris lenses are part of a CCTV solution in which the accuracy of tellers at branches of FX Currency Services is monitored by cameras and a digital recording system.

The application uses a pair of color cameras operating at 16 frames per second at each teller location. While one camera focuses on the teller, currency and counting machine, the other shows an image of the written instructions that accompany the transaction request.

CCTV has adapted to almost any application, and both size and price continue to tumble downward. Cameras can be wired with cabling or fiber optics and wireless is emerging strong.

Single black and white or color (which have dropped dramatically in price) cameras can be poised on entrances and exits for security and management purposes; networked cameras adeptly negotiate the Ethernet and aid the facility manager; day/night cameras and infrared illumination capture activity in little or no light—all while providing the most important end result: positive identification.

Lens selection is critical in deploying effective surveillance and manufacturers have many free tools available to help contractors achieve the proper specification.

Ramon Rodrigo, Extreme CCTV Surveillance Systems, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, said the company offers charts and other tools to help contractors select the proper lens for its integrated day/night cameras based on camera type (1/3-inch, 1/2-inch), lens focal length, and the horizontal and vertical view field required.

Lens calculators are also common on Web sites for instant assistance. Users can enter the object distance, the horizontal view needed in feet and then click “calculate” to arrive at the focal length lens needed for the application.

In addition to lens calculators, special software can aid in the design and installation of CCTV and surveillance systems. TOA Electronics Inc., San Francisco, offers Viewer Simulation Software, which provides a virtual monitor view of various TOA cameras, allowing flexibility to adjust parameters and view a virtual real-time simulation.

“This tool enables our customers to configure various design parameters and select the options most suitable for their application,” said Allan Lamberti, director of sales, TOA.

Manufacturers and distributors are more than willing to aid in selecting the correct camera, lens, dome or other equipment for the job so it can be specified professionally. All you have to do is ask.

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or [email protected]. 

About The Author

O’MARA writes about security, life safety and systems integration and is managing director of DLO Communications. She can be reached at [email protected] or 773.414.3573.

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