Just for the Record

Customer requirements help narrow the video recording field

There are a variety of solutions for recording video, including cameras and encoders with built-in storage; embedded or PC-based DVRs, NVRs and cameras; and encoders that stream direct to storage without any intervening hardware.

The customer’s requirements help to narrow the field during the selection process. The amount of cameras, the number of facilities, the communications infrastructure, the alarm handling needs and the degree of integration with other systems, among other factors, are important when designing a system.

Solutions for Common Applications
Smaller systems with just a few analog cameras often need only a basic plug-and-play recorder. For other small applications, a secure digital flash memory card that can store days of recorded video in the camera or encoder is adequate.

A customer who has analog cameras installed and wants to expand the system with IP cameras will benefit from a hybrid DVR. These DVRs can record video from both analog and IP cameras and display the video from each on one monitor. A hybrid system with H.264 compression will reduce the amount of storage required for recorded video.

For larger systems or customers that need continuous recording at the highest resolution and frame rate, it may be best to take advantage of direct attached storage or storage area networks, which can hold large amounts of data and are more cost effective.

A PC-based DVR or NVR may be required for customers who need more extensive alarming and interface capabilities or integration with other systems, such as access control platforms, alarm panels or license plate capture equipment. More advanced embedded devices also can provide this functionality with just one unit to set up, eliminating the need for the separate server, PC client and storage components that increase installation times by 50 percent. Embedded systems also provide the benefit of reduced maintenance costs, as there are no operating system patches or anti-virus software to install and manage.

Management Companies Get an Upgrade
The ability to centrally operate multiple recording solutions across a range of locations was one of the key reasons security integrator The Safeguard System Inc. selected a Bosch DVR-based solution for Pizza Properties Inc. and QSR Burgers LLC. The restaurant franchise management companies recently upgraded their video surveillance systems from VCRbased to DVR-based recording.

The franchise owners expanded camera coverage in their 40 pizza and family entertainment locations and 34 fast food hamburger dining establishments throughout Texas, while also switching from VCR to DVR technology. Now, each pizza and family entertainment restaurant has 13 cameras that record video to a Bosch DVR. The cameras capture video at point of sale terminals, in game rooms, in the pizzerias and outside offices, near safes and surrounding the perimeters. Video is recorded by the DVRs when motion is detected. As a result, video in high-activity areas, such as the game rooms, is recorded regularly, while video in areas with less activity, such as outside the restaurant offices, is recorded less frequently.

This ensures the DVRs have adequate storage space for important video that may need to be reviewed by company management.

“By installing 12- and 18-channel DVRs in the restaurants, we built in flexibility for expanding the systems,” said Nick Thompson, manager of commercial sales installation at The Safeguard System. “Store employees no longer need to spend time switching cassette tapes, and management does not need to rely on restaurant employees to ensure video is recorded.”

Looking Back
With DVRs, archiving video also is more user friendly, making it easier for the franchise management companies to provide video as evidence in legal proceedings if necessary. Images are displayed with the date, time, location and camera name, which can be very valuable in the event of a claimed slip and fall accident.

“With the technology we had in place prior to the upgraded system, we would often miss critical points of an incident in one of the restaurants,” said Sharon Voelz, vice president of human resources and risk management at Pizza Properties and QSR Burgers. “The new cameras and DVRs provide better image quality, making the recorded video more useful when we need to investigate an occurrence.”

The DVRs’ user interface allows live and recorded images from multiple locations to be viewed from a single PC. Select company employees and the companies’ external legal counsel can view several cameras at once or watch full-screen video from a specific camera via their own computers. They also can search the recorded video based on the date and time of an event or by using other criteria to quickly find incidents of concern. This eliminates timeconsuming manual searches.

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of Security Today.

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