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News

Specification Considerations For Outdoor Surveillance Systems

Axis Communications : 22 March, 2010  (Special Report)
Phil Doyle, Axis Communications' UK and Ireland Managing Director provides some insight into how to specify outdoor surveillance systems to ensure resilient security in harsh conditions with a wide spectrum of variables
Specification Considerations For Outdoor Surveillance Systems
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With crime on the rise, more and more businesses are realising the importance of a robust and tamper-proof outdoor surveillance system. In fact, IMS Research, a supplier of market research for the electronics industry, forecasts long-term double digit revenue growth for applications that require outdoor surveillance as resilient, efficient outdoor surveillance climbs higher up the priorities list of security professionals.

There are many factors to consider when specifying a secure and reliable outdoor surveillance system as, unlike indoor locations where most variables can be held within narrow and predictable ranges, outdoor locations push video surveillance equipment to its absolute limits.

An outdoor camera needs to be able to withstand the ever-changing elements. It takes a very robust camera to be able to cope with the full assault of the weather - from freezing snow storms to dusty, hot conditions. As these cameras are often located in difficult to reach places, their reliability is vital as maintenance or replacement can be expensive, time-consuming and difficult. Furthermore, those systems that fail to deliver on performance when faced with extremes of weather and temperature simply aren't doing their job, leaving the business at risk of an extremely serious security risk.

Outdoor surveillance equipment must be designed with these factors in mind, and built with the ability to withstand the toughest conditions The most common factors to consider include water, dust and pollution and extremes in temperature. For this reason it is important to prevent water ingress by using an Ingress Protection (IP) rated housing to ensure that the equipment does not suffer water damage. IP ratings are given to outdoor surveillance equipment that meets specific criteria for resistance to water and dust.

It is not enough to be able to operate in harsh conditions, an outdoor camera needs to deliver high quality images whilst doing so. High frame rates are particularly important when dealing with varying lighting conditions and fast moving subjects. In outdoor applications such as car parks, airports and train stations where it is crucial to be able to clearly identify people and vehicles image quality is especially important.

Security cameras also need to be able to cope with all levels of lighting from the brightest daylight to the darkest night, and do this by using infrared technology at night and iris control in bright sunlight to ensure exceptional image quality at all times. Constantly changing light conditions or heavy shadows can adversely affect your resulting image quality if the wrong type of camera is deployed.

By their very nature, surveillance cameras can be unpopular with individuals that do not want their actions monitored. It is therefore important for cameras to be able to resist attempts to disable their function using hardened casings, active tampering alarms and vandal resistant design. It also helps to have equipment that is unobtrusive and discreet, so as not to draw unwanted attention.

The needs of the security consultants and integrators must also be kept in mind when choosing an outdoor camera. The need to be able to competitively install, commission and support the systems you are recommending and selling is very important. As well as being resilient and producing excellent image quality, an outdoor surveillance solution needs to be easy to install, saving time and resources. Whether a site needs five or five hundred cameras, installation is critical and in large-scale systems with hundreds of cameras, all time-savings during installation significantly reduce the system cost. The easier the installation and configuration, the bigger the benefits to both customer and installer.

So whatever, the industry, whether it be education, government or retail, outdoor surveillance is just as essential to the overall picture as the indoor system, in some cases, more so. Each outdoor application has its individual demands, but successful video surveillance demands suitable image quality and equipment reliability regardless of conditions, as well as cost-effective installation and user-friendly operation.
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