Understanding Campus Surveillance System Technology

In the past few years IP Surveillance Systems have become the mainstay of K-12 and Higher Education institutions. In this article we will discuss the technology used in these systems and why schools have implemented them. Most importantly schools have specific needs that must be met with their video surveillance systems, as we take a look at those factors take note of what features would best fit your needs.

The migration from Analog to IP Cameras has already begun; school campuses nationwide have already started replacing the majority if not all of their Analog Cameras with Megapixel IP Cameras. Why is this, the major factor is picture quality and clarity? For the same reasons many people have HD Flat Panel Televisions in their home the same goes for Security Cameras. Companies and government entities that use video surveillance cameras want HD video so they get a nice, crisp picture. To obtain this high quality video you will need to switch to an IP Camera with HD or better quality performance to ensure you are getting what you want. There are multiple manufacturers of Megapixel IP Cameras and these products are readily available in the security and surveillance marketplace. Campuses that have existing analog cameras that they want to use until their lifespan ends should consider getting rid of their DVR, replacing it with an NVR and using a Video Server/Encoder. The use of a Video Server/Encoder allows an analog video stream to be converted to a digital signal to be plugged directly into a switch or server, in this configuration coax cable is only used to connect the cameras to the Video Server/Encoder.

Choosing the right Network Video Recorder (NVR), Video Management Software (VMS) is a critical piece to the Video Surveillance System. My advice is to let the need drive the technology and make sure the network infrastructure is in place to support the system you’re going to put in. Just like IP Cameras there are multiple NVR, VMS manufacturers in the marketplace that will be more than willing to let you see a live demonstration of their software. As a Campus Security professional there is an abundance of technology available so be sure to have the manufacturer send out a representative to your work site and walk you and your staff through the functions and features of the NVR software. As a Security Professional a few major factors in considering a potential NVR solution would include, where the product is made, the USA or abroad. Where is the technical support team, is it located in the USA, if not, does the staff speak English well enough for you to understand them if there is an issue or incident you need assistance with?

Cost is probably the largest factor in choosing an NVR solution and in the Security Industry you typically get what you pay for. Many of the more well-known brands cost more than their competitors and that is usually for one or more good reasons, specifically they offer a high level of available technical support and a strong network engineering backbone. Remember, the person who will show up at your facility to perform a demonstration is going to be a well trained professional.

After your system is installed and the “sale” is made, will they be there to support you if any problems arise, typically not as their role is to generate sales? The people who you will be speaking with the most are going to be the technical support and engineering staff so make sure you are absolutely comfortable working with them. In conclusion, do your homework and inspect what you expect. Have IP Camera manufacturers send you demo cameras to test for 3-4 weeks and do the same with the NVR manufacturers. Call the technical support staff of each potential company you want to do business with and ask questions, time their response and decide for yourself if they are going to be able to support your campuses needs. Lastly, make the IP Camera/NVR manufacturers give you a list of references to call. Contact the references and see for yourself if the same promises that are being made to you have been delivered to their existing customers.