We recently conducted a very quick comparison between two megapixel CCTV cameras of the same make in a typical office environment.
We compared a 1.3 megapixel camera to a 2.0 megapixel camera with the only difference the focal length of the camera lens. As demonstrated in the image below, the camera views are very similar.
What separates a good CCTV camera from a poor one is the level of detail available in the recorded image. The differences are often only evident when cameras are compared in a live environment as we have done in this example.
The logical assumption will be that the 2.0 megapixel camera would be better because it has more pixels.
In terms of detail, the image on the left is far better. The colour of the floor tiles is more accurately represented and the specks in the tiles are clear and well defined as are the grout lines. With the 2.0 megapixel camera, the tile colour is washed out and the specks are no longer visible.
The ceiling lights are well reflected in the image on the left, so well in fact the egg crate of the light fitting can also be clearly seen. In the image on the right, these reflections are far less clear and seem blurry in comparison.
In this instance, the 1.3 megapixel camera is a far better camera. It is also a more expensive camera which might surprise some people.
So more pixels is not necessarily better when it comes to CCTV cameras. Camera quality and lens selection will have a far bigger impact on the quality of the recorded image than just how many pixels there are.
We were engaged recently to assist a client who had experienced a series of intrusions that had caused significant disruption to their business.
The risk assessment process is designed to not only identify vulnerabilities and areas for improvement, it should also challenge convention. We question pretty much everything that can impact the security of the premises and the safety of their people.
During the risk assessment process, we identified that our client was spending $10,000 a year for alarm response services. This was as a result of their alarm system needlessly activating 5 or 6 times a week and security procedures dictated a security patrol attend every alarm activation.
While we endorse the security response procedure, if this is happening so often and at such great expense, there is a problem somewhere. Interestingly, the client had assumed this was somewhat normal as “it had always been like that”.
This is not an uncommon issue. If you don’t understand how security should work for you, how would you know otherwise? In larger organisations, these sorts of things are often never challenged because they are just assumed to be normal operating expenses.
I can confidently say there is nothing normal about annual patrol bills of that size or alarm systems that alarm so frequently. So while we look for vulnerabilities and opportunities for improvement, the commercial impact to the business must also be considered.
The review process not only identifies issues such as these, it explains to the client exactly what needs to be done to overcome them.
It highlights just one advantage of having an independent expert review a business’s security practices and procedures.
PSIM (Pee-Sim) is an acronym for Physical Security Information Management which relates to a software platform that integrates disparate building and security systems into a common command and control centre. The term PSIM is generic in much the same way as BMS is within the controls sector.
As the name suggests, PSIM has predominantly been a physical security platform. The application was derived from a need to manage sensors from a variety of security platforms via a single user interface.
Most PSIM platforms are open architecture, meaning they can integrate virtually any make or model or type of building system or sensor. Once integrated, systems can be controlled and responses managed as if all installed systems were from a single source.
Once control is centralised, it allows highly structured and coordinated (often automated) responses to events (alarm or otherwise) to minimise the requirement for operator input. These responses are rules based and structured specifically around the installed environment.
The upside of a PSIM deployment can be significant, particularly for multi-site or campus environments. Aside from managing security better, they also bring opportunities to generate return on investment which is something that has not traditionally been associated with security.
They can be complex to understand, so as always, if there are any questions, drop me an email and I will be happy to help you out.
This is a question I get asked all the time and it’s a valid question. However, the question should be rephrased to read; Which CCTV camera is best for my application and my environment?
The choice of CCTV cameras in Australia is extensive. You literally have thousands of choices that range from a $9.99 camera kit on eBay to specialist cameras that cost tens of thousands of dollars. They all fall into the CCTV camera basket, yet for a whole variety of reasons couldn’t be more different.
So before you even contemplate buying CCTV cameras, there are a few questions that need to be answered first.
What is the purpose of the cameras?
Are they to identify people or just observe?
When you review footage of an incident, what do you expect to see?
What is the environment like that they will be installed in?
Are they for internal or external use?
Will they be exposed to morning or afternoon sun?
Which way will they face?
At what height will they be positioned?
Do they need to work at night?
What is the lighting like where they will be installed?
Once these and other points have been qualified, you can then start to consider technologies, camera styles and types:
IP or analogue?
HD or megapixel?
Fixed lens or varifocal?
Dome camera or full body?
Weather-proof or vandal-proof housings?
The choices and options are endless so the trick is to find the right cameras that will give you the outcome you need.
The amount of time spent on camera selection should directly relate to the level of importance placed on their function and the required outcomes. In other words, if CCTV is important to you, invest in it to make sure you get a good result.
If you are in the market for new security systems, you will no doubt start to engage with contractors and suppliers to get proposals for the works. You will already have an idea of what you want to achieve, but probably aren’t sure exactly what you need or how to go about it.
Each vendor you engage with will make a recommendation to you. Some product vendors will recommend a product or solution to you because that is what they sell. Other recommendations will be based on what is genuinely best for you. The challenge for you will be to determine which is which and ultimately which proposal is best for you.
This is where the confusion often starts.
If you are not particularly strong technically and find it difficult to differentiate between the offers, go back and revisit the specific goals of the project. What exactly was it you wanted to achieve from the new security system?
A consultant I met with recently from an allied industry makes all his purchasing decisions on performance rather that product or specification based criteria. The more I think about it, the more I agree with him.
The technologies and brands of equipment used are not particularly important other than they should be of a good standard and fit for purpose. It should only ever be about the outcome.
For example, if you are a retailer and shrinkage is an issue, your outcome could be something like:
Be able to identify and prosecute any person that steals from my store.
For an industrial site, it could be:
Detect any person that enters our storage yard after hours.
Once the project outcome has been clearly defined, ensure the quoting companies understand it. Those companies that are willing to guarantee your outcome are the companies I would recommend you engage with. Exactly how they achieve it is not really important.
As always, if you are unsure, drop me an email or give me a call and I will point you in the right direction.
Enterprise security is a term common to business but has traditionally related more to Information Technologies rather than physical security.
Enterprise security combines planning, policy and procedures to not only mitigate risk in the business but to align security with business optimisation strategies. Enterprise security also has a place in the physical security space and is applied using similar principles.
In fact, when security is integrated at enterprise level, it can start to generate return on investment (ROI) as opposed to being the traditional cost centre we have known it to be. There are tremendous advantages for looking past what a traditional security system looks like and considering it to being more of a business tool.
For example, these days we can integrate security systems not only with CCTV and alarms, but also:
Time & Attendance
BMS & Lighting (to take advantage of the available energy savings)
Fire and other traditional building systems
With the emergence of solutions such as PSIM, security is positioning itself as the lead application in gaining operational efficiencies, greater policy enforcement and increased situational awareness across the enterprise.
For large or multi-site organisations, this can mean efficiency gains and cost savings for a variety of business units.
CCTV is primarily an evidentiary and investigative tool. This is simply because most security breaches or incidents are detected after the event has occurred.
When an incident does occur, naturally you will want to have the best quality information available to you. That is a pretty obvious statement, but achieving that outcome is not as simple as fixing a camera to a wall.
In the local market, there are literally dozens of suppliers to source CCTV equipment from. This will include electrical wholesalers, furniture and household retailers, specialist CCTV suppliers, electrical and security contractors and even eBay all sell CCTV equipment.
In Australia alone, you are likely to have a choice of several hundred cameras available to you, all that will look they could do the job. But camera selection is probably the single most important factor in achieving a good outcome with CCTV, and if you get it wrong, there is a good chance you will be disappointed.
So what cameras should you use? Fixed or Pan/Tilt/Zoom? Analogue or Digital? Megapixel or HD? Day/Night or Low Light? Where should they be positioned? What is the best field of view and what lens will suit that view? What are the lighting conditions like and will they suit the selected cameras?
Before you can answer any of these questions, you need to understand what the expected outcomes of installing CCTV are.
Is it to identify people that are unknown to the business or neighbourhood?
Is it to have information of a standard that could be used to prosecute someone?
Is it to observe or detect possible criminal behaviour?
Is it for risk mitigation?
Are they to be used at night as well as during the day?
When you go to playback vision of the incident, what do you expect to see? If it’s something better than the fuzzy images seen on Crime Stoppers each night, you are probably going to need some guidance.
Matryx Consulting has been awarded the contract to design and document a Safe City CCTV solution for the city of Sunbury, Victoria.
We will be working closely with the Hume City Council steering committee to come up with the best possible solution to suit the community, traders and Sunbury Police.
The project is to commence immediately with the aim of appointing a security contractor to undertake the supply and installation of the final solution before the end of this financial year.
Matryx Consulting has secured two new projects in Sydney.
One is a high-security facility that will require the very best in detection, access control, CCTV and biometrics technologies to secure the premises and those who use it at all times.
The second is a large scale development where Matryx will advise on a range of technologies to allow the client to automate many of the security and business functions with the complex.