Every day, criminals get away with crimes because surveillance systems are misconfigured or not working at all. Making sure that your security camera system is operating properly seems like such an obvious, routine task, but many business and home users simply set it and forget it, or make changes and don’t test them.
Here are a few common mistakes that are made frequently and could be prevented with more attention and testing.
Security System Mistakes that Could Cost You
Working cameras – those are important!
It may sound simple, but non-functioning cameras are a real problem out there. Has there been a power outage lately? Are they old? Were they there before you bought/leased the space? Regardless, you should make sure that each of your cameras is functioning properly at least once a quarter.
Cameras can hang, lose focus, or be fried by a power surge, and if you don’t check on them routinely, you won’t realize that they aren’t working until it is too late.
Is the DVR or NVR actually recording?
We always cringe when we hear this one. Something happens and there’s no video of it… but the system was on and working. Whoops, someone forgot to press record!
If you make any configuration changes, the power goes out, or someone else has been playing with the security system, always double check that it’s recording. We cannot stress this enough.
Is everything plugged in? You might be surprised!
I can’t tell you how many businesses and homes I’ve walked into and found security cameras completely unplugged from the DVR. This is particularly common in bars, restaurants, and other places where ownership may change relatively frequently or multiple contractors may have worked on the surveillance system. If you see unconnected coaxial/RG59 cable or DVR card dongles, don’t just ignore it.
We have seen cameras unplugged at the DVR or at the camera itself. Also, if there is an NVR involved, make sure it is connected to the network, and make sure hard drives are all plugged in and working so you capture the maximum amount of video without recording over old footage.
How long are you recording for? Is there enough space?
This is the dreaded scenario. Everything was working. The cameras were pointed in the right direction. The DVR was recording. But where’s the video? Uh oh, it was recorded over!
You should always make sure that your recording time and associated disk space match up so you can record the absolute maximum amount of video before the space is recycled. If you can’t record more than a few days of video, you may want to add additional hard drives or adjust the resolution and FPS, which we’ll talk about next, to accommodate longer recording periods.
This scenario can especially come into play if you are recording on motion detection and have a large variation in the amount of motion in your home or business from day to day.
Is your resolution and frames per second optimized?
Resolution and FPS play a huge roll in the clarity of the video, and the space that the video takes up on your recording device. Optimization is the key.
Depending on the cameras and DVR/NVR that you are using, you always want to optimize it so that you get the clearest and smoothest video possible while still being able to keep a good amount of video before your hard drive space is recycled.
Remember, if you don’t have the video because it was recorded over, you can’t catch the thief, but if the video is too low resolution and the frames per second is too low, the video will be of no use anyway. This is where investing in a high resolution, high FPS, high capacity DVR one time can save you all that heartache when something happens.
Are your CCTV cameras covering the right areas?
Was your surveillance system there when you moved in? Have you checked the areas that the cameras are covering? Were they installed to cover the old owner’s office, cash registers, etc? Is your layout different? If so, make sure to move and/or re-focus the cameras on the critical spots in your business or home.
Don’t forget to confirm that they are working and optimize the frame rates and resolution while you’re at it!
Are you using the right security cameras for the job?
How far away from the critical area is the camera? Is it high enough resolution to capture details at that distance? Consider upgrading if you don’t think you could identify a criminal on the video. Run some tests, you won’t regret it.
Is your home or business a potential night time target? Are your cameras infrared, and do they have sufficient infrared power to illuminate their entire field of view at night to capture details in complete darkness? Again, test it out. Can you make out yourself or what you are doing on the camera recording.
Are there enough cameras to cover your space? Entrances and exits may be enough, but many times having cameras from multiple angles and covering the entire area allow for a much better chance of catching criminal activity. You can use fisheye cameras to cover larger areas, and higher resolution box cameras to cover entrances and exits from both angles to catch details such as facial features, clothing, etc.
What are some mistakes you have made or witnessed?
We want to hear your stories! Comment and tell us about your funny, educational, or unfortunate surveillance camera system fail.