There is some good news for electrical contractors. In a tough economic climate where the opportunity to compete for large new projects may be few and far between, CCTV can create the ability to generate new business opportunities and give you a competitive edge.
The technology incorporated in the latest generation of cameras is so advanced that suitably qualified electrical contractors with minimal training should be able to effortless acquire the knowledge to install a CCTV system to a clients’ entire satisfaction. Regardless of the application, or whether the cameras are to be located indoors or outdoors, installation personnel working for electrical contractors are likely to be more than qualified to be able to install and commission a CCTV system. Not only that, good CCTV camera suppliers usually offer training services (sometimes free) on how to set-up and their professional security products in order to give you the specific knowledge you need.
The CCTV cameras
Entry level cameras are now available that offer up to 600 TV lines of resolution to deliver extremely detailed images with advanced low-light technology included to ensure that clear images can be obtained both day and night. Indeed, complete units featuring a camera and a built-in lens enclosed in a compact housing are now commonplace, both reducing the time taken to install and set-up.
Depending on the specific product, the latest cameras and domes for reputable manufacturers incorporate a number of technologies that make installation as easy as possible and ensure that the right features can be matched against the requirements of the end-user. These include:
Coaxial control – Multi-language on screen menus can now be accessed either locally or remotely, set up from the comfort of the control room via a coaxial control cable. Coaxial control allows both video and telemetry to be transmitted via the coaxial cable, giving full access to camera set-up and pan-tilt-zoom functions via a compatible digital video recorder. The technology offers the potential of cost savings through the reduction of cabling infrastructure, whilst providing flexibility for retro-fit applications by allowing existing equipment to be upgraded quickly and easily.
Noise reduction – Noise in CCTV images is one of the most common causes of video material to be considered unreliable as evidence. The latest noise reduction technologies enable the elimination of image noise in low-light conditions without creating ghosting or blurring. There is also the added bonus that such technology can save up to 70% of hard disk space on a digital video recorder, whilst maximising bandwidth when viewing the video over a network.
Progressive scan – This prevents motion artefacts spoiling the quality of video of fast moving objects, which can occur with standard CCTV cameras using the traditional ‘interlacing’ method of processing video frames.
Super dynamic range – This automatically lightens the dark areas within a scene whilst maintaining the brighter areas at the same level. This ensures that the dark areas become more visible allowing the operator to ‘view’ objects in the shadows.
Highlight compensation – This identifies areas of peak white, i.e. excessively bright area in the image, and neutralises them by inverting to black/grey. This enables the camera to effectively see past these areas, allowing the operator to view previously hidden details.
Digital image stabilisation (DIS) – This technology can negate the effects of the camera shaking because of high winds or building vibration.
Intelligent video analytics (IVA) – This includes optical tripwire and enter/exit direction detection whilst an ‘Appear/Disappear’ function can detect the movement of objects. IVA also has a scene change tampering function that creates an alert if, for example, paint is sprayed on a camera lens, or there is an unauthorised manual change of a camera angle.
Full duplex bi-directional audio – This provides the option of interactive communication between a camera’s location and a control room.
The above features do not ensure that CCTV systems are ‘plug and play’, but they can certainly help overcome some of the technical issues that may have previously deterred you from offering CCTV to your clients.
Out of the box surveillance solutions
For small CCTV projects, there are now competitively priced all-in-one solutions available. These include features and functions that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.
For example, a recent product designed for residential and small business applications, provides a perfectly matched combination of cameras, a monitor with a built-in silent running digital video recorder, plus all required cables, camera brackets and even the screws to facilitate easy installation. It also incorporates iPhone and mobile viewer support.
The four cameras included in this all-in-one surveillance solution are high resolution day/night items that can capture images of objects at night up to 16m away with the assistance of built-in infrared lighting. Also included is a 22” LCD monitor that incorporates a built-in eight-channel H.264 compression method digital video recorder and a VGA input for PC connection.
This product has been designed to be ‘plug and play and can be expanded, if required, to an eight camera system by purchasing extra cameras. It is equipped with an easy to use on-screen display menu to simplify set-up, whilst a mouse and remote control facility makes it extremely user-friendly. A free dynamic DNS service enables users to remotely view live or recorded images via a PC or mobile device such as an iPhone.
Security as a service
Offering ‘CCTV as a service’ is now a viable proposition for any electrical contractor looking to consolidate its relationship with existing clients by offering additional services, as well as maximising the value of each new contract. The equally good news is that CCTV manufacturers want to compete for your business, and will want to make it easy for you to offer CCTV to your clients. Take advantage of the free training on offer, and you will also have access to a free system design service and free technical support.