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Simon Adcock: Making your CCTV system work for you

Author: Liam Collins/16 October 2015/Categories: Blog

Ahead of the BSIA’s CCTV Seminar and Exhibition, which takes place in Central London on 12th November, Simon Adcock, Managing Director of CCTV specialist ATEC Fire & Security Ltd and Chairman of the BSIA’s CCTV Section, shares an insight into how users can ensure their CCTV system is fit for purpose.

Starting at the very beginning, ensuring that a CCTV system meets the needs of your business should begin with clearly defining what you need the system to do for you, and for all users, this means getting the right advice from the start. Like any business system, CCTV is usually purchased to address a business problem or risk. A professional installer will first ensure that problem is understood, and will then design and install the system to address it. Usually, end-users have specific requirements of their CCTV; perhaps they need to ensure that faces can be recognised or car number plates can be read. Such users should beware of any proposal that uses non-committal phrases such as “will provide a view of…” these systems may not provide the required results.

Setting out clear Operational Requirements is the most important consideration to make when sourcing a new or upgraded CCTV system. Simply put, the Operational Requirement is the intended purpose of the CCTV system as a whole, as well as each specific camera it contains. There are well established methodologies for doing this. More often than not, the “target” is a person and common operational requirements are “identify” “recognise”, “monitor” and “detect”, each of which requires a minimum resolution to achieve.

So, in order to ensure that business needs are met, what should users be looking for in a potential supplier? First, a thorough understanding of the operational requirements model, preferably reflected in an established business process. If you don’t have the skills to develop and document your own operational requirement, then a good supplier should be able to give you a lot of help, and may even be willing to do this for you.

Once the operational requirement has been defined, the system designer can set about selecting and positioning cameras and the equipment that the end user will need to view, record, review and export images. A professional designer will consider camera resolution, lighting, lens angles and apertures, shutter speeds, frame rates to ensure that each camera, and the system as a whole, meet the operational requirement. A good supplier should be prepared to guarantee the system performance.

Having an understanding of current regulation and best practice recommendation can help ensure that the system meets the intended purpose and that you get the best value from it. Following best practice guidelines helps to guarantee that the purpose of the system (operational requirement) is fully understood, the system is designed to meet this requirement, and – once implemented – the system is tested against the operational requirement.

If you have the time and want to become a CCTV best practice expert, or just to gain a background understanding, then I recommend:

The Home Office CCTV Operational Requirements Manual

The BSIA Code of Practice for the planning, design, installation and operation of CCTV systems

Slightly heavier going are the IEC standards (62676)

Having said that, BSIA installers – and especially those that take an active role in the CCTV Section committee – work, live and breathe best practice and are ideally placed to advise you.

Simon will be presenting on End User Needs – Operational Requirements Explained at the BSIA’s CCTV Seminar and Exhibition, taking place on 12th November at The Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, Westminster.


Those wishing to attend the event can register for free delegate places online via the following link:



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