As more and more CCTV cameras are deployed in safe city networks, at residential and business sites, in industrial complexes and in moving vehicles, taking advantage of new and smarter security technology is becoming vital, says Mark Chertkow, MD of Graphic Image Technologies (GIT).
In the control room, the heart of any security operation, making use of enterprise grade software is crucial to facilitate more efficient monitoring of multiple video gateways, and deliver a more proactive, responsive, effective and auditable service to customers.
As security awareness grows and technology advances, the number of customers requiring the services of security firms is growing and more surveillance cameras, with varying levels of functionality, are being deployed.
But having a CCTV surveillance solution in place is pointless if you can’t monitor it and respond in a timely and effective manner. It is also becoming increasingly important for security service providers to be able to provide customers with the assurance that the right procedures were followed and policies implemented. This is difficult to do with entry level control room solutions.
Limitations on management, auditability
In typical surveillance implementations, servers, also known as video gateways, are deployed to record video from security cameras, stream live or recorded video to remote users, monitor sensors, interface with GPS tracking systems and notify users if problems are detected.
They also allow users to control on-site pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) cameras and other activators (for example arming or disarming a lock based on audio-visual input). A challenge arises, however, when many of these video gateways need to be monitored by dozens of staff in a control centre.
The limitation of security monitoring solutions meant for management of a small number of video streams and inputs is that the alerts from these feeds cannot be intelligently routed. In addition, procedures related to the type of alert do not accompany the alert, nor can the actions or activities of personnel responding to the alert be recorded for later audit or analysis.
To do this, a more powerful server-based, enterprise-level management solution with a database is needed.
Grouping of video gateways, customisation of the video field
The benefit of these enterprise-strength security control room solutions is that the server retrieves the data from the video gateways, stores it in its database and then makes this data accessible to multiple operators simultaneously.
The server also manages the alarm and notification system, enabling staff to, for instance, view live and recorded video from multiple sites, locate and monitor fleets of commercial vehicles, and receive immediate notifications about circumstances that require their attention.
But perhaps most importantly, a server-based control centre solution with the right intelligence will facilitate grouping of gateways to simplify the monitoring process, and allow customisation of the video field so users can view multiple streams in various sizes. Administrators can also limit users’ access to certain groups of video streams and information, securing the privacy of individual customers.
Features users need
In selecting a control centre solution, look out for efficient and comprehensive CCTV alarm handling. This can be facilitated by functionality that allows automatic assignment of certain alarms to specific staff members.
At the same time, the system needs to be flexible enough to allow for reassignment of responsibility for handling an alarm on-the-fly. Managers should be able to easily monitor the entire alarm-handling process, seeing the current status of each alarm and a rundown of how it has been handled.
For optimal performance, identify technologies that take into consideration the unique infrastructure limitations of remote locations, as well as other issues such as bandwidth constraints and costs, and demand for fast rollout.  In particular, look out for DVR technology that can make use of wireless and 3G connectivity options, and incorporates the best compression technologies.
The bottom line, however, is that the ability to intercept alerts and trigger alarms is only the first step. How the incident is handled is the real measure of the service. Response can be complex, but it must be effective for security to have any effect. Having the right software in place to ensure alerts will be handled in the most efficient and appropriate way can make all the difference.