The first step in solving any problem is a thorough needs analysis. Video Surveillance Camera selection and Placement is no different. The first part is easy: defining whether the camera is a replacement for an existing camera or a new camera where one does not now exist.

One should not assume that because a camera is in a given location or a specific TYPE camera is in a given location, one just like it “only newer” should be used. PTZ cameras are a perfect example. In the days of analog, PTZ cameras were usually set to “pan” slowly left to right in a sweeping motion. Murphy’s law often prevailed and the incident that happened was out of view of the camera because the camera was pointing right when the incident happened in the left Field of View. Further, it was not uncommon for one student to stand beneath and watch the camera while their “cohort” stole a backpack or broke into a car in the parking lot outside the camera’s current field of view. So, unless there is a guard or other Security Personnel monitoring this camera, it now makes financial sense to replace this PTZ with two Megapixel (MP) cameras. This will allow all 180 degrees to be viewed simultaneously, two MP cameras cost less than a single PTZ and there is less maintenance (no moving parts: motor, gimbal, etc.).

Additionally, the environment may have changed drastically since the old camera was put in. Trees grow taller and fill out and can obstruct view over a period of 5 years.

Is the camera going to be indoors or outdoors? If so, an IP66 rated camera or conversion mount will be required. IP stands for “Ingress Protection”. The first number is for dust and the second moisture. A camera placed outside should be rated at least IP66.

What is the surface made of that the camera will be mounted to? Some cameras have integral mounts such as the Advidia A-45. Others will require an outdoor mounting bracket (ODMB) to be ordered along with an ADVIDA A-54 for instance to make it outdoor rated by providing a gasket. Even drop ceiling tiles often have choices of a flush mount, exposing only the vandal dome.

Form Factor: Aesthetics often play a factor. Some believe that a “bullet” form factor camera looks more “detentional” than a dome camera and object to using one because of how it will look. Others prefer bullet form factor cameras so that potential thieves can see exactly where the camera is aimed and that their activities in that area are being observed. This is why one might choose an A-45 over an A-54 for example or vice versa.

Need for Night Vision: Does the application call for ability to see in reduced light/no light? If so, a camera with Infrared (IR) Illuminators (e.g. A-47 should be chosen rather than its counterpart A-46 which does not have the IR).

Orientation of the camera: Pull out the SmartPhone, use the compass and determine which hallways or views are Easterly or Westerly facing. These spots will be backlit during early morning and afternoon hours (respectively) and a camera with Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) such as the A-54 or A-34 should be selected. WDR “tones down” the backlight and increases the darker area so that details may be seen rather than a silhouette.

Is the camera to be placed higher than 12′? If so, a camera with remote focus such as the A-45 or A-54 should be used. Reason being, a scissor lift will be required to access the camera. Scissor lifts rented, delivered and then picked up are hundreds of dollars. If you select a camera WITHOUT remote focus, you will be renting a lift. Conversely, if you simply went ahead and went with the A-54 or A-45, you could refocus the camera from Monitor Station or V.I. Monitor.

Is there a need for “recording on the edge” or a “mission critical” camera that needs to continue recording for a brief period of time if something happened in the I.T. closet or power was lost to the switch, dropping the Power Over Ethernet? If so, a camera with SD card support such as the B-33 should be used with a small Uninterruptible Power Supply. This way, even if the power was intentionally disrupted (such as prior to a robbery) the video would still be recorded to the SD Card.

Does the application require audio? Although laws vary from State to State, audio recording is often legal (such as during a public Property Appraisal District hearing). If so, a camera such as the A-54 should be used that has an integral 3.5mm microphone input.

So, while camera selection varies greatly and even two “experts” might disagree with the camera selection, the underlying point is that the APPLICATION drives the camera selection; not vice versa.