Video is one of the most valuable innovations in security in recent years. When you have an asset like a whole establishment that needs a modern security system, a video feed is a good start. But what happens when it fails? Security technology needs periodic maintenance, and even then it is not 100% fool-proof.
That being said, knowing the basics of avoiding such problems is a good way to start ensuring that your security system is functional for a long period of time. This will give you the assurance that you need, and you’ll also reap the fruit of this investment in the long run.
In this article, we’ll discuss an important aspect of security system maintenance: How to prevent video loss. For tech-savvy people, this might be a piece of cake, but if you are not so well-versed in technology at all, this will be a useful guide in helping you figure out every nook and cranny of video security.
When a security system is installed, you have to consider common sources of failure incidents. This is especially true for the most common problems, which are:
-Sudden power failure
-Software glitches or incompatibility
You need to have a clear understanding of how the video feed travels through the system so you can easily troubleshoot the problems that might arise and result in a video loss. Normally, a good video security system has multiple devices in place that perform an important role. For example, a Power over Ethernet (PoE) Switch delivers the feed to the systems that can view the video. It saves cost on the whole security system since it’s versatile and usually comes together with the video cameras themselves.
The video that was recorded is, of course, saved to the CPU or the computer itself, which means you also have to make sure that the software is compatible with the video camera you have installed in your area. When one segment of the devices mentioned above is not properly working, it’s safe to say that it can bring about the failure of the whole security system.
Here, we’ll focus on the problem with most Video Management Software (VMS). Most companies who offer this product ensure that their platform can handle the demands of long hours of constant monitoring and smooth compatibility with many different devices coming together in a set. But the problem here is that there’s no assurance that the system will simply maintain itself. There is still the need to have an administrator who is capable of troubleshooting the problem, or maybe you’re planning to do it yourself. Nonetheless, the knowledge and skill to go around the system and record everything that might be a potential hazard to the functionality of the videos is a must.
What to Focus on in a VMS System
Software is the most straightforward aspect of a video security system since it can undergo troubleshooting and the computer usually has pre-installed tools that can help fix the problem. However, you can still ensure that the VMS is working prior to your purchase by asking the following questions:
1. Will the VMS be compatible with the devices, like cameras, that you have in your possession?
As we discussed before, the devices that you will be using need to be completely in sync with each other. This is not only true because the failure of one segment means the whole system will fail, but you can see some repercussions in the long run if this is not addressed readily. For example, there are instances that the VMS system you are going to purchase can initially integrate with the devices just fine, but over the course of its use, the rate at which the VMS can perceive the information the other devices are sending decreases or become inefficient. In another instance, take for example the frame rate, which can be about 30-60 frames per second in most modern devices. If you are using an old version of VMS and you integrate it with a good video camera, then you won’t get the full potential of the camera because it’s being perceived by an outdated system.
2. How long does it take to troubleshoot?
VMS systems usually have troubleshooting tools pre-installed or forming part of the software. But the real problem is that some hardware can still be disrupted physically by hackers and infiltrators. Asking this question will help you gauge if you are choosing the right VMS with a robust design that can mitigate the damage, and if recovering the losses should a breach arise is possible.
Time is of the essence when it comes to security, so the sooner you can figure out the problem, the safer it will be for your property.
3. How can it stop problems from occurring in the first place?
Before you decide on what VMS system to choose, you should focus on understanding the process of the VMS’s functionality. While the VMS’s main purpose is to show you feed in real-time and in good quality, it helps to know that there are certain features installed in it that can prevent certain negative scenarios regarding security. You can ask if there are other security functionalities that come with it, such as an alarm or a remote control, or even audio speakers. With that said, you can simply think of it as “not settling for less” when there are a lot of innovations in technology recently that you can take advantage of.
The Legal Admissibility of a Video Evidence
Now that we are done discussing how you can ensure that your video security system is functional, we can now talk about maximizing its use in case you’ll be using it as evidence when a felony occurs. Initially, you would think that video evidence is automatically admissible, indisputable evidence that doesn’t need any approval from the authorities, but video footage these days can be easily faked and manipulated just as much as photos and other pieces of evidence. Thus, it comes as no surprise that prior approval from law enforcement is needed before it may be used in court.
The authenticity of the video needs to be thoroughly examined by an expert – someone who can verify that the device and the video footage it contains were not tampered with. Authentication can also be made by someone who recovered the video, and he or she can act as a witness; the video will become part of the evidence list.
In looking at the video’s authenticity, law enforcement has to take a look at the information that comes with the video footage, such as the timestamp, the location of the camera that recorded the video, and other functionalities such as facial recognition that can help verify a person’s identity. This comes in handy, especially in a scenario where a burglar tries to break into the property and the face of the culprit is seen on the camera.
In case there are gaps in the information gathered from the video, then the court will likely dismiss the video as legally inadmissible.
How to Prevent Gaps and Glitches in Video
We all know how a missing video can be an inconvenience, especially when you have a grave need for it and it gets corrupted; either the memory or the processor might not be able to handle the size and the frame rate of the video.
To prevent gaps in your video and avoid video loss altogether, there are certain things you have to consider, such as:
1. Backup Plans
As in everything that pertains to technology-reliant systems, it’s always handy to have a backup plan in place. Sure, you can simply subscribe to a good security system that does what you expect for a minimum, but then again, there are unforeseen events that might transpire, resulting in the disruption of your system. For this, you have to list all the things that can happen and set up a protocol to follow whenever such a scenario occurs.
This can range from having a functioning video camera on standby to getting a whole set of cables that can connect the devices easily whenever the wireless connection is severed. The same thing also applies to memory cards since they are prone to becoming corrupted and you’ll lose all the precious evidence you have.
When this happens, one of the backup methods that you could use is to make multiple copies of the same video recording on multiple devices and memory cards. That way, you’ll lower the chances of losing your video evidence just because one memory got corrupted. At the same time, you have to ensure that you keep these memory cards and devices in a safe place that only you (and your security system administrator, if you have one) can access.
When you operate a business and have to protect your assets, you definitely need a security system in place. The question you have to ask is: When it's time to grow your business by building more establishments or expanding an existing one, can your security system expand as well? Security is the protective blanket of your asset, and it’s a good measure to ensure you get the best of what technology can offer.
In reality, some VMS systems will grow obsolete over the years, and their developers will stop providing support to the product. Once that happens, you’ll be left scrambling in the dark whenever a software-related problem comes up because the product that you are using is no longer being supported. With that said, you have to ensure that you are getting the best VMS with active developers who are at the top of the security ratings.
You have to ensure that the VMS you have is top-tier and, if possible, can detect facial features and record them in the database. This could help in case you need to send the video over to authorities to help them identify and track down a criminal. Law enforcement can simply run a quick automatic match search to see if they have information about the person in question.
Also, alarms are an important part of your security system. When a camera detects that there is someone trying to get onto the property without permission, the loud alarms should trigger, and you can prevent the felony from happening in the first place.
It also helps that you strategically set up your cameras in places that can cover a wide area while also being difficult to spot. Criminals are aware that big establishments have certain security measures, and cameras are the most common ones. They will certainly try and avoid them by planning their route around the property, sneaking into places where their faces can’t be seen clearly, or executing plans that could derail the function of the security cameras. Planning where to position the cameras will give you an advantage over the evil-doers.
When security is concerned, the first thing that comes to people’s minds is locks and how to properly secure an area since they can be effective at preventing losses and driving away burglars. It is true that video cameras can only be considered as a supplementary installment that gives assurance that your property is being monitored 24/7. It's a tried and tested method in greatly assisting investigations to determine the exact scenario of the crime, and you can’t simply install the security systems, pick some random video cameras, scatter them inside and outside the area, and call it a day. You must be meticulous in how you approach the security system since it can also serve as a deterrent in case of a crime.
For example, the mistake of buying a low-quality camera can render the whole video evidence useless since there’s a good chance that it can’t make out the clear facial features of someone caught in it. Not only can you not prevent the losses, but you’re also technically wasting your time and money by installing the security system in the first place when it doesn’t even do its job properly.
Finally, it will be a big help if you know how to do basic troubleshooting procedures yourself. This is a handy skill that can go a long way, and it usually only requires you to be familiar with the devices and what they do to figure out what the problem is. This is especially true when you can’t afford to hire a security system administrator to do the job for you.