Video Surveillance & System Maintenance Tips for Businesses
Appoint 2 persons to share duties of surveillance system maintenance;
Keep a record of maintenance/repairs performed, in a separate record book.
Record the make/model/serial numbers of all system equipment, including cameras,
multiplexer, VCR's to be readily available for police reporting when & if
required. This would also apply if the system is a digital recording system
as opposed to video recording.
Review camera position setups to ensure optimum location and camera focus.
An additional camera may be in-order to capture fill-the-frame images
of suspects as they enter premises, or stand at counters. This is in addition
to cameras that try to cover the whole scene with one camera only.
Camera focus should be adjusted clearly on the area most likely to capture
a suspect image, such as counter area. Holding a card with large numbers or
writing, at this counter area focal point will assist in checking the focus.
Ensure crucial areas, on which the cameras are focused, have sufficient lighting
to illuminate the suspect. Likewise, ensure light sources are not improperly
aimed at the camera, or that a ceiling mounted camera is not too close to an
adjacent ceiling light that will cause interference or white-out.
A similar lighting situation to consider fixing is back-lighting
that will cause the subject to appear as only a dark outline, obscuring any
identifying detail. This often occurs in locations with sunlight streaming through
windows, directly into the camera. It follows the old film camera advice of,
Don't shoot into the sun! Consider repositioning the camera, or
installing light reducing window shades.
Institutions should consider the placement of advertising posters which are
sometimes attached to ceilings, and hang directly in view of the camera, obstructing
clear view. Any line-of-sight of the camera should be kept un-obstructed if
Monthly, clean camera lenses with approved lens cleaner fluid and paper. Put
a few drops of cleaning fluid on the paper and wipe in a circular motion. Do
not put fluid on the lens itself.
Monthly, clean the VCR's recording heads using a high quality wet-tape cleaning
cassette, which will also clean the entire tape path inside the VCR.
Annually, have the VCR serviced professionally. Purchase one additional VCR
for backup purposes to breakdowns, or servicing.
Daily, ensure that the correct time & date is generated by the multiplex
unit if installed, and most importantly, that the time & date is set on
the recording VCR and displayed on the monitor. Brief power outages will require
this to be reset. What you should see if your system has a multiplexer, is two
separate time/date stamps. One is displayed by the multiplexer, and one is displayed
by the VCR. This time and date stamp displayed by the multiplexer,
on your monitor, will not be seen when viewed by forensic investigators on their
equipment, and will hinder examinations if it is not available. Therefore, this
is the reason to ensure the VCR time/date is correctly set and displayed on
the monitor. Make sure to correct for any time-zones who switch to day-light
savings and back in the spring and fall.
Purchase a large wall mounted clock, and a large single numbered calendar,
and position it so at least one camera clearly captures it in the background.
The calendar should be the type that shows only one day-at-a time, similar
to what's used in financial institutions.
Annually, purchase 40 new high quality videotapes. Label them 1 to 31, using
them only on that day of the month. This will always permit the previous 30
days of videos to be available should investigators need to review incidents
which may have occurred several days prior to them being reported, such as fraud
incidents. The extra 9 spare tapes are for replacement purposes. This is based
upon 24 hour recording mode. Other recording modes will require additional tapes
to be purchased, however each tape should be used no more than 12-15 times for
optimum recording. On the tape label, record each new date that the tape is
used. This will help keep track of the total number of times the tape is used.
When an incident occurs, don't permit yourself, or anyone to view the incident
using the pause-jog-shuttle' feature on the recording VCR in order to
isolate the suspect image. This will damage the image and hinder forensic analysis.
If necessary by staff or police officers for reasons of safety, review the incident
using the play/stop controls only.
If at anytime a crime occurs, and the recorded videotape is ejected from the
VCR, immediately break-out and remove the record-tab, which will
prevent accidental erasure of the evidence. Several surveillance VCR models
automatically begin recording when a tape is inserted, and removing the record
tab will prevent accidental recording-over of the evidence from
Winnipeg Police Department