Top tips for choosing the right CCTV system

Friday, 15th September, 2017

Like a lot of things relating to security, the range of solutions and options on offer can be overwhelming. Take CCTV or video surveillance, as it is now more commonly called. With camera technologies advancing at a rapid pace you could be forgiven for being confused about whether you go for an analogue or digital camera, or combination of both, should the cameras be static or would a pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) camera serve you better. Do you need high definition, what about storing footage and what video management software (VMS) will work best for you?

To help, we’re giving you our top tips for making sure you get the video surveillance system you need for your business.


This seems obvious, but you really do need to be clear about why you need a surveillance system. So the first step is setting out your objectives. By clearly defining these, you will be able to set out the requirements of what a solution must deliver in order to meet your objectives.

Objectives could include things like:

  • Prevent theft
  • Stop trespassing
  • Stop criminal damage
  • Monitor production lines
  • Manage checkouts
  • Lone worker protection
  • Car park management

It is more likely that your objectives will include a number of things, but you need to prioritise them to make sure you get the right solution.

Get into the detail

Once you’ve agreed the objectives you then need to get into the detail, depending on your business and knowledge of surveillance now might be the time to get s specialist in to help you.

Consider where to site cameras – do you want them to be discrete or more obvious to act as a deterrent – if you objective is to prevent theft being more obvious as well as having signs warning of cameras would be more appropriate, however if your objective is to prevent theft by staff a more discrete camera could be better.

What do you want to record and how long will you need to retain records – think about whether facial recognition is needed or do you just need to detect movement and activity so you can respond to incidents.

Make sure you are able to comply with data protection regulations around CCTV, now would be a good stage to refer to the ICO website and their guidance round CCTV. Click here to find out more. 

You also need to consider who will monitor these cameras, do you need a control room, do you want to be able to monitor on the go by using a smartphone or would you be happy for someone else to provide this service remotely? Think about who will respond to any incidents and how crimes might be reported to the police.

By getting into the nitty gritty at this early stage you are more likely to get a solution that will fully satisfy your needs and be able to grow with your business as these needs change.

Involve senior management

It’s important that your senior management fully support your CCTV project, not only for approving budgets but they are responsible for areas such as; ensuring regulations are adhered to, what compliance legislation the business needs to meet. They also need to support any ongoing cost implications such as training, maintenance costs and scaling to meet future needs.

Get the right video management software (VMS)

As with cameras, there is a wide range of software options available, each addressing different needs. To help you decide on the right option for your business there are some questions to ask

  • How many cameras do you plan to install on each site
  • Will you be installing cameras from a single vendor or using multiple camera brands?
  • Do you want the provider to handle storage and maintenance, with the option to add other services such as remote monitoring or do you want everything on-site and managed by your teams?
  • Do you have a good IT infrastructure and technical support in house?

Your answers to the above will guide you to make the right decision. This might include you looking at a hosted video solution or an entry-level option, where stand-alone video management software is installed on a PC and data is recorded to SD cards in the cameras or recorded to NAS onsite. You might need a bit more sophistication to support frequent use and multi-site management. You may also want to integrate a video surveillance system with your access control and alarms.

Once you have done all your research and planning the best next step is to set up a proof of concept trial with your supplier and test, test and test again. That way you can be confident you are getting exactly the right video surveillance system to meet your business objectives.

To learn more about how AIT can help you with video surveillance you can visit the CCTV section of our website – click here or give us a call on 0113 273 0300 and we’ll be happy to have a chat about how we can help.