X
Get all access to the world's best video surveillance information.
Logo 8fbbe83a6ce128d4940dbb3787cc2aeaf3d9938b15d0b711b17d116501531882
2016 book promo

How to Position Video Surveillance Cameras

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 14, 2009

This report shares best practices for positioning surveillance cameras and is based on standards I developed as an integrator.

Figuring out the right number, placement and views of cameras can save significant money and provide a much more effective system. This is a critical element regardless of using IP or not. Moreover, this is an important skill set that IT techs coming into video surveillance must ensure they develop.

Here are the 4 steps I recommend:

  1. Determine Places for Cameras
  2. Determine Camera Types
  3. Determine View of Cameras
  4. Verify with Customer

Places for Cameras

Cameras should be placed in two types of places:

  • Where there is an asset you are trying to defend
  • Where there is a choke point toward an asset you are trying to defend

You place cameras looking at assets because you want to record anything adversarial that might occur to the asset: theft, destruction, tampering, etc.

You place cameras at choke points so (1) you can get notice as soon as possible of a potential threat and (2) so you can get a clear shot at the person (or vehicle's) characteristics.

This works the same whether it is a military base or a grocery store. Obviously the assets and location of choke points differ but these guidelines remain.

For example, at a convenience store, the assets are typically the cash register, safe, liquor section and stockroom. You would normally expect a camera to be placed to cover each of these assets. In addition, at a convenience store, the choke points are usually the front entrance (customer entrance) and sometimes the back/service entrance. You would generally expect to see cameras covering these locations.

Camera Type Selection

You have 3 general types of cameras to choose from:

  • Fixed cameras: the view is locked on to a specific area
  • Mechanical PTZs: the view can be manually adjusted by an operator over great distances but the system can only record the current area viewed
  • Panoramic cameras: the view can be manually adjusted by an operator over small area and the the system can record the entire area covered

Fixed and mechanical PTZs are the two traditional options. Panoramic cameras are an emerging category and are almost always megapixel IP.

Here are guidelines in choosing:

  • Use fixed cameras if there is a very specific area of interest and you do not have an operator watching in real time
  • Use PTZ cameras if there is a large area of interest (more than 200 square feet/25 square meters) AND you have an operator watching in real time
  • Use Panoramic cameras if you have a small area and you do not have an operator watching in real time.

Views of Cameras

Picking the general location of cameras is only half of the solution. For example, you know you want to protect the safe or cover the front door.

Additionally, you need to make sure that the camera is set up so it properly captures the target. It matters if the camera is too high or too much to the left or right. It also matters, it the camera is zoomed out too much so that you cannot make out detail or the opposite that it is zoomed to far and you miss part of the person or object in question. Such issues happen all the time and is a primary concern of integrators.

Technically, you need to determine and optimize the Field of View (FoV). Below is a good webcast on Field of View from Peter Brissette:

Verify with Customer

Before you install any cameras, you should prepare and provide the following documentation to the security manager:

  • Take a photo of the approximate FoV of the camera
  • Take a photo of the place where you plan to mount the camera. Mark the exact spot on the photo
  • Prepare a map of the facility. Mark the location of each camera on the map
  • Submit all of this in a report

This may sound time consuming and wasteful but I think it is critical (1) to ensure that the objectives are met and (2) to eliminate re-work and changes after installation.

Without pictures and plans, it's very hard to imagine how exactly cameras should be placed. It is also very easy for misunderstandings to occur ("I thought you were going to mount in on this side rather than that side", etc.).

A careful planned and documented design is a key tool in deploying optimized video surveillance solutions.


Other Reports on Video Surveillance

License Plate Capture 4K Test on Jan 11, 2016
License plate capture is one of the most popular surveillance applications. IPVM has done extensi...

33 New Products Directory - Fall 2015 on Sep 28, 2015
New products or major tech isssues that IPVM has reported on this summer / fall: Axis Release...

HD Analog vs IP Guide 2015 on Sep 21, 2015
In the past, the only way to get megapixel / HD was to use IP. Now, a crop of alternatives are em...

Axis Digital Autotracking Tested on Sep 16, 2015
As camera resolutions continues to climb, the likelihood that you will ever display any camera at...

Vote Results - Next Big Thing 2020 on Sep 14, 2015
Over 230 integrators and manufacturers told us what they believe will be the next big thing in vi...

5 Low Cost IR Illuminators Tested on Sep 03, 2015
IR illumination has increased in popularity, with built in IR becoming a common feature in low-co...

HD Analog Four Way Cameras Tested on Aug 28, 2015
One camera that delivers AHD, HDCVI, HDTVI and 960H, all for as little as $15 a camera. Both on ...

Vehicle Entrance Camera Selection Guide on Jul 21, 2015
When it comes to vehicle surveillance, the conversation regularly turns to license plate capture....

Ethernet over Coax (EoC) Shootout on Jul 16, 2015
Reusing existing coax for IP cameras can cut installation costs dramatically. However, there are ...

Super Low Light HD Lens Tested on Jun 26, 2015
A smaller F-number can make a big difference in how much light reaches an imager. For example, t...


Most Recent Industry Reports

Mega Chinese Electronics Manufactuer Xiaomi Yi Camera Tested on Feb 05, 2016
Xiaomi's revenue is 4 to 5 times larger than Hikvision's. Only in business for 5 years, Xiaomi ha...

Trade Mag Admits 84% Prefer Online Over Print on Feb 05, 2016
Some say the industry is so old and conservative that print is still important. Well, even a pri...

Hikvision Video Analytics Tested on Feb 04, 2016
We tested Hikvision's video analytics on six Hikvision models, ranging from entry level to high e...

Last Chance - IP Networking Course on Feb 04, 2016
Today is the last day to get into the course. Our most popular course starts next week (February...

Add Your Preferred Camera Manufacturer to the Calculator on Feb 03, 2016
One of the most popular features of our Camera Calculator is choosing specific models. Indeed, me...

Axis vs Avigilon vs FLIR vs Hikvision vs Samsung Camera Pricing on Feb 03, 2016
The 'race to the bottom' is a big issue, with average prices dropping sharply over the past few y...

Network Security for IP Video Surveillance Guide 2016 on Feb 03, 2016
Keeping surveillance networks secure can be a daunting task, but there are several methods that c...

Resolution Usage Statistics 2016 on Feb 02, 2016
In the past few years, 4MP, 6MP, 4k (8.3MP) and 12MP cameras have become increasingly commonplace...

Avigilon H4 HD Cameras Released on Feb 01, 2016
Avigilon has announced a new generation of cameras, the H4. In this note, based on speaking with...

Honeywell Pro-Watch Access Control Profile on Feb 01, 2016
Inside we examine Honeywell Pro-Watch access control line: Comparing Honeywell to their compet...