FBI CCTV Recommendations

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 10, 2012

The United States FBI provides a CCTV Best Practices guide in a unique form of a TV show episode. In this post, we review the FBI's recommendations, providing feedback and commentary on what is realistic and what can best be done to improve commercial surveillance systems.

The video, watched over 60,000 times, is embedded below. At 21 minutes long, we found the most useful CCTV recommendations between minutes 3 and 12:

While the video is interesting and the recommendations are worth considering, the biggest challenge we see is the cost of them. If money was no object (as it is for the FBI), many of these recommendations would be great. Unfortunately, many are hard to justify economically.

In the rest of this report, we analyze 13 key recommendations made by the FBI, providing our input.

WDR

One of the first things the FBI notes is the common problem of washed out images at entrance doors. The snapshot below from the FBI video demonstrates this:

The category of camera that addresses this problem is called WDR or Wide Dynamic Range. WDR is definitely a valuable feature to use especially for outdoor entrances.

Making the best use of WDR can be challenging. Keep these pointers in mind:

  • Expect to pay a premium: Cameras with WDR tend to be $100 - $250 USD more than cameras that do not.
  • Beware of marketing claims: Any vendor can claim their cameras have WDR and many do even when the performance benefits are minimal or nonexistent.
  • MP cameras have the best WDR: If you want the strongest WDR, our tests show that top MP cameras significantly outperform their top SD counterparts.
  • Stay Up to Date: Our ongoing testing series has a MP WDR shootout as well as comparisons of new cameras claiming WDR - Pelco SureVision and Axis Q1604.

Obscuring Cameras

Next, the FBI comments on problems with cameras being obscured, demonstrated in the clip below of a marketing sign blocking out a suspect's face.

From time to time this does happen. Typically, no obstructions exist when the system is first installed. At that time, the security manager usually reviews and adjusts camera angles and signs to eliminate this problem. However, later on, new signs or furnishings may be installed. For instance, Christmas decorations can be an issue. Often the employees setting this up have no knowledge of nor awareness of the impact on the surveillance system.

The best way to minimize obstructions is to:

  • Train the people who watch the surveillance system to take note and make an issue of any obstructions.
  • Have an integrator / service company conduct periodic maintenance.

Out of Focus Cameras

Another problem the FBI raises is cameras being out of focused as demonstrated in the screencap below:

This can happen from time to time. Two common steps are taken to mitigate this:

  • Periodic maintenance - A technician will come on site every 3 to 6 months, check the focus and refocus each camera as needed. See our support / maintenance guide for recommendations.
  • Auto back focus - A feature available on many new cameras allows for automatic re-focusing to eliminate this problem. Auto back focus (also called ABF) is increasingly popular. Even mid tier cameras now have this as a feature. Pay attention to cameras with ABF and prefer them if everything else is close.

*** ****** ****** *********** * **** **** ********* ******* * ****** **** ** * ** **** *******. ** this ****, ** ****** *** ***'* ***************, ********* ******** *** commentary ** **** ** ********* *** **** *** **** ** done ** ******* ********** ************ *******.

*** *****, ******* **** **,*** *****, ** ******** *****. ** 21 ******* ****, ** ***** *** **** ****** **** *************** between ******* * *** **:

***** *** ***** ** *********** *** *** *************** *** ***** considering, *** ******* ********* ** *** ** *** **** ** them. ** ***** *** ** ****** (** ** ** *** the ***), **** ** ***** *************** ***** ** *****. *************, many *** **** ** ******* ************.

** *** **** ** **** ******, ** ******* ** *** recommendations **** ** *** ***, ********* *** *****.

***

*** ** *** ***** ****** *** *** ***** ** *** common ******* ** ****** *** ****** ** ******** *****. *** snapshot ***** **** *** *** ***** ************ ****:

*** ******** ** ****** **** ********* **** ******* ** ****** WDR ** **** ******* *****. *** ** ********** * ******** feature ** *** ********** *** ******* *********.

****** *** **** *** ** *** *** ** ***********. **** these ******** ** ****:

  • ****** ** *** * *******: ******* **** *** **** ** ** $*** - $*** USD **** **** ******* **** ** ***.
  • ****** ** ********* ******: *** ****** *** ***** ***** ******* **** *** *** many ** **** **** *** *********** ******** *** ******* ** nonexistent.
  • ** ******* **** *** **** ***: ** *** **** *** ********* ***,*** ***** ******** *** ** ******* ************* ********** ***** *** ** ************.
  • **** ** ** ****: *** ******* ******* ****** *** * ** *** ******** ** **** ** *********** ** *** ******* ******** *** -***** ***************** *****.

Obscuring *******

****, *** *** ******** ** ******** **** ******* ***** ********, demonstrated ** *** **** ***** ** * ********* **** ******** out * *******'* ****.

**** **** ** **** **** **** ******. *********, ** ************ exist **** *** ****** ** ***** *********. ** **** ****, the ******** ******* ******* ******* *** ******* ****** ****** *** signs ** ********* **** *******. *******, ***** **, *** ***** or *********** *** ** *********. *** ********, ********* *********** *** be ** *****. ***** *** ********* ******* **** ** **** no ********* ** *** ********* ** *** ****** ** *** surveillance ******.

*** **** *** ** ******** ************ ** **:

  • ***** *** ****** *** ***** *** ************ ****** ** **** note *** **** ** ***** ** *** ************.
  • **** ** ********** / ******* ******* ******* ******** ***********.

Out ** ***** *******

******* ******* *** *** ****** ** ******* ***** *** ** focused ** ************ ** *** ********* *****:

**** *** ****** **** **** ** ****. *** ****** ***** are ***** ** ******** ****:

  • ******** ***********- * ********** **** **** ** **** ***** * ** 6 ******, ***** *** ***** *** ******* **** ****** ** needed. *** ********** / *********** ******** ***************.
  • **** **** *****- * ******* ********* ** **** *** ******* ****** *** automatic **-******** ** ********* **** *******. **** **** ***** (**** called***) ** ************ *******. **** *** **** ******* *** **** **** ** * feature. *** ********* ** ******* **** *** *** ****** **** if ********** **** ** *****.

[***************]

*******

*** *** **** **** ******* ******* *** ******* *****.

***** **** *** ** *** ********** ** ******* **** **** years ***, ******* ******** ***** ********* ********** ** **** *** cost. *** *****, ** ******* ***** $*** **** **** ***********. Indeed ***** ****** ****, **** *** ************ **** **** *** ******* *********** ***** video ********** *** ***** *******. ******* ** *** ***** **** but *** ******** * **** ********** ****** *** *** ****** applications **** ******* * ****** ** ***.

**********

*** *** ***** *** ********** ** **********:

**** *******, ****** **********, ********** *** ********** ** **** ********** and ******** ******* ********. *** ********, *** ***** ********** **** on *** ***** ******* ******* **** * *** / ********* issue. *********, * ***** ***** **** ********** *** ***** ***** it ** * ******** *****. ***, ** ****, *** ***** spot *** ******* ***** ******* ** ** (**** ** *****) from ************ *******. ***** ********** *******, **** **** ***, **** not *****. *******, ****** ********** ******* (***, ***, ***.) **** almost ****** **** ***** *** ***** *********** ********.

Depth ** *****

*** *** ********* ********** *** ***** ** ***** *** ** this *** **** ********* ***** * *****. *** ********* ***** demonstrates *** **************.

** ******** ** **** ************** ********:

  • ** ***********, ********** ***** ** ************** ****** * *****. **** *** * ******** **** ****** ** ************ - terrible *** ***** ****** - ** ****** * ***** ******** light *****. ** ****, ***** **** ** *** *********.
  • ***** ** ***** **** **** *** * ***** ** ****** a ********* *******. *** *** ***** ********* ** **** ** resolution / ***** ****** ******* **** **** *** ****** *** that ** ****** ******* ******* ****** ********** ****** **** **** adjustments.

Width ** ***

*** *** ***** *** *** *** "**% ****" *** ********* detailed ****** ***** ** ********:

**** ** **** *********** *** ** ******* **** *** ***** flaws:

  • *** *****: ** **** *** **% ****, *** ***** *** ***** has ** ** *-* ****. **** ** *** *** ***** to ******* ******** ** **** **********. ** ********, *** ******* FoV ***** ** ****** ** **-** ****. ***** **** ** often *** **** ** ******* ****** *******, ** ** ***** necessary *** **** *********** ********* *******.
  • ********* *******: *** **** *********, *** *** **** ***** **** ** a **** ******* ********** ** * ***** *** ***** ******* facial *******. *** ********, ******* *** ******* **-** **** **** FoV *** ********* ** **** ** **** ****** ******* **** a **** ******** **** *** ****** *******.

Camera ******

*** *** ********** **** ** ******* ** ***** *** ******** of * *********** ***** ** ***** ** *** ****** ***** below:

*** *** ********* **** ** *** ****. *********, ** * facility **** ****, ** ***** ****** ** *** ***** **** the ****** ** ******* *** *** ********** (*-** ** *** interior). ******** *** ****** ** ******* ***** ** **** ** justify.

Overlapping ********

** *** *** ***** ** *** ********* *****, *** ****** they ********* ** **** ******* ** ** **** ********** *********** camera ******** **** ** **** *****:

***** **** ** ** ********* *** ***** ****, *** ******* remains *** ****. ****** ** ********** ********** ******* **** ***** of ******* *** ** ** ***** **** ***********. *********, **** the ****** ** ******* ** '**** ******'.

Offsetting ******

*** *** ****** *** ***** **** ******** ****** *** ***** problems *********** ******** ** ************ ** **** *********:

** ****** ****, **** ********* ********** ********** ****** ** ****** sunlight. ** *** ********* *****, *** *** ************ ****** ******** to *** **** **** ** *** *****:

**** ** ****** * *** ****. ****** ********** ******** ***** in *********** ****** ******* * ********** *** ****** *** ******** in **** **** ** ******** *** ******* *******. *******, ** surveillance **** ** *** ********. ** ********** ***** **** ********* make *** ***** ****** *** ********** ***** ******* *** ***** of *** *** **** **** ********** *** *** *** ******* of ******* ********** (******, ****, ***.). *** ***'* ******* ************** of *** ******* ** * **** ****** ******** ** **** problem.

Adding ******

*** *** ********** ****** ** ****** ** *** **** ***** on ************ *****.

**** *** ** ****** *** **** ** **** * *** practical ******:

  • ***** ****** **** **** ****** *** ******* ******** *** ******* of *** ********. *********, **** **** ** * *** ******** as ******* ****** *** ******* **** ******* *****. ***********, ****** shades ******* *** ****** ******** *** **** **** ** ** approved ** ****** / *********** ******** (******* ** ********).
  • **** ** ****** *** *********, ****** **** **** ** ** raised ** ******* ** * ***** *****. ** ** ********* that ******* ******* *** ****** *********.

Native **** ******

*** *** ****** * ****** ** *************** *** ******* ***** with *** ***********:

**** ** * ******* *** ********* *****. *** ******** ** ******* ************ ***** **** *** ********* ******** ***************.

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

Winter 2018 Camera Course Registration on Jan 14, 2018
Learn video surveillance and get certified. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the 18th, plus get access to 2 class times - 'day' and...
Multicasting Surveillance Tutorial on Jan 04, 2018
Network bandwidth can be a concern for some surveillance systems. While improvements in video codecs, such as smart codecs for H.264 and H.265,...
Cabling Best Practices Guide on Jan 03, 2018
Surveillance cabling can be a major problem. Poorly installed and maintained networks are often costly, lengthy, frustrating ordeals to...
Multi-Imager Camera Guide on Jan 02, 2018
Multi-imager usage continues to grow, with most manufacturers now offering at least one model, making them an attractive option for covering wide...
Washington DC Surveillance Hackers Arrested on Dec 29, 2017
The US Department of Justice has announced that "Two Romanian Suspects Charged With Hacking of Metropolitan Police Department Surveillance Cameras...
QoS for Video Surveillance on Dec 29, 2017
Along with VLANs, QoS is one of the most misunderstood topics in IP surveillance networks. Many purported "experts" claim it is required in any...
Resolution Tutorial on Dec 28, 2017
Understanding video surveillance resolution can be surprisingly difficult and complex. While the word 'resolution' seems self-explanatory, its use...
WSJ Investigates China's Total Surveillance State on Dec 26, 2017
The WSJ is continuing its investigation into Chinese video surveillance. Following up on last month's WSJ Investigation of Hikvision, the WSJ is...
Repositionable Multi-Imager Camera Guide on Dec 22, 2017
Multi-imager usage has been growing strongly over the past few years. Now, a new segment of multi-imagers has taken off, with many manufacturers...
STP vs UTP for Video Surveillance Tutorial on Dec 20, 2017
For many video system designers, deciding which ethernet cabling to use is a quick decision: go with the cheapest.  However, this overlooks the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

This High Schooler Is Excited About His Future Security Career on Jan 15, 2018
A common lament is that smart, young people have little interest in surveillance systems. In fact, discussions like Should Talented Young People...
"First Of Its Kind" Stove Knob Alarm Sensor (2GIG) on Jan 15, 2018
At CES 2018, 2Gig/Nortek announced the Stove & Grill Guard, a "first of its kind" sensor in the security industry, allowing users to be...
Amazon Deep Learning Partnership With AgentVi on Jan 15, 2018
Amazon is aiming to grow its Kinesis Video Streams offering that "enables you to quickly build computer vision and ML applications" in the cloud....
Winter 2018 Camera Course Registration on Jan 14, 2018
Learn video surveillance and get certified. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the 18th, plus get access to 2 class times - 'day' and...
Hikvision Removed From US Army Base, Congressional Hearing Called on Jan 12, 2018
Hikvision has been removed from a US Army Base and a US congressional committee is planning a hearing on cybersecurity risks and specifically,...
CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
Hanwha ExtraLux Camera Tested on Jan 11, 2018
Hanwha has released the latest in their Wisenet X line, the "extraLUX" series, claiming to "capture crystal clear, true-color images in low-light...
Security Integrator Project Management Certifications on Jan 10, 2018
Certifications are a common option for technology professionals looking to improve skills and gain validation. But how about for project...
Canon Launches World's Most Expensive IP Camera (ME20F-SHN) on Jan 09, 2018
Canon has launched the ME20F-SHN , likely the world's most expensive single imager, non-thermal, IP camera at ~$20,000. And Canon subsidiary...
Hikvision Declares 'Never Click On Links In Emails' on Jan 09, 2018
Hikvision is stepping up its cybersecurity efforts with a clear recommendation - to never click on links in emails: It is a surprising change...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact