School Camera Coverage Critiqued

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 03, 2012

In this update, we examine a December 2011 article from Campus Safety Magazine [link no longer available], intended to provide guidance in camera placement to K-12 facilities. Aside from the article essentially being a lightweight fluff piece, written by a manufacturer, we fundamentally disagree with many of the tips given.

Parking Lot Coverage

The first recommendation the article makes is placement of cameras in parking lots. Left at that, this is not a bad recommendation, as numerous incidents occur in parking lots, whether fights, vandalism, collosions, or others. However, it then goes on to state that "From high up on the rooftop of a school building, they [administrators] can zoom in and get a clear image of a license plate way across the parking lot. Plus, they can cover an entire campus from fewer locations." We find this flawed for two reasons:

  • First, placing cameras at roof level on most buildings is not recommended, unless the camera will only be used for object detection. High angles provide more of a top-down view of the scene, which may result in more footage of the tops of heads and vehicles and less of faces and license plates. Cameras are typically best located as low as possible while being outside the reach of vandalism, usually 12-15 feet above ground.
  • Second, covering an entire campus from a few locations will do little aside from provide a false sense of coverage. Historically, this notion is one of the most dangerous in the surveillance industry. Driven by a trained operator, PTZ cameras can provide more detailed recordings of subjects and incidents. However, even under manual control, they are still not seeing the rest of the scene outside of the current frame, which can and will result in missed incidents.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution for parking lot surveillance in many cases. Oftentimes, they are simply too large of an area to be covered with any sort of pixel density. Multi-megapixel cameras, while still unable to cover the entire scene in detail, will likely provide a better record of incidents than PTZ cameras on tour. Users should pay attention to where the chokepoints of the lot is, and target these areas, along with providing an overview of the area. In this way, vehicles and subjects can be followed on the overview through the scene to the choke point, where better resolution or a smaller field of view may provide identifying details.

Hallway Coverage

The second recommendation we disagree with is this: "Where 360 degrees of viewing are preferred, such as in the central junction of four corridors, the PTZ cameras are placed. Individual hallways use fixed position cameras, which cost less." Again, placing a PTZ at the intersection of hallways is likely to provide nothing more than video that's worthwhile 25% of the time or less. With a PTZ camera on tour, looking down four hallways, missing incidents is nearly guaranteed.

A higher number of fixed cameras is a better option, though it will indeed likely be slightly more expensive, when installation labor, licensing, and the cost of the cameras are taken into account. In some locations, a 360-degree multi-imager camera, such as Arecont or Avigilon's offerings may be useful, as long as lighting levels are even, which interior hallways often are.

Day/Night Overstatement

Finally, the piece goes on to state the benefits of day/night cameras, as such: "By being able to produce clear images in low light conditions, school districts save the expense of installing additional lighting."

As we have seen in our low-light tests, clear nighttime video is hardly guaranteed. What's worse is that camera features such as automatic gain control and slow shutter likely will produce brighter video, providing users with a false sense of security. Yes, the image will be brighter, but subjects will appear blurred if the exposure is set too long, and the gain control introduces additional noise into the image, adding up to video that is often useless. Ultimately, there are no tricks or tweaks that can replace decent lighting in exterior areas. 

Live Operators Cannot Be Assumed

Taking all of the above into account, the biggest mistake in this piece is the assumption that live operators will be on available to control multiple PTZ cameras. As we discovered in our Fall 2011 survey, users are eliminating operators, making it unlikely that many small-to-mid-sized school districts would have operators available at all times. For this reason, two trends have developed:

 

  • Higher numbers of fixed cameras are being installed, in order to cover more area, and/or more angles, with no operator intervention required. 
  • Sales of panoramic and multi-imager cameras have increased, in order to attempt to cover more ground with a single camera, still generally priced below the cost of a PTZ. Unfortunately, though, our tests have shown that neither of these options is yet ideal. 

 

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Verkada: "IPVM Should Never Be Your Source of News" on Jul 02, 2020
Verkada was unhappy with IPVM's recent coverage declaring that reading IPVM...
Dynamic vs Static IP Addresses Tutorial on Apr 16, 2020
While many cameras default to DHCP out of the box, that does not mean you...
ZKTeco SpeedFace+ Are Medical Devices, Per FDA Definition, Contrary Claims Are False on Jun 12, 2020
ZKTeco SpeedFace+ series products are medical devices as defined by the US...
Uniview Heat-Tracker Temperature Screening Series Examined on Apr 22, 2020
Uniview is marketing #UNVagainstCOVID19 with their Heat-Tracker series,...
Fever Cameras Are Medical Devices, Per The FDA, Dahua, Feevr, Hikvision, InVid Contrary Claims Are False on May 28, 2020
Fever cameras are medical devices, despite what euphemisms various sellers...
Verkada Falsely Claims "First Native Cloud-based Access Control and Video Security Solution" on Jun 18, 2020
Verkada's false claims continue, this time to be the first native cloud-based...
FDA "Does Not Intend to Object" To Unapproved Fever Detection Cameras If No 'Undue Risk' on Apr 17, 2020
The US FDA has declared it will not go after the many companies marketing...
Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London...
The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020,...
Milestone Presents XProtect On AWS on May 04, 2020
Milestone presented its XProtect on AWS offering at the April 2020 IPVM New...
London Live Police Face Recognition Visited on Feb 13, 2020
London police have officially begun using live facial recognition in select...
Wrong Dahua Australia Medical Device Approved on Jul 20, 2020
Dahua's body temperature system is now in Australia's medical device...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of...
Anixter Runs Fake Coronavirus Marketing Using Shutterstock Watermarked Images on Jul 24, 2020
Coronavirus faked marketing is regrettably commonplace right now but Anixter...
Terrible Convergint Coronavirus Thermal Camera Recommendation on Apr 01, 2020
A week after Convergint disclosed falling revenue, pay and job cuts,...

Recent Reports

False: Verkada: "If You Want To Remote View Your Cameras You Need To Punch Holes In Your Firewall" on Jul 31, 2020
Verkada falsely declared to “3,000+ customers”, “300 school districts”, and...
US GSA Explains NDAA 889 Part B Blacklisting on Jul 31, 2020
With the 'Blacklist Clause' going into effect August 13 that bans the US...
Access Control Online Show July 2020 - On-Demand Recording of 45+ Manufacturers Presentations on Jul 30, 2020
The show featured 48 Access Control presentations, all now recorded and...
Face Detection Shootout - Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Jul 30, 2020
Face detection analytics are available from a number of manufactures...
Sunell is The First China Manufacturer to Market NDAA Compliance on Jul 30, 2020
Most China manufacturers are going to be impacted by the NDAA 'Blacklist...
Ink Labs Relabels China YCX Fever Camera And Steals Dahua's Marketing on Jul 30, 2020
A US company marketed a 'thermal temperature scanner' as its own, selling...
Genetec and Dahua-Backed Intelbras Split Examined on Jul 29, 2020
China is the cause of the breakup between Canada's and Brazil's largest video...
This YouTuber is Now Selling ThermoHealth Temperature Screening on Jul 29, 2020
An enterprising 20-year old is mass marketing medical devices on Facebook and...
Hikvision Returns To Growth Driven By Overseas Fever Cameras on Jul 29, 2020
While Hikvision's revenue fell in Q1 2020, it rebounded in Q2 attributed to...
Brazil's Biggest Domestic Surveillance Company Intelbras Profile on Jul 29, 2020
While Intelbras is not widely known outside of Latin America, Intelbras is a...
The Kiosk Market Pivots To Temperature Screening (Interviewed) on Jul 28, 2020
Video surveillance is not the only market that has pivoted to medical device...
Integrator Acquisitions 'A Good Market' During COVID-19, Says Greybeards on Jul 28, 2020
Industry broker Ron Davis of the "Greybeards" says that the integrator and...
Keypads For Access Control Tutorial on Jul 28, 2020
Keypad readers present huge risks to even the best access systems. If...
US Surgeon General Unwittingly Showcases Sanctioned Dahua Temperature System on Jul 28, 2020
The US' top public health spokesperson, the Surgeon General, posted a photo...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 27, 2020
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2020, with more and more...