Quality: more than meets the eye

Why do people install surveillance cameras? It sounds like a silly question, but it’s not uncommon that the discussion deviates from the desired end-result and circles more around image resolution and other technical specifications. In the end the purpose of surveillance cameras is to ensure that the images can be used in a constructive way, given the specific situation. And if that assumption is correct, then we have to start talking about image usability rather than product quality and image resolution alone.

In our world, product quality and image usability go together, but whereas product quality is about making certain that the installed equipment lasts in all kinds of conditions its entire lifespan, image usability is about securing images that live up to your specific requirements under your specific conditions. To achieve optimized image usability, there are several things to take into consideration. Let’s start with the basic requirements.

Identify your needs

What is most important to you: that it’s possible to see what happened, or that you can identify who did it? The answer to this question affects the pixel density requirements and is an important factor to establish before the purchase of a camera. And, as an extra layer, what must be identified? License plate numbers? Faces? People counting? With a clear purpose of a surveillance system, cameras can be installed to produce the images that are needed the day you need them. The time of day and speed of objects are things that might be easy to overlook.

Look around you

An understanding of the environment is crucial and that starts with a simple question: are the cameras going to be installed indoors or outdoors? Naturally, an outdoor system puts greater demand on the quality and durability of the camera, since it’s exposed to wind and weather. There is also the question of lighting. Things that cannot be influenced, but that can and will affect the image quality and usability including weather, humidity, extreme temperatures and darkness at night, must be taken into consideration.

Find the issue – design to solve it

When it comes to selecting and installing cameras, it is important to keep the specific purpose in focus. The right camera in the wrong place, or facing in the wrong direction, will not deliver the desired images. By defining important areas, such as a cash till in a store or a busy public square in the city, and then proceeding to identify potential risks in each area, it is possible to design a system that solves that area’s specific problems.

Let’s have a look at an example: If the purpose is to prevent vandalism in a public square, the surveillance system must be installed in such a way that it can capture high-quality images, good enough for identification, at night when the vandalism is most likely to occur. Here it is important not to lose focus. When comparing different surveillance cameras with each other, there will be a flood with technical specifications that might not be relevant to the specific situation. How can you ensure that you install a system that can be used the intended way? The answer is to stick to the identified needs and find relevant cameras, and use professionals for the installation.

24/7 and 365 days/year

When the system is activated, it should run smoothly and without interruption, right? Product quality helps a great deal, but it’s important to keep up the maintenance of the system as a whole. A camera might have been accidentally redirected, there could be holiday decorations blocking the view, or there could be something wrong with the storage of the images. It’s not advisable to wait until an incident happens, but to maintain the system regularly so that it’s possible to present forensic evidence the moment it is required. Maintenance also includes thinking ahead, making certain that the storage is sufficient and that the system will mitigate risks connected to cybersecurity.

Would you like to learn more about image usability? We have created an overview in a practical checklist, ‘4 steps to image usability’, see above, or read the whitepaper ‘Quality with a purpose: Image usability in security’ on Axis quality page:

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