- Buyer's Guide
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1. Money makes a difference. A common misconception, according to Ray Palomaa, vice president of channel sales at Iveda Solutions, is that price is not a big factor and most systems are created equal. "The DIY'er thinks the $700 Costco system is going to perform as well as a system that costs five to 10 times that much. The truth is with video security systems, like many other things, you get what you pay for. Low quality systems may not only perform poorly, but also be a maintenance nightmare."
2. Get real. According to Willem Ryan, senior product marketing manager of Bosch Security Systems Inc., the exaggerated portrayal of the capabilities of video surveillance systems in today's popular crime shows, such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," has led to unrealistic expectations among the general public about what is and is not possible with video systems. "And, the average video surveillance kit found in retail stores certainly does not provide the image quality or detail level carwash owners will need to assist with identification of people — an important factor when working with real law enforcement personnel after an incident."
3. Crystal clear. According to Tom Maynard, president of DigiCapture, previous video surveillance systems were often grainy and unclear making it very difficult to identify the perpetrator. "Today's technology," he said, "allows for up to 50 times the resolution of the older systems. These high- definition cameras are true digital IP cameras that are often referred to as ‘mega-pixel cameras.' They send the video to the recorder, usually a high end PC, via Cat5 cable instead of coax cable. The older systems used analog cameras that were then proceed by the DVR into a digital recording."
4. Secure your security system. All cameras should be in an IP66 rated weatherproof housing that is tamper proof or vandal resistant, according to Palomaa. "A polycarbonate lens would be best for the harsh environment to prevent breakage. It should also have an internal heater for cold weather and to prevent condensation." Ryan also said that camera housings should be ruggedized with the ability to resist corrosion in order to ensure a long life span. Water and the cleaning solutions used in carwash environments are typically harsh on camera housings.
Maynard also said that beyond the cameras, security systems should be kept clean and dry as well so that damage does not occur from a water leak in the equipment room. "You may want to store the recording device in a well ventilated cabinet that can protect against spray from a broken water line." He also said that there is the ability for the camera to set off an alarm if it detects tampering. "This includes just blocking the field of view or turning the camera in another direction."
5. Night vision. At night, ensure there is adequate illumination to enable the cameras to capture usable images, Ryan said. "White light LED illuminators provide the benefit of visible light to deter criminals, while enabling surveillance cameras to produce clear, accurate color surveillance images at night."
6. Search and find. Recording equipment should also make it easy to search and archive video for the authorities, according to Ryan. "For example, some DVRs allow video to be archived to a USB flash drive or offer a DVD writer. Archived video should be digitally watermarked for use as evidence in legal proceedings."
7. Placement perfection. Cameras, according to Maynard, should be installed so that every machine can be seen at any time with special concern around high-theft areas such as changers or vending machines. "It is always a good idea to have cameras that can catch the condition of cars before they enter tunnel wash to check for prior damage. Too often crimes are committed by the employees and this is a good way to keep and eye on them."