How to build a surveillance camera system

Tips straight from the CSO

STEP 1: Determine your cameras' raison d'être.

From this you'll be able to decide just about everything else. In my organization, we concluded that surveillance was primarily for forensic use, which meant it had to:

  • Let us rapidly review detailed footage so that after incidents (accident, crime, terrorism, overcrowding and so on), we could back everyone up from the event to the edge of our

    property to see who they talked to, what car they drove, where they parked, what bus or taxi they got

    out of, what condition the facility was in at the time (icy sidewalk, wet floor, tools in the area and so


  • Be on demand, because we can't watch the cameras all the time. We wanted to

    be able to call up the camera with the best coverage to monitor situations if and when we were called

    by someone with an ­incident report.

  • Allow for targeted "smart" cameras for high-risk areas. We wanted the cameras

    to be able to alarm us when something began to happen.

STEP 2: Take an inventory.

If you have cameras already, survey what departments own them, what they are for, how they are

monitored and what format they use, then decide if any of these cameras can be folded into your new

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