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CCTV Buyer's Guide - Mistakes to Avoid!

CCTV cameras offer homes and businesses security against intrusion, theft or other criminal activity. Yet the effectiveness of your surveillance camera depends on a number of factors, and having one installed doesn't automatically mean you're totally protected. Ensure your premises are secure by avoiding these common CCTV camera buying mistakes.

Not Meeting Your Needs

When purchasing CCTV systems, it's vital you pick one that meets your needs exactly. What may suit one homeowner or business may not be right for another, so take your time to consider all the different options, weighing up what functions are important to you. Different cameras work in different ways, and the wrong type may not give you the security features you demand. Functionality is a key component of the camera you choose, so buy one that is easy to use and view - after all, if you don't regularly monitor footage, how can you be sure the camera is doing what it ought to.

With so many options to choose from, it makes sense to discuss your requirements with a specialist CCTV supplier, like Cricklewood Electronics.

Going for the Cheapest Option

You get what you pay for with CCTV systems, so don't expect the same quality from a cheap system compared to one that boasts state-of-the-art functionality. Having said that, if you only need a basic set-up, such as for outside your home, you probably won't need to blow your budget on the most bespoke model. It's also inadvisable to assume you can save money by installing CCTV systems yourself. Unless you possess expert knowledge, it makes sense to leave installation to the professionals. That way, if anything goes wrong with your system, you can call on them to fix the problem. Crucially, professional installation ensures cameras are correctly and appropriately positioned and secured in place.

Not Considering Lighting

Don't forget to think about lighting options when purchasing your CCTV camera. If you intend to use your camera at night, it will need to have lighting functionality in order to capture viewable footage. Some cameras come with inbuilt infra-red lighting and others operate on a sensor system. When buying your surveillance camera, think about how the lighting outside may also affect the system. Exposure to glare or bright lights can compromise the quality of your footage, so consider how the lighting changes throughout the day in the places you intend to locate your cameras.

Disregarding Positioning

Which CCTV camera you choose should depend
on where you intend to place it, and what area of footage you want to capture from the camera. Carry out an assessment of your premises and where cameras will be placed before you go CCTV shopping. Some cameras have a fixed viewfinder on a single area, which is ideal for focusing on entrances only, whereas others can rotate, zoom and tilt, giving you more flexibility in coverage. Make sure that the CCTV camera you buy covers all vulnerable areas, and is correctly installed but not in obvious view.

Failure to Consider Connectivity

An increasing number of CCTV systems operate wirelessly, and if you choose this option, it's important to make sure you install the camera so that it can operate effectively within the set range of your wireless hub. Failure to do so could make your CCTV systems useless. Crucially, ensure that you have the technology and software in place to operate a wireless system and that there is someone to hand who knows how to use the systems. If you think internet connectivity may be an issue, consider purchasing analogue CCTV systems or even hybrid installations, for peace of mind.

CCTV cameras are everywhere, it seems you can't get away with anything these days. But not all things CCTV cameras pick up are bad. Some of them are very, very funny.

To prove it, here are 8 of the funniest things we've ever seen on CCTV.

bad day at work

If you've been yelled at, at work today, think about this guy. Just one lapse of concentration and this forklift truck driver destroyed £100,000 of vodka. It's not clear if he had been sampling the produce before this little mishap, but he may have needed a drink afterwards. Fortunately no one was seriously injured in this accident, except a little damaged pride maybe.

fed ex delivery

We've all done it, but this FedEx delivery guy takes it to another level. Lesson to self, don't try and chase a van that's rolling down the street, it's only gonna end badly. Still at least the dogs looked like they enjoyed it.

Worst Bike Theft Fail Ever

Sometimes you just think some people should do something else for a living. This guy is a good example, probably the worst bike thief you will ever witness. Not only does he not realise he is being watched by CCTV, he doesn't think to open the gate far enough first. Still, give him credit, he keeps trying even after the owner has turned up with a spade.

World's Most Incompetent Robber

If you're going to wear a balaclava, it's a good idea to cut holes for eyes before you enter the building. Otherwise you'll end up like this guy, fumbling around in the dark and falling over the stuff you're supposed to be stealing.

This is One Way to Prevent Being Caught in the Act... NOT

If you don't want to be caught on CCTV you could always try disabling the CCTV camera, although it's a good idea to make sure it's not working first. Otherwise you will literally be caught in the act.

Who Smashed that Door?

A shop owner checks his CCTV footage to see which lunatic smashed his glass door in a case of wanton vandalism. He was shocked to find the culprit wasn't the local hoodies, but a feline chasing dog. They do say cats are smarter than dogs, I guess this proves it.

Nothing Like Relaxing in the Pool After a Hard Days Work

If you have a pool in your back garden, it's free for anyone in the neighbourhood to use, right? Well that's the way this particular bear sees things and who are you to argue with him?

Worst Parallel Parking Ever

Sometimes you gotta think it might just be easier to find another place to park, right? But you have to admire their persistence, even after crashing into another car they still came back for more. But if that fails, just turn the car around and try it from a different angle.

Joking aside, CCTV & surveillance cameras are a great way to protect your property from theft and damage. Despite what some of these clips show, most burglars will think twice before attempting to gain entry to a property that is protected by CCTV systems.

For more information about the commercial and domestic CCTV options open to you, give the friendly Cricklewood Electronics team a call on 020 84520161.

The History
of Video Surveillance

In his dystopian novel "1984", George Orwell wrote the now infamous words

"Big Brother is watching you".

Writing in 1949 some four years after the Second World War, Orwell hinted at what was to come; perhaps not realising quite how clearly he was predicting the future. It did, however, popularise the notion of video monitoring and paved the way for a technological revolution that would mean every action and movement we made could be captured and re-played.

Where it Began...

The development of the first movie cameras were actually developed way back in 1880 by Thomas Edison and William Dickson, who had decided to approach the idea of inventing such a device but in two different ways. In 1942 CCTV was first used in Germany; at the time, with the intention of monitoring the launch of V-2 rockets. The first commercial CCTV system entered the US market in 1949 - known as 'Vericon' and was granted a patent in 1969.

How the VTR paved the way...

With early CCTV, it was only possible to monitor areas remotely and constantly rather than record and store information. It was a manually demanding process and open to error. By 1951, the VTR (Video Tape Recorder) had been invented and it was now possible to record live images direct from a television camera.

When VTR became commercially available in 1956, it was united with CCTV to record surveillance and view at a later time. This changed the way information could be recorded, erased and watched. Throughout the 1960s, it became more common for surveillance cameras to be in use and police had started adopting them to monitor behaviour in public places.

Temporary cameras were also installed in Trafalgar Square in London, England, in 1960 with the aim of keeping a watchful eye over the Thai royalty during a visit to England. Grainy black and white images, resembling nothing of what we know CCTV to look like today, were the first steps towards all corners of London being covered by CCTV systems.

The 70's & 80's

However, it wasn't until the 1970s that the CCTV camera and their development really took off. By the seventies, VCRs (video cassette recordings) had become increasingly available; as such, the developing technology helped to progress CCTV systems and developed how the CCTV camera functioned. Once 1975 came round, video surveillance cameras had been installed in underground train stations, enabling staff to monitor the movements and behaviour of passengers. 

This then expanded and video surveillance was included on key motorways too in order to track traffic flow. By 1988, local authorities had also installed them on "council estates".

the 90's

During the nineties, 'digital multiplexing' was introduced, which meant it was possible to allow for various cameras to record many areas at the same time and bring them together on one monitor. For monitoring traffic and large public spaces, it pushed forward how omnipresent those watching could become. 

It was also in 1992 that speed cameras and enforcement cameras found their place on British roads, and drivers were scrutinised more closely than ever before. During the nineties, motion-only and time-lapse recording became popular too and developed the way in which areas could be monitored. 

In this time, many businesses invested heavily in CCTV and it became more common to see them around as a way of 'protecting' the public. By 1996, the government was putting more than three-quarters of their crime prevention budget into CCTV. The rise in CCTV helped to further progress crime prevention and was used widely in prosecutions as evidence.

Flash Forward,
It's 2017...

Nowadays, it is common to see both overt and covert surveillance cameras in just about any location - from shops to cinemas, car parks to housing estates, on private property to public transport, on car dash cams to Police Officer Body Cameras - we are constantly being watched. 

For the police, body-worn cameras helped reduce complaints by 93% once introduced and around 22,000 cameras were issued to all neighbourhood and response officers in London alone during 2016, costing nearly £10 million. As of 2017, there are thought to be around 350 million surveillance cameras globally - with 65 per cent of these believed to be situated within Asia. There are now also over 15,500 cameras on the London tube system with information retained from stations for 14 days and from trains for 72 hours. The growth of CCTV has recently begun slowing down, although with the use of mobile phones ever constant, there isn't a day that passes where someone, somewhere, isn't able to track or record our movements.

The risk of crime and a need for peace of mind sees many small businesses investing in low-cost CCTV systems. The reduction in size of security cameras, and the rise in smart monitoring systems, means that anyone can install a camera on their property to monitor a busy location, a high risk area like the counter or till, or a likely access point.

Equipped with infra-red night vision, motion detection, and a HD camera to capture events, a single camera can cost from around £50 to £199, and help provide peace of mind for small business owners. Clusters of cameras with local recording features cost from around £150. These can help cover all essential points for a business with minimum installation, and can be as high profile or as easy-to-conceal as needed.

Types of CCTV

For wider surveillance, CCTV cameras can be installed inside or outdoors, these can be placed focused on entry points, or to monitor a room. Most units are fixed, but have wide angle lenses up to around 130 degrees. Even so, you need to install or point them in the right direction. Most are mains powered, so require a power point, but a few models offer battery power so you can hide them almost anywhere for extended periods of time, just remember to change the batteries.

More expensive models have rotating surveillance cameras to monitor a wider area. They use 360-degree microwave sensors to monitor movement, and can then point the camera in the area of any activity. If you require finer control of the cameras, for example if you have staff on hand to monitor the system, then higher-end systems come with units that can be controlled from a PC or mobile app.

Software & Storage for CCTV

The majority of business class CCTV devices store their footage locally. However, sending that data to a cloud internet service is increasingly popular. Often, storage is free for a limited time, but if you want to keep the footage for longer, you will have to pay a subscription. Most smart CCTV devices will send the user an alert to their smartphone when motion is detected. An app can let users set up times when the camera is operating, and the alerts can be fine-tuned to stop detecting a pet moving around or shifting shadows causing false alarms. A few devices, often waterproof for outdoor use, come with the ability to record footage locally, to an SD card, this means they don't need to be near a WiFi access point, which can help cover areas like those at the far end of a large business, or out by a storage area, car park, garage or shed.

Maximising Coverage with CCTV at Home or Work

If one camera isn't enough, several makers offer systems that can be purchased with multiple cameras, helping reduce the cost, and allowing for coverage of a wider area, or multiple offices or rooms. These systems can provide area coverage, alerting workers when there is potential trouble at the other end of a larger premises. CCTV solutions now come in many guises, depending on your need to protect a business premises or the home. Modern door bells come with a monitoring camera, plus a microphone and speaker built in, so you can use them to communicate with delivery people or visitors while out, or if you don't want to answer the door, you can still see who is there.

Whatever your CCTV needs, there are solutions for all use cases, with prices falling rapidly making it more affordable to protect home or business.

These days, it is fair to say that the majority of industries can benefit from introducing surveillance systems like CCTV. However, there are eight industries that would probably be doomed if they didn't invest in some sort of surveillance cameras.

Here's a little look at which industries should give the most thought to their security.

Sadly the transport industry can be prone to issues such as fare-skipping, vandalism and physical conflicts. In the past few years, there's been a huge increase in incidents being recorded by passengers and then uploaded onto the internet. The transport industry doesn't need to rely solely on this as they do have their own CCTV systems in place to prevent crime. If they didn't, the industry could be doomed.

Shoplifters would have a field day if the retail industry suddenly became lax on their security. Crime would no doubt skyrocket as people could grab a handful of goods and make their way out of top tier shops without being caught by a CCTV camera.

The finance industry handles extremely sensitive information. Because of this they must take extreme measures - such as promoting top calibre security - to avoid people getting their
hands on this information. If they didn't, there's no telling who could target the industry.

Casinos are always on the lookout for those who are card counting or acting suspiciously. With some large sums of money at stake, the industry could crumble by letting such miscreants fly under the radar.

The government's job is to help the country run as smoothly as possible. They do this by obtaining information - often from avenues such as CCTV. It's more than obvious that the government would struggle to gather resources if they didn't have such systems in place. In fact, the country could open itself up to a possible terror attack.

Industries that require an alcohol licence - such as bars, pubs or clubs - will forever need CCTV. People who are under the influence are much more likely to act out of character and possibly commit a crime. These crimes range all the way from public urination to scrapping over a spilt drink.

The healthcare industry has a responsibility to keep people safe when they are at their most vulnerable. Therefore they must use CCTV - often in areas such as entrances to hospitals - to make sure patients aren't at risk at any time. Without such functions, medical professionals would not be doing their job to the best of their ability.

The police would sometimes be lost without the use of security surveillance. More often than not, the police force can track down criminals purely from obtaining footage of them in the act. Without such security in place, these criminals could continue to roam the streets freely.

It's All About Security

There is no telling what could happen to these eight industries without CCTV.
Luckily, surveillance systems are more readily available than ever and safety is a priority like never before.

The modern world revolves around security, with CCTV systems and surveillance cameras being almost everywhere you look. It's a trope that has captured the imagination of the entertainment industry - in due course spurning a number of highly successful films and TV shows.

Here's a look at 12 of the best surveillance films and TV shows out there.

Person of Interest sees John Reese - played by Jim Caviezel - working to prevent crimes with help from a mass-surveillance computer system known as The Machine. The gripping series aired 103 episodes before coming to a conclusion in June 2016.

Mr. Robot sees hacker and cyber security engineer Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) join a hacktivist group aiming to cancel all debts. The show - which also stars Christian Slater - has so far aired two highly acclaimed series and will be returning with a third in 2017.

The Jason Bourne franchise has turned over billions after cinema-goers fell in love with Matt Damon's portrayal of a CIA assassin suffering from memory loss. Some of the best parts of the franchise see Bourne dodging CCTV to go unnoticed. The franchise has been a box office winner since it debuted in 2002.

Eagle Eye sees Jerry and Rachel - played by Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan - being coerced into carrying out a terrorist plot by super AI computer ARIIA. The two are essentially
helpless after modern technology is used to track their entire life - the movie was released in 2008.

Homeland has held a special place in viewers' hearts since it hit screens in 2011. With an acclaimed cast including Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Morena Baccarin, it shines a light on
the rollercoaster world of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The film Closed Circuit starts with a bang when London's Borough Market falls victim to a terrorist attack. A CCTV camera picks up what happens just before the attack, but the case isn't so straightforward. The political thriller was released in 2013.

British drama Spooks follows the ups and downs of MI5 officers based in London. Every episode of the drama, which aired on BBC One from 2002 to 2011, featured non-stop drama. The series was widely praised by viewers who couldn't get enough of the storylines and cliffhangers. The show starred Peter Firth and Matthew Macfadyen.

American TV series The Wire had viewers absorbed from day one. The crime drama zoomed in on several different aspects of Baltimore, from law enforcement, mass surveillance to government bureaucracy. The show premiered in 2002 and aired its final episode in 2008.

Enemy of the State focuses on what happens when a congressman proposes a new bill to expand the surveillance powers currently held by intelligence agencies. Let's just say things
don't run too smoothly. The 1998 film stars Jack Black and Will Smith

Captain America: Winter Soldier puts an action-packed spin on your typical conspiracy film. Yes, it's a superhero film, but there is actually a detailed plot between all the special effects. The film raked in a huge $714 million when it was released back in 2014, starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.

Tom Cruise ushered in the 'cyberpunk' genre when he starred in Minority Report in 2002. The movie revolves around law enforcement officer John Anderton, who panics after AI crime- preventing system Pre-Cogs forecasts he will soon commit a murder. The movie later sparked a short-lived television sequel in 2015.

Channel 4 billed Hunted as a 'real life thriller' before it dropped in 2015. The six-part reality series saw 12 civilians being named as 'fugitives' before being tasked with escaping intelligence officers & mass surveillance systems for 28 days. The first season was so popular that a second season has already been commissioned for later this year.

a genre that's not slowing down

It's clear that the entertainment industry has no plans to pull back on the security genre. After all, the aforementioned movies and TV shows have been so wildly successful that it's obvious people still can't get enough. From action and drama to spies, secret agents & surveillance systems, there's certainly something for everyone.

CCTV camera installations have been on the up for many decades. The practical reasons, as well as the ethical implications, of using CCTV systems seem to have been debated for just as long. Yet very little studies have actually been conducted into the amount of CCTV cameras currently installed in major cities around the world.We've drilled down the various stats to work out what we think are the eight most watched cities in the world....

Chongqing, China

500,000 (est.)

The Chinese city of Chongqing is one of the most populated cities in the world. Estimates in 2012 from state sources suggested that cameras installed in the city were likely to exceed an extraordinary 500,000. If the estimates are true, Chongqing could be the most watched city in the world.

Beijing, China

470,000 (est.)

It's likely to be no surprise to see yet another heavily- opulated Chinese city topping the list. While estimates were previously at approximately 400,000, the state-run Beijing Security and Protection Industry (BSPIA) has claimed that some 70,000 CCTV camera systems have been installed since 2010. It's likely that both Chongqing and Beijing have so many cameras due to both major cities having seen a staggering three-fold population increase since 1990.

london, uk

442,000 (est.)

It's estimated that the United Kingdom may be home to up to 20% of the world's total CCTV systems. So it will come as no surprise to see capital city London nearing the top of the list. UK authorities have been installing security cameras since the 1960s and, as of 1996, all major cities had CCTV systems installed.

New Delhi, India

32, 000(est.)

New Delhi, another major city which has seen a
near-threefold increase in population since 1990, is likely to have about 32,000 cameras today. It's thought that 13,000 of these cameras are ran by the Delhi Police; 1,000 are ran by civil agencies; and a staggering 17,000 have been installed by members of the public, like shopkeepers.

chicago, usa

22, 000(est.)

Figures relating to cameras within US cities are hard to find, but we do know there is thought to be over 20,000 in Chicago. This is largely thanks to a Homeland Security Grid (Operation Virtual Shield) being established there in 2005. It's also thought that there have been 4,000 cameras installed by Chicago's public school authorities, and approximately 1,000 at O'Hare International Airport.

houston, usa

17, 000(est.)

Figures relating to the city's surveillance camera numbers are based on Houston's comparable
crime rate to Chicago.

new york,usa

10, 000(est.)

It may surprise many to see New York so far down
the list and so sparsely populated by CCTV cameras. However, it is likely that there are many more CCTV systems in the Big Apple. What we do know of are at least 6,000 surveillance cameras, and approximately 4,300 cameras in the subway system. However, half of the cameras in the subway system are thought to be non-operational.

washington d.c, usa

estimate unknown

While there are no figures associated with the city, a popular men's magazine compared stats and concluded that Washington D.C. was one of the most popular locations in the US for CCTV cameras. This seems quite obvious given that Washington D.C. is home to the White House and the US President – making it likely to be one of the most watched cities in the world for global security reasons.