Installing a CCTV video surveillance system on your business is an important way to help keep people and property safe. Often, the mere presence of a CCTV system can be enough to deter a would be vandal or assailant from considering performing a malicious act in your building. If something does happen, high quality images from CCTV systems – particularly systems which are IP based. IP CCTV systems can produce images in resolutions in HD 1080P, and there are even now 4K “Ultra HD” CCTV systems. These high-quality commercial camera systems can provide definitive proof of the incident and evidence in the event that it needs to be provided to the police or your insurer.
The key thing in all of these cases, however is making sure that the video does not get “lost” on the CCTV system. Most CCTV video system recorders (Digital Video Recorders or Network Video Recorders – DVRs or NVRs) keep a revolving amount of video on their hard drive, that is dependant on the size of the hard drive and number of cameras on the system. Often, this is near a month’s worth of storage, but could be significantly less depending on your system’s set up. The the hard drive size is maximized the oldest recorded camera footage begins to be over written. Thus, it becomes very important to preserve a video in the event of an incident so that the video you need isn’t lost.
There are three main ways to protect the video on your CCTV system so that it is not overwritten and lost for good in the event of an incident:
- Virtually Protecting the Video on the CCTV System
- Removing the Video from the DVR or NVR Device
- Cloud Based CCTV Storage
Virtually Protecting the Video on the CCTV System
Most CCTV Video systems have the ability to “virtually” protect the video on the recording device itself. Using this feature means that despite the hard drive filling up, the video you have protected will never be over written, but will stay saved on the DVR or NVR. Often, this type of video is specially flagged to make it easier to find later. This is a great feature and ensures that the video will not disappear if others need to review the footage. The downside to this is that if something were to happen to the NVR itself, the video would no longer be accessible. Also, the only way to view the video in this circumstance would be to access the DVR itself, making off site review of the incident footage recorded by the CCTV system at your business problematic. You can consult your DVR or NVR’s user manual to determine if your system has this ability, or if it has this feature.
Removing the Video Footage from the DVR or NVR Device
The second and most common way to protect the footage from the DVR or NVR is to remove it from the device entirely. The video is then stored on an external device, such as a USB stick, SD Memory Card, External Hard drive or CD/DVD. There are various methods to removing video footage from your CCTV video recorder, and are usually many options in terms of format and quality of file that you are able to record. generally, for police retrieval a best practice is to remove the RAW video data from the DVR or NVR. By removing the data to an external storage source like a USB drive or D/DVD, you’re ensuring that the video will not be over written. When doing this, you’ll want to ensure that the device you’re recording to is kept in a secure location that will not be lost.
Cloud-Based CCTV Storage
The third option to protect the video it to upload it to the cloud. This means uploading the video to a secure internet-based server for storage. Doing this means that you’ll need pretty robust internet service, as CCTV footage, particularly IP-based HD footage is data intensive and needs a lot of bandwidth to upload. There are services which do perform this function, however it is best to check with your CCTV installation professional to ensure that your current system, or any system you’re looking at installing is compatible with this sort of storage. When stored in the cloud, video footage can be retrieved and viewed from anywhere in the world you are able to connect to the internet.
Protecting video to use as evidence is an important part of the CCTV Chain of Custody and these three methods, which can be used alone or in coordination with each other for improved security will allow you ensure video is not lost. While a little bit older, this Best Practice from the New York Police Department on then removal of CCTV footage still contains valuable information on how to properly remove footage from your system. At FMC, we’d be happy to go over your system with you and show you how to best protect & retrieve video from it in the event of an incident. Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.