Divine Video System Design

Divine Video System Design By Robert Grossman When starting a project, many people find themselves confronted with something perhaps best described as “Blank Page Syndrome.” This can be defined as the inability to get started, but it’s more than procrastination. You know in broad terms what needs to be done, and have the skills to do the job, but sometimes have trouble getting past the blank page and getting on with the effort.

If you face that when it comes to designing a video system, this installment of SSI’s ongoing “Consultant’s Notebook” series will help. We’ve detailed many of the tasks used by consulting firms to design a system, from concept to reality.

While not all of the steps are required for all systems, this should provide a good framework for determining a plan of action and getting you past the blank page.

Getting Started Entails Defining Specific Objectives, Requirements

The first step is the same regardless of the project: Determine what the objectives and specific requirements are for a particular project. While this may have already been articulated in writing, it’s always a good idea to have a face-to-face meeting with the appropriate project representatives and stakeholders.

The goal is to determine the desired system functionality and hardware configuration for a particular project. Expect a very interactive discussion — you’ll often need to guide them through this process, make suggestions and let them benefit from your past experience. This includes:

System operational and integration requirements — You’ll need to determine what you want the system to do, and what integration will be required to achieve these results.

Physical footprint — This should cover all areas, including any surveillance or security control rooms, auxiliary monitoring centers, viewing rooms, rack rooms, data closets, offices and remote viewing areas. Note any concerns such as size, accessibility, and the ability to provide power and cooling in these areas; this will be essential information when you get back to it later.

Field device locations for cameras — If you’re handling the design of complementary systems this may also include locations for card readers, controlled doors, alarm points, intercoms and other devices.

Ergonomic and architectural concerns — These include acoustical treatments and lighting in command and control areas. If cameras are to be hidden or must pass certain aesthetic standards, it is critical to know this at the onset.

Make sure you have all of the right people in the room for this meeting, or at least collect the right contact information. If your primary contact is a security-related title, be sure you’re talking to an IT contact as well, to avoid contradicting directions later (“I don’t care what security told you, I never said you could use our production network.”).

Ask for feedback from other related departments as well — human resources, for example, if access control is involved. Since feedback at this point can impact all elements of the system design, consensus is a very strong ally.

If there are existing systems, a comprehensive review should be performed. This will include hardware, software, infrastructure and existing installation quality to determine if the products in place can be enhanced or upgraded to perform some or all of the required functionality or can be used as a portion of the new system. Cabling is particularly important here, as often the existence of fiber or UTP (unshielded twisted-pair) cabling will impact your design.

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