CCTV Manufacturers, down the line to the supply chain, consultants, dealers, and designers have a single focus…SELL, SELL, SELL! What about the effectiveness and satisfaction of their clientele? Well that’s another story entirely. 

As the CCTV industry approaches 2018, citizens, business owners and governments continue to struggle with the basic questions surrounding physical and property security offered by CCTV cameras. Questions about performance, product options and features are simply too much even for a tech savvy person to grasp.  Lay people want to know how much security is enough, how much is too much, and really just how effective are CCTV systems anyway? The most important question of all is… how long is my data saved?

The key word is “liability”. The CCTV industry as a whole is not telling the public the whole truth. They know these systems are only as effective as the amount of data they save and that is not much.  The main reason these systems are purchased is for users to defend themselves against liability claims and lawsuits. The legal system is not in any rush to disprove their case.

The last twenty years have given us “eyes” where there were none. On the positive side, security cameras have been effective, but many owners of these systems report dissatisfaction and say the technology has its flaws, once they actually use it. Despite these realities, we will see more camera types, better resolution and recording software with more features like facial recognition. But why? If the data is gone after a weeks or even months. Those users that rely on their recorded data are just not happy and why should they be?  In a disturbing number of cases the data they need is simply not there. Users often don’t pay attention until they need their video data to answer a lawsuit. Installers and their supply chain don’t care if all the cameras and systems they’ve installed are actually working properly. They are too busy selling and installing the work they rely on to make a living from day to day. Surveillance systems are often too often compromised due to theft, vandalism or other calamities.  Video data is overwritten after just a few weeks, hard drives fail and data gets corrupted just like with all computers. Insurance fraud is a massive challenge today that only video footage can prove. So, if everyone was honest and everything else goes along perfectly and an event of interest is offloaded before it is overwritten, then all is right with the world. If not, and those are bigger ifs, the end user will be upset. This is a growing challenge that requires an affordable solution on every level and for every application where CCTV systems are installed. In fact, long-term storage solutions must be required not just for new installations, but for every system currently deployed in the world today. Until long term storage becomes main stream, disappointment will rain on the CCTV parade.

Missing from the industry are affordable solutions that address the technical challenges of reporting system malfunctions and backing up this data on and offsite. More importantly, what is missing is a determination to give the end user a solution that will turn an ineffective product into a life saver in a court of law. The two questions to ask the opportunist looking to install a CCTV systems are: 1) how are you planning to protect my video data for at least two years? 2) How will I know my system is always working?

As the sales dance begins you must get all promises in writing and read what you are signing before you pass money. As with most industries, skepticism is healthy. Unfortunately, some contractors will say whatever they have to in order to get the job. That unfortunately gives this vital and struggling industry a deserved bad reputation.

A CCTV system without a data backup plan is not even close to being as effective as one with a backup plan that stores for as long as the Statute of Limitations is in your State for liability claims (2-4 years).