CCTV Digital Recording – do you really need 31 days?

Many years ago, the options for CCTV recording were limited

Time lapse VCR, coupled with a Video Multiplexer, meant in essence 1 picture per second per camera maximum… couldn’t have different settings for different cameras, it was a global setting……everything backed up to your commonly available VHS tape.

The VCR manufacturers recommended replacing the VHS tapes every 10 uses – but more often than not, calls to a site to fix faulty VCRs led engineers to observe 31 VHS tapes that probably had never been changed since the installation was completed.

But, 31 tapes was convenient……rows of shelves with ‘week 1 Monday’ etc marked neatly on the spine of vertically positioned VHS tapes…..keen operators would add the daily cycle of removing yesterdays tape and replacing with today’s to their early morning to-do list……along with the panic if they were going to be late and the tape would run out leaving the system non-functional until the tape swap – ‘Mike, I’m late, swap the tape in the Video Recorder before Stan finds out’!!!!

Along came clever manufacturers such as Dedicated Micros and Tecton, who introduced amazing digital recorders that meant the daily routine was no longer required…….PC Hard Drives replaced the fragile VHS tapes……high quality images replaced the fuzzy images on used Tapes…..31 days recording at 1 picture per second per camera was now possible in glorious digital !!

Things have changed enormously since those first DVR days…..

DVRs now can have individual settings per camera, meaning important cameras, I.e. Cash office in retail, can benefit from more pictures per second….. Settings can also be time scheduled, allowing cameras to record continuously in one time zone and then motion only record out of hours – thus stretching record durations even further….

Add in the ability to set different qualities of picture resolution and the systems of today are truly flexible by comparison

But why are we still an industry hell bent on 31 days recording ?? Are we really stuck in the 31 day tape shelf mentality?

Too many tenders are released that stipulate ‘minimum 31 days recording’

But ask yourself this, back in the day, when were you asked to review ‘Week 2 Tuesday’ tape for vandalism to the front door?? Because, 9 times out of 10′ it wouldn’t be ignored for 31 days that the front door had been vandalised – more likely the next day at the most before Janice in Accounts let’s you know she couldn’t get in!!

Don’t get me wrong, there are applications that simply must have long term archives – banking and retail have policies that require transactions are accessible for long periods after they occur…..but in the main, most CCTV installations are designed to offer visual verification for ‘now’ or ‘nearly now’ incidents…..

With Hard Drives getting cheaper, the only real problem facing DVR manufacturers is the physical size available to hold HDDs inside…..most DVRs allowing 4 or 6Tb of internal storage without the need for external additional storage……

But, cameras are getting higher resolution…..megapixel IP Cameras, PIXCs, HD cameras, call them what you want but higher file sizes are what they offer……

Surely it would be better to record at the highest resolution and fastest picture update than to record for durations that simply aren’t needed? Reduce the duration to a week, maybe 2 if there are holidays, and see the recorded footage in the quality the manufacturers want you to see it in.

Don’t worry, the door will still get vandalised, Janice from Accounts will still let you know, but now it will be in glorious, high resolution, near real time quality!!

Let us know what you think – but get off the 31 day train !!!

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