CCTV for the motor trade, car dealers, workshops, garages and car showrooms
This is a subject very close to our hearts. We set up CCTV42 because we were unhappy with the CCTV we bought and installed in our specialist Porsche car sales business. So if ever there was a company who understands CCTV for the motor trade, car dealers, workshops, garages and car showrooms we are it!
The basic ground rules are the same for the motor trade as they are for any CCTV installation. Think carefully about what you want your CCTV system to achieve. The following list would be typical.
Protection against claims against you (third party damage to vehicles etc)
Identification of individuals following incidents or attempted incidents of crime or fraud
Staff location within the business premises
You may have other tasks you want your CCTV to perform, the above are just some ideas.
CCTV Camera selection
Camera selection is essential and there will be two distinct types of cameras. Those covering general overviews and more targeted cameras which collect detailed information from a smaller area.
The size of a motor trade premises means you are unlikely to be able to cover every square inch of the property, certainly in detail, but that doesn't necessarily matter. Provided you have a clear image of a person taken at some point during their visit you can identify them should they be seen to act inappropriately on one of the general over view cameras.
To get these detailed images think where someone is likely to be and zoom a camera in on that location. A doorway, a service counter or a desk are typical places where a person has to be at some point in their visit so you could zoom a camera in to record detail. Choosing varifocal or zoom lens cameras is best because they can be manually zoomed in or out during installation to best fill the screen with your chosen subject.
For general overviews use the wider angle range of the camera's lens (ie the smaller focal length end of the range).So with a 2.8-11mm camera 2.8mm is very wide angle, 11mm more telephoto with more general purpose use somewhere in the middle.
Indoor CCTV cameras
For inside filming our 2.8-11mm cameras are extremely versatile. At one end of their range they be used as general overview cameras covering over 90 degrees field of view, at the other end of their range they can zoom in as far as you are likely to need and capture good levels of detail. You may decide that filming in complete darkness is not a requirement for your inside cameras in which case you can save money and use internal dome cameras. If you do need to be able to film in complete darkness then open faced vandal dome cameras are easy to fit and work well as do vandal dome cameras which are a little more discreet.
Outdoor CCTV cameras
For outside filming it all depends on how far away the subject matter is and how much detail you wish to record. A 2.8-11mm camera could be used to film a general overview or detail up to around 10 metres or so. Our 9-22mm cameras can capture more detail up to a distance of around 15 metres and our 6-60mm camera is able to capture extremely high levels of detail as far away as 50 or 60 metres.
Open faced vandal dome or full vandal dome cameras may prove ideal for the shorter range cameras. For longer distances you will need to use traditional day / night cameras.
Night time CCTV
At night use CCTV cameras in conjunction with background or security lighting. If a camera has built in infra red illumination that will help but it's also essential to ensure the electronics are sensitive enough to make full use of any available light so don't get too wrapped up in the supposed I/R range of a particular camera.
If you want to capture high levels of detail outside but are struggling with the area being too large one possibility is a PTZ or Pan, Tilt, Zoom camera. These can move around and zoomed in or out remotely. They can even be programmed to undertake a pre-set route between different target points. But a word of warning about PTZ cameras. They can only look in one place at a time, when they are moving the image will be blurred and they don't generally have much by way of built in infra red illumination. They are also expensive when compared to fixed cameras.
Because of the cost of PTZ cameras you could install 3 or 4 fixed cameras for the price of a PTZ camera and our thoughts are that more cameras is the way forward. To make a PTZ camera work well you really need a full time CCTV operator and the chances are you just want to fit and forget.
Number plate recording.
Given the nature of the motor trade being able to identify number plates can be an important consideration when planning your CCTV system. Assuming your DVR recorder is recording at full D1 resolution then number plate recognition is all down the the choice of CCTV camera. It is nothing to do with the monitor, zooming in on the DVR and so on. Purely the camera. We see loads of cameras which claim to be suitable for number plate filming. Most are not, certainly not if the car is some distance away from the camera.
Filming number plates during the day is easy. All you have to do is zoom in sufficiently so that the number plate fills enough of the frame for you to be able to rear it. The following guide shows how far away from the camera you will be able to read a car number plate with the lens fully zoomed in using our Sony diamond spec cameras:
2.8-11mm 10-12 metres away
9-22mm up to 15 metres away
6-60mm up to 60 metres away
Remember this is in daylight with the camera at it's most zoomed in lens adjustment. By zooming out and widening the angle of view you dramatically reduce the distance. At 2.8mm the distance reduces to around 3 metres.
Capturing number plates at night
Whilst capturing vehicle registration numbers during the day is relatively straight forward given a good CCTV camera and lens combination filming at night is anything but easy. The problem is the number plate's reflective qualities, and the UK number plates are some of the hardest to film in the world. When ever you see screen shots of number plates they will usually be foreign, less reflective plates.
You need a very specific camera to capture number plates at night and it will only film the number plate. It will not give an overall view of the subject area. We sell a specific ANPR cctv camera
but talk to us first, we can advise you on how best to go about this task.
CCTV in high risk areas
In the motor trade high risk areas could be key safes, MOT certificate storage areas, cash storage areas, tool cabinets and so on. Remember to include these areas in your CCTV system and possibly allow for these areas to be filmed in total darkness using infra red equipped cameras.
Remote access to your CCTV system over the internet
This is very useful within the motor trade and easily achievable. You can even check your cameras using a smartphone such as the iphone. There is nothing quite like knowing all is well at 2.00am or when you are away from the premises.
Good CCTV is a worthwhile investment within the motor trade given the value of items being protected. All too often it is something that is overlooked. Dummy cameras (they are called dummy for a reason!), cheap fixed lens cameras not capturing sufficient detail, DVR recorders that are not recording in sufficient resolution, broken equipment that hasn't been repaired. These are all common things we see regularly.