Using software for CCTV system design
When designing a CCTV system, one of the most important things to figure out is where and how to place your video cameras. Cameras using different sensor sizes and variable lens focus lengths will have different viewing angles and it is a tricky task to figure out the perfect positioning to achieve the required field of view for each camera.
Thankfully there is some technology to help, in the form of CCTV design software. If you are considering using software to help you design your CCTV system, you are probably wondering which software will be best suited to your needs. Here we review some of the most popular design software applications and evaluate their usefulness for various projects.
JVSG – IP Video System Design Tool
Designed by Joint Video Surveillance Group, this software has a nice, user friendly interface and has good functionality. The software allows the user to calculate the cameras focal length, field of view and to see how changes in positioning and angle will affect the viewing angle using a two dimensional drawing. The tool allows for estimations of storage space required for your digital recordings as well as calculations of the network traffic levels, which is essential for IP video systems.
The price is highly competitive and users can opt to take a free 30 day trial before making a purchase decision. Whilst the software is highly sophisticated and useable, there are some features lacking from its portfolio. Users consulting for clients with multiple sites will find they need to create a new project for each site, making the presentation to the client more lengthy and involved than if you could create one project for the client and have different tabs for his sites.
Similarly, it is not currently possible to export the images of the design to present to the client. If you wish to work these into a presentation the only way currently is to copy and paste which results in a loss of image quality
NAAA – CCTV Pro Electronic Toolbox
Brought to you by the National Alarm Association of America, this software is an amalgamation of several useful calculators which can help you design and plan your CCTV installation. Probably the most useful of these is the field of view (FOV) calculator which allows you to plot the view available from the camera in differing positions on the structure.
Unfortunately this potentially useful feature lets itself down in that it only plots your FOV in one horizontal direction, whereas other software has been designed to calculate both horizontal and vertical projections. In general the software is very basic and not entirely useful for anything more than the most straightforward of CCTV installations.
Pelco – Camera Tool
The Pelco camera tool is a free tool available to anyone and has been designed to help customers, dealers and installers to find the optimum positioning for cameras in a range of locations. By combining location data with images from Google Earth and Google Maps, the tool helps system designers to determine the optimum camera parameters for video operation.
The modelling this tool performs will allow you some insight into the range of the cameras vision, the field of view for each camera and the ability to analyse the video at varying distances. Although not as full featured as JVSG’s software, this tool is free to use and still a good place to start if you aren’t keen to invest in paid for software.
Probably the most multifunctional design software available, VideoCAD allows 3D modelling of the surveillance area and very in depth design parameters to be explored. The user interface is straightforward making it suitable even for beginners, whilst the extensive functionality means even experienced systems designers and engineers can benefit from its features. It enables import and export of design specifications and calculations, a feature which JVSG is sorely lacking at the current time.
However, the software has developed a reputation for being slightly over engineered, over complicated and expensive so for many moderately complex system designs this may be more than you were asking for.
Due to the competitive pricing and the user friendly interface, we highly recommend JVSG unless you desperately need a top of the line solution designed primarily for engineers. Then go with VideoCAD.