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June 1, 2000

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CCTV Security and Your Bottom LineKeeping crime at bay and money in the bank

CCTV Security and Your Bottom Line

Keeping crime at bay and money in the bank

By Arden Thoburn

Theself-storage industry is growing at such a rapid rate, crime can hardly keep up. As theindustry grows, so grow the many ways for criminals to take away from your bottom line. Itseems they work as hard at trying to take things away from you as you work to protect yourfacilities.

One of the most important factors in deterring crime in a facility is lighting.Another, which works closely with your lighting, is a closed-circuit television (CCTV)camera system. With adequate lighting, a CCTV system can work much more efficiently in thenight hours, when most criminals are taking advantage of dimly lit areas of your facility,exploiting a weakness in your security system. With proper lighting and camera placementin all vulnerable areas, your system can act as a deterrent to crime as much as anythingelse.

With the proper deterrents in place, you create a mental block for most perpetrators ofcrimes. You must admit that most criminal minds are lacking common sense and goodjudgement or they wouldn't be in such a predicament. What I'm getting at is that simple:Commonsense practices for deterring crimes before they happen can save on the bottom line.

You can keep it as simple as possible in regards to your security-system design, or youcan get highly sophisticated. One rule of thumb is the KISS method: Keep it simple, Sam,Simon, Sally, etc. I've found that most facilities require a very basic system. Keep inmind that if you have already purchased additional property on an adjacent lot, you mayconsider thinking ahead. This means it will require a system you can grow into, so yourdollars will be better spent and you can save on the bottom line in the long run.

One thing to consider is whether to purchase black-and-white cameras vs. color.Black-and-white cameras give higher definition and better contrast lines of resolution.Most of the time, details are in black and white. Color-camera technology has vastlyimproved in recent years; however, you can lose some details in the color spectrum as thecolor sometimes camouflages the images you're trying to improve upon. Again, you mustdecide which is the best for the bottom line.

You must also consider the type of control system for monitoring and recording of thecamera signals. Again, I must stress the need to keep it simple. The control part of thesystem is where your dollars are stretched a little. The multiplexer is a device used tocombine multiple camera signals to be recorded on one industrial video recorder, and thereare a number of types available. Two of the most common units are referred to as simplexand duplex. The simplex version gives you all the recording capabilities, butlimited displays of single or switching of cameras on the monitor as you're recording. Theduplex version gives you all recording capabilities, but more display options while you'rerecording. Obviously, the simplex version will cost you less, and we know what that means.

You can take it a step further and get into the new digital-recording devices availabletoday, and eliminate the need for videotape recorders. You can record up to 32 cameras ata maximum of 71 days with digital equipment. This product can connect through a local areanetwork (LAN), integrated services digital network (ISDN), modem or the Internet. Thesesystems are the future of the CCTV industry; however, they are more costly.

In sharpcontrast, you might consider a simple quad system, which includes a quad compression unitthat enables you to record a maximum of four cameras on an industrial recorder. You canalways replace the quad unit when growing the system with more cameras and a multiplexer.This makes for a low-budget system to work with until such time your bottom line improves.

Today, phone-line equipment with built-in modems are available for monitoring yourfacilities from the office or home. You can even carry the receiver with you on the roadand simply plug into any available standard phone line to monitor your facility. There arealso some simple software packages for monitoring your system from a laptop or homecomputer.

CCTV systems can help you market your facility in today's competitive market. You cantake a bite out of crime, but a criminal will always be biting at your heels. So beprepared, and stay a step or two ahead. Remember that CCTV can help as a deterrent tocrime as much as anything else, but there's no guarantee that CCTV will stop all crimefrom occurring. It will, however, help improve the bottom line.

Arden Thoburn is vice president, national sales manager for Greensboro, N.C.-basedCrest Electronics Inc., a manufacturer of video-security products, includingblack-and-white and color monitors, multiplexers, quads, time-lapse recorders, event-alarmrecorders, lenses, domes, video motion detectors and more. For more information, call(888) 502-7378, or visit www.crestelectronics.com.

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