Security Camera Training ClassroomUnderstanding Video Surveillance

This frequently asked questions (FAQ) page is designed to increase your understanding of video surveillance and make it easy to select the best security camera system for your needs.

Our goal is simple: to quickly educate consumers so that they are less likely to be taken advantage of. Information about our company is intentionally minimized. Moreover, the information presented here on this page extends to services we do not provide, such as nanny cams (our company deals primarily with business and government clients and does not actively seek residential work).

Only the last few questions contain information specific to video surveillance installation services offered by Integramax. Whether you choose to do business with us, someone else, or install yourself, we hope you find this information helpful.

We have gone out of our way to avoid geek-speak and avoid acronyms. If you have any difficulty, a glossary is provided at the end of this page.

If your question is not listed here, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

I want wireless security cameras. Do you offer them?

No. And you really don’t want them. Trust us, you don’t.

“Do you offer wireless security cameras?” is far and away the number one question we are asked.

This question is understandable as wireless devices, from smartphones to iPads to laptops, are ubiquitous today.

What people overlook is that while smartphones and tablets are wireless with regard to data,  they are anything but wireless when it comes to power–as anyone who has ever hunted for a charging cord at noon can easily attest to.

The same holds true for “wireless” security cameras. While they transmit data over Wi-Fi, wireless security cameras require a separate power source in the form of a traditional electrical outlet right next to each camera.

Installation of new outlets requires a licensed electrician and is thus substantially more expensive than wired security camera solutions.  Outlets have water resistance issues and can easily be unplugged by a potential perpetrator. Having a big black square plug a few feet from each camera looks also looks ugly and obtrusive.

Finally, a wireless security camera system can easily be put out of business with a Wi-Fi jammer. Although highly illegal, these devices are easily ordered from China for under $100 and are approximately the size of a pack of cigarettes.

Integramax deals exclusively in professional, commercial quality HD security cameras.

Our video surveillance systems transmit data and receive power through a standard Ethernet computer cable that looks very similar to telephone wire. This arrangement, known as Power over Ethernet (PoE), is simpler and less expensive to run than electrical wire. It is also safer, as the entire system is low voltage. There are no ugly big, black wall plugs. Just sleek, clean installs. Finally, PoE-based systems are not susceptible to electronic countermeasures (jamming).

Government facilities, casinos, banks and other places where security is mission critical do not employ Wi-Fi security cameras. In police work, we call this a clue.

Temporary systems that require a fast, covert install are the only situations in which we routinely recommend wireless security cameras. These installations tend to be performed at the behest of law enforcement agencies, private investigators, attorneys and business owners and are almost always in support of active investigations.

Covert wireless devices still have all the shortcomings of other wireless cameras (AC or battery power requirement, susceptibility to jamming, etc). There is a substantial reliability gap when compared to permanent installs. For battery powered units, frequent service is required in the form of battery changes. If you have a specific need for a temporary, low-profile video system, it is wise to consider having it supplied by a firm that will provide support in a timely manner when issues arise (and they will!).

 

What is the most important thing to consider when selecting video surveillance cameras?

 Resolution.

While there are certainly other important things to consider such as sensor quality, frame rate, night performance, motion detection accuracy and storage capacity, having adequate resolution is by far the most important attribute to insist on when selecting a security camera system.

Resolution is a term that describes the amount of detail that a security camera can capture. Simply put, high resolution video systems capture a sharp picture with lots of details. Low resolution systems produce blurry images that are overwhelmingly less than useful.

One of the greatest frustrations we have experienced while serving in law enforcement is retrieving video footage from a crime scene only to discover that what was captured has little to no evidentiary value due to poor quality (read: low resolution) video security cameras. If you want clear images of faces and a chance at capturing license plates, you need the highest resolution camera system you can afford.

More resolution=more detail=better evidence. It’s that simple.

 

What resolution should I be looking for when buying security cameras?

You should be considering security cameras systems with a resolution of 2.1 megapixels (aka “1080p”) or greater.

Equipment meeting this standard can be purchased at reasonable prices, and is the minimum that any responsible company would install in the year 2016.

Before considering a proposal from any firm, you should insist that the numerical resolution of the system you are considering is clearly indicated on a written estimate. Preparation of a proposal without this this information being featured prominently is absolutely a red flag.

Be very careful with non-numerical descriptions of resolution.

The term “high definition” (HD) has a specific meaning that correlates with a numerical resolution, specifically 720p (aka 1280 x 720 aka 0.9 megapixels).1080p (aka 1920 x 1080 aka 2.1 megapixels) provides even greater resolution.

A favorite term among unscrupulous security camera salespeople is “high resolution.” This is a made up term that does not have a quantifiable definition in the industry! It is often used to intentionally obfuscate things for consumers.

Under no circumstances should you be considering analog security cameras or any video surveillance system with a resolution of less than 2.1 megapixels in this day and age for a new install. Regrettably, there are still companies peddling inferior “legacy” systems consisting of obsolescent analog technology. These systems can be purchased at wholesale very inexpensively, allowing for extremely high profit margins.

“Hybrid” is another misleading term frequently used by less-than-ethical companies. It is an attempt to get you to believe that you are getting a system that is somewhere between analog and digital. Don’t be fooled—this is an analog system!

The only reason to remotely consider one of these “hybrid” systems is when you have an existing analog security camera system permanently installed behind drywall in at an existing location. In this situation, you may wish to consider a setup that allows you to leverage your existing coaxial cable. This solution is not ideal, but may be the most prudent option in certain situations.

Our preference is for security cameras with a resolution of  3 megapixels (2048 x 1536) to 6 megapixels (2560×2048) resolution. 2.1 megapixels (1080p) is the absolute lowest we will go.

 

I know that technology changes quickly. If I wire my location with Cat 6 (Ethernet), will I have to rewire a in a few years?

If you wire your location with Cat 6 for PoE security cameras, you will absolutely NOT need to rewire.

Ethernet has been the standard for computer networking for more than 30 years. It has also been the method of install for professional grade CCTV systems for at least ten years. While the category (speed rating) of cable improves incrementally, the installation of category 6 (the current standard for Ethernet) video surveillance camera wiring is essentially future proof.

What IS obsolete right now is the coaxial cable (aka “coax”) used in analog security camera systems. If you install an analog video surveillance system, all existing wiring will have to be replaced if you want to upgrade to a pure digital IP-based security camera system in the future. There is absolutely no justification for doing this in a new install!

Take home point: If there are two things we can tell you to ensure that you receive a system that is both capable today and ready for the future, insist on:

  1. IP based security cameras with a minimum resolution of 2.1 MP; and
  2. All wiring via Cat 6 (PoE).

 

Can my existing home or business wireless or wired router power PoE security camera systems?

No.

Traditional routers do not supply power, only data.

In order to power PoE security camera systems, you need an inexpensive device known as a “PoE switch.” This device connects to one of the wired ports of your router and receives power from a single AC outlet. The power from the PoE switch can then be distributed to all of your cameras.  Some network video recorder (NVR) devices can also serve as PoE switches

 

Do Security Cameras Record All the Time?

It depends on how you configure them. Most camera systems are capable of constant recording. If you do not want them to record all the time, a great deal of cameras are also capable of motion detection based recording. These systems vary widely in their level of accuracy.

 

What is a network video recorder (NVR)?

A network video recorder (NVR) is a more advanced version of the traditional digital video recorder (DVR). The former is a feature of digital security camera systems and the latter associated with analog. In conversation, these terms are often used synonymously.

 

 

How long can video from security cameras be saved before the system overwrites?

 The amount of time for which security camera footage can be saved is known in the video surveillance industry as “retention.”

The length of retention for each system depends on a number of variables. These include resolution, frame rate, number of cameras per NVR, and the number and size of the hard drives in each NVR. Generally speaking, our clients can retrieve high definition video for time periods measured in weeks if not months.

 

Do most video security camera systems feature remote access? Should there be a monthly charge?

Any good security camera system on the market today is going to feature remote access. While the initial setup can often be difficult (it tends to involve “port forwarding” on your router or establishment of a VPN, you should NOT pay a monthly fee for being able to access your cameras remotely via laptop, desktop, tablet and mobile phone. There is absolutely NO monthly charge or any fee other than the initial setup fee.

The only exception would be in a special application surveillance type system, which is a temporary covert setup that usually involves battery powered hidden cameras. In addition to the fact that these systems often transmit over cellular data (e.g. 4G) as opposed to Wi-Fi, the need to change batteries combined with the inherent lesser reliability of wireless systems makes leasing the equipment a wiser choice than buying.

 

Is business class internet access (static IP) required at the site with the cameras?

No. If you do not have a static IP address for your internet service, dynamic DNS is an inexpensive option. It simply requires a modern router that supports this protocol.

 

What does the term “enterprise” mean with regard to information technology?

 The term “enterprise” refers to a large corporate or government organization that requires systems that are highly expandable (aka “scalable”) extremely reliable and have robust security features.

 

What are the leading brands of video surveillance cameras?

The major players in the enterprise-level security cameras market are ACTi, Axis and Mobotix. The small business/residential video surveillance market is led by several Chinese companies including Dahua and Hikvision.

 

What security cameras do you recommend in each genre?

Integramax proudly features Mobotix security cameras in our enterprise-level video surveillance systems and rebranded Hikvision products for less mission critical applications.

Mobotix Summary Mobotix is a German company that has been making high end digital security cameras since 2000. As of March 2016, a majority of the company has been owned by Japanese imaging corporation Konica Minolta. The company’s products are incredibly reliable because they contain absolutely no moving parts.

Resolution is extremely high (up to 6 megapixel) and night performance is excellent. No NVR is required as each camera can accept a small memory card internally (this is transparent to the user—video can be viewed from any computer or mobile device as if an NVR was present). Mobotix features the most accurate motion detection in the security camera industry. Mobotix security camera systems rarely issue a false alert for the presence of motion, even in the most ferocious weather. Finally, two-way audio (which can easily be disabled) is either standard or an option on every camera the company sells.

The negative side of Mobotix products is that they are relatively difficult to configure. The cameras have dozens of settings, most of which have to be entered individually for every single camera. The process is time-consuming even for the most skilled administrator. For this reason, self-installation of Mobotix products is not recommended. Even if you are very capable with technology, it is a good idea to seek out the comprehensive training that the company provides or work alongside an experienced admin when configuring your first few Mobotix security cameras.

Hikvision Summary Hikvision (pronounced “hike-vision”) is a Chinese firm that sells security cameras and camera parts to dozens of other companies. “Hik” products are frequently rebranded with the names of third party companies. These companies also provide technical support and warranty service. Most cameras that actually display the Hikvision brand name when sold on the US market tend to be diverted “gray market” goods that carry no warranty, so third-party badging is often preferable in most cases. Hikvision is best known for providing absolutely incredible image quality at a very low price point. The quality/price balance that the company introduced in recent years has essentially served as a disruptive technology for the rest of the industry.  Night performance is good, but depends on infrared (IR) illuminators (spotlights invisible to the human eye) that are built in to each camera, encircling the lens.

While Hikvision does feature motion detection in their security cameras, the company’s technology is far less impressive when compared to Mobotix. The cameras register frequent false positives, especially when mounted outdoors. During the summer, the IR illuminators around the lenses will attract attention from insect after insect, each one tripping a motion alarm as it flies by to take a look. During rain and/or snow, expect near constant recording until the precipitation subsides, filling your valuable storage space.

Mobotix vs. Hikvision Security Camera Summary
Feature Hikvision Mobotix
Resolution Excellent Excellent
Frame rate  Excellent Fair
Night Performance Excellent Excellent
Subjective Image Quality Excellent Good, with the exception of contrast between white and other light colors
Motion Detection Accuracy Poor (numerous false positives) unless PIR sensor is installed Excellent
Internal Storage  LIMITED YES
Remote Access YES YES
Internal Speaker no (can be added to some models) YES
Internal Microphone no (can be added to some models) YES
COST $ $$$

* While Mobotix image quality is generally outstanding, the cameras can have difficulty with high levels of contrast (e.g. a very bright object in an otherwise dark scene). The negative effects can be minimized with careful configuration of exposure settings, but the process is time consuming and imperfect. We have made it clear to Mobotix that true wide dynamic range (WDR) is the most important feature that we would like to see in the next generation of Mobotix cameras.

 

What is frame rate? Why is it important?

Video cameras are essentially still cameras that shoot pictures at a very rapid rate. When the pictures are played back to us in rapid succession, we perceive this as moving video.

Frame rate, which is communicated in terms of frames per second (FPS), refers to the number of individual picture frames that a camera shoots in one second. If frame rate is too low, we perceive the video produced as being choppy. High frame rates = smooth motion video.

That being said, frame rate is often overrated with regard to security cameras. Surveillance video frame rates only need to be fast enough to capture the actions of particular persons.

1 divided by the frame rate your camera records at tells you how much time elapses between each individual picture being taken. Thus, a security camera operating at 4 FPS is sufficient to document any actions that can not be completed in less than 1/4 (0.25) of a second.

While high frame rates are nice, they are generally not part of the picture clarity equation. Resolution, shutter speed, and the ability to handle contrast/dynamic range together equal picture clarity. While the security cameras we recommend are capable of frame rates in excess of 20 FPS, we will take picture clarity over frame rate any day.

Moreover, extremely high frame rates tend to fill up storage devices extremely fast, limiting retention period. For this reason, we often intentionally limit frame rate even when using high end security cameras in order to preserve storage space.

 

What is your recommendation with regard to conspicuous vs. concealed mounting of video surveillance cameras?

 Concealed vs. conspicuous mounting of security cameras has long been a topic of debate in the physical security industry.  After much impassioned debate, we have come to the conclusion that conspicuously mounted cameras are the way to go.

Mounting visibility is a question of deterrence vs. apprehension. And if faced with the choice of deterring a crime from happening or addressing it after the fact, we will choose deterrence each and every single time.

When career criminals are debriefed, the sight of security cameras consistently tops the list of features that they are looking for when deciding on whether or not to hit a particular target. Simply put, conspicuously video surveillance systems deter criminal activity like nothing else.

A vast majority of criminals are predators of opportunity. If they approach a location and notice that the target is ringed with security cameras , the overwhelming reaction of most criminals is to abandon ship and seek an easier mark. It’s the technical equivalent of hearing a loud bark, looking in the window, and seeing a large German shepherd. Why hit a hardened target when there are plenty of soft targets, likely right in the same neighborhood? Perseverance in the face of adversity is not a common character trait amongst the criminal element. Remember, if they were hardworking and persistent, instead of being criminals, they would have real jobs.

So what about apprehension? Of course we would like to see criminals arrested and prosecuted. If we choose to use hidden security cameras, we absolutely have a greater chance of catching people.

Regrettably, in order to catch suspects, a crime needs to occur. Your property is still missing or damaged. There is a good chance that anything stolen has already been sold by the perpetrator to persons unknown to him, likely within hours of the break-in.

If the suspect eventually IS identified and the district attorney chooses to prosecute, expect to be in court on a monthly basis for the better part of a year. It is our first-hand experience appearing in court in support of surveillance video that convinced us that deterrence is highly preferable to apprehension. Constantly rearranging your schedule to accommodate yet another adjournment gets old, quick. Trust us.

Thus, all of our security cameras will be positioned in the most obvious effective positions unless our clients request otherwise.

The only exception to this is in situations where there is an active and specific investigation underway. In this situation, our Special Application Surveillance Group is available on short notice to covertly install low-profile hidden security cameras ideal for identifying and apprehending a perpetrator. In addition to providing equipment, this unit provides rapid response troubleshooting and maintenance (e.g. battery changes) to our covert camera systems as part of our comprehensive service plans.

Once the situation has been addressed, our recommendation is to follow up with the immediate installation of a traditional visible system.

 

How do I properly position security cameras in order to avoid blind spots or poor quality images?

 In general, the proper placement for mounting security cameras is at least 12’ to 15’ feet above ground level.

The goal is to mount high enough to prevent a man of average height from disabling the cameras using a broomstick or other object that he finds on site, yet not so high that we only capture the top of the head of pedestrians walking below. Even at 12’-15’, one must still be careful when orienting the cameras or facial features will be lost for individuals standing close to the building. We tend to position security cameras on the corners of a building, facing the center (and each other). What you absolutely want to avoid is pointing the cameras straight down, as they will capture the tops of heads instead of faces.

Finally, in high crime areas staffed by experienced criminal perpetrators, you may wish to consider placing a small vandal-resistant security camera approximately four feet high near the entryway to a building. We have seen a recent phenomenon where experienced criminals will wear wide-brimmed hats pulled low and engage in the practice of “dipping,” which involves looking down to avoid being identified by camera systems.

 

How do you feel about Pan, Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) security cameras?

 Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) security cameras are generally unnecessary in the modern era of high resolution video and inexpensive storage.

PTZ was a necessary evil that was much more common five to ten years ago when high resolution security cameras were not widely available. The primary negative with PTZ video surveillance is that when zoomed in on one potential threat, you nearly always leave a substantial area uncovered. Moreover, PTZ cameras have a large number of small moving parts which are particularly prone to failure. Most require power-intensive “dome heaters” to deal with precipitation and condensation when mounted outdoors.

With high resolution and wide viewing angle of state-of-the-art cameras available today, security cameras with physical PTZ capability are essentially a fun novelty item that is unnecessary in all but the most specific situations.

 

How do motion detecting security cameras work?

Motion detection security camera installation is a very common request from our customers. It is incredibly valuable, as setting up cameras to record only when motion is present allows for a vast savings of storage space, allowing for more data to be recorded per given amount of storage space. It also allows for e-mail based alerts in situations where an incident does occur.

The first type of motion recognition used in security camera systems uses computer software to analyze the video feed itself for motion. This is known as “pixel-based” motion detection. Pixe- based systems are inexpensive (they are built into nearly every camera/NVR) and rarely miss motion.These systems have a substantial downside, however. A vast majority of pixel-based motion detecting security cameras produce a very significant number of false alarms–especially when employed outdoors..

During the summer, passing moths and even mosquitoes will trigger motion based recording. Moreover, during all but the lightest rain or snowfall, pixel based systems will record constantly for the entire duration of the storm. While false alarms are better than no recording when actual motion, one can forget about setting up one of these systems to notify via e-mail and/ or text message when motion occurs. This will be an exercise in frustration, as you will receive dozens (if not hundreds) of notifications each day.

The second type of motion detection used in security camera systems involves the use of passive infrared (PIR) sensors. PIR sensors are advantageous in that they rarely create false triggers for recording, Disadvantages include relatively short range and the need to run an additional 12-volt power wire for each sensor (these are not PoE).  Between the pricing of the PIR sensors for security cameras and the cost of the additional wiring, this option is essentially cost prohibitive.

A third, more recent type of motion detection is the Mx Activity Sensor system that is exclusive to Mobotix. While technically a pixel-based form of motion detection, the Mobotix system uses advanced analysis to prevent false alarms. In our extensive testing, we have found this system to be incredibly accurate in preventing false alarms. If accurate, reliable motion detection is important to you, Mobotix security cameras are without question the way to go.

 

What is an infrared (IR) illuminator? Do you recommend installing them?

 An infrared (IR) illuminator is an invisible spotlight used to provide illumination to assist security cameras with lesser quality sensors in the capture of images in very low light conditions.

While IR illuminators are built in to the lens assembly of the Hikvision-manufactured cameras we sometimes employ, Integramax generally does not install separate (AKA “stand-alone”) IR illuminators as part of our systems.

When a company wants to install IR illuminators as part of a standard security camera setup, it is a good sign that the outfit you are dealing with has a limited grasp of overall security planning (we often see this in systems designed by burglar alarm companies and/or home theater system integrators). With the excellent low light performance of even fairly inexpensive security cameras today, if you cannot obtain suitable images, the inadequate lighting present is a far greater problem in your security plan than a camera system.

If this is the situation at your facility, our experienced law-enforcement veterans will first suggest highly efficient LED security lighting and recommend an exceptional electrical contractor before proceeding with a security camera install.

The only situations where we routinely employ IR illuminators are when placing specific security cameras designed to capture quality images of license plates at night.

Absent such a specialized situation, we have little use for IR illuminators.

 

How do license plate reader (LPR) security camera systems work?

Properly designed license plate reader (LPR) security cameras employ a long pass filter (LPF), that is designed to filter out all but infrared light. An IR illuminator is used to light up the license plates, and the infrared image is recorded by the camera. The entire system operates on a different wavelength than the light that is visible to our eyes. Thus, this system excludes light produced by vehicle headlights, allowing us to accurate capture images of license plates of oncoming vehicles at night without being blinded.

 

I recently saw a security camera system at my local membership warehouse. Can I save money by doing it myself?

 Possibly.

Security camera systems available at membership warehouses and big box stores range from quite good (some are even rebranded Hikvision products) to downright awful.

If your budget is very tight, wiring appears to be straightforward (e.g. single story commercial construction with drop ceilings), and you are planning indoor coverage only, you may wish to consider doing the camera installation yourself. We recommend that you carefully check the retailer’s return policy before purchasing, and that you attempt your install well within that return window. If you are unable to install (e.g. you encounter impediments to wiring, provided cables are too short, etc.) or the quality of the system is not up to your expectations, you can return the equipment and seek assistance.

The one situation in which you absolutely do *not* want to consider installing a security camera system yourself is when your application requires cameras in outdoor locations. While a lot of other attributes tend to vary widely, retail “security in a box” camera systems have near universal issues with inadequate weather seals. We have replaced quite a few systems that failed after water worked its way into the cameras and/or cabling.

If you plan for exterior security camera coverage, we strongly suggest avoiding the DIY route.

 

I’m very concerned about the possibility of an intruder taking the NVR. Are there any ways to safeguard against this?

 There are also a variety of ways to protect against loss of your video evidence via theft of the NVR—including uploading video offsite to cloud storage. For obvious reasons, we will not go into further detail here. We will be happy to provide a capabilities brief to properly vetted clients during a face-to-face consultation.

 

What is your take on burglar alarms?

As a firm comprised of experienced law enforcement officers, we have very little use for burglar alarms aside from the deterrent value of the window stickers and lawn signs.

Contrary to what most people believe, the police do not rush immediately to the scene the moment they receive a call from an alarm company. In actuality, burglar alarm calls tend to be among the lowest priority calls for police departments.

Why? Because a vast majority of burglar alarms that are reported to police dispatch centers are false alarms.

The percentage of false alarms is so overwhelming that most jurisdictions assign unconfirmed alarms a very low priority in the dispatching queue. In busy urban departments, officers are usually backlogged with more important (and confirmed) calls.  And in rural areas—where officers are most likely to be dispatched—response times are not likely to be fast enough to protect you or your property.

In addition to the constant false alarms, we have little use for the business practices of most alarm installation companies. The business model generally revolves around providing the customer with hardware obtained at the absolute lowest possible cost. The goal is to generate recurring revenue in the form of expensive monthly monitoring fees that provide little actual security.

As costs decrease and pixel-based video motion detection systems continue to improve, burglar alarms are eventually going to fall by the wayside in favor of motion detecting security cameras. In addition to generating far less false alarms for motion, motion alerts that are transmitted can be confirmed by the monitoring center via remote video feed BEFORE a call is made to the police.

Within the coming years, traditional burglar alarms are headed the way of car alarms.

 

Why should I choose Integramax to design, install and support my security camera system?

The advantage of partnering with Integramax for your video security camera system needs lies in the unique combination of advanced technical skill and law enforcement experience that our experienced personnel bring to the table.

The principals of Integramax are experienced law enforcement officers with unique educational backgrounds. Our cops have graduate degrees in computer information systems, law and even medicine.

There are two tremendous advantages of partnering with a firm with such deep roots in law enforcement to perform your security camera installation.

First and foremost, the personnel on your job site will be of impeccable character. At least once active or retired officer will be on the job site at all times.

Second, our police experience leaves us uniquely positioned within the industry to understand the non-technical aspects of camera installation. When you are called upon to testify in court in support of video surveillance footage you have obtained, you quickly learn what resolutions, formats and camera positions provide evidence of probative value and which setups might as well be dummy security cameras.

At Integramax, we have a level of experience that the burglar alarm companies, home theater guys and generic technology companies just do not have. Alarm installers may have police experience (a majority do not), but tend to be lacking in the technical skill to manage modern IP based cameras which function as devices on the client’s computer network. IT support companies understand networking, but tend to have no clue on actual security issues. Dealing with home theater companies/system integrators is generally a crap shoot. Why settle, when you can have Integramax?

 

What does an Integramax video security camera system cost?

Projecting costs for security camera systems without thoroughly inspecting your facility in person is inherently difficult.

Building construction is an incredibly important variable, as network cable must be run through walls and ceilings. Installation may be very straight forward, especially in single floor commercial buildings with drop ceilings. Multiple floors and difficult wiring runs (e.g. having to drill through masonry) will cause costs to climb. Work in residential buildings and/or commercial construction with drywall ceilings will increase installation costs exponentially. Exterior cameras are more expensive than interior cameras, both with regard to hardware and installation.

To provide a ballpark number, our average small business commercial security camera installations tend to run around $15K, all-inclusive (please see below for a description of what that entails). Our least expensive systems (interior cameras only in a single story commercial building with accessible drop ceilings) will generally run no less than $5K. On the other end of the spectrum, we have implemented complex security camera systems for enterprise-level businesses systems costing well over $30K per location. One contract that we are currently building out will near 100 locations when the project is finally complete.

If you are interested in an estimate, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

What is involved in an Integramax security camera installation?

 Every Integramax security camera project begins with a thorough site survey conducted by an active or retired police detective or supervisor (e.g. sergeant, lieutenant).

Our goal is not only to select the best locations for security camera placement but also to identify other substantial security issues (e.g. inadequate lighting, poorly constructed door frames, etc.) that should be rectified before the client considers going forward with a camera install.

After other egregious problems with the security plan are corrected, we partner with our clients to identify particular areas of concern on the premise. With this information, we can begin to formulate an opinion with regard to security camera models, placement and orientation.

The design is then finalized and then presented to the client in a formal written proposal with detailed diagrams depicting camera placements and fields-of-view (client-provided blueprints are always helpful).

Once the proposal is approved, we run the network cable necessary for the camera system, taking care to safeguard the client’s property from damage like it was our own. We are willing to work overnight and/or weekends if necessary in order to minimize disruption to an existing business. Once the wiring is in place, we install your cameras, paying special attention to level alignment and precise focus. At least one active or retired law enforcement officer will be on site at all times.

Our experienced engineers then set up remote access so that we can fine tune settings like exposure. With high end Mobotix security cameras, this process can be very time consuming. We prefer to work from off-site in order to minimize our footprint on your business environment.

After the security camera system is fully functional, we conduct extensive testing. When the system is ready to go live, we notify you and schedule comprehensive training that will allow members of your staff to confidently operate the system.

Finally, we return to your location roughly one month after our install to verify that things are still working well and that you remain comfortable viewing live video, conducting playback of events in the past and exporting the video for transfer to a third party (e.g. law-enforcement) if necessary.

 

 

Does Integramax provide security camera sales without installation?

No, but with some very rare exceptions.

First and foremost, post-installation configuration of the Mobotix security cameras we prefer tends to very involved. Even if you are technically savvy, It is not something to attempt for the first time on your own. While you may get individual cameras up and running, it takes a lot of practice to get exposure settings configured correctly.

Second, profit margins on German-made hardware tend to be razor thin, even for a company that does substantial volume like Integramax. If a customer orders the wrong product for their application and ends up needing to return a non-defective item, we would need to charge substantial restocking fees in order to prevent a financial loss. This is not something we feel comfortable doing.

Even if it is not for a full install, we insist on having at least some on site involvement. This allows us to ensure that our clients receive the proper security cameras for the intended application. Even if the proper security camera is selected, something as simple as the wrong lens configuration can make the system sub-optimal at best and downright unusable at worst.

We make very rare exceptions to this rule for existing clients and/or those referred to us where we can be sure that client’s technical skill set is sound.

 

 

What Regions does Integramax serve?

Integramax serves enterprise level clients nationwide. We also work with small businesses in the New York tri-state area, with plans to expand rapidly.

If we do not have a strong presence in a particular area, we have a network of partners to assist us with cable routing. We are also experienced in partnering with low voltage wiring firms already retained by our larger clients in construction plans for new facilities.

We are also willing to travel for mid-sized clients on a case-by-case basis. If your anticipate that your project will involve twenty (20) cameras or more, by all means, feel free to contact us. Even if we are not a good fit for the project, chances are you will come away from the conversation with some valuable information from speaking with one of our qualified active or retired detectives or police supervisors.

For smaller installations of ten cameras or less, we currently prefer to serve the New York tri-state area (although we are expanding rapidly).

 

Does Integramax conduct residential security camera installation?

No, but with some rare exceptions.

Integramax primarily provides service to large business and government. Our reach for these clients is nationwide. We also serve small and medium sized businesses in the New York tri-state area.

Our residential work tends to be for VIP-level clients, as residential wiring in existing structures can be cost prohibitive for many homeowners.

In commercial construction, routing the network cables network used to supply power to and transfer data from cameras tends to be fairly straightforward, even in existing buildings. A vast majority of commercial buildings feature drop ceilings which allow easy access by simply pushing a tile up into the ceiling. Cable is generally run through the ceiling and the tiles easily and quickly replaced.

Residential walls and ceilings are overwhelmingly constructed of drywall (Sheetrock) over wooden boards (studs) spaced 16” apart on center. If we are unable to find access that leads to unfinished construction in the attic or basement, residential cable work can require extensive cutting of drywall. The walls must then be patched and painted. In addition to being expensive and time consuming, this process also tends to generate a substantial amount of dust and debris. We do everything possible to protect your property in such instances. The entire process is quite time consuming (and thus expensive).

New construction residential wiring is far less costly. Integramax is happy to work with both individuals who are considering new construction as well as professional homebuilders. One thing to keep in mind… While we have the technical capacity to implement home theater systems, whole house audio, Insteon automatic lighting lighting and a whole host of other smarthome technologies, Integramax does not offer these services. Instead, we choose to maintain our focus on safety and security. We are thus not a good fit for builders or individuals who insist on one-stop shopping for all low-voltage systems.

 

Do you install wiring yourself? If not, who does it for you.

Integramax does a great deal of our wiring work in house.

For residential work and in other selected situations, we also work closely with some very capable electricians. They are all ethical, conscientious individuals who will respect and value your property. We will not allow anyone on your property that we would not allow working in our own homes. PERIOD. We also work with carefully selected low voltage contractors when operating outside our home area, including firms already pre-selected by our enterprise clients.

 

Besides security cameras, What other services does Integramax provide?

In addition to security camera installation and enhancement of poor quality surveillance camera video, Integramax offers we offer a wide array of other safety and security services. Our core competencies include physical security assessment, keycard access control systems, window security films, cybersecurity and preparing your organization to handle medical emergencies (both routine and mass casualty events).

If there is a safety or security service you are interested in that is not detailed here on this Web site, feel free to ask us anyway. If we do not offer what you are looking for, there is a good chance that we can leverage our network of law enforcement professionals to refer you to a provider that is both competent and ethical.

 

How can I find out more?

 To learn more about Integramax and how we may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Your point of contact with our firm will always be an active or retired police detective or law enforcement supervisor, not a salesman.

 

Glossary of Terms

Cat 6: category six: current state of the art computer network cable. Inexpensive, low voltage wire that allows for data transfer as well as power.

CCTV: closed circuit television

Enterprise: A large business or government agency that requires systems that are expandable (“scalable”) that feature high reliability and advanced security features.

PoE: Power Over Ethernet, a system that allows for electrical power to be transmitted over data cables, eliminating the need for power cords running to each camera

NVR: Network Video Recorder