The August 2017 solar eclipse gave Americans across the country a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a celestial wonder. The team in our Nashville office had the privilege of viewing it from several places.  In fact, our valued partner, Vanderbilt University, captured the eclipse in real time using the Avigilon VMS, perfectly located along the path of totality.

(Nashville Area Security Camera Video – Courtesy of Vanderbilt University).

As with nearly every life experience, this is an opportunity to grab a bit of security knowledge to protect your assets, personnel, and reputation.

Lighting Challenges for Security Cameras

When an incident occurs in front of a security camera, the expectation of the camera owner and everyone involved in the evidence review is that a clear, usable series of images were captured.

Two challenges exist: security cameras aren’t all the same and environmental lighting conditions change

Indoor cameras are typically impacted by a light switch or timer, and occupancy levels may determine whether lights are switched on or off. The “on or off” option has a consistently predictable impact. Lighting changes that are caused by randomly opened solid doors within the field of view of an indoor camera are less predictable. Bright outdoor sunlight can challenge the camera’s ability to adjust from the normal indoor lighting. Glass entrance ways may also be a challenge for cameras that are mounted indoors. They often cause a “silhouette effect” when the camera has adjusted to the sunlight coming through the glass and a person walks through the entrance way. The person is being illuminated very differently than the objects outside, so the result is often a silhouette of the person and a complete absence of quality evidence for investigative use. “Lights out” situations can also provide nearly complete cover for unauthorized behaviors.

Outdoor cameras are impacted by a litany of lighting situations:

  • Headlights and taillights
  • Floodlights and accent lighting
  • Sunlight and moonlight
  • Clouds, snow, rain, and fog
  • Sunset and dusk
  • Complete darkness
  • Seasonal lighting changes

These are just a few of the significant outdoor lighting challenges, so a great deal of time is involved in the environmental evaluation and then specification of the perfect cameras for your unique security application.

So how do you pick the right cameras for your facility?

Select a reputable, recommended security partner. Your new partner should have years of experience designing, installing, and maintaining systems for applications that are similar to yours. Consistently working in a specific industry develops unique security expertise.

Demand a demonstration from your partner. While it may be comfortable to schedule a presentation during normal business hours in your well-lit conference room, it’s best to move on to more technical demonstrations in the target environment.

Reputable security providers have professional support and equipment resources they can bring to your facility to evaluate camera performance in all lighting situations. The ideal partner will bring industry experts from leading camera manufacturers to setup “proof of concept” demonstrations in your unique environment. These demonstrations are usually setup in the early afternoon to allow you to evaluate a camera in normal daylight. Next, the team waits for the sun to set. This is when high-performance security cameras rise to the challenge.

At sunset, cameras must adjust their settings automatically to account for the sun’s changing position. The sun moves into the horizon causing sunlight, which was initially coming indirectly into the camera from overhead, to now shine directly into the camera. Then, as cars start to activate their headlights you can see how the camera handles intermittent bright lights while still maintaining a usable image of the overall surveillance area in parking zones or along roadways. Next, the moon will take over general illumination, exposing additional lighting challenges. Entrance ways, walking paths, parking lots, parking entrances, perimeter fence lines, and open spaces are all illuminated at different levels. Each situation requires a camera that can perform perfectly where it’s meant to be deployed. In some cases, multiple camera types will need to be deployed to ensure proper surveillance around your entire facility.

The Decision

What starts as a seemingly simple decision to buy a security camera, quickly becomes much more involved. Selecting the wrong partner or camera hardware is costly. When a crime occurs, you need the evidence you expected when you bought the system. Demand the best, verify the selection, and deploy with confidence.

Vision Security Technologies delivers expert security solutions that will meet your expectations and secure your business for years.

Contact us today @ 888.773.6762 and mention this blog or complete the form below for a complete security evaluation.