[January, 2010]
Things to consider when shopping for digital video
School bus video is a hot topic these days! Lots of options…decisions need to be made. Where can we start in our search that ends with a good decision for your fleet?

If you have a couple minutes, I have a few thoughts that may help...

When digital first came to market, we were impressed with the ability to store a week or even two weeks of video, although there was a compromise. To get the storage we needed, we typically had to sacrifice the quality of the picture. Well, like all technology, advances have been made.

There are a lot of claims made by video suppliers offering high frame rates, high resolution, GPS & wireless capabilities, big hard drives etc. While these are some of the things you will likely want, the devil is in the details!!

You need to ask specific questions to start to understand the differences between competing products. Here are a few questions/thoughts to consider:

Can the system record 20-25 frames per second, with four cameras running at the same time? (If not, your picture quality will suffer.)

Is the frame rate variable from camera to camera? (This is a must especially when using cameras outside the bus.)

How much video can you store per gigabit with all cameras running at max resolution and frame rate? (The size of the hard drive does not mean much if the compression engine is inferior.)

What is the max resolution AND can this resolution be maintained when four cameras are running at the same time? (If not, your picture quality will suffer.)

Does each camera have an independent audio channel? (They should.)

Is the system small, light and easy to install? (The day of the big security box is gone!!). Is a dash mounted system offered? (like a radio or stereo system)

What do you have to do to get the video from the bus to the people who need to see it, securely? AVI video files are a big no-no. Protecting the privacy of your organization, staff, and passengers is of utmost importance. Simple, fast and authorized user restricted is what you are looking for. If the process is complex, time consuming, not easily transportable from office to office, what’s the point? We need solutions that make the job easier. Find out the detailed steps taken to get video from the bus to the office. Speed and simplicity is essential.

If GPS is an option, EXACTLY what does that mean? You will be amazed by the range of answers!!!!

Likewise, what is WIRELESS? The ability to retrieve video on demand, without going to the bus, was a future thought that is now a reality. How will this WIRELESS thing work? Find out the details.

Asking these basic questions will get you started toward a quality purchase. There are a lot of systems out there claiming a lot of things, but seeing, is believing. Make sure the claims made are true.

Most suppliers today offer ‘other’ add-ons like GPS, wireless, USB downloading and sensors. These features are good and add to the system’s value, but don’t forget that the heart of what you are buying is a video system. You want great pictures. Pictures of people and things in motion, sometimes at high speeds. You likely want multiple cameras. Video systems are now used to assist with accident investigation, driver training, dispute resolution and of course, keeping an eye on the kids too!

All the best to you in 2010!

Rob Scott
VP Sales & Marketing
247Security Inc.

 

(Also maybe you can take the time to watch a short movie at www.247securityinc.com/movie
to learn more about what we do at 247Security)

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