QUESTION: I am trying to understand the different functions of security systems and totally lost.  My biggest concern is curbing bartender theft so I need a system that will integrate with my POS.  I would also like analytics.  I have looked into geovision which seems to have everything I want but don't understand if the text overlay comes from the camera or a separate piece of equipment and if this is the case do I need to buy this equipment for each camera I have on each bartender or can they be tied together?
I understand the analytics come from the software but seen cameras with it build in.  Of course I need remote viewing.
Ideally I would like 16 cameras but the cost will probably be more than I can afford so thought may start with 8 cameras and a 16 channel dvd - another confusion.  Do I need a dvd or can the info be stored in the cloud?  I will likely have no more than 6 bartenders and 1 doorman max to watch money on.  It seems geovisions fish eye cameras cover large areas so could get 2 or 3 of them for now then add on after open and making money.
I am also buying a new POS and know not all camera systems integrate with all POS systems so both are on hold and time short.
Can you recommend the best system for my needs, tell me pieces I need and where I can find the best prices? Any add't info helpful.

ANSWER: Jayne -

I'm not sure if I can cover all of the things you're asking about without writing a book, but let me try for as brief of an explanation as I can.

Let's build your system, while looking at some of the things you'll need to consider -

Cameras - You'll need to look at 2 primary design issues:

1. Illumination

This is one of the most crucial design factors. To capture good quality images, cameras need light,     especially if you have color cameras in mind. Considering you're in a nightclub, you might want to consider black and white cameras. They are far more sensitive to light than color cameras are, have better resolution, and in areas of the club with very low lighting, you can use infra-red illumination, which provides light that only the camera can see. Color cameras do not work with infra-red. You can even get cameras which are color when there is enough light, but switch to b/w when lighting levels drop beyond a certain point.

2. Type of Camera - Analog versus Megapixel and Field of View or FOV.

With today's technology, there are several ways to establish what the camera will be able to see, and how well it will be able to see it. There are wide variations in pricing, both with the camera itself, as well as with associated system components such as video storage.
With standard, analog cameras, even high resolution b/w, you have to select how much area you want the FOV to cover. Wide angle lensing will cover a large area, but you lose detail. You might be able to see a bartender moving around behind the bar, but not be able to determine what it is he is doing. A narrower angle lens might be able to show you exactly what the bartender is doing, but you'd only see a few feet to either side of him. Analog cameras are typically less expensive, and the standard 1 volt peak-to-peak video signal they output can be adapted into virtually any system.

Megapixel cameras are a bit more adaptable. Because they record at such a higher resolution,  you can have a wide angle view without much close-up detail but still be able to digitally  "zoom in" while looking at live or recorded video, without losing much resolution at all.  Depending on the size of the megapixel image, zooming in by a factor of 7-8 times is typically possible. The primary disadvantages are compatibility, as not all megapixel cameras are compatible with all video recording systems, and storage, as megapixel cameras use far more storage than analog. Megapixel cameras are typically more expensive than analog, but this is often somewhat offset by the fact that you will generally need fewer
of them to provide the same or even better coverage.

Recording - You probably want to go with your own DVR, rather than cloud storage. I'm not sure why you'd consider cloud storage, is it that you're looking for off-site data retention? You'd be better off streaming video to an off-site DVR. Plus, cloud storage can be a bit "iffy" as far as chain of custody matters go, should you ever need video for litigation purposes. It is far better to have the ability to supply "native video" on DVD directly from the DVR that recorded it.

The primary factors in recording are how long you want to retain video, and at what quality. In a nightclub, you need to record at real-time (24-30 images per second, or ips), or as close to real time as is possible.  

Analytics – For a nightclub, I’m not sure where analytics would be useful. Analytics are typically used for what is called “monitoring by exception”. This is where an observer would only need to see the video if a specific action is taking place. For example, when you leave the airport, there is a camera watching the corridor you exit through. Once you pass the “no re-entry” sign, video analytics monitor for people walking the wrong way. So they’re typically used for speed, direction, and classification (vehicle, person, animal). Many types of HD cameras now include some type of basic analytics capability, but in a nightclub, the only application I could see would be counting people as they enter to assure you don’t exceed maximum occupancy.  But let me know if you have a different idea for how you’d use them. Sometimes people who don’t do this stuff everyday come up with the best ideas.

Point of Sale – With this, it’s just going to be research. You’ll have to find a system which is compatible with the other equipment you want to deploy, while still doing all the stuff you want. Welcome to the world of a design engineer. I have to do stuff like this every day. Will this work with that, can you do this with the other, etc.  Sometimes there isn't a quick answer; you just have to do some legwork.

As you can see from all of the above info, you've taken on a somewhat complex task. You might want to consider hiring an engineer such as myself; in the long run it might actually save you money. It will definitely save you time and aggravation.

For pricing and availability, you have to do Google searches. The suppliers I buy from won’t sell stuff directly to you, the end user. But these days you can usually find a store online selling it at virtually the same price I pay at the wholesaler.

It would take far too long for me to design your system and build out a parts list. That’s what I do for a living, so I’d need to charge you. And I might not even be in your area, you want somebody local who can come onsite and help with final connections and programming. If you are in Southern California, let me know and I’ll give you a quote for design services. If not, let me know where you are and I probably know somebody.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I just wanted to personally thank you for the time you put in on your answer.  My head is swimming trying to figure out and understand both of the ststems and what I need. Unfortunatly I am far from CA.  Florida lol so can't hire you but I seriously doubt could afford to anyway. Heck - I'm using a free question site!

ANSWER: Jayne,

No problem, glad to help. Where in FL? I only ask out of curiosity, I have an office in Tampa that I go to a couple of time per year. I'll be there in June or July.

There are on line suppliers that will help you lay out a system free of charge (because they want to sell you the equipment), find one of them, have them recommend a system, and run it back by me, I'll check it over no charge. Once you have part #'s, I can help you find the best deals.

Take care,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks so much.  I am in Deland, near Daytona.  Its a 2 hr drive from Tampa. (But a nice cheap train ride).
I have had several people put together quotes for me but they only confuse me further.  Since I am trying to buy both POS and integrated camera system they don't seem to know all the answers on their own systems and once they send the quotes don't give the correct number of stations I need, can't explain how the system watches the bartender, some say some of my old hardware will work, some say won't and so much more.  
This is a major purchase for me as well as what will affect my profit in the long run by controlling theft in the future. I can't afford to buy the wrong one so put it off until I have little time before opening.
As far as analytics, I think it will help the club by alloing me to see where customers tend to congregate so I could set up another station, count the number coming in, analyze wait times before they are served so I know whether to add a bartender and I've read they can determine how much a custoomer spends though don't know how.  I believe it is what also sends alerts for anything its set for such as voids or no sale ring ups though this could be a POS I've looked at.  Everything the cameras, POS and software programs do is starting to run together. I'm very confused.

Don't feel bad. The system you are trying to build is fairly complex, and as you see, many of the "professionals" don't know much more than you.

We'll get you something put together. I'm going to recommend Pelco, right off the bat. The reason for this is that they manufacturer "soup-to-nuts" solutions, so you should be able to get everything from them (I'm not totally sure on the POS, but I think they make one, I'll check), and you won't have to worry about compatibility. Let me find out who the Pelco rep in your area is, I'll get them to lay out a system.

Shoot me an email @ so I have contact info, give me a couple of days, and I'll get something going.

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Steven Burman


Any question related to Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), Intelligent Video Analytics (IVA), Access Control Systems (ACS), Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), Perimeter Intrusion Detection Systems (PIDS), and "Single Platform" Systems Integration Technical Writing and Documentation


25 years in the design and installation of security systems. 9 years experience in port and maritime security systems.

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Moffatt & Nichol, Engineers (Port of Long Beach, Port of San Diego, Alabama State Docks), Disney Studios, McDonnell Douglas, Various Celebrities

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