Jon Martin of Teleprecision asks if BS8418 makes sense in CCTV installation?

11 June 2012

“BS8418: Installation and remote monitoring of detector activated CCTV systems code of practice”, provides essential design, installation, commissioning, operating and remote monitoring guidelines for detector activated CCTV systems. It promotes best practice for the security industry and seeks to reduce security system false alarms. Professional Security Magazine asked Jon Martin, Chief Technical Officer for UK based CCTV transmission manufacturer, Teleprecision, to explain the standard in more detail and outline why a BS8418 compliant CCTV system makes sound, economic sense. This is what he had to say.

False alarms in security systems deflect emergency service time away from genuine incidents. The police will no longer respond to a site that has registered multiple false alarms, often making the site uninsurable or increasing its insurance premiums. The BS8418 code of practice helps installers design out the security flaws that can cause false alarms, which is not costly to implement.

A site security system must have a Unique Reference Number (URN) before the police will respond to site incidents. Historically, URNs have only been issued to the intruder alarm part of a security system, where the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) policy requires the alarm to be verified by a second, separate, detector activation, CCTV or intruder noise detection.

Effective CCTV systems

The ACPO has extended the issue of URNs to BS8418 compliant, remotely monitored, detector activated CCTV systems, in their own right. At Teleprecision, we believe this reflects ACPO’s belief that remotely monitored CCTV systems are effective in false alarm reduction and crime prevention.

Key to BS8418 compliance, and undoubtedly a reason behind its ACPO endorsement, is the fact that the CCTV monitoring station, transmission equipment and site installation all follow the “code of practice” at an equipment and procedural level. This drives the successful integration of all the parts of a CCTV security system to benefit the end user and the emergency services.

Monitoring station

Only use a monitoring station that meets the BS8418 Code of Practice standards.

A BS8418 compliant monitoring station uses trained operators for 24/7 operation. Immediate and appropriate action to any incident is taken, from asking unwanted intruders to leave a site (audio challenge), to requesting a police response to a genuine incident. The monitoring station will keep audited incident reports with all operator actions and incident outcome details. It will generally have a secondary power supply, in case of local power failure, use secure networks, secure data storage and include off-site back-up.

Transmission equipment

Remotely monitored CCTV systems are event driven. They are not watched continuously by operators, although recording is usually 24/7. Detection of an event triggers a sequence of automatic alerts to monitoring station operators and transmits site images for viewing.

BS8418 compliant equipment provides this facility and fulfils the monitoring stations’ procedural and technical requirements for integrity, logging, image quality, fault tolerance and tamper protection. The monitoring station is also notified if the primary communication between site and monitoring station fails (usually wired broadband). The BT Redcare service is often used for this, although live site monitoring is lost during failure. At Teleprecision, we use the T-Ping protocol to verify communication, router and transmission equipment functionality every few seconds (configurable) and can provide an automatic switch over to a 3G and GPRS mobile network if the primary broadband fails. Even when the primary communication method is the mobile network, T-Ping monitors effectively for BS8418 compliance. This is why Teleprecision equipment is used in many rapid deployment, mobile network based, CCTV applications.

Site installation

Site health and safety requirements, risk reduction and correct product selection and positioning are considerations for all CCTV installations. However, our guidelines for BS8418 compliance include:

Use a separate alarm input for each detector, so that they are all individually identifiable to the monitoring station. Recording or viewing of multiple cameras may be triggered by a single, detector activation. A system configured in this way is easily set up. When dome cameras are used, I advise against wiring multiple detectors to a single dome head. It might save cabling costs, but is non-compliant and can cause confusion at the monitoring station.

Ensure cameras and detectors are positioned so that they work together effectively, covering the areas required.

Include an “audio challenge” facility within the system.

Use an un-interruptible power supply for the transmission equipment, with a built in alarm output. This can be used to warn of impending power failure and trigger a switch to a back-up system.

Only use setting/unsetting procedures that do not create false alarms.

Ensure thorough customer training on equipment and procedures.

Ensure the site is thoroughly commissioned with the monitoring station.

Installing and commissioning to BS8418 is good practice, makes common sense and has few cost implications. The end user and the emergency services both benefit. Even if the CCTV system is not remotely monitored, I would urge all installers to adopt the standard as end users often add remote monitoring at a later date. It may not be long before the police insist that site incidents are visually verified before granting a response. Whatever the application, BS8418 just makes sense and will become a security industry given.