Glossary For CCTV Surveillance

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Paint : This refers to that old Windows program for altering images. Paint and the Print Screen button can combine to save an image of anything on your PC screen. Can’t remember that long code on an error message? Jus press print Screen, then start Paint and press Edit, Paste to import the screen shot into Paint. From there you can save it or email it to someone. This is a great way to capture images for E-maps (Geo Maps).

PAL : Phase Alternation Line; the European standard color television system, except for France. PAL's image format is 4:3, 625 lines, 50 Hz and 4 MHz video bandwidth with a total 8 MHz of video channel width.

Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) : A device that can be remotely controlled to provide both vertical and horizontal movement for a camera, with zoom. This is a movable mechanical base for a camera.

Password/Passcode : This is the unique password to gain access to a device. Passcode is sometimes used when the input is numeric only.

Pattern : Refers to PTZ cameras. You can save a series of camera movements and then replay the pattern of movements. Just select the Pattern number from the PTZ GUI.

PC : An acronym for Personal Computer.

PC based DVR : This is a DVR that is based on a standard PC hardware platform. There may be several proprietary components installed but the unit is primarily a PC with some modifications as opposed to a unique proprietary design.

Peak to peak : The measurement of any signal from the lowest value to the highest. In a composite or full video signal, this should be 1 Volt.

Peer to Peer Network : This is a network where all users can share information equally. You share the information on each computer’s drives with all the other computers in the workgroup. The workstations (each PC) communicate directly with each other.

PING : This is a DOS Command Prompt level instruction that allows you to test the hardware connection from one computer to another. The actual meaning of the acronym is unclear although Packet Internet Groper is often mentioned. This is a basic “tool” used to setup and troubleshoot network installations.

Pixel : Picture element. This is the smallest software addressable point on the image. The number of pixels in an image is measured horizontally first, then vertical (ex. 320x240).

Player Software : This is the generic term used to identify software used to review exported DVR video in a standard PC. The proprietary DVR video format requires this software to play the video in a PC and it is usually exported to the device along with the video. Some manufacturers require you to install the player on your PC. Others run directly from the device (thumb drive, DVD, etc.).

POE : Acronym for Power over Ethernet. This is a network device that provides power to a device using one of the CAT-5 cable twisted pairs. This is an installation advantage eliminating the need for a locally installed AC outlet.

POS : An acronym for Point Of Sale. This usually refers to cash register data.

Pre Alarm : In record on alarm only mode a DVR hard drive is not recording until an alarm is encountered. Some number of seconds or minutes prior to the alarm event can be recovered from a software buffer that is continuously overwriting itself. The video recovered from prior to the alarm is called Pre Alarm.

Post Alarm : In record on alarm only mode a DVR can be set to record for a specific amount of time when an alarm is encountered. This time period after the alarm is called Post Alarm.

Preset : A preset position is an image view selected on a PTZ camera. The desired image position is saved and later recalled by selecting the preset number.

Privacy Zones : This refers to the ability of a camera to mask parts of its normal viewing area to prevent the operator from viewing the protected areas. This can be in fixed cameras or in PTZ cameras. The intelligence for operating this feature can be included in a dome, a DVR or in a Matrix switch.

Private Networks : The term private network is pretty generic. Generally it means that the network is restricted to specific users. This could range from a separate grouping of computers connected locally, two LANs connected together through a phone connection, to a complex “Intranet” that is accessed through the Internet, yet only available to authorized users. The Intranet version is often referred to as a “Virtual Private Network.” In the case of Digital Video Recorders and their remote software connections, we refer to a private network as a separate grouping of security devices that are not connected directly to the normal company business network. The advantage of this private network is that you have all the bandwidth available for a specific purpose and you will not affect other company business in the case of a failure.

Protocol : In CCTV context a protocol is the command set used to control one device from another. An example is that each manufacture develops their own code to send commands to PTZ domes. This is why you see so many options for camera control in DVRs. The protocol is the software element. The hardware element is RS-422, RS-485, etc.

Proprietary : In CCTV context proprietary indicates a non standard method of accomplishing something. This may be good or bad depending on the results. Some proprietary software solutions were developed by manufacturers before the current standards were implemented. Some are attempts to intentionally circumvent the ability to work with other manufacturer’s equipment. Most were just developed separately with no thought of how anyone else approached the same issue.

PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) : This is a concept where all security systems are tied together (video, access control, fire and safety, etc.) to provide a cohesive picture of your security capability. Several manufactures claim that their equipment is PSIM capable. Detractors point out that the PSIM claim is limited to products in each manufactures product line and not tied to an open standard that will allow individual products to work together.

PTZ Dome : A fully contained PTZ mechanism and camera installed in the same dome housing.

Creating Simplicity out of Complexity