When analyzing the most important criteria for designing enclosure and console systems in security installations, the single most defining term for where the industry is going is: digital. In the fields of surveillance and monitoring specifically, this has resulted in a rapid migration from analog tape-based event recording and storage devices, such as time-lapse VCRs, to more efficient digital video recorders (DVRs) utilizing hard drives for video storage.
Another trend is the move towards IP-enabled cameras on a network. While this transition is steady, it is by no means pervasive, as many facility managers and integrators still choose traditional cameras utilizing analog coax cable over network cameras in many cases, primarily due to either network constraints or pricing (or both). Additionally, many upgrade installations will continue to use legacy analog equipment combined with new digital gear. Under any scenario, there will be an extensive amount of cable and heat-producing components in a typical security surveillance and monitoring installation.
What this means to AV integrators is there are critical elements that need to be considered when designing enclosure systems and consoles in security applications: ensuring a reliable installation by providing effective cable management and thermal management, addressing any potential ergonomic issues to make the system as functional as possible for the operator, and protection of equipment by providing a seismic certified system when required in essential facilities.
Security installations are being wired more like data systems with unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable replacing video cables to some degree, however large amounts of coax cable will still be the norm for some time to come. This raises serious cable management issues. Data cabling used for patching switches, hubs and routers is terminated in the rear and typically managed on the front of racks. Audio and video cable is typically plugged into the rear of equipment. DVRs typically manage both analog and digital cable on the rear. Most often, different types of equipment find themselves in the same rack which means a single rack will often need to provide advanced cable management accommodating both front and rear connections.
In many larger security applications, equipment will be located in a separate room from the operator. In this case, the enclosure system may also need to work in a raised-floor environment and the integrator will need to specify rack riser bases. In smaller security installations where space is at a premium, slide-out rack systems may be more appropriate, but they do require special attention to proper cable management.
As sensitive digital equipment proliferates in security installations, another critical issue becomes thermal management. The key to effective thermal management is the removal of hot air, not necessarily the introduction of cool air.
Ideally, the temperature of the room should suit both the equipment and the operators, which brings us to ergonomics. Furniture layout is particularly important, as is location and types of screens. Operator distraction can also result from equipment noise and improper sight lines.
Finally, with guidelines governing security installations being more stringent than typical data or audio and video facilities, seismic considerations are becoming paramount. Depending upon the location of the security system, there may or may not be laws in place regarding seismically certified equipment racks and monitoring consoles. Check first, because even if you're in an area you think is immune to earthquakes, there may be regulations in place.
When your racks and consoles are seismically certified, well-designed for proper cable and thermal management and you have taken into consideration the efficiency and comfort of system operators, you can feel confident that you have addressed the challenges that both analog and digital technologies often present in a security application.