Why Use a CCTV Consultant - part 2

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The salesperson has done their job, the estimator has produced a keen price and you have landed a an impressive sized contract with a blue chip customer. Now Murphy’s’ Law takes over, if it can go wrong, it will do so at the most inconvenient time! However, most companies don’t need any help from Murphy, they are quite capable of getting it all wrong by themselves.

Project planning actually starts when the quotation is prepared. The documentation should contain all the information regarding the project including a detailed list of all equipment. This can then be passed over to the contracts department to form the starting point for project planning. Careful planning can make a significant impact on the profitability of a contract. Rushing out and ordering equipment ten weeks before it is needed can lose many hundreds of pounds from the bottom line. On the other hand, lack of planning may leave things too late and involve you in late completion and penalty clauses. Certainly place your orders well in advance but stipulate the required delivery date.

Planning means taking into account other resources and timings as well as your own. Let us take as an example a typical Town Centre CCTV system and the disciplines involved. There are likely to be the following main activities to be considered:

  • Pre-assembly and testing of CCTV equipment.
  • The installation of the CCTV equipment around the town.
  • The installation of fibre optic cables around the town.
  • Provision of local power supplies.
  • The fitting out of the control room.
  • The installation of control room furniture.
  • The installation of equipment in the control room.
  • Setting up camera pre-set positions.
  • Commissioning the system and training operators.

In addition there will be a considerable amount of liaison and co-ordination between several interested parties. Quite often, many of these will have been considered during the course of the project feasibility study and funding procedures. Now, though, is the time when all the thoughts and ideas have to become reality.

  • The local Police in finalising camera locations.
  • Other interested parties concerned with camera locations and fields of view.
  • Obtaining listed building consents.
  • Obtaining planning consents.
  • Obtaining building owners consents where cameras are mounted on buildings.
  • Obtaining Highways Authority permission for pole mounted cameras.
  • Obtaining wayleaves for civil works.
  • Obtaining camera power supplies from local Electricity Boards.
  • Obtaining consents if cameras are to be mounted on existing lighting poles.

If it is a new scheme there will be many other activities to be considered.

  • Producing a Code of Practice for operation of the scheme.
  • Producing operational guidelines for operators.
  • Producing tape management and storage procedures.
  • Job description for operators.
  • Recruiting and vetting operators.
  • Training operators.
    • Police procedures.
    • Courtroom procedures.
    • Hands-on training with the equipment.
    • Witness statements and acting as an expert witness.
    • Familiarisation with the Town Centre.

All this information needs to be constructed into an overall project plan. The plan must be flexible to accommodate any changes that can occur and reflect them in an adjusted completion date. There are frequently delays during the course of a project, sometimes in obtaining permissions from various bodies that may have been misleading in the original. It can often take more time than is realised to locate building owners and obtain consents. If changes occur, it is most important to modify the plan and re-issue it to all interested parties so that they may rearrange their resources with the minimum of disruption.

With the availability of applications today, there is no excuse for sheets of graph paper covered with correcting fluid and nearly unreadable. There are many project planning software programming around, ranging from under £100.00 to many hundreds of pounds. I use an inexpensive but very powerful program called Primavera ‘Suretrack’. With this type of program you can type in all the project headings, give them time scales and starting dates and the gantt chart is produced automatically. You can then link the start points of critical activities to the completion points of activities that must be complete before they can start. The overall plan will then be re-calculated to reflect the interrelations and calculate a new completion date. The items critical to achieving the completion date will be highlighted in different coloured bars to show the critical path to completion. If any item on this critical path is late, the end date will be late. There will be other activities that can ‘float’ without affecting the completion which will be shown in another distinctive colour. As the project progresses the individual activities can be updated to show the progress and highlighted. Any possible delays can be intercepted and dealt with to keep the plan on line.

The main plan shows the various activities in groups and sub-groups. It can also be arranged in date order. However, these layouts although useful for controlling the overall plan can make it difficult for individuals to relate to their own activities. There is an elegant solution to this, in that a ‘resource’ can be allocated to each activity. The whole plan can then automatically be re-sorted to list the timings for each resource in individual groups. A copy of each breakdown would be issued to all the interested parties to agree and work to.

Using the current project planning programs is simple and usually very intuitive, a simple plan such as the installation could be produced in about an hour. Anything would be better than the example plan below received as part of a tender for seven cameras in a town centre all in domes with pre-sets and connected to a fibre optic network!


This chapter is supplied by Mike Constant and was originally published in CCTV Today. Mike is the author of 'The Principles & Practice of CCTV' which is generally accepted as the benchmark for CCTV installation in the UK.