We are looking to use a mobile CCTV trailer to provide surveillance around multiple sites we manage and find that the available units are highly customised – what are the key features of mobile surveillance trailers in SEN’s opinion?

A: In no particular order and throwing everything as well as the kitchen sink at your question, we’d be looking for redundant communications paths, such as 4G and 4GX with a signal booster, tamper alarms, capable CCTV cameras – fixed and PTZ optical and possibly fixed thermal cameras for long range perimeter detection, with a telescoping or folding mast to allow greater camera range and enhanced vandal resistance.

Look for battery support – LiFePo is probably the best balance of weight, size and performance, but quality AGMs like LifeLine or Fullriver are excellent, too. Opt for more solar panels than you think you need, managed by an MPPT solar controller, supported by a diesel generator. Look for considerable video storage capacity, multiple light sources, including visible floodlights, infrared flood and spotlights, duplex audio, a video help point/integrated PA system, siren, strobe, access control of trailer systems, long range Wi-Fi, an alarm panel with 360 PIR detection of attempts to approach the trailer.

The unit will also need an integrated CCTV management solution so operators can position cameras once the trailer is onsite. Depending on requirements, the system will need to transmit live video streams, or store them locally, while transmitting alarm events. A CCTV solution that incorporates analytics will help with managing bandwidth. The unit needs to be weather and vandal proof, have decent ground clearance so it can be towed over rough ground, and should feature a full-sized spare wheel.

If you go with a passive 4G signal booster you’ll want the antenna to be as high as possible without getting in the way of camera views. The antenna mount will need to be stainless, a base plate is better than one of the adjustable types and use plumber’s tape to ensure wind vibration and thermal expansion don’t loosen the antenna thread. Passive boosters work, especially in areas where signal is miserable. If you can’t get 4G, try 3G – it’s slower but the range is much greater, allowing you to get notifications of events, as well as low res video, with high-res stored onboard.