The Wrong Time Can Throw Your CCTV Out of Court

Setting the time in you CCTV system is critical.

If you don’t want to find your footage being challenged in court due to the time being inaccurate, read on.

In my 24 years of CCTV experience, I have seen many CCTV systems that have the wrong time in them. If it is an hour out due to day light savings it is not such a big deal but where it is an obscure amount out – say 21 minutes – there have been cases of the video surveillance being ruled inadmissible in court.

Multiple Time Sources

CCTV multiple time stamps

Not as common these days but I have seen systems where the video first passes though a matrix switcher and then to the DVR – So What? The matrix switch puts one time on the image and the DVR then adds its own time stamp. These nee to be with in the same minute but often are not even close. Worse still when the two time stamps are physically in the same location on the screen making reading either impossible.

If you have more than one DR on the same site and the footage of a suspect crosses between them, which one do you take the time from?

IP Cameras across time zones

With a NVR and IP cameras, every camera can have a different time programmed or even be located in a different time zone due to it being located in a different state or country.

How to manage your time better

There is really only on way to overcome the problem of different time in different devices. Use a NTP server- Network Time Protocol – as a common source to synchronise all devices from.

An NTP server is a computer network based service that can access either over the internet or from a local device on the network such as a router. To connect your CCTV devices to a NTP, you first need to be connected to the same network as the server or the internet. From there it is typically a case of entering the IP address into the DVR, NVR and cameras network settings, set the time zone and walk away. The rest is left to the black magic of the network world.

How to find a NTP source

How to get an IP address from a domain nameIf your CCTV is connected to the internet it is easy. There are a huge number of NTP sources such as This can be converted to an IP address by opening a DOS prompt (Run CMD.EXE)  and doing a ping on the NTP name as shown here.


Finding the IP address of your gateway with IPCONFIG

If you are only connected to a LAN – internal network – you are likely to find one at the same address as your gateway. To find your gateway address you will again need a DOS prompt. At the prompt type IPCONFIG and press enter. You will be given three sets of IP addresses. You want the default gateway.

Looking for some specific help?

If you need some specific help on setting up a DVR for NTP, drop a comment below with your DVR model and we will try to help .

Leave a Reply