One increasingly popular feature of the modern home is a security system that is capable of being monitored by the homeowner using an internet connection or a cell phone. Traditional security systems have used motion sensors, glass break detectors, and magnetic switches to monitor entryways for intruders. Using new, low-cost digital video cameras and digital video recorders, not only can an intrusion be detected, but the identity of the intruder can be captured and recorded.
What are some things to consider when installing a video surveillance system? First, there is the question of whether to install a wired or wireless system. Wireless systems can be vulnerable to noise and limited range, while wired systems require more complicated installation procedures, particularly when the system is being retrofitted into an older home without structured wiring.
Camera placement is another consideration in home video surveillance, and influences the decision for wireless versus wired. In smaller, more open concept homes, fewer cameras may be necessary, based on line of sight, particularly if the cameras have a pan and zoom feature that allows them to automatically pan a particular range at a given rate, or pan in response to a remote manual control signal.
Outdoor camera placement and selection needs to be coupled with effective lighting schemes. Low light cameras may be less effective during daylight hours and can be easily disabled by shining bright lights directly at the camera. For outdoor cameras that have remote control pan and zoom features, most single-family homes will need 3-4 cameras to provide adequate coverage of the outside perimeter. In some cases, a camera at the front door is sufficient for the homeowner’s needs, particularly if the goal is to tie the camera to the home media center for purposes of identifying who is at the door entryway.
Outdoor cameras should be placed in an area where they are protected from the elements – usually the camera manufacturers provide an option for a protective housing to keep moisture and dust from the camera.
Inside cameras often serve a different purpose, and can be useful for monitoring activity inside the home when the homeowner is away, either at work or out of town. Cameras on the interior of the home can also be used to monitor the presence and safety of pets, older family members, and teenaged children. These cameras can be very small and unobtrusive – like the one shown in the figure below by StemInnovation. This camera, the izon, streams wirelessly to the local home network and provides real-time encrypted data to an iPhone or iPad device. Multiple cameras can be used within the home, and will appear on a list in the device app. If desired, a private YouTube account can be set up to access previously recorded video footage that is automatically uploaded by the camera.
Figure 1: www.steminnovation.com
One issue with some internet-based camera security systems is the potential for hackers to access the video feed and gain information about the household and the presence or absence of the homeowner. As computer crimes become more common, homeowners using the internet for security monitoring purposes need to remain vigilant, changing passwords and access codes frequently and in an unpredictable sequence.
Early in 2012, a major security company in the United States reported that a software glitch had enabled hackers to intercept video feeds from cameras within customers’ homes. This is a sobering reminder that internet friendly systems that provide control for the user at a remote location also contain some vulnerabilities. System users can help protect themselves by being vigilant about choosing unique and secure passwords and changing these passwords frequently. Often, selecting a regular date and time, like the first of the month, to update passwords, makes it easier to remember. For most homeowners, the benefits of being able to monitor the home remotely via cell phone or internet connection significantly outweigh any risks.Log in to post comments