What is Video Surveillance?
Video surveillance is a topic that usually comes with a touch of uncertainty. Many people are unaware of what video surveillance is capable of, and what it cannot do. There are TV shows that can identify even the smallest thing in any picture, but does it really work? My neighbor has cameras, what about my privacy? All these are questions that we get asked on a daily basis.
First of here is what video surveillance entails and is:
Video surveillance cameras are usual for most businesses and are now even catching on for homes. There are however considerable differences between all of the packages that can be bought and even from camera to camera. This is why a proper layout should be decided before the purchase, and a proper system should be designed. This involves calculating the best camera lens, resolution and features for the location.
Many of the packages that can be bought at retailers and promise ease of installation, high resolution, reliability and so much more. The problems with these systems however are the following:
- Fixed Lens: Most of these cameras come with a fixed lens, and only one lens type. This means, whether you are trying to capture an object that is far away from the camera or very close to the camera, you will always get the same result. The lens is attempting to be in the middle, so close or far will not be captured very well, only in the middle.
- Weatherproofing: We had a customer that installed one of these systems at their house. Running all the wires and getting everything organized is a very tedious job to do alone, but they did it nonetheless. The system was installed in the winter, so it was -20 and below outside. When it first booted up, everything looked great. The cameras were on and recording fine. However the next day they looked at the screen and only a few cameras were working. This is when we got the call and they became our customer. It turns out the system claimed to be rated for any winter conditions. But since the temperature went below -30 that day, the cameras all froze and were broken as a result of that. Regardless of what the box states, it is better to consult someone about it, before loosing all that money and time to nothing.
- Reliability: There are a few wireless systems out there, that claim to be extremely reliable. When we install wireless cameras, we need to have a minimum signal strength of 80%. For many wireless systems to have that type of strength, you might as well run a wire right beside the camera. That is the reason why we usually just wire the camera in anyway. As for the systems, the cameras oftentimes do cut out, because they are too far away. Sometimes video quality degrades and finally there is also interference that the system has to deal with. Many of the systems come self contained, which means they are a wireless network of their own. Since you most likely already have a wireless network at your home, you now have a second one. Two of which are probably fighting for bandwidth now. The result can be devastating, to the extent that the unit does not have any recorded video because of interference. The other reason, we prefer wired over wireless cameras, is because there is no such thing as a wireless camera, other than some very basic battery operated cameras. Every camera needs power, which requires a wire. So running a power wire into the building, or running a data wire through the building does not make much of a difference.
- User friendliness: The final claim of these units is that they are extremely easy to set up and configure. The installation usually is very tedious because of the wires, or trying to sync the cameras into the system, if wireless. Then the unit has to be port forwarded through the internet, to make sure you have access to it at all times via your smartphone. Lastly there are usually a few menus that have to be reviewed before the cameras are actually working. All the time that is usually wasted on this, could have allowed for a much better, high definition system that we install for you.
- HD Cameras: Sometimes the cameras are not as “HD” as they claim. This unfortunately is only discovered when it’s too late. Someone broke into the premises, and you cannot see a thing of who it was. We have run into this issue many times. There are cameras that claim to be ultra high definition and to protect your premises from all kinds of things. In reality, compared to our actual HD cameras, these cameras do not even come close. This is why it is important to make an educated decision. We are here to help you and have tried all the products that we sell, ourselves.
Watching TV, there are crime shows that zoom into the smallest details on any collected video footage. If it is pixelated, they just make it better. This does not work. The way a camera works is by taking a picture of the scene. It takes up to 30 frames/pictures per second. This is why we see it as video, versus a string of images. Now we have all tried zooming into an image as far as we can, only to see that it becomes extremely pixelated at some point. The issue is that an image is an image. One cannot just add clarity to the image. It can be modified to make certain things stick out more, such as contrast and saturation, but that’s the extent of it.
There is however a way to make things more clear. That is by having a pan/tilt/zoom camera (PTZ). These cameras can do auto-tours of the property. When they see movement, after business hours or within a certain time, they will track that movement and alert you. Since these cameras allow you to zoom into the scene, you are then able to capture all the details that you will need. This will be recorded back to your sever, and you will have all details captured right on there. In this case you are then not modifying the picture after the fact, you are moving the camera to get a better picture, while it is happening.