Archive for the ‘ Other Security Articles’ Category



Video Surveillance Systems

Written By:
Monday, January 9th, 2012

Many business and homeowners are turning to video surveillance systems for continuous monitoring of property and premises during those times when they can’t be physically present. Today’s systems are generally easy to install and use, eliminating the need for expensive professional expertise or the downloading of additional software.

video surveillance systemsCameras are available in both wired and wireless configurations. While wired systems are regarded as somewhat more reliable and trouble-free because of the lack of reliance on batteries and routers, wireless solutions offer some interesting benefits.

There are no wires to hide, and these systems be operated through an existing local area network. Cameras designed for outdoor use will withstand wind, rain, snow and temperature fluctuations better than their all-purpose counterparts.

PC-based Systems

Among the most popular choices are those systems that can be monitored using any of the more common Web browsers on a remote PC. They don’t require having a dedicated PC onsite, saving money and the hassle of maintaining and securing yet another device. These video surveillance systems assign a specific IP address to each camera, so you’ll always know exactly what you’re viewing when you’re at home or on vacation. You won’t have to guess where an intruder has entered because Camera A points directly at a particular door and has sent you a picture as he enters the building.

Each camera also has its own email address preinstalled. Choose models that have preinstalled motion detectors that email you only when someone enters a sensitive area of your home or business. Footage can be viewed in real time or can be stored and then viewed later.

Images are emailed to you in .jpeg format for fast downloading to your computer, no matter if you’re using a Mac OS, Linux, or Windows. Industry standard automatic configurations allow each router and computer to determine the optimum settings for your system, reducing endless the endless tweaking and resetting required for capturing the clearest images.

Choose a video surveillance system that operates in both daylight and in low-light environments. Vandals and thieves don’t normally strike at night. These are an excellent security solution when it’s not convenient or cost-effective to a security on duty around the clock.

Business Security

Business owners choose remote cameras keep tabs on sensitive areas in real time, tracking employees’ movements in and around sensitive areas such as operations and financial offices. Video surveillance footage can provide a completely different story than that recorded by business computers that can’t furnish real-time reports.

Using video surveillance technology to monitor a business’ premises is the modern-day equivalent of Management By Walking About popularized in Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellent more than 20 years ago.

*A company’s LAN access to run its security cameras is one of the most underused capabilities today, one within the reach of even the smallest business.

*It’s inexpensive, and keeps a visual record more reliable than the blurry inaccurate memories of onsite personnel.

*Digital Video Recorders, or DVRs, document activity in shipping areas, loading docks, sales areas (especially point-of-sale terminals), public areas to monitor loiterers who may be shoplifting, and truck and customer parking areas.

There’s a good chance that nearly any business can become the target of a disgruntled employee or customer rampaging through a store or office, destroying property in retaliation for a real or imagined slight. At the same time, a video surveillance system can reduce vandalism to outdoor furnishings and landscaping or detect a criminal lurking in an ill-lit and remote parking area.

Home Safety and Security

Homeowners with families are also immersing themselves in the capabilities afforded by video surveillance cameras.

*Nanny cams and outdoor security cameras are the most common uses for this technology in the home.

*Expand your horizons and monitor what’s going on both inside and outside your home — what the postal carrier is doing when he or she is delivering the mail, the neighbors’ filching water or gasoline or the lawn care company’s activities when you’re away from home.

You can monitor your home while on vacation, spot a burglary in process, call law enforcement while the crime is in progress and watch the criminal’s reaction when he’s caught in the act. Once your property is known as having video surveillance capability, potential criminals will give your home a wide berth in the future.

*Nine out of ten home security systems are used for deterring property crimes such as burglary and vandalism.

*Four out of ten systems are used for deterring and detecting violent crimes such as robbery, assault, abuse, rape and murder.

Video Monitoring of the Elderly

On the other hand, video surveillance has a more benign and caring side. While 24/7 surveillance of a loved one is not really something most of us want, it’s comforting to have surveillance cameras located in critical areas within the home.

*Place one in plain sight in the kitchen to alert you to Mom’s or Dad’s daily eating habits and safe kitchen practices.

*Place a camera in the hallway outside the bathroom or bedroom to ensure your parents’ ability to perform daily living functions and alert you to possible health issues.

Video surveillance capabilities inside the halls, lobbies and elevators of a senior-citizen housing complex serve the same purpose. Residents retain a high degree of independence, but still benefit from concerned oversight. For example, security personnel can be alerted to the presence of suspicious loiterers presenting mugging or robbery threats. At the same time, residents who fall or become ill in public areas receive medical assistance more quickly than if they were unmonitored.

Law Enforcement and Insurance Companiesvideo surveillance systems

Law enforcement agencies are turning increasingly to video surveillance systems to monitor public disturbances such as looting and vandalism.

*A police force may be overwhelmed during the initial stages of a riot and the identification and prosecution of the instigators may prove difficult or impossible without surveillance footage.

*Building owners’ surveillance cameras often provide valuable information and evidence that help put malefactors behind bars.

*Footage can be useful when filing insurance claims after a disturbance.

Location Considerations

While many cameras are located in plain sight in these situations, it’s often better to select units that can be hidden behind something else if you’re using them for security surveillance purposes. They can be located behind paneling or a wall surface, inside home furnishings, or in out of the way corners of the workplace. This cuts down on criminals’ finding cameras’ blind spots and capitalizing on them, or even inactivating them or destroying them before breaking in.

Commercially installed video surveillance systems offer the benefit of expert analysis of specific requirements and camera placement. Blind spots are eliminated, or identified and resolved.

Owner-installed PC-based remote monitoring capabilities need to address similar concerns. Select one of these inexpensive solutions that includes up to 64 cameras with individual discrete IP and email addresses and motion-detecting functions.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations must be observed. Video surveillance technology is a valuable tool in deterring crime and ensuring the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens.

Hiding a video camera and recorder in a public area to protect it against damage is one thing. Secreting a hidden camera in a public restroom or locker room is quite another thing. When pondering the advisability of placing a video surveillance system in the home of an elderly parent, his or her wishes need to be respected. Compassionate monitoring should not be equated with micromanagement and interference.

Conclusion

The choice between professionally installed technology and a do-it-yourself PC-based system is often determined by a variety of factors, with cost lying near the top of the list. In a challenging economic environment, even the most cash-strapped business or homeowner can take advantage of inexpensive, and highly reliable security video monitoring.

video surveillance systemsVideo surveillance technology offers big dividends in the form of securing sensitive business data, safeguarding cash receipts during the course of the business day, reducing pilferage in stockrooms and loading docks and deterring vandalism. Even small businesses can take advantage of low-cost video surveillance solutions when they opt for Web-based camera images.

Homeowners can take advantage of PC-based video surveillance as part of a comprehensive home security program or as an additional security layer when they’re away on vacation.

Simple PC-based video surveillance plays an important role in safeguarding the well-being of an elderly parent who lives in another city or state.

Small senior-citizen housing facilities provide enhanced security to their residents when video surveillance systems are in place. Injury, illness and crime are addressed quickly and appropriately.

Law enforcement agencies and insurance companies benefit from the use of home and business video surveillance footage when solving a crime or settling a claim.

Proper placement of cameras is crucial in the success of these systems. Purchase as many cameras as your budget allows, and then locate them to cover areas with controlled access to sensitive areas of operation.

Choose a system with both day and night capabilities.

Video surveillance can’t replace human security personnel completely. On the other hand, a system that incorporates at least some video recording capability has the advantage of providing a sharper record than the memories of flustered and perhaps biased employees.

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CMOS vs CCD

Written By:
Monday, January 9th, 2012

Charge Coupled Device (CCD) and Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) both have image sensors that are used for capturing digital images, but it is the technologies that are different. They each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses that give way to various applications. It is not as if one is superior to the other, but when you speak to vendors who only specialize in one of the forms of technology they will tell you that they feel otherwise. Throughout the last five years, there have been a lot of changes that have happened from both forms of technology. There are a lot of projections in regards to the demise of the technologies that have been proven false time and time again. Both forms of technology have a bright future, but there is still a need for the framework to be enhanced in regards to both of the CCD and CMOS imagers for their strengths and opportunities that they are going to be able to offer.

CCD or CMOS

Light is converted into an electric charge that can be processed into an electronic signal through both of the imagers. Within a CCD sensor, each and every pixel’s charge has to be transferred through an extremely limited amount of output nodes, which at many times is only one. It is then converted into voltage, buffered, and sent as an analog signal from off the chip. This allows all of the pixels to be devoted to capturing light, while the output’s uniformity, which is crucial to the quality of your images, is high. On the other hand, a CMOS sensor is designed where each and every pixel has its own conversion from charge-to-voltage. The sensor will often include the use of amplifiers, noise correction and circuits that are digitized, which allow the chips to output bits of digital information. This allows the design complexity to be increased, while the area for light capturing is reduced. Uniformity is lowered because each pixel is actually doing its own conversion, but the chip could be built to need a smaller amount of off-chip circuitry for its basic operations.

CCD vs CMOS

Left: CCD ---Right: CMOS

During the late 1960s and early 1970s both of the CCD and CMOS imagers were invented. It was DALSA founder Dr. Chamberlain, who was also the CEO, which developed both of the technologies. CCD originally became the more dominant of the two technologies. It was due largely in part to the fact that it gave more exceptional imaging with the technology that was available. The imaging sensors used in the CMOS technology ended up requiring more uniformity and had smaller features beyond what the silicon water foundries were able to deliver at that time. It wasn’t until the 1990s that lithography was developed so designers could begin making their case for the CMOS imagers once again. There was now a renewed interest in CMOS that was based on the expectations of lower price consumptions, a camera-on-a-chip integration, and lower costs for fabrication due to the reusing of mainstream logic and fabricating for memory devices. Even though these benefits are only possible in theory, it will take a lot more time and money to be able to put them into practice at the same time as they are delivering a higher image quality. There is also going to be an additional process for adapting these changes into effect for the original projections.

When the imagers are designed properly you are going to get exceptional imaging performance from both the CCD and the CMOS imagers. In the photographic, scientific, and industrial applications CCD has provided the benchmarks for the performance in the highest image qualities while at the expense of the quality of images, which is also measured in quantum efficiency and noise. If you look at the CMOS imagers, you are going to find more integration, a lower dissipation of power and a smaller system size possibly. However, they often have tradeoffs that are required between the quality of the image and the cost of the device. There is really no clear line between the different types of applications that each one can serve. The designers of the CMOS technology have devoted a lot of their time and efforts into achieving high quality images, but the CCD designers ended up lowering their pixel sizes and the power requirements for their power. You are going to find a low-cost and low-power cell phone camera in the CCD technology, while the sensors in the CMOS technology are going to offer high-performance cameras for professional and industrial use, which directly contradicts all of the earlier stereotypes. The producers that have succeeded in producing the crossovers have years of experience rooted deeply in both of the technologies.

CMOS vs CCDAt the chip level the costs are very similar for both the CCD and the CMOS. Early on the proponents of CMOS were claiming that the CMOS imagers were going to be a lot cheaper. They were supposed to be able to produce the same type of high-volume wafer processing lines as the mainstream login or the memory chips, but this has not been the case. The CMOS designers had to develop specialized, optimized, and lower-volume processors that are mixed-signal fabrications in order to accommodate the requirements for good imaging. It was very similar to that of the CCD designs. It has become a very slow and expensive process to be able to provide the processes at a successful lithography node that is smaller. There is an advantage to those who have a captive foundry because they are able to maintain the attention needed by the process engineers.

There are fewer components and less power that is required to operate the CMOS cameras, however, they are still going to need companion chips in order to have the optimal image quality. This process results in a higher cost and helps to reduce the advantages that are gained from lower power consumption. The CMOS devices are a lot more complex than the CCD devices, so they are going to cost a lot more to design them. The fabrication processes of the CCD tend to be a lot more mature and optimized. As a result, it is going to cost less to fabricate and design a CCD over a CMOS imager, in regards to a high-performance application. One of the most dominating influences of the device cost is the wafer size. The larger the wafer size is, the more devices it is going to be able to produce, which means the cost per device is going to be significantly reduced. The majority of the CMOS foundries are going to offer a 200mm device, whereas, the CCD foundries tend to offer a 150mm device. The majority of the captive foundries are going to use 150mm, 200mm, and 300mm for the production for the CCD and the CMOS devices.

CMOS AnalogBeyond the pricing issue, you also have to worry about the sustainability potential. CMOS was priced below their actual costs in order to win business because they were trying to pursue a high volume and commodity applications from a limited base of various businesses. For some of those businesses, the risk that they took ended up paying off and the volume that was produced was enough to maintain a margin for viability. There were some businesses that ended up having to increase their costs, but others ended up going out of business completely. Some of the venture capitalists find high-risk startups to be interesting, whereas, imager customers are going to require a long-term support and stability plan.

There have been problems with the arrival and development of the on-chip integration, but speed is one of the areas where the CMOS imagers are able to demonstrate a considerable amount of strength. Cost advantages have been difficult for everyone to realize, but they do have a relative ease of use in the output structures that are parallel. In terms of industrial applications they are going to have great potential.

The CCD and CMOS imagers are going to remain complementary to each other. It is not so much a matter of the technology, but rather the choice is going to depend on the vendor and the application that they choose to use. There is one company that is going to remain technology neutral when it comes to the two options available to them. Teledyne DALSA’s is one of the few vendors that are able to offer real solutions with both of the CCDs and the CMOS technologies.

Even though there are a lot of differences between the two imagers, it is always going to remain in the hands of the vendor to decide which product they want to offer consumers. Everyone is going to have a different opinion of which imager is going to be the best one for them, but there is really no clear and definitive answer as to what the best option is. Take the time to go through what each one has to offer and try to make the most informed decision that you can, based on what exactly it is that you are looking for.

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24 Vac Power Supply

Written By:
Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

There are several different types of CCTV (Closed Circuit TeleVision) power supplies.  Currently in the digital video security industry there are two basic types of power that are used; 1.) 24  Vac and 2.) 12 v DC.  Most digital video cameras utilize a low-voltage power supply so there are not as many potentially dangerous factors to be concerned about as there is if they used full household Alternating Current (AC).

Even though in the security camera industry today we basically only have two power choices from which to choose, there are a few options for power that will greatly affect your decision in the buying process. With video being integrated into many aspects of our daily lives such as phones, access control, and even mobile usage it is easy to get confused about your power source. Traditionally, CCTV cameras were 24V ac, but about 15 years ago 12V DC cameras started to become popular due to their low cost. Currently, dual voltage cameras are replacing 24V AC only cameras, helping to alleviate the stress of worrying about whether or not your power source is compatible for your camera.

One important note so as not to cause confusion: Using either of the two doesn’t affect the video transmission, only the power. (i.e. Bumping up the power on the power supply will not improve your transmission.  Transmission of the digital video signal from the camera to the DVR is an entirely different issue.

You can run 500 feet of video line using either voltage easily if the camera is powered at the source. However, when using this distance for power as well, you might not be able to get the proper amount of power to your camera when using 12V DC with a camera that has a large current.

BY the nature of physics and the material, DC voltage sent a long distance becomes susceptible to degradation or voltage drops which are directly proportional to the distance the DC voltage is sent.  24V ac on the other hand is not affected (at least for our applications) like DC voltage is.

A camera’s power consumption is usually referred to in milliamps (mA) or amperage (A) if it is large enough. A camera’s consumption is generally around 200-400mA. Things like mechanical filters, infrared LEDs, and internal heaters will jump this number up considerably. Trying to power a 1.2A camera with 12V DC with low amperage over a long distance or with devices that require a high amperage is unfeasible as there will be too much total resistance in the long cable run that adds up to a substantial voltage drop resulting in camera failure.

A quick test to see if you’re having problems due to voltage drops is simply to take a volt meter and measure the voltage at the camera under load (while it’s connected). A common problem attributed to voltage drop is where the camera works fine when there is low consumption but at night, when the IR LEDs turn on, it stops working completely. Problems can also include hum bars, video distortion, and other symptoms which are often mistaken as a bad camera. The solution is to go with a 24V AC camera which minimizes the voltage drop problem by using higher AC voltage.

One possible cure, as noted at the beginning, is to purchase dual voltage cameras. These cameras can be powered with either voltage by simply hooking it up to that power source. No adjustments for power or polarity are necessary as the camera itself automatically accepts whichever form you are using. You only need to consider these options when you are trying to set up a camera over 300’ and with a draw of 300mA or more.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is clear to see that you will want to use AC power whenever you have a long distance to travel or if you are using a smaller diameter wire that may not allow your 12V DC camera to get the proper current it needs to work. Also remember that in the U.S. the wire gauge number represents a larger piece of wire as the gauge number decreases. The easiest and best solution is to look for dual voltage cameras so you no longer have to worry about it.

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Voice Activated Recorders

Written By:
Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Voice activated recorders are exactly what their name implies; they are audio recorders that record when activated by a sound.  Voice activated recorders may be used for a multitude of tasks such as securing witness statements, oral note taking, recording college lectures, etc.

 

Security Camera King features two different digital recorders that can be voice activated.  They are Product #s DPR-N88 and DPR-N308.  In the following article we’ll describe how voice activation works and look closely at each recorder offered for sale by Security Camera King.

 

But first, let’s talk a little about voice activation and recording.  First, voice activated recorders have a microphone and a speaker.   The recorder has the microphone wired to a small Integrated Circuit (IC) chip that is basically a listening device with a relay.  Should the microphone pick up a sound (any sound will cause activation if loud enough, not just voices) the IC sends a signal to a relay which controls the on/off function of the recorder.

 

As mentioned earlier, voice activated recorders can be used for many things.  If they are being used for covert recording the voice activation feature can save a lot of storage space and power allowing the recorder to record more and run longer.  However, one important point to address is that these types of recorders often must be tested in their user location to see if the recorders pick up is strong enough to activate the recorder as needed.

 

Also, most small recorders including voice activated recorders often have to be tested by trial and error in getting the device’s microphone pointed in the proper direction and placed in the proper position to record conversation.  Sometimes the microphone has to be placed just right to pick up the targeted sound.

 

Product# DPR-N88

This is a 576 hour digital phone and room recorder.  It can be used as a stereo recorder and it has a built in FM radio with a recording feature as well.  The 576 hour record mode is the recording time available when set in LP mode.  The recorder has a backlit LCD display.

 

It can record in several formats including WAV, ACT, MP3, and WMA.  It has one output for an earphone jack and also one input for an external microphone jack.  It comes with its own built in rechargeable Lithium battery.  The size is small and sleek, 1.3 inches x 4.4 inches x,5 inches and it only weighs about 3 ounces.

 

The following is a list of some of its features:

  • Stereo recording with built-in stereo microphone
  • FM radio with recording function
  • Backlit LCD display
  • Ear protection function
  • Scrolling display
  • Built-in tools – Autotimer, stopwatch, alarm clock and calendar
  • 3 default folders for storage
  • Voice activated recording
  • A-B segment repetition
  • Ear microphone included for telephone and mobile phone recording
  • High fidelity amplifier
  • High quality speaker
  • Line IN input
  • Audio input
  • 3 recording modes, SP, LP, HQ
  • High Speed USB 2.0 connection
  • Multilanguage display.

 

Product# DPR-N308

This recorder offers all the same features at the DPR-N88 above but it also have a touch pad key layout and a rugged aluminum case.

 

The following is the list of features (same as above):

  • Stereo recording with built-in stereo microphone
  • FM radio with recording function
  • Backlit LCD display
  • Ear protection function
  • Scrolling display
  • Built-in tools – Autotimer, stopwatch, alarm clock and calendar
  • 3 default folders for storage
  • Voice activated recording
  • A-B segment repetition
  • Ear microphone included for telephone and mobile phone recording
  • High fidelity amplifier
  • High quality speaker
  • Line IN input
  • Audio input
  • 3 recording modes, SP, LP, HQ
  • High Speed USB 2.0 connection
  • Multilanguage display.

 

If you have any additional questions or concerns about these voice activated recorders contact one of our security experts either via “Live Chat” or telephone at 866-573-8878 Monday through Friday 9AM – 6PM EST.

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Personal Protection Devices

Written By:
Thursday, August 4th, 2011

If you are concerned about your own security, you may be looking for personal protection devices to keep you safe and sound.   Many people today commute to work on public transportation or work a late shift when most other people are home.   This creates an atmosphere that is prime for an assailant that is interested in steeling your personal belongings or worse, personally injuring you.

What can be done to prevent such atrocity?  While it may not be possible to prevent the ill intent of all individuals looking to make their situation better from the illegally acquired resources of someone else, personal protection devices can prevent an assailant’s attack; some can even temporarily (and harmlessly) immobilize the assailant until authorities arrive for help.

Security Camera King is a full-service on-line store that not only carries digital video security and surveillance equipment but offers a full line of personal protection devices as well.  The remainder of this article will focus on the personal protection devices that Security Camera King currently offers via their online security store.  For more information on a particular item or items, go to http://www.securitycameraking.com/personal-protection-235-ctg.html or contact one of our security experts via on-line live chat or telephone at 866-573-8878 Monday through Friday from 9AM to 6PM EST.

Airsoft guns

We carry several different types of air soft guns and ammunition.  While these guns are not direct personal protection devices they may be used to develop and improve your aim on the real thing.

Animal Repellent

If you jog or walk in your neighborhood or even someone else’s, it’s always good to have a readily accessible canister of dog mace at your side to prevent an attack.  Security Camera King also offers an alternative electronic method that produces an ultra high frequency sound that cannot be heard by humans.  However, dogs can hear it and they don’t like it.  The device also emits a strobe bright light that can cause confusion  for the dog that last just long enough for you to get away.

Bear Mace

This may sound a little unusual and perhaps even a little humorous but a bear attack is nothing to laugh about.  People die every year from attacks by bears and if you camp or hike you put yourself in an excellent position to come in contact with one.  Our bear mace works and at an effective range of about 20 feet.

Car Safety

Security Camera King even offers personal protection devices that are designed for use in your automobile.   Their 4 N 1 Auto Emergency Tool features a flashlight, emergency light, car window breaking hammer, and seat belt cutter.

Folding Knives

We offer a variety of folding knives in various designs and colors, most designed to open with just one hand.  Many are 6 inches long when open, 3.5 inches long when closed with a super sharp blade that is 2.5 inches long.

Handcuffs

Need to detain someone from fleeing while in your custody?  We offer a full line of handcuffs, leg cuffs and even thumb cuffs.

Instructional Fighting DVDs

These DVDs offer a variety of defensive techniques to protect yourself in the event of an attack.  Well known martial arts and “street techniques” instructors like Paul Vunak, Shannon Stallard, Gregg Wooldridge and many more show you techniques, moves, and psychological methods to defend yourself.

Mace Pepper Spray

From the famous makers of Mace brand teargas comes an entire line of Mace brand pepper spray.  These are probably one of the most popular personal protection devices in use today.  Canisters are made in all shapes and sizes.  Some canisters are small enough to easily fit inside a small pocket or purse while others are large enough that they can be used over and over (for security guards for example) and clipped on a belt. Pepper spray burns the eyes and causes harmless, temporary blindness.  If in haled it can irritate the mucous membranes of respiration and make it difficult to maintain composer for a short period of time, but long enough to detain or get away from a potential assailant.

Personal Alarms

We carry a full line of personal alarms in various shapes, sizes, and sounds.  Some of these alarms can even be used as window/door/drawer alarms.

Stun Guns

Nothing says “Back Off” better than a few million volts.  These personal protection devices are the ultimate in protection, disabling the assailant with a few million volts of electricity, temporarily and harmlessly disabling them.

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