Posts Tagged ‘ camera system’



Alarm System vs. Camera System

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Monday, September 15th, 2014

alarm panelNVR System

I often get asked by my clients if they should get a camera system or an alarm system?  The answer to that question can be complex because of the differences.  Are you looking for a system that is monitored?  Are you looking for a system that can actually catch the criminal?  Do you want the police to respond blindly and not in a timely fashion?  Do you want to have video of the criminal to be able to prosecute them?  Either way you go your property will have protection.  I am going to go over the pros and cons of both.

Alarm System

With an alarm system you have several different ways you can go.  If you have a home that has existing wiring of all of the contacts, all you will need to do is find a company that will monitor the system for you.  If this is a new installation most companies have gone to the new wireless systems, which are nice because the technician does not have to be skilled with running wires or proper circuitry.  One major drawback with this type of a system is that the initial price you will be quoted is for a motion detector and a couple of door sensors and once you add all the sensors and detectors you are going to need for proper coverage the price skyrockets.  Then you add the cost of monthly monitoring and it can get very costly.  Now having a home that is pre-wired with the sensors on all the doors as well as the windows or at least smash sensors on the windows is the way to go.

This is because you know every entry point is covered and you are not reliant on batteries or a centralized motion detector to try and pick up when someone entered your home.

Some people are concerned with their alarm system needing a landline phone for the system to connect to for communication.  This is not as big of a deal anymore, due to GSM systems on both hard wired and wireless solutions.  This is nice because in this day and age people have shied away from the home phone, as well it offers another layer of protection by preventing someone from just cutting the phone line.   There are also systems available that use an IP style communication device.  The GSM and IP style devices offer home and business owners an alternative to the standard phone line communication, giving greater security when you need it.  Whether you shell out the big bucks for a wireless system or have a hard wired system in your location, you will have a greater sense of security knowing that your property is being monitored by someone.  One thing to be aware of with any alarm system is local requirements for alarm permits.  I say this out of experience, if your municipality has codes in place that require you to have a permit registered with them, make sure whatever company you go with files the proper paperwork.  I had a break in at a property and the alarm company did not have all the paperwork filed correctly and the police would not respond to the location.  I feel that this is a way that some cities and municipalities to have extra revenue, but nonetheless make sure you check your local requirements so you don’t waste your money on your alarm monitoring service.

Camera System

With a camera system you also have several ways that you can go.  You can choose to stay with analog cameras and a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or you can step up to HD (High Definition) IP cameras (Internet Protocol) and an NVR (Network Video Recorder).  These systems come  in both wired and wireless configurations.  I only suggest a wired system due to it’s hardiness.  If you want a further explanation of why I feel this way you can read my article Wired vs. Wireless Cameras.

If you choose to stay with the analog transmission camera system there are several levels of cameras and recorders to choose from on the market.  I personally go with TechPro Security Products’ Ultimate Mini series DVRs, because they offer a great bang for the buck.  They give you realtime D1 recording on all channels, audio inputs, and the possibility for alarm integration.  If you go with an analog transmission system, do yourself a favor and step up to 700tvl cameras to maximize the images you get out of your recorder.  Be careful, not all 700tvl cameras are created equal, with Techpro cameras you are getting true 700tvl cameras that have high end Sony chips inside.  I have found many of times that there are companies out there that claim to have the same specifications as Techpro cameras, but when I have ordered and disassembled them they are far from the same.

Now if you are looking for the absolute best resolution in your camera system, I would go with a Techpro NVR.  I really like the mini NVRs for most applications, because they give you the same recording specifications as the full size units with a significantly smaller footprint while still offering the possibility of alarm integration.  My personal setup preference with my IP cameras is to utilize 2MP (megapixel) cameras on the outside of my structure with 1.3MP cameras on the inside.  This may sound weird to some, but I have found in the outdoor application you will be able to utilize the additional resolution for digital zoom on the recorded image.  You generally have larger areas to cover in the outdoor realm than you do in the indoor realm.

With a camera system ideally you will want to have cameras that crisscross on the front and rear of the property.  You will also want at least one camera shooting down each side of the property, depending on how long of a shot it will be.  Now remember not all structures are created equally, so if there are areas that jut out on the building you will need more cameras to get the coverage that you need.  For the types of cameras that I suggest you may want to read my article Hidden Security Cameras vs Visible Security Cameras.

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The Joining of Forces

Now any properly trained security professional will tell you that a layered defense is the best defense.  While a single layer can get the job done, having more layers will ensure your safety.  I say this because as I have talked about with the camera systems having alarm integration, this helps to build a layered defense.  Now there are several ways that you can go about integrating an alarm system with a camera system.  I am going to talk about the basics, but remember you can get as complex as you want.

One of the main reasons that I like a hard wired alarm system is the fact that it makes integration into a camera system that much easier.  For example, with every contact from an alarm system there is a signal wire coming from the contact to the alarm panel.  With this you can tie into this cable and bring it into one of the alarm inputs of the camera system, allowing you to tell the camera system how to respond with the information it is given.  What I have done at my own home is correlate each contact for specific sections of my house to the cameras that watch those areas.

When one of these contacts is triggered, my DVR takes that signal, emails me the pictures from the cameras I have designated, and the application TechproSS Plus on my phone pushes me the video instantaneously.  This is extremely nice and efficient because even if the perpetrator happens to get my DVR, I still have photographic and video evidence.

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Five Things to Consider for When Selecting a CCTV Camera System Component, Package, and Company

Written By:
Friday, January 10th, 2014

Five Things to Consider for When Selecting a Camera System Component, Package, and Company

When shopping for a security camera system, its very easy to fall into any of the traps set by good marketing and advertising. You have to navigate through oodles of jargon and flat out lies in order to even start your decision. Here’s a few ways to tell whether or not you’re getting a good system from a reputable company (and no. Just because a company is “big” doesn’t make it either a good system, or the makers/marketers any more reputable).

1) Tech Support. Quite possibly the biggest factor. It doesn’t matter how amazing the picture is, or the quality, or anything else. If the manufacturing company doesn’t offer accessible support, you’re eventually going to be very unhappy. All things technical eventually, if not immediately have an issue. You want to make certain that you can actually reach someone in the event of an issue. Make sure there is more than one method as well. You want options like email, forums, phone lines, and online resources. Perhaps even go as far as give it a test run. Pretend you’ve had an issue before you’ve even bought something. What are you going to do? Can you find email contacts? Are there frequently asked questions sections in their resources? Can you get through to tech support? Does anyone answer the phone numbers provided? If you have a problem at any point, you want to be able to get it resolved. Support contact is imperative.

2) Warranty. Actually, not just if it has one either. Warranties are only as good as their usefulness. Some warranties don’t actually cover anything. Also, some are flat unclaimable due to the fact that there is no one to contact if or when the system has an issue. If a company has two different warranties for two different products, there is most likely a reason for that. There are obviously differences between tiers of products. You really want a two to three year warranty if you can find one. Some companies offer five, six, seven, and rarely more years of coverage. Again, this could be because they stand behind their product, or it could be because they have no intention on being around when it comes to pay the piper. Be leary of excessive warranties. One or two years is the standard. Low voltage electronics are not designed to last this long due to the fact that they are typically out of date technically in under three years. Essentially; you’re most likely going to want to replace them in two to three years anyway.

3) Value. Bang for the buck. No one likes the feeling they get when they buy a system and find out next week it went on sale, got discontinued or closed out, or is comparable (if not exactly the same) as another system for less money. Contact the company selling the system and find out these things. Also find out what is actually inside the machine. There aren’t a lot of chip and processor companies out there. The likelihood that you can find the exact same components on the market in another housing is very very good. Don’t base your entire decision on this, but use it as a “tiebreaker”. Companies do not usually support products their competition have sold, even if they are exactly the same. Just because you got a great deal doesn’t guarantee your long term happiness. What I find to work (often) is simply ask the company you like more to meet/match the price. They most likely are already familiar with the competitor. They may not match it all the way, or be happy about doing it. But they will most likely give you a price that will at least satisfy your pocket.

4) Future-proof. This actually goes more for the infrastructure involved with your system components. Often people are concerned about how long their components will last, and not at all about the cables and connectors that are involved. You really must consider this element as critical. As technology gets phased out, it becomes scarce. IDE hard drives are an excellent example of this. This was the standard for years, and within a single year they pretty much disappeared to the successor (PCI). Now its nearly impossible to find them. This too is somewhat true of the cables involved. You may think “big deal, cables are cheap”. However, your time isn’t. Even worse if you need to pay someone else to do the work. Being able to use your cables for future systems is probably going to save you a bundle later. Try to choose a cable type that can be used for something other than cameras (like Cat 5 or Cat 6). This will increase the likelihood of you getting future usage from them.

5) Knowledge. This is another common sense factor that often gets overlooked. The market is full of importers and warehouses. Yes, you can most likely get a deal from them. However don’t forget to consider the amount you know about security camera systems. A discount computer is fine, due to the fact that you’ve most likely owned several dozen and are also most likely well-trained on the operating systems they work in. But have you spent the same amount of time working on camera systems? Choosing a company that knows its products can save you massive amounts of headache in the long run. Checking their website may give you some insight as to whether or not they know what they are selling. However, too often material on websites gets stolen, reworked and reworded, and then re-posted again. You really need to contact the company. Use several methods. Call them. Email them. Fax them. Use the methods you prefer. Do a little discovery to see what other contact and information forms they may have. A running forum perhaps? An active and updated online database? A video database? A YouTube Channel? All of these things can and will help you acquire knowledge quickly and efficiently when you need it.

Clearly the quality, capability, and performance of the equipment you choose is important. But also is being able to learn how to use it, getting it repaired or replaced, and upgraded. In today’s market, there are so many good (and bad) alternatives that you really need to consider the place you purchase from as much (if not more) than the equipment itself. After all, you may save 50% on your purchase. But what good does it do you if you can’t use it at all?

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4 Camera System

Written By:
Monday, November 14th, 2011

A 4 camera security system is the perfect solution if you need security or surveillance monitoring in a small perimeter or area.  Electronic technological improvements have not only resulted in high quality equipment designed for this purpose, but have made the cameras capable of providing images in total darkness by using infrared radiation (IR) all at an economical price.

4 camera IR security systems normally consist of four cameras, a processor/capture card/CODEC application, a monitor and a digital video recorder or DVR.  The cameras send their video in the form of electronic data to a processor or capture card that interprets the data and creates a digital file that can be read and/or saved for future use.  The CODEC application reads the digital video file that is created and applies COmpression/DECompression (hence the name CODEC) to make the file much smaller and therefore easier to handle and store while maintaining high quality characteristics of the images or video.  The file is then available for live or real-time viewing on a monitor.  At the same time the file is normally saved on a DVR for future use.  The DVR is much like the hard drive on a personal computer.

There are several types of cameras available; however IR cameras are specially designed for “seeing” in total darkness.   Digital video cameras produce images by using a special electronic light sensor called a Charged Coupled Device (CCD) or a Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor or CMOS.  CCDs are particularly useful for infrared applications because of the sensitivity of the electronic chip.

Modern technological advances in design of CCDs have yielded a sensor that is extremely sensitive to light.  This means that most CCDs can produce high quality video in very low light conditions such as the available light on a moonlit night.  However, a 4 camera IR security system needs to go one step further; it needs to be able to produce high quality video in total darkness environments.  Fortunately, most CCDs are inherently sensitive to IR light radiation.  Therefore the CCD makes an excellent choice as an image sensor for IR cameras.

The cameras in a 4 camera IR security system can produce high quality color video when there is some available visible light.  Under infrared conditions, the camera produces a monochromatic or black and white video image.  These cameras have IR Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs that surround the camera lens.  The LEDs emit IR light that is invisible to the human eye but is visible to the CCD.  These LEDs act as invisible spot lights or flood lights for the CCD, illuminating the target area images with IR light.  Generally, the more IR LEDs surrounding the lens, the greater the range and field of view for the IR video.

There are many useful applications for a 4 camera IR security system.  These systems provide excellent night time security coverage for outdoor building and property perimeters.  In addition to perimeter coverage, IR cameras can be placed so that they can monitor areas that are normally not well lit in the evenings.  They have both commercial and residential applications for this purpose.

Indoors, 4 camera IR security systems can be used to provide security and surveillance monitoring for rooms that are not illuminated.  Stores, offices, and businesses can all make use of IR security systems to provide the utmost security without the expense of leaving several building lights on.  Residentially, nurseries or baby’s rooms can be monitored in the evening without disturbing the infant with unnecessary light.  Rooms inside homes can be monitored for security purposes without the need for lights.  Potential intruders can be monitored without their knowledge since the IR illumination used by the camera is invisible to the human eye.

Recent technology also allows 4 camera IR security systems to be networked using Internet Protocol (IP).   This means that the system can be connected to the internet so that monitoring and recording can be accomplished anywhere there is internet access.  In addition, this also means that via this network 24/7 monitoring can easily be provided by monitoring service companies.

Innovative technology can now provide you with a 4 camera IR security system that can be used for in nearly any environment for any application at affordable prices.  The versatility of these systems not only provides for wide applications but for easy accessibility for monitoring from remote locations.  What’s more, 4 camera IR security systems require no additional requirements than standard camera security systems.

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Wireless CCTV Camera System

Written By:
Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

A wireless Closed Circuit TeleVision or wireless CCTV camera system is one of the most popular systems used for security and surveillance applications today. Although there are many variations of a typical wireless CCTV camera system, the general set-up for a security/surveillance application of this type involves the use of wireless Closed Circuit Television or CCTV cameras and a digital hard drive used to record the pictures or video sent to it by the CCTV cameras.

The key components of a Wireless CCTV camera system include wireless CCTV cameras with antennas, a high speed digital hard drive, a wireless single or multi receiver, and a digital video recorder.  Each of these components serves a specific function to provide a total package wireless CCTV camera system.  Let’s take a closer look at each component.

The wireless camera comes in many varieties.  There are dome cameras, box cameras, bullet cameras, PTZ or pan tilt and zoom cameras, and even explosion proof cameras.  Wireless security cameras may capture still pictures and/or motion video and may provide the images in black and white or in color.  Some cameras also come equipped with a microphone for capturing sound.  In addition to these functions, wireless security cameras normally have an on-board transmitter that operates in the 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz bands.  The broadcast range for these wireless cameras is usually somewhere between 200 and 700 feet depending upon environmental conditions.

The receiver is basically like a radio receiver or in-home wireless telephone receiver base.  It receives the wireless signal transmitted from each camera and sends that signal to the DVR.  Generally, receivers have more than one “channel”; that is, they can receive signals from more than one camera at a time.  A receiver that can handle input from four different security cameras at one time is usually referred to as a four channel receiver.

After the camera’s signal is received, it is normally processed in some way before it reaches the DVR.  The processing circuitry is normally found on an electronic “board” that is included with the DVR.  This board may have one to several different file compression/decompression or CODECs wired into its circuitry.  The purpose of using a CODEC is to minimize the size of the file to be stored on the DVR without sacrificing too much quality.

Digital video is basically digital photographs taken at a rapid rate (normally up to 30 frames per second or fps).  However, if you consider the digital size of a file for one photograph, you can only imagine the total size for thousands used to create a video.  For example, a typical digital photograph may create a file 1.5 megabytes (MB) in size.  One hour of video would be 30 photographs per second, times 60 seconds, times 60 minutes or 162,000 MB or 162 Gigabytes (GB) of information!  A 250 GB hard drive would be filled in only two hours.  However, CODEC boards and programs reduce the file sizes drastically allowing for several hours to days of recording without filling up the hard drive.

Most DVR wireless security systems also include a monitor to view the cameras’ output in real time as well as to view the playback of recorded video.  The monitor may be a small wireless unit itself or can be a larger LCD type monitor used with most computer systems.

There are many benefits to using a wireless CCTV camera system.  Technological advances have made the components relatively inexpensive so that these systems can not only be used by businesses but can be used by consumers to provide security surveillance for the home.  Wireless systems have the added benefit of placing the cameras in strategic places that are unlikely to be seen by potential criminals and vandals.  In addition, DVR wireless security systems do not require signal transmission cables from the camera to the DVR, making installation much simpler and neater as well.

If you would like more information on wireless CCTV camera systems or are considering the purchase of a wireless CCTV camera system, please contact one of our security experts today.  They can be reached by on-line “Live Chat” or by telephone as 866-573-8878 Monday through Friday from 9AM to 6PM EST.

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Store Surveillance Cameras

Written By:
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

It’s almost impossible to believe that a retailer, especially one with a large store, doesn’t have store surveillance cameras.  No matter what type of business, store surveillance cameras can help you maintain loss prevention while at the same time preventing the need for an elaborate and possibly costly security department.

If designed and used properly, store surveillance cameras, or rather a store surveillance system can provide more that just loss prevention; in addition to protecting the stores assets, it can help protect store employees and provide documentation for the store in the event of a potentially costly insurance claim (like slips, trips, and falls).

Obviously, there are several benefits in having a good store surveillance camera system.  Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.

One of the biggest advantages is merchandise loss prevention.  Store surveillance cameras not only help prevent loss but can be a big factor in documenting and establishing proof of a potential shoplifting theft.  Most shoplifters will obviously deny the fact that they were stealing merchandise.  But, when a digital video security and surveillance system has the entire episode recorded this documentation can prove invaluable both to police and in court.

However, just the presence of store surveillance cameras can reduce the incidences of crime, especially shoplifting.   If the retail facility is quite large in square footage, fake cameras can be used to extend the coverage the “real” store surveillance cameras provide.

Another advantage of store surveillance cameras is that they not only help manage loss prevention, but when the store is closed the system keeps on working to protect it from after hours vandalism and theft.  Cameras can be monitored twenty four hours a day either on site inside the building or remotely at just about any location including professional monitoring security stations.  For example, should someone attempt a break-in while the store is closed a professional monitoring company can call the local authorities and the police could arrive before the burglars can get there hands on any merchandise.

Speaking of theft, not only can store surveillance cameras help prevent store theft from customers, but it can also prevent theft from employees.  Employee theft is something mot managers hate to think about but the fact of the matter is it still occurs.  If inventory checks don’t match up with register receipt data there’s a good chance the theft is originating from within the company.  A well designed system will be able to document this and provide evidence to the fact.

The retail business, like many other businesses, must be vigilant when it comes to marketing.   Commercials, sales, and special events are all good marketing tools, but the layout of the store also has a big impact on sales.   A digital video security system can even provide help in determining how to set-up the store.  After watching several hours of recorded video, store managers can get a “feel” for what items should be placed near the cash registers for example.

Another benefit of using store surveillance cameras is in monitoring employee/customer relationships.  Customer service is an important an integral part of retail marketing and one employee has the potential for destroying thousands of dollars of potential sales if customer service standards are not followed.

Finally, thanks to today’s modern technology, the monitoring station doesn’t even need to be anywhere near the store.  Better yet, if there is more than one store, they can all be monitored in one place at the same time taking advantage of IP (Internet Protocol) ready cameras and Digital Video Recorders or DVRs.  (Actually when systems use the Internet to network together, the DVR is called a Network Video Recorder or NVR.)

To take this one step further, any manager or owner can “tap in” to the store’s cameras using a smartphone from anywhere in the world they have 3G or 4G mobile service.   That means that while the store may be located in Texas, if the manager has a meeting in Oregon, he/she can see each camera and in most cases even control the camera (Pan-Tilt-Zoom or PTZ cameras for example) with their smartphone.

If you are interested in a store surveillance camera system for your store, please contact us today and one of our security experts will be glad to help you determine what you need with a needs analysis and will also assist you in designing your own system. They are extremely friendly and helpful and are here to help you.

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