Posts Tagged ‘ privacy ’

Persistent Surveillance Systems – The Eye in the Sky

Written By:
Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Persistent Surveillance Systems

Are you against or for aerial surveillance systems?

Working in the surveillance industry, you come to realize really quick that CCTV systems can widely reduce crime when in plain sight. Most people who are considering breaking the law will think twice when they see or know that there are surveillance cameras watching their every move. As we forge on into the future, technology is improving at an insane rate. This of course comes along with many privacy concerns. There are technologies that can help solve crimes which are not being used for privacy reasons alone. One technology that rides on the border of these privacy concerns is called Persistent Surveillance Systems. These are wide area surveillance systems that are usually mounted to a plane, drone, or tower high in the sky and can capture video of whole cities or towns. These innovative systems are no longer just being used to only capture video of military battles, but also being used by the police force to watch over cities. Some of these systems are composed of 192 Megapixel, full color cameras mounted to a plane in multiple locations to keep an eye on crime from up above. These multiple cameras are mounted in a way that they point in different directions to capture separate sections of a location and the software stitches it all together as one.

Ross McNutt by one of his aerial surveillance Cessnas

Ross McNutt by one of his aerial surveillance Cessnas

Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, mentioned that he has witnessed many occurrences where people were murdered. The murderers were captured because of this technology, and most people feel that there would be even less crime once there is more press out there about these cities having surveillance up in the sky. In one specific incident, even though the video had very poor clarity, the images revealed a gang getting together to block off road access points and sending a shooter to meet his target. The cameras captured this man taking off after the body hit the ground. When the police finally received a copy of the report, they noticed that there was a picture of a blue building that the murderer ran into. This footage contained the images of a man being murdered in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, using cameras specially fitted onto a Cessna plane. McNutt stated, “I’ve witnessed 34 of these. It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.”

We have definitely become more accustomed to seeing CCTV surveillance cameras in public, and most people don’t even think twice about it. However, new technologies are here that most people aren’t even aware of yet and it’s capable of being deployed without anyone even really knowing about it. These technologies can track cars in small cities for many hours at a time. The clarity isn’t good enough to distinguish faces or license plates, but it certainly is capable of tracking an individual. If a police officer wanted to find out who they were tracking, all they have to do is go to the business or the homes of the places these individuals are visiting and ask them to help identify the person of interest.

These cameras are already being used for securing large events such as the Ohio political rally where John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate back in 2008 (Which was a stupid move in my opinion!). They have even used this technology for Police demonstrations and NASCAR races. They have even been commissioned to use it for a request that a Mexican politician put in for the city of Ciudad Juárez. These cameras have basically become a time machine for the police force, allowing them to look back at an incident that occurred during the recording.

Persistent Surveillance Systems

Aerial Surveillance Software leads to capturing criminals but at what cost?

Of course, this is becoming more and more of a civil liberty concern for city officials and civilians alike. The Supreme Court has given permission for this technology to be used as long as they are only video taping instances that can be seen with the naked eye in public. McNutt is a retired Air Force officer who has designed a similar system and has been fighting to win over the officials. He did make a good point that these flights are way cheaper and more efficient than police helicopter missions. He has also mentioned that a single camera on top of the Washington monument could possibly deter most of the crime in the area. Especially if the media speaks up about it and help make more people aware. Criminals will definitely be deterred when they hear about all the cameras that are on them when they are about to commit a particular crime. Those 192MP cameras can capture up to 50 crimes within a short 6 hour flight that would provide the city police with a stream that covers more than 1/3 of the city. McNutt feels that this technology will deter crime enough to raise property values, create better schools, increase development in the specific areas, and eventually even lower arrest rates.

The Dayton Ohio police force has even planned on inviting the public out to see how this system works. This will more than likely make some people feel better about it, and also deter others who may have been criminals before and are then too scared to commit a crime in fear of being caught. Many defense contractors are eager to use technology that has been used in the military in the past, but McNutt is taking the time to get information from the American Civil Liberties Union in order to write a proper privacy policy for this technology. This policy would set the rules on how long and how much data can be stored, as well as setting some guidelines for who has the ability to access the system and footage. According to the policy being put together, Police shouldn’t be able to watch back any of the footage unless there is a crime that occurred. This way the system cannot be misused to spy on people or gather information that is not directly related to protecting the city. He plans on extending the range that these cameras can see, but he does not have current plans to improve the clarity of the footage. So in reality, people shouldn’t be so worried about what they’re going to be seen doing since the cameras can’t pick up that kind of clarity. People are certainly worried that if they’re hanging out in their yards, that every move they make is going to be seen. These cameras will benefit in seeing a person leaving the scene of the crime and following them to their destination instead of seeing every last detail of the person and vehicle they may be driving. During one demonstration of the software, there was an attempted robbery in a book store and shots were fired. The footage ended up showing that there was just one car which drove between locations helping them identify what happened.

Unfortunately, this is how police departments are viewing this issue. They would rather people be afraid of when they’re being watched and I’m not sure that’s really the best solution to these problems. This type of attitude can lead to the “1984” scenario that everyone always talks about. Militarize police in America, it’s what everyone seems to be against other than the police. Even the politicians feel that this isn’t the best solution and they know that the public wont be too happy about it even with their privacy policy. Just because those are the rules doesn’t mean that police forces are going to fully obey them. McNutt has complained that they aren’t serious about crime, but I disagree. I feel like he’s just disregarding the fact that these politicians and the public may have a much better understanding of the constitutional problem with an aerial surveillance system.

How do you guys feel about this? Do you think it’s okay for them to monitor cities and towns from the sky in order to maintain public safety, or do you think it’s just going to cause more privacy issues while going against our civil liberties? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comment section below.

If you have any questions that we may be able to answer about CCTV products for your home or business feel free to contact us at anytime Mon-Fri from 9AM-8PM EST. We have now opened a secondary location in Wheat Ridge Colorado so we’re able to stay open two hours later in order to help you with your tech support or sales questions. Our phone numbers and contact info are listed below in the footer of this web site.


Privacy Versus Security Camera Systems

Written By:
Thursday, August 7th, 2014
surveillance cameras in schools

When it comes to dealing with surveillance and security cameras, many people are concerned about their privacy. Many schools have been installing cameras to makes sure that the students are safe. They want to be able to keep tabs on all the students and anyone else who may be entering or leaving the school property. Business put up cameras to stop people from stealing from stores and even to help prevent employee theft. Some people even protect their homes with surveillance systems. Regardless of how many positives there may be about having these cameras up, there will always be some people who feel that it’s an invasion of their privacy.

Camera systems may end up costing a lot of money. Some of the higher end IP camera systems can cost well over $1000 for homes or small businesses. Larger businesses and schools sometimes need systems that can cost all the way up in the $100,000’s. It may not feel great having to spend that kind of money on a system, but having the peace of mind that it’s helping deter crime is priceless. Having cameras up can definitely make people think twice before committing a crime.

Even with these benefits, installing surveillance cameras can become highly controversial. There have been many protests as well as legal action surrounding the installation of cameras in places like schools all over the world, and there are definitely many things for schools to think about before installing their systems.

One of the important things for school s to figure out is what do they want to accomplish with their camera system installation. Are they trying to scare students into behaving well? Are they trying to capture every little student infraction?

These are important questions that many parents want answered. The ACLU has even provided some evidence to students to show that studies have proven cameras don’t prevent crime. Students were supposed to feel safe with camera installations but have admitted to feeling like they’re being watched instead. They have found that a lot of thefts and infractions may occur inside of locker rooms or in areas where students aren’t being watched such as the bathrooms. Cameras are not allowed to be installed in those areas so one of the questions asked to administrators was who would they be interrogating if a student did something wrong, but there were many students in the locker room at the time. Would they interview every student who walked out of the locker room? One of the administrators responded with, “We know who the bad kids are” but with that type of argument, why would they need cameras to prove anything then.

Personally, I feel that you can at least know which students were there during or after the incident even though you may not be able to see it take place. There are times where a student may deny being in that location at the time of the incident and at least with camera systems to show them in the area, they can prove that the student was lying. I have seen many cases where people will lie about an incident until they hear that it was caught on camera. Even though this works for certain instances, there are others that still make parents weary about having surveillance cameras installed in the schools that their children attend.

Another problem that worries some parents is whether or not the cost of these systems are going to take away from money that is supposed to go towards the educational materials that schools need to purchase. What they don’t usually understand is that a lot of schools have separate funds which are used for things like surveillance cameras than are used for educational materials needed.

Cameras can be great tools but only if used sensibly. If a school administrator decides that he wants to install cameras in the school, the best option would be to involve the parents and the students in order to avoid any issues.

In 2007 there was an administrator at Newton South High School who decided to install some cameras outside of the locker room without letting anyone else know and when people began to find out about them, it cause a huge problem with the faculty, students, and parents. Being up front and honest about where cameras are being installed and why will go a long way and can help avoid any of these controversial issues.

In 2003 there were girls who found out they were being video taped while in their underwear inside the Livinston Middle School, Tennessee, locker rooms because of cameras that had been installed in there. It turned into a huge scandal and 24 students ended up going to court against the school which ultimate ended in a ruling that cameras are no longer allowed to be installed within the locker rooms of schools.

There is definitely a huge benefit in having open communication about having cameras. There are a lot of administrators that deal with parents who are completely anti-surveillance equipment and others who feel that cameras are the solution to all the issues. I feel that neither of them are right because there is a happy medium. Also, well-trained staff and security teams are a bigger help in preventing incidents from occurring.

Having systems in public places can make people feel like they’re not being trusted. It creates that certain time of atmosphere where people feel like they’re constantly being watched because the powers that be don’t feel they should be trusted to do the right thing.

Others feel like having cameras as a temporary solution is better. There was a school where students were tying chains to the doors and running them back to their jeeps, then ripping the doors off the building. The felt the need to install cameras just until they could find out who was doing this and as a result they ended up finding that vandalism at the school went down by about 95%.

At the end of the day, students don’t lose all of their rights as soon as they enter those school doors. The best solution is to really think about the situation and come up with many different solutions to solving the problem in order to avoid unnecessary lawsuits or controversy.


Nanny Cams

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Nanny cams are hidden cameras that have been installed in common, every day household items.  The camera is used (secretly) to monitor and record the daily activities of home caregivers; hence the name “Nanny Cam.”

A Nanny cam can be used remotely, where it’s video is transmitted by radio waves to a receiver hooked up to other devices (Digital Video Recorders or DVRs, sent over the internet,)  or you can use a “hardwire” run which, unless your careful, will more than likely stick out and be easily seen.

Are Hidden Nanny Cams Legal?

It is generally legal to videotape nannies without their permission; however, using cameras with audio can impose legal ramifications since it may fall under “eavesdropping” or “wiretapping” laws governing use of a device with an audio component to tape a sitter without consent.  These laws vary from state to state. Check with your local laws to confirm.

We all have expectations of privacy in private places. But should we expect privacy in the home of another? The answer is “NO.”
Parents and other proponents of nanny-cams argue that the installation of a hidden camera in their own home is not an invasion of privacy.

The court has agreed. In State v. Diaz, 706 A.2d 264 (1998), the leading case on this topic, the court ruled that a videotape made by a hidden camera in the residence of the parents of the child was admissible as evidence in the lawsuit against the nanny for assault and child endangerment. The court decided that since there was an absence of state action, the Constitution did not protect the nanny’s privacy in someone else’s house.

The court also held that a videotape without sound did not violate the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act, but furthermore, that sound was admissible because the parents had consented to their child being taped.

States vary on this particular issue, but most agree that a videotaping your nanny without her knowledge is perfectly legal so long as there is no sound. Audiotaping without the nanny’s consent is an issue upon which the states are split.

There are a variety of reasons people choose a Multi Camera System. Many parents who are using a nanny service for the first time want to make sure that their choice of a nanny is good. Many times you will find out about a nanny’s behavior in the first month or two. The fact that one’s child has been entrusted to someone you hardly know can be a big leap of faith. Parents may be concerned about a sitter’s everyday behavior such as smoking or cursing, or they may have greater concerns of whether the caregiver is paying enough attention to the child, or is physically or emotionally abusing the child.

“I want to know when I leave and close that door what’s going on behind it. I want to know my child is safe and being nurtured, played with, sang to and loved,” says Maria. “I think the ethics go right out the window when it comes to protecting our children. Caregivers are paid to keep your kids safe and happy, not to get mad at your kids, yell at them and hit them or put them in a swing all day and neglect them.

Most nanny cams are set up so they do not record audio but do record video.  There’s a very good reason for this.

According to the US Code Title 18, Chapter 119, Section 2512 prohibits the interception of oral communication by “surreptitious manner,” such as a hidden camera, and so most nanny cams are not available with audio recording. Though some on the market may be available with the ability to record audio, these cameras should not be used due to the illegality of the recordings they produce. Nanny Cams are legal in all 50 states,but it is illegal in 13 states to record audio without express, or written consent of the nanny being recorded. This falls under the federal governments wire tapping laws.

However, there’s also a very good solution for all of this and that is purchase whatever kind of camera you feel most comfortable with and when installing it, simply do not connect the audio.

Why Use a Nanny Cam?

“2008 – A couple said they did everything possible to make sure the child was in safe hands when they discovered abuse by the nanny by using a hidden nanny camera.”

“Stephanie M. the subject of a widely publicized nanny cam video recorded by her employer faces two misdemeanor counts of child abuse in Cary, North Carolina.”

“A Florida nanny is behind bars for allegedly abusing an 11 month old child.  The abuse case was captured on a hidden nanny cam.  Investigator Adrian K speaks about some warning signs of abuse cases.”

“Nanny cam captures abuse on tape; A Florida babysitter is jailed after video shows her slapping an infant.”

Unfortunately, there are many more incidents like those listed above.  These real examples do indicate a very strong case for the use of a nanny cam.  The use of a nanny cam is not limited to monitoring the care of an infant.  The use of a nanny cam can not only protect children but may be able to support a nanny or baby sitter when children make untruthful claims of abuse to their parents.  The bottom dollar is anytime it’s necessary to keep track of who’s watching who the nanny camera setup is an excellent choice.  And the camera doesn’t lie.

What Exactly is a Nanny Cam?

A nanny cam is a digital video camera that may be hidden, disguised, or even fully exposed  and is used to monitor the day to day activities of your nanny and child(ren).  There may be one or more cameras based on the type of coverage you desire.  For example some parents feel comfortable placing just one camera in the child’s room, nursery, or play area.  Others prefer to have coverage in just about every room in the house; the choice is yours and with today’s high tech cameras and Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) it is not only possible but economically feasible as well so the average family can easily afford a digital video surveillance system.

How Do Nanny Cams (or Cameras) Work?

The following is a brief description of the technical aspect of typical digital video camera:

Digital video surveillance and security cameras have gone through many changes over the past few years and are ever changing with the increases in technology.  Older systems used strictly analog cameras with analog video recorders.  A bit of irony exists today because “digital” video cameras today still produce an analog image but it is converted to a digital image before it leaves the camera.

Nanny cams basically consist of three major components: 1. The lens; 2. The sensor chip; and, the Integrated Circuitry (IC) or IC chip.

Let’s begin our description with the lens.  The lens’ primary function is to capture light reflected from objects in its field of view and focus them onto the tiny sensor chip that converts the light energy into electrical energy.  Lenses may be specified as fixed or varifocal.  A fixed lens cannot move and the angle of vision or field of vision is fixed at one particular size.   A varifocal lens can move in and out changing its focal length and thereby changing the angle of the field of vision from wide to tight.

The aperture is also considered part of the lens.  The aperture is diaphragm type hole that the light must pass through as well.  This is for controlling the amount of light focusing on the sensor chip.  Generally, a very bright shot requires a small aperture so the shot is not completely washed out with light.  Under conditions when there is not enough light, the aperture opens fully to let as much light in as possible.

Once the light passes through the lens and aperture it strikes a photoreceptive sensor.   There are actually two different sensors that are available for use when manufacturing a nanny cam.  Each works in a different way yet they bear the exact same results; transferring light energy into electrical energy that can be measured.

One of the sensors is called a Charged Coupled Device or CCD and the other is called a Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor or CMOS.  Each of these sensors come in different sizes but for a typical high-quality nanny cam they are usually 1/4 or 1/3 inch square.  As the focused light strikes the surface of the CCD or the CMOS the sensor transfers the light energy into electrical energy which can be measured and manipulated to create a digital video image that can be viewed on a monitor.

The camera is basically the same as a camera that creates photographic images.  The difference is the nanny cam takes several photographic images, usually from 7 to 30 per second, also called frames per second or fps.  At 30 fps the human brain is fooled into thinking that it is seeing fluid motion.  This is the same concept that has been used for years in the motion picture industry.

On inherent quality of both the CCD and the CMOS is that they are also sensitive to Infrared Radiation, specifically IR in the near zone of the IR spectrum.  This means that by using IR Light Emitting Diodes as spot lights, these cameras can “see” in total darkness.  The human eye however, cannot see the light created by the IR LEDs which makes these cameras excellent for monitoring dark rooms.


The DVR for a nanny cam can be a typical DVR that is used with a complete system or the camera may contain a “built in” DVR so that the camera and DVR is all one self-contained unit such as the pen camera.  The ink pen camera is a working ink pen, a camera, and a DVR all in one unit (this is a good example of how technology is used in the video surveillance industry).  When the user is ready to review the video footage they plug the pen into a USB port on their computer and sit back and watch the footage.

Other camera/DVR single units may use SD cards, Mini cards, USB Flash drives, and other portable memory media as their DVRs.

What Camera Do I Use?

Security Camera King has many hidden or disguised cameras that make excellent nanny cams. Below is a partial list of just some of the cameras or camera/DVR combinations available:

  • Button cameras – this cameras are actual buttons an come with extra buttons that are the same type as the one used on the camera to complete its total disguise;
  • Phillips head screw camera – That’s right a camera the size of an average screw head!
  • Desktop speaker camera – These look and work like typical computer desktop speakers but with one difference, one speaker has a camera inside;
  • Wall clock and alarm clock cameras;
  • A wall heater/air conditioning thermostat–although the thermostat does not actually work the hidden camera inside does;
  • Circular vanity mirror with touch activation;
  • Carbon monoxide or smoke alarms – these units usually don’t work as alarms but the do a great job of hiding the camera; and
  • Telephones and even a Tissue Box with embedded cameras.

Of course this is not a complete list of available cameras from Security Camera King but it should give you a good idea of what is available.

This still doesn’t answer the question as to what camera to use, but at least you have a better idea of what is available.  First, you need to determine how extensive your nanny cam coverage will be so you know how many cameras you will need to do the job.  As mentioned earlier, it can be a s few as one camera or as many as several.

The next step is to determine if they will be overt or covert cameras.  If your monitoring is overt standard box, bullet, or dome cameras would be sufficient.  On the other hand, if your coverage is going to be covert, you need to consider what type of disguised or hidden camera will satisfy each location.

If you determine that you only need one camera, a standalone hidden camera/DVR unit may be the answer.  However, if you desire entire home coverage with say, 8 cameras, it may be best to install a digital video security and surveillance system with a full-service 8 camera DVR.

And finally a word of caution.  Each state has different laws governing the use of cameras and especially audio recorders without the subject’s knowledge.  Make sure you confirm your state’s laws before attempting to record anyone covertly.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t record improper or criminal activity but planned, deliberate, covert recording may require special concessions on the part of the person recording.

As you can see, with a little guidance and pre-planning setting up your own nanny cam really isn’t difficult to do.  If you do encounter problems contact Security Camera King’s security experts and they’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have and get you up and running fast.

If you neeed more information on nanny cams contact one of Security Camera Kings security experts and they will answer any additional questions you may have.