To the next level

July 2009

Video surveillance is not an expensive technology reserved for government ministers and multimillion rand homes anymore.

The advent of camera technology in the security industry has catapulted security to new levels. Thanks to CCTV capabilities, alarm systems now come with a completely new set of modules.
Visual detection has not only improved the services of armed response companies, it has also empowered estates, complexes and home­owners to monitor their own security set-up as well as access their own footage when they need to. However, cameras are expensive and many homeowners struggle to justify the spend required to install them.
There are many types of CCTV systems on the market. Nowadays, new cameras are IP (Internet Protocol) based and are networked together so that any camera’s images can be viewed from anywhere on the network, including the Internet if required, and digital storage is used to record the images.
CCTV security cameras provide constant surveillance 24 hours a day. Their level of sophistication has dramatically reduced crime in businesses and homeowners are turning to this option because of its success. “CCTV technology is affordable and easy to use,” says Roy Alves, MD of Axis Security, “but South African home owners are taking a while to cotton on to this. It is also more expensive than traditional home security solutions.”
Because cameras can be connected directly to your IP network, homeowners are able to take back their control over their home security; they can monitor and view directly through a computer with Internet access. This also gives residents a lot of flexibility as to how they wish to customise their video surveillance.
Moreover, technology advances have catapulted us into a wireless world. While hard-wired systems still work well, you would have to run cables to the location where you will be mounting the camera. Wireless video surveillance systems (VSS) are easier to install in your home.
Wireless technology makes it virtually impossible to disable a system by cutting exposed wires, because there simply are not any. Each component in a wireless system is powered by its own batteries and they will signal the control panel when they run low, so there is no chance of a dead battery. The wireless camera would only require a wireless adaptor which would plug into your computer and facilitate the electronic communication between your security camera and the computer.
A wireless video surveillance system comprises the following:
* At least one camera/transmitter.

* Power supply (typically 12-volt DC).

* Receiver and antenna.

* Optional additional monitor and VCR (a VCR is only necessary if you want to record the images being broadcast by your transmitter).
There are many wireless alarm systems on the market. Ask your local security provider or any reputable alarm installation company.
Global monitoring
Homeowners are now able to monitor their home security from virtually anywhere in the world if their home security system is set up with CCTV camera security. “Once the system is up and running, all a person needs to do is log onto a specially designated Internet site using a PC, and they can instantly access camera images. They can even use their Web browser to move the camera’s pointing direction and modify its digital zoom to bring objects of interest into closer view,” says Tami Alves, marketing manager at Axis. “Furthermore, residents can use any cellphone that is Internet enabled to manage and keep an eye on their home from any location in the world.
“Accessing images of your home via your camera network also enables you to perform functions like opening and closing your remote control gates should the need arise.”
Remote monitoring via digital video recording (DVR)
“The arrival of video verification technology, which is being successfully used to reduce false alarm incidents and control the deployment of resources, is not a day too soon,” says Michael Brett, national sales manager for Elvey Security Technologies.
As the cost of CCTV surveillance equipment is dropping, homeowners are seeing the many added benefits of these systems. Not only are they able to view the outside perimeter of their premises whilst in the safety of their home, they are also able to monitor other areas of their home such as their pool area. If a child comes within a certain specified range of the pool area, an audible alarm will be triggered followed by a live viewing image.
With the decreasing costs of broadband connectivity such as ADSL and 3G, an attractive option is to have the capability of offsite remote monitoring of the premises such as from work, or while on holiday. Although still quite costly from a 24-hour monitoring perspective, checking once a day for a few minutes is still viable.
Video verification is seamlessly integrated into alarm panels to provide video services and will smoothly transmit pre- and post-video alarm signals with site identification and time stamp. What’s more, when the signal is received by the central monitoring station, the pre- and post-video clip pops up on the automation screen, allowing the dispatcher to access the event in a timely manner. The same applies to notifications such as arming and disarming the alarm system. In these instances, open/close video reporting shows who opened and closed your home and if they carried anything away with them.
Remote video monitoring and off-site digital video recording capabilities also makes it ideal for insurance purposes when it comes to being able to prove that there was no negligence on the part of the owner.
Effective places to install cameras
<i.* At your front gate.
* On or facing your perimeter.
* In your driveway.
* In your garage.
* In your backyard.
* On your patio.
* In your garden.</i>
Quick facts
Guss Technologies gives us the CCTV facts:
What is a video server?
A video server is an object/device that allows you to use the Internet to see what is happening at home through your surveillance cameras when you are away. The video server transforms any local surveillance camera into a live video feed.
How does it make life easier?
Having a video server gives you maximum security and surveillance from anywhere in the world. You can access your home from the comfort of your office, overseas, or on holiday. This way if your children or pets are at home and you are away, you can still keep a close and protective eye over them, and be fully aware of what is happening.
How easy is it to use?
To connect you to your video server all you need to do is connect to the Internet, type in the Web page address and press enter. Wait a few seconds and all the relevant information will appear. It is simple and convenient and only takes a few seconds of your time.
CCTV decisions
* Decide what you want to monitor.
* What is your budget?
* Consider a wireless installation to save money.
* Do you need interior or exterior cameras?
* How many cameras do you need?
* Black and white or colour? For low lighting conditions consider a black and white CCTV camera and colour should really be used inside with good lighting conditions.
* There are two types of camera: CMOS and CCD, which are the image sensors within the camera. CCD cameras produce a clearer sharper picture, but are more expensive than CMOS.
* An important specification is a camera’s capability to work in low lighting conditions. Light levels are measured in LUX and the lower the number the less light it will take to reproduce a clear image.
* If you need sharp, quality images, go for a higher resolution camera. Entry-level cameras have a resolution of 330 lines whereas high-resolution cameras will produce around 400 lines.
* Consider your image storage. DVR (digital video recorder) is the best option and is relatively inexpensive. They record onto a hard disk.
* Select a monitor that is compatible with the resolution of your CCTV camera system.
* There are many different brands available so do your research.

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