Video surveillance not as simple as it might seem
Security has been a hot topic for several years now. We're not just talking about pure technology solutions, such as firewalls and anti-virus software. Rather, traditional types of security have been adapting technology to increase their efficiency. A great example of this is video surveillance.
In the old days, all you had were traditional closed-circuit TV's that were monitored by humans. Cameras were huge, and the ability to scan a large area required really expensive hardware. Only really security-conscious or high-risk organizations, such as banks, and law enforcement could afford such solutions.
As technology progressed, the humans were replaced by videotape, and later digital recording. Cameras got smaller, capabilities increased, and of course, cost went down.
The biggest breakthrough? Surveillance systems controlled by PCs. Simple, huh?
Well, not so much. If you are thinking about putting in a video surveillance system for your home or business, consider the following issues:
» Cameras have varying degrees of precision. How sharp does the picture need to be? Do you just need to know if someone is present, or do you need to be able to identify that person?
» How many cameras do you need? This is largely based on the size of the area you need to cover, as well as areas available for camera placement. Technologies such as wireless cameras and power-over-ethernet (POE) allow you tremendous flexibility. Unfortunately, technology for power-over-wireless is not yet available outside of Hollywood.
» Does the camera need to be "always-on?" Cameras can easily be set up to be triggered by a motion detector or even just regular time intervals, such as every 15 minutes.
» Are you taking pictures for real-time security purposes only, or are you going to store the images "just in case?" If you are storing the images, you might consider time-stamping technology which increases the credibility and trustworthiness of the recording. Of course, if you are archiving images, you will need lots of storage, either hard drives or other types of reliable media.
Remember, old-school tried-and-true security techniques are still applicable. For example, just the threat of video surveillance might be enough to dissuade potential bad guys. A combination of old-school smarts and new-school technology is often the best solution.
is president of ISDI Technologies Inc., a Honolulu-based IT consultancy. Call him at 944-8742 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org