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Surveillance

Advantages Of Video Surveillance For Business

Video surveillance can be an excellent security measure in various environments. While retail stores and remote ATMs are commonplace locations for video surveillance, its benefits can also be seen when applied to a wide range of businesses and homes. Here are a few examples of these video surveillance benefits and why you should consider investing in it (if you don’t already).

  • Protection Of Assets
    A major selling point for video surveillance is their effectiveness as a crime prevention tool. The mere presence of these cameras can discourage criminals from trespassing, vandalizing, and stealing your property.
  • Employee Protection
    By installing surveillance cameras in parking garages or remote parking facilities, rear or side building entrances, and other dimly lit areas, you can increase employee safety and security. Not only does this protect your property, business, and employees, but it also shows employees that you care and value them.
  • Legal Protection
    Your video surveillance cameras can even deter frivolous lawsuits (and save you money). For example, let’s say a person claims to have injured themselves on your property and threatens a lawsuit. Without video evidence it’s your word against theirs. However, proper video surveillance footage provides concrete evidence of the incident.
  • Discounts On Property & Liability Insurance
    Often times, insurance companies offer discounts for home or business owners who have video surveillance cameras installed. These discounts can potentially offset the costs of your surveillance system.
  • Increased Employee Productivity/Theft Prevention
    A watchful eye can help to keep your employees on track. Employees are much more likely to stay on task when they are being monitored. Security cameras placed around the building, at loading docks and auto dealer service bays have been proven effective for improving productivity. In addition, employees are less likely to take off with company property when cameras are monitoring exit points.
  • Remote Monitoring
    Remote monitoring is a common and popular security feature, which will enables surveillance around the clock, even after your and staff have gone home. You can utilize this on its own or you may supplement your staff and guards.

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For a great selection of CCTV video surveillance packages, security cameras, and other security solutions, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. To schedule a site survey, request a free quote, or inquire about our installation services, please call us 888-203-6294.

DVRs: What You Need To Know

When shopping for a security system for your home or business, it may be easy to focus on the specific features of the security cameras. However, much attention should be paid to video surveillance storage as well. DVRs (digital video recorders) are an integral part to the overall surveillance system. Here are some of the features and specifications of DVRs that you should pay close attention to.

Frame Rate
A frame rate is a unit of measure denoting the number of frames recorded in each second by a DVR in a specific resolution. Calculations should be made based on the real-time frame rate of about 30 frames per second (FPS). For example, in order to record real-time video on a standard 16-channel system, you would need a DVR that has 480 FPS.

Remember that sellers may claim real-time images as the units display live video at about 30 FPS on each channel, but this needs to be assessed based on the recorded video footage (not the live video). A basic unit may record videos at less than 30 FPS while a top-end unit may deliver 30 FPS on each channel.

Video Resolution
Resolution is the size of the image displayed or recorded. The most popular resolution is CIF – 360×240, and the highest is specified as D1 – 720×480. This is an important specification to consider as larger recorded images afford you additional details for review. For example, 4CIF images can feature views detailed four times as much as a base CIF image. You can find a variety of DVRs boasting anywhere from CIF to D1 resolutions.

Compression
When the video is transferred to the DVR for storage, it is first compressed to save space and to make Internet viewing fluid. Compression standards can vary from basic to nearly no compression protocols (ex. MJPEG or wavelet) to the top-end compression methods (ex. MPEG4). Currently, the highest compression standards are H.264 (which is 40% more efficient than previous versions).

While compression methods may vary in DVRs, hybrid DVRs are available. These are capable of using a combination of compression methods, and can also be used to do compressions separately (Internet streaming vs. recording).

Storage Space
You will need to know how much data your DVR can hold. Presently, baseline DVRs may allow one or two hard drives only, while more advanced models now offer 6, 8, or more internal hard drives based on user requirements.

Popular DVRs also offer redundant storage (RAID) configuration and FTP uploads. The FTP uploads feature allows backup of video for the DVR at an off-premise FTP server. This helps to avoid any possibility of loss in the case of a local system crash or a DVR robbery.

Audio Recording
Audio can sometimes be an important addition to video footage. Some DVRs may accommodate synced audio and video, with lower-end versions having one to four channels and higher-end options offering up to 16 channels. Be sure to review the laws and legalities in regards to audio recording.

Video Out
There can be a wide variety of video output, from BNC to VGA to HDMI. If you have a mix of these, you may need to invest in quality converters to ensure proper connections and performance.

Viewing Remotely
Network IP surveillance systems allow users to access video footage via the Internet from virtually anywhere. Advanced systems even allow viewing more than one DVR at a time. These DVRs can boast specialized features such as camera groupings, e-mapping, different levels of user privileges, and more.

If you need assistance in choosing the right DVR and security cameras for you, please feel free to contact us 888-203-6294 or browse our vast selection online at SecurityCamExpert.com. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

PTZ Cameras: The Basics

When it comes to security cameras, there are various types that work better in certain situations than others. Thanks to their specialized functions, PTZ cameras are ideal for monitoring large, high-traffic areas.

PTZ stands for Pan, Tilt, and Zoom, which means these security cameras can provide improved surveillance. These functions can be controlled manually (via monitoring software or a joystick) or automatically (via camera management software). Actively keeping an eye on the feed and the ability to manipulate the field of view means security staff can respond to any incidents that may arise quickly.

When employing camera management software, you have the option of setting up guard tours, which enables the camera to automatically move to set locations on a schedule. In addition, some PTZ security cameras offer auto-tracking, which can automatically follow a moving target (such as a person or car).

How Does PTZ Work?

Pan

  • The camera can swivel left and right for a wide area of coverage.
  • Pan can range up to a complete 360 degrees or less.

Tilt

  • The camera can tilt up and down for a wide vertical range of coverage.
  • Tilt will vary by camera model, with a maximum of 180 degrees.

Zoom

  • Optical zoom physically adjusts the camera lens (by changing the focal length) to zoom in and out (allowing the camera to maintain image quality).
  • The amount of optical zoom is expressed as #x (ex. 18x), which represents how much the camera can zoom (change the lens focal length).
  • Digital zoom blows up the image using software. This often results in pixilated images when zoomed too far, and thus, is not recommended.

As previously mentioned, PTZ cameras are ideal for surveillance of large areas including parking lots, common areas in schools or businesses, and convention centers. You may monitor the overall area while zeroing in on any suspicious activity. When paired with fixed network cameras that handle important locations such as entrances and exits, you can create a very flexible and functional surveillance system. With the fixed cameras maintaining an eye on vital points, the PTZ cameras are free to move around as needed. Furthermore, PTZ cameras are available for indoor or outdoor use in a variety of styles (but most commonly dome style).

Do you employ PTZ cameras on your own property? Share your own tips for utilizing these cameras with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Browse our selection of PTZ security cameras and more to suit your surveillance needs. Visit SecurityCamExpert.com or call 888-203-6294 today!

Hiding Indoor Security Cameras

We all know that the presence of surveillance cameras can influence behavior, which is why we use them for security for homes and businesses. Although having them installed in plain sight can be helpful, concealing their presence can also prove to be beneficial.

Careful consideration goes into installing hidden cameras both indoors and outdoors. When installing these cameras outdoors, there are various discreet locations from which you may choose. However, hiding security cameras indoors may be a bit more challenging. Here are some tips to help you properly hide your indoor security cameras.

  • Wireless Security Cameras

Wires can be hard to hide as they must run along the walls. Instead, choose wireless cameras that can be controlled remotely and may use an electrical source or batteries.

  • Location, Location, Location

Choosing the right location is key when it comes to hiding your cameras. You want your security camera to go unnoticed, but you also want to get the proper angle and viewing field to capture valuable footage. Seek out areas that often go overlooked and are more crowded and busy than clean and spacious.

  • Size Matters

Because you are trying to conceal them, you want to choose cameras that are smaller than usual, but still posses the qualities and features you require. Small, compact, and wireless security cameras are ideal.

  • Heavy-Duty Adhesive Strips

Once you have chosen a compact security camera, rather than mounting it (which draws attention), use heavy-duty adhesive strips. Your camera may come with its own adhesive strips, but if not, you want to invest in the appropriate strips that can carry the weight of your camera (using additional strips may help reinforce it). But remember, if your camera works on a swivel & rotate mechanism, it may be mandatory to mount it to the wall.

  • Check Connectivity

Before settling on a location for your camera, you want to test the connectivity in that area. Do not ignore connectivity issues as these may indicate that your camera is not within range to receive the appropriate signals from the main hub. These issues will compromise the effectiveness of your camera, thus, you should find a new location that is within range.

In addition, if you will be installing multiple security cameras within your home, be sure to focus on one at a time. Install and test one camera at a time so that if problems arise, you can address them immediately.

When purchasing security cameras, it is important to evaluate the technical details and specifications of the different cameras and how they suit individual needs. If you have any questions or need assistance, we are happy to help – visit SecurityCamExpert.com or call 888-203-6294. You may also connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Building The Ideal CCTV Surveillance System

When it comes to securing your property, CCTV cameras can be very effective. However, because there are a wide variety of CCTV cameras suited for different applications, if they are not properly implemented, their effectiveness may be compromised.

Before choosing your surveillance system, review the different types of CCTV cameras and the application for which they are best suited.

Different Types Of CCTV

Dome Camera

  • Commonly used for indoor surveillance
  • The ambiguous shape & design acts as a deterrent as criminals are unsure which way the camera is facing
  • Ease of installation
  • Vandal-proof features
  • Infrared capability

Bullet Camera

  • Long, cylindrical shape ideal for long distance viewing
  • Better suited for outdoor use
  • Protective casings safeguard against dust, dirt, and other natural elements
  • Compact size makes for easy installation and mounting with bracket
  • Fitted with either fixed or varifocal lenses depending on the requirements of the intended application
  • Adaptability (can be used indoors and outdoors)
  • High quality image resolution

C-Mount Camera

  • Detachable lenses allow for simple lens changes to fit different applications
  • Specialized lens use allow these cameras the ability to cover distances beyond 40ft
  • Can support changes in technology
  • Effective for indoor use
  • Bulky design and presence acts as a deterrent

Day/Night Camera

  • Can operate in both normal and poorly lit environments
  • They utilize extra sensitive imaging chips (instead of infrared illuminators)
  • Ideal for outdoor applications in which IR cameras do not function optimally
  • Record in both color and black & white
  • Wide variety of sizes available
  • IR (Infrared) capability

PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) Camera

  • Used with live guard or surveillance specialist operating the security systems
  • Pan and tilt rotation
  • Smart tracking features
  • Powerful zoom and autofocus

What To Consider
Choosing the right CCTV camera for your property is important. You want to evaluate your needs to determine where you will place these cameras as well as their primary use in that location. Some factors to consider when choosing include the lens, sensor, and output resolution.

  • Lens

The lens will dictate the quality of the image. The appropriate lens will allow your camera to focus and bring in enough light to the sensor, providing clarity and the ability to better identify things such as faces and license plates. A zoom lens will allow for further detail since it can adjust the light as it reaches to sensor for enhanced pictures and flexibility.

  • Sensor

There are two types of sensors:

  1. CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor)
  2. CCD (charged coupled device) cameras

CCD are more expensive than CMOS and produce clearer images (ideal for identifying faces and license plates).

  • Output Resolution

Generally speaking, the more pixels, the better the picture. The highest resolution you can get is 700TL, but most cameras range between 300-550TVL. Be sure to match a resolution that your camera can produce because anything more is unnecessary.

Other Things To Consider:

  • Discreet Vs. Visible

Box cameras are easier to be seen and clearly tell passersby that they are being recorded, which acts as a great deterrent. Dome cameras, on the other hand, are smaller and more discreet, making them ideal for monitoring larger areas such as front or backyards.

  • Indoors Vs. Outdoors

Consider where you will place your cameras both indoors and outdoors. If you plan on placing them outdoors, you want to ensure they are in the best location and well protected (weatherproof and vandal proof housing). For indoor cameras, you want to make sure it will not be affected by things like grease or steam from the kitchen.

  • Lighting Conditions

Whether indoors or outdoors, lighting will always change so it is advised that you test different camera models to see what works best with your lighting conditions. You also want to check for any reflections or backlighting during day or night.

  • Image Clarity

This will depend on the size of the area you want to monitor. Thus, a camera situated in a small room need not be of high resolution. The resolution of your CCTV camera should reflect the landscape in order to provide effective images.

  • Audio?

This depends on your personal preference (you should also look into the laws regarding audio recording if applicable). Some CCTV systems allow you to speak to the intruders, or you can have audio or alarms sound automatically when they reach a certain point. These tactics are meant to scare the intruders away before they can cause damage.

If you need help choosing the right CCTV surveillance system, call 888-203-6294 and we will be happy to help! You may also browse our selection online at SecurityCamExpert.com and connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Safeguard Your Video Surveillance System

While video surveillance systems protect us from potential intruders and dangers, without the proper safeguards, these systems can fall victim to hackers. In order to maintain the integrity of your video surveillance system and keep the cybercriminals at bay, you may want to consider following these tips to protect your surveillance system.

Choose Branded Video Cameras
If you invest in cameras that are not branded, you may not receive the necessary updates and security patches that often come with branded security cameras. This means that your non-branded cameras will remain susceptible to vulnerabilities and exploits. Play it safe and purchase branded cameras known for quality cyber security and be sure to routinely check for patches and updates.

Protect Your Surveillance Network
A major vulnerability of surveillance systems lies in open IP cameras. With these IP cameras located across your property and connected to your network, anyone can disconnect your cameras and connect a laptop or device and gain access to your entire network. To prevent this, lock down the MAC addresses that can connect to the network, allowing only your cameras to connect to your surveillance systems.

Setup VLANs
Never put your surveillance cameras on the same network as your workstation. Keep your security camera network isolated via VLANs and only allow the video recorders to communicate with the cameras.

Change The Default Camera Password
This seems like a no-brainer, however, it must be said. The default password is often readily available on the company’s website, thus, it is advised to change the default password to a strong one that you can remember.

Keep Separate Logins For Access & Admin Privileges
Along the same lines, you want to keep separate logins when it comes to access and administrative privileges. That way only the appropriate employees can gain access to the admin privileges, such as updating firmware or obtaining streaming video.

Do you have any other surveillance system tips to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Visit SecurityCamExpert.com to browse our stock of affordable CCTV security cameras and video surveillance systems. To request a site survey or free quote, please call 888-203-6294.

Night Vision Security Camera Tips

Burglars often like to creep in the dark night in hopes of being undetected. This is precisely why night vision security cameras are so important. But keep in mind that the value of night vision cameras is directly connected to their effectiveness and performance. To employ the best night vision surveillance system, keep these things in mind.

  • IP Power

Remember that all IR CCTV cameras have a quoted maximum range. For example, these can range from 5m to 50m or longer. This range is the absolute maximum, meaning at these extremes, your image quality will not be its best. Measuring how far you need to see and then adding a third of that is recommended. For example, if you need to see 30m, it may be advised to invest in a 40m camera.

On the other hand, you don’t want the IR to be too powerful either. Most CCTV cameras cannot adjust the IR brightness, thus, if a subject is too close to a camera designed for long ranges, it will simply look too bright and/or washed out.

  • Wide Angle Lenses

IR LEDS are designed to brightly illuminate the center of an image, therefore, most of these cameras will not have a very wide angle of view. While this is not a common problem, some cameras will have varifocal lenses that can zoom out. With these, be aware that at the wide end of the zoom, the corners of your image will not be covered by night vision.

  • Field Of View

For all security cameras, you want to be sure that the field of view is clear of obstructions, but this is especially important for IR CCTV cameras. If there is something like a branch or leaves in the frame, the LEDs will focus on these and they will be brightly lit. The rest of the image will be made darker in order to compensate, thus rendering the image is useless.

  • Reflection For IR

In order for night vision cameras to work, IR needs something to reflect off of. When users point a camera into an empty field, they may be alarmed when there is nothing but darkness and may assume the night vision is not working, but this is not the case. When a subject moves into range, the IR can reflect off of it, and thus, the subject will be visible.

  • Mounting Height

Keep the height at which your cameras will be installed in mind when you are considering the power of your night vision. This is especially important when installing cameras above ground floor height. For example, if your car is parked 4m away from your house, and your camera is mounted 3m from the ground, the actual distance from camera to car is 5m.

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For a great selection of night vision security cameras and surveillance equipment, visit SecurityCamExpert.com or call 888-203-6294 to speak with us directly.

Security Cameras: Common Positioning Mistakes

When security cameras are installed and positioned properly, they can provide effective security and video footage to protect your property. However, simple mistakes when implementing a security system can negate its effectiveness. To maximize your security systems performance and efficiency, be sure to avoid these common security camera mistakes.

  • Multitasking

Try not to assign too many tasks to a single camera, as these will likely be executed poorly. Choose a single goal, such as capturing a face, a license plate, or general coverage, and optimize the placement and settings for that goal.

  • Height

While the highest point of your property may seem ideal to capture a wide viewing range, it will not provide detailed images for identification. You want to place cameras high enough to deter tampering and vandalism while still finding a balance between the ultimate goal, the effective range, and number of cameras you are employing. This is why careful planning and calculations are crucial.

  • Wide Dynamic Range

Doorways and windows are prone to an imbalance of light distribution, and, therefore require Wide Dynamic Range (WDR). Without it, you may not be able to capture a decent image unless the camera is in the proper angle or the person looks directly into the camera. Be sure to choose the right features for the appropriate locations and environment.

  • Fixed Vs. PTZ

Because of their abilities, PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) cameras tend to be more appealing to customers. The problem is that after taking advantage of the features, the camera is hardly ever returned to its “home” location, and thus, is left focusing on less important areas. While they can be helpful tools in various situations, PTZ cameras are better used in conjunction with fixed cameras. That way, fixed cameras will always be focused on the key areas while the PTZ cameras can monitor the surrounding areas or points of interest as necessary.

  • DVR/NVR Placement

Protecting your equipment is ever important, but sometimes, users leave the central brains of the systems as an afterthought. Be sure that the placement of your DVR/NVRs is both secure and efficient for your system.

  • Lighting

You need to consider lighting, especially if you need to capture video overnight. Aside from night vision, be mindful of the available light in your camera locations. Be sure not to mount cameras too close to bright lights, which can disrupt the view.

  • Masking High Traffic

It is important to adjust and program each device for a maximum balance of capturing required information and maximizing storage returns. If this is neglected, you may cause your DVR/NVR to shorten, thus limiting video retention.

  • Proper Retention Calculation

Choosing a system that does not allow for customization of video retention time will limit your security system’s flexibility. Instead, look for systems which will allow you to modify your storage options based on your individual needs.

Build your ideal video surveillance system with us! Visit SecurityCamExpert.com to browse our stock or call 888-203-6294 to discuss your options. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Maintenance Tips For Your Security Camera System

Keeping your security camera system in good condition and running sufficiently is very important. A routine system maintenance schedule will ensure you are getting the most out of your system. Here are some smart practices to consider when it comes to maintaining your security system.

  • Semi-Annual Inspections

You want to inspect both your indoor and outdoor cameras for any signs of corrosion and replace any connectors that show signs as this can cause your equipment to short out. Power supplies should be inspected to ensure that your system hasn’t lost power due to tampering, burn out, natural disasters or other unexpected events. If you have a UPS, make sure the battery is fully charged and does not show any warning lights.

  • Clean Camera Lenses

Check your security cameras lenses for dust, smudges, water spots and other elements. A dirty lens can render your camera useless because the video and image quality will be compromised.

  • Check Security Camera Positioning

Evaluate your camera positioning and adjust accordingly based on your current surveillance needs. You also want to ensure your cameras have not become loose as this can interfere with recording quality. Jiggle the area to make sure there are no vibrations – tighten and adjust as necessary.

  • Replace Malfunctioning Cameras & Parts

If you notice a decline in the performance of your security cameras, it is wise to replace them before they become completely useless. While you are inspecting your system, take note of any issues that need to be addressed (ex. broken parts). It is recommended that you purchase replacement parts or accessories from the same manufacturer or a trusted seller to ensure you are purchasing real parts. These usually have warranties and are less likely to deteriorate prematurely.

  • Landscaping

Make sure your outdoor cameras still have a clear view. Be sure to trim all vines, bushes, trees, and other foliage around the cameras to prevent obstructions. In addition, you should make sure any animals (ex. birds, squirrels, bees) have not made a home near your cameras.

  • Check Housing & Weatherproof Function

Although you enclose your cameras in weatherproof housing, you must make sure that the housing has not been compromised. Open the camera housing to check for water, condensation or dirt, to confirm that your housing is still protecting your equipment. Furthermore, too much sunlight or water exposure can damage your cameras, thus protecting your cameras with an encasing or small shed is advised (especially if your cameras are not designed to withstand these elements).

  • Check Cable Connections

When your security cameras stop working properly, more often than not, it comes down to loose connections or worn out cables. Examine all of your cable connections, including those connected to your security cameras, DVR, and monitor, for any cables that show signs of wear and tear. Address any potential issues to ensure your cables and equipment are securely connected and receiving power.

  • Save The Manual

When you purchase and install equipment, you should receive a manual – store this in a safe and accessible place. You can refer to your manual to troubleshoot any issues before calling a professional (which can save you money in the long run).

Keeping your security system up and running protects your investment, your property, and you. Aside from your own semi-annual inspections, you may want to have a professional evaluate your system annually. This can help maintain the integrity of your system and they can advise you on possible upgrades or share helpful tips.

If you’re looking for affordable security cameras and surveillance equipment, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. Browse our selection online or inquire about site surveys, installation services, or request a free quote by calling 888-203-6294 today! You can also connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Tips For Improving Your Home Security System

Home security camera systems help home owners protect their property and loved ones. They provide an extra set of eyes to monitor your home whether you are at home or away. Because of the financial investment, it is important to ensure that everything is working properly.

There are many ways in which you can optimize your surveillance cameras to get the most out of your security system. Here are a few smart security tips to improve your system.

Use Motion Detection
A security camera that is recording everything all the time sounds good in theory, but will require a large amount of memory and power. It will also be more difficult to sort through the mundane footage to find what you are looking for.

Thanks to motion detection, your camera does not have to record all the time. Motion detection enables your camera to start recording when activity in the field of view triggers the sensor. This means you will not need to worry about running out of storage space and makes it easier to sort through your recordings.

Consider Location
Choosing the right location for your security cameras is crucial. Be sure to adjust the angle of your camera to maximize your field of view and ensure that obstructions, such as trees or bushes, do not block the camera’s view.

Other Home Security Solutions
Although security cameras are important, they cannot do everything. Pairing your security camera system with a high quality and reliable alarm system can increase your home security overall and may even help with insurance discounts.

Multiple Cameras
While an outdoor security camera is common, often times, one camera is not enough. If there’s only one security camera present, it’s likely that burglars will work around that. You want your security cameras to monitor high traffic areas and points of entry (ex. front door, back door, first floor windows). That way, you get more comprehensive video surveillance should you become a target for home invasion.

Proper Maintenance
You can’t just set it and forget it when it comes to your surveillance system. Keeping your cameras clean and any potential obstructions at bay will help maintain the performance and effectiveness of your system. Skipping routine maintenance checks may cause your cameras to miss important moments.

Do you have any other home security tips? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For a great selection of affordable security cameras and CCTV surveillance camera systems, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. For more information about our installation services or to request a free quote, please call 888-203-6294.

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