Surveillance, or the close observation of a person or group, especially one under suspicion, has become an increasingly ubiquitous part of modern life. From CCTV cameras on street corners to loyalty cards tracking our shopping habits, we are monitored more than ever before. But surveillance technology has also found an important role in home security, allowing homeowners to keep watch over their properties remotely. In this blog post, we’ll provide a detailed overview of home surveillance systems – examining how they work, their key components, and the benefits they can provide.
The Purpose of Home Surveillance
In simple terms, home surveillance involves using cameras and sensors installed around a property to monitor activity and relay it back to the homeowner. But why do so many homeowners decide to implement surveillance systems? There are three key reasons:
- Security – Surveillance systems act as an extra set of eyes, allowing you to oversee your home from afar. Motion sensors can detect intruders, while cameras give you visual confirmation. This helps deter burglars and gives homeowners peace of mind.
- Convenience – Remote monitoring means you can check on pets left home alone, keep an eye on deliveries, or let in guests when you aren’t physically present. Systems with two-way audio even allow communication.
- Automation – Linking cameras with other smart home devices allows for automated actions. For example, an outdoor camera could switch on lights when it detects motion after dark.
Surveillance systems are a proactive way to protect a home. Let’s now explore the key components that make them work.
Key Components of Surveillance Systems
While there are many options and features to choose from, surveillance systems comprise three core elements:
The most recognizable part of any security system – cameras provide the visuals. Options include:
- Fixed cameras – Motionless cameras that provide a constant view of one area. Good for monitoring entry points or high-value items indoors.
- PTZ cameras – Pan, tilt and zoom cameras that can be controlled remotely to look around. Excellent for patrolling a wide area.
- Dome cameras – Discrete, tamper-proof cameras with 360-degree views. Help avoid drawing attention.
- Bullet/turret cameras – Weatherproof, vandal-proof exterior cameras. Sturdy and obvious to act as a deterrent.
- Hidden cameras – Discreet, tiny cameras like smoke detector cameras. Useful as a secret second line of defense.
While cameras passively record, sensors actively detect activity and trigger alerts. Sensor types include:
- Motion sensors – Detect movements like an intruder entering a room. Can also spot larger wildlife outdoors.
- Door/window sensors – Trigger an alarm when a perimeter entry point is breached. Help protect against intruders.
- Glass break sensors – Recognize the frequencies of breaking glass. Alert homeowners to attempted forced entry.
- Smoke/heat sensors – Important for fire protection. Can automatically call emergency services if smoke or high heat is detected.
The brains of the operation – a smart hub controller is needed to connect and control all elements. It:
- Receives alerts from sensors and footage from cameras
- Allows remote viewing and camera control via smartphone app
- Provides options to sound sirens, turn on lights, call authorities, etc. in response to alerts
- Enables automation through integration with other smart devices
Key Benefits of Home Surveillance Systems
Now that we’ve explored the inner workings of surveillance systems, let’s review their major advantages:
- Prevent crime – Just the presence of cameras can deter opportunistic burglars who target homes perceived as easy to access.
- Catch criminals – Footage provides visual evidence that can help identify and prosecute intruders.
- Coordinate with authorities – Surveillance systems can automatically contact police upon detecting an intruder, improving response times.
- Monitor from afar – Homeowners can check in on their property remotely using their smartphone.
- Awareness and insight – Alerts with footage allow you to fully understand any activity occurring at home while you’re out.
- Peace of mind – Enjoy added reassurance and security knowing your home is protected.
- Convenience – Remotely let in guests or delivery workers when you aren’t physically home.
- Automation – Integrate cameras with other smart devices for automatic lighting, thermostat adjustments and more based on occupancy detection.
- Fire and environmental monitoring – Specialized sensors watch for fire, water leaks, carbon monoxide and more 24/7.
- Energy savings – Motion-activated lighting guided by cameras prevents lights being left on accidentally.
Implementing a Smart Surveillance System
If you’ve decided to install a smart surveillance system, either during new construction or by upgrading an existing home, follow this process:
1. Survey the property – Walk the grounds to identify key areas/items to monitor like entryways and high value belongings. Make note of power outlets and potential mounting points.
2. Set a budget – Surveillance system costs vary based on features and hardware. Generally allow $300 to $2,500 for a robust, professionally installed system.
3. Choose key components – Select camera types and number, sensors, smart hub, and features like cloud storage and smartphone access.
4. Hire a professional – For installation, configuration and thorough testing. A security company can also provide ongoing monitoring services.
5. Position elements – Mount cameras with optimal outward views. Place sensors on doors, windows, attic entry points etc.
6. Complete onboarding – Download the app and connect devices so you can monitor the feeds and control the system remotely.
7. Test and tweak – Try out system features and make adjustments to fine-tune monitoring. For example, modify motion sensor range and camera views.
8. Conduct maintenance – Periodically check cameras and sensor function, clean lenses, check connections and test batteries. Keep the system updated.
Privacy Considerations with Surveillance
While home surveillance provides many benefits, it also presents privacy trade-offs that must be carefully weighed:
- Informed consent – Disclose cameras to family members, roommates and guests so monitoring doesn’t violate expectations of privacy.
- Neighbor awareness – Position exterior cameras to avoid recording next door properties without permission.
- Data security – Encrypt footage to prevent hacking. Control access to the monitoring app.
- Data retention – Only keep footage as long as reasonably needed. Automate deletion after a set time period.
- Public disclosure – Avoid sharing footage on social media or with others without cause.
- Commercial sale – Refuse to provide or sell recordings to outside parties like marketers.
The Future of Home Surveillance
Home security technology continues to rapidly advance. Some innovations on the horizon include:
- AI monitoring – On-device machine learning will better discern between benign and suspicious activity to reduce false alerts.
- Biometrics – Facial and fingerprint recognition for smarter alerts and access control.
- Improved wireless range – Next gen WiFi protocols like WiFi 6E will allow placement of cameras farther from hubs.
- Expanded smart integration – Closer API integrations with alarm systems, locks, lighting, thermostats and more.
- Higher resolutions – 8K cameras for stunning clarity, with better night vision and HDR.
- Edge computing – Processing data locally on devices for reduced bandwidth usage and lower latency.
- Mesh networks – Self-configuring camera networks that don’t need central hubs.
Installing surveillance cameras and sensors around your property provides an additional layer of security and insight into activity at home. Key advantages include crime deterrence, remote monitoring and automation capabilities. But homeowners must balance benefits against privacy trade-offs through careful system design and data handling. Surveillance technology will continue evolving, bringing new features and integrations that expand monitoring functionality. If you’re considering upgrading your casual home monitoring to a robust smart surveillance system, research providers to find the right solution specific to your needs and home layout.
Need additional surveillance for your home or business? Consider Callaway Security for top-notch surveillance systems.