A‘big brother’ security solution
OWNERS of properties in residential estates often have a false sense of security due to the estate already having guards, electric fences and the like.
However, residential estates are being targeted increasingly by criminals and often having a security company managing the residential estate is not enough.
Alarm systems and armed response can only provide a certain amount of protection to deter intruders.
For example, if an alarm is triggered security companies often only conduct perimeter checks as they are unable to gain access to properties.
Furthermore, by the time the guards arrive it is often too late and high-value goods have already been stolen. This has highlighted the need for remote monitoring of CCTV footage via mobile devices.
A CCTV solution with remote monitoring on smartphones, tablets or PCs should be a part of any holistic security solution. Using this combination of tools, along with intelligent integration with alarms and other security devices, allows owners of property in a residential estate to view their property remotely. This offers greater peace of mind, tighter security, and added return on investment.
In today’s world, with crime on the increase, CCTV solutions have gained popularity in the residential security market. These cameras capture footage of what is happening at the property, which can give a better indication of events when an intrusion occurs. However, CCTV alone is only useful after the fact, and is a reactive solution at best.
The most effective way to secure the property is to install an intelligent CCTV solution that enables remote monitoring via mobile devices, allowing residents and home-owners to “check in” periodically or if an alarm event is activated.
With the correct placement of cameras, home-owners can gain a full view of every angle of the house and property, inside and out. When alarms do go off, the reason can be verified quickly and instructions relayed to security companies to ensure that the correct action is taken.
However, while CCTV solutions and even remote monitoring capabilities are readily available, the challenge is that not all solutions are created equal and the old adage “you get what you pay for” has never been more apt.
In order to gain a solid return on investment from integrating CCTV and remote monitoring into residential security, several factors should be considered.
The first, and possibly the most important, consideration is the amount of bandwidth required to view remote footage. Often, CCTV cameras will require upwards of 256 kilobits/second of bandwidth to stream the video, and in reality the bandwidth requirements are too high for quality footage to be streamed from remote areas.
Much of SA does not have 3G coverage, which is one of the technologies that delivers the required speed for this transmission, and even in areas where there is coverage, using this much bandwidth is expensive and may produce an intermittent feed at best.
Home owners should look for solutions that use as little bandwidth as possible to transmit quality images, such as those that offer 8 kilobits/second or 1 kilobyte/second streaming.
However, it is important to note that many suppliers of these mobile solutions confuse the customer by interchanging kilobits with kilobytes, creating the impression that the solution uses less bandwidth than it does in reality.
Choosing a remote solution that features streaming of 8 kilobits or 1 kilobyte/second will ensure that no matter where the user is they will be able to monitor cameras on any cellphone or tablet, even in areas where only GPRS or EDGE capability is available.
The solution should also offer the facility to record footage at a higher quality than is transmitted, so that the full quality video can be accessed at a later stage if necessary.
You must remember always to ask for a “live” demonstration, as well as verification of the bandwidth usage before choosing any solution.
Another consideration is the ability of the CCTV and monitoring solution to integrate into existing security features and solutions. To gain maximum return on investment, ideally CCTV and remote access should be able to integrate with alarms, gates, garage doors and so on, with the ability to send alerts via e-mail and SMS. This in turn allows the solution to send notifications to the user when alarms are triggered so they can log in and view what is happening.
The solution should also integrate electric gates and garage doors, for example, so that remote opening of these devices is possible. In this way, should an alarm go off the home owner can log in, view what is happening and even open the gate to allow security personnel to gain access. Using these integration capabilities, alarms can even be armed and disarmed remotely, so that the home owner can allow garden services, house-sitters and so on to gain access and the property can be secured when they leave.
Remote monitoring and integrated CCTV can benefit the residential market not only when residents are away on holiday but at any other time of the year as well. They enable users to take full control over the home while they are at work or elsewhere.
For example, should a visitor such as a technician, electrician or even delivery person call at the gate, the user can verify their identity using the cameras before deciding whether or not to allow them access.
Cameras can also be used to monitor people within the home, ensuring that domestic workers are doing their jobs, children are doing their homework and that pets are not climbing on the furniture, to name but a few examples.
Security is an important part of living in SA today and obtaining a comprehensive, holistic security solution should be a key priority for residents who live in estates.