Home Security Video Surveillance: From Nanny Cams to Multi Camera Networks

By | January 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm | No comments | Home Surveillance | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Until recently, security cameras for the home or small business were affordable only for the very wealthy and elite; though there were a few cheap, low tech cameras that were considered almost novelties. In just a few years, several technologies have emerged and merged to allow video images (and audio) to be captured inexpensively and to great effect.

What kind of systems are out there?

Wireless RF cameras

These are inexpensive cameras sending a signal over a radio frequency to a receiver, usually one or two cameras are hooked up to a single monitor or recording device. Very inexpensive, usually low resolution cameras.

IP based web cameras

These systems can consist of one or several cameras, often wirelessly connected to a PC within the home or office. With proper software and internet connection, these cameras can be monitored from anywhere via the internet. The signal can also be recorded onto a DVR or tape based recorder.

CCTV systems

4 Channel H264 DVR KitClosed Circuit television was once the only way to rig a camera or cameras for security. Usually heavy coax cables would spider out from a recording device or bank of monitors to several cameras. CCTV can also refer to cameras connected with Ethernet cables or even wirelessly, but usually not monitored via the internet.

Nanny cams and specialty cameras

The term “nannycam” started when the first generation of tiny cameras were hidden in household appliances or mounted to shoot through peepholes to spy on children’s babysitters, or to monitor household help for any possible breaches of trust. These cameras have evolved into sophisticated devices. Incredibly sharp cameras can be hidden in alarm clocks, working smoke detectors, lamps, furniture, pens, peep holes, etc. While some models are self contained, (they can record on a small jump drive or even send an RF signal), others can be put into standard web based systems or closed circuit.

Is there a place for security cameras in your setup? Possibly. What are you looking to accomplish with a camera? Here are some good reasons to install a camera system and pros and cons of using video surveillance:


The Good: Probably one of the stronger arguments for setting up a good system is the deterrence value. There is nothing like the feeling that you’re being watched to regulate bad behavior. It can also signal outsiders that you are serious about your home security, (camera systems are usually found in partnership with other security technologies). The Bad: We’re growing up in a world where we are always on camera, and there is some discussion that people are less afraid of having their image recorded. There are always blind spots, and video systems need to be monitored and maintained to remain effective. IT systems, while getting much easier to set up, require at least minimum networking skills.

Convenience of multiple sets of “eyes”

The Good: Whether you feel you need to check on your nanny or you want to keep an eye on the baby in the nursery yourself, having a camera on the kids can be reassuring. Working in the home office? It’s nice to be able to watch the driveway, the kids in the yard, and the front door all at once, simply by looking up at a computer screen. If you heard something in the garage last night, or suspect some kids have been breaking into the barn, you can playback the last few hours to see what was going on. The Bad: Sometimes it easy to feel over confident and let your guard down – cameras can’t see everything, and can’t cover every square inch of property. The Ugly: If you use a camera system in your workplace, you need to check with all local and state laws regarding privacy and video surveillance. It’s enough to drive you mad to know that you might have concrete evidence of crime that cannot be used in a courtroom due to privacy or wiretapping laws. Want to go one worse? In some locales, you could actually be liable in a civil court for privacy violations if an employee is able to make a case against you. So check your local laws.

Obtaining evidence for criminal prosecution

The Good: Nothing makes a case more open and shut than a clear, clean picture of the criminal and the crime. The Bad: If this is necessary, that means a crime has actually been committed on your property. As mentioned above, local and state laws may have strict rules on how video surveillance may be used in a workplace, and how it is presented in court.

Nannycam or Grannycam?

The Good: In addition to childcare providers and the monitoring of children in the house, more and more Bubbas and their families are finding themselves taking care of elderly relatives. Cameras allow an eye to be kept on grandma, even is she lives apart from you. This allows a lot of folks to rest a little easier, knowing that at anytime, you can look on the internet and see if mom or grandma came down for breakfast, let the dog out, etc. The Bad: Again, the cameras can’t be everywhere, but often this is just enough to feel a little more secure about letting the relatives (and their caregivers) live apart from you.


The Good: If you’re running a small business, in addition to watching for criminal activity, many managers have found that they can more easily see how the business flows when they’re not on the scene. Who slacks off when you’re not around? Is overtime being rightfully claimed? Are employees treating customers and each other properly? The Bad: Some employees resent having their every move monitored. Independent employees who may be good producers may feel a level of distrust due to surveillance. The Ugly: As it’s sometimes said – do you really want to see sausage being made? You might see things you don’t want to! (but probably need to….)

From the simple need to see who is ringing the doorbell, to the desire to keep a watchful eye on your personal or business property – you should be able to put together a useful home security surveillance system. Take the time to put together a plan and budget so that you can make a useful comparison when you shop, a realistic expectation of the installation, and have a system that is in fact useful and effective in your application.



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