CCTV security cameras can act as a powerful deterrent against burglars and other intruders. Criminals will usually think again if they see a chance of being identified or having activities recorded. Captured images of their faces could be used as evidence in a court of law. If burglars do try break into your home or your business premises, a well positioned CCTV camera will detect their presence and issue an immediate alert.
Home security cameras are useful when a property is empty but they also have security advantages even when the building is occupied. A strategically sited camera can let you check who is ringing the doorbell, especially at night or when you are upstairs.
CCTV can also be used as a baby or child monitor, allowing you to watch over your family at any time, day or night. A camera can also monitor areas of the house that are ordinarily off-limits to young children such as a private study, workshop or garage.
CCTV can be installed to observe the elderly or sick at all hours without them being repeatedly checked on or disturbed, even when you are away from home. CCTV can also be used to detect when children get home from school; they can keep an eye on the babysitter or monitor pets before you get back.
For businesses too, CCTV cameras offer any number of useful functions in the day-to-day running of a company, especially those where there is a lot of activity.
Sensitive areas, from private offices indoors to car parks outside, can be monitored for visitor activity.
Cameras can also offer an extra layer of security in areas where staff belongings or valuables are stored.
Delivery drivers and their vehicles can be security-checked before they enter or leave the premises.
Vulnerable doors and windows can get extra security protection at all hours with discrete video surveillance.
There is a wide variety of CCTV security camera on the market today, from fixed-view systems to pan-and-tilt cameras equipped with night vision or motion detection.
With so many camera types to choose from, it can be challenging to pick the right one for the job. That is why it can pay to get professional advice before installing a CCTV security system in your home, office or business premises.
Many cameras also come with multiple features and different functionality. Innovative designs come onto the market very regularly so it can be hard to keep up with the latest developments.
Here is a quick run-down of some of the principal surveillance systems available on the market today.
Basic fixed security camera
These are often the cheapest of the general-purpose cameras, and they come with a single-direction, fixed viewpoint. They are not able to pan or tilt, and they may not have a zoom lens. Sight-lines must be tested thoroughly before installation. The focal length of lenses must be set correctly to ensure images are bright and sharp.
Moveable CCTV camera
These CCTV cameras are fixed with a motorised rotating mount bracket so they can pan to the left and right and can tilt up and down. Some can even lock on to a subject and follow it around. Many are now operated remotely from a smartphone or other web-enabled device. It is essential to ensure that monitored areas are well lit at all times of the day.
These cameras are dome-shaped and offer the most comprehensive coverage, often with 360-degree visibility of the surrounding area. Most have tinted shields, so it's not possible to tell from the outside which way the lens is pointing. Others also come equipped with infrared motion detectors. They are often mounted on poles or the corners of buildings, thus offering the best coverage.
Wireless camera systems
Most modern security camera installations are now wireless, and they connect to a security system through the internet. Wireless networks are easier to install and maintain than wired systems, and controlled from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Night vision lenses
A night vision camera uses infrared detection technology to 'see' movement in poorly lit areas. The price of this technology has dropped in recent years, and it is now quite affordable. The primary value is in being able to capture clear images at night or in poorly lit environments. Again, the positioning and lines of sight are crucial for adequate security with these types of camera.
Outdoor CCTV cameras
These are built to be weatherproof and tamperproof. Exterior cameras are also best installed by professionals as they will need to be out of reach and yet able to record clear images even in poor light. Sightlines and lighting of the environment can play a vital part in their effectiveness.
Fake cameras are cheap and easy to install. While they may deter potential burglars, they have no other practical use and won't give the same peace of mind as a functioning camera.
Be aware that you cannot stick a CCTV camera up wherever you like these days. Privacy laws prevent you from making movies of your neighbour's gardens or peering into their homes. It's necessary to be well aware of data protection and CCTV. There are rules about where and who you can film, how long the images can be stored and who is allowed to see the footage.