What’s The Best Way To Store Your Footage?

Surveillance playSAN-Dennis van Zuijlekoms a vital role in any comprehensive security system. It helps authorities catch criminals and provides helpful insight into your business operations by collecting and analyzing data on a daily basis. Where and how is all of this visual and analytical data being “collected?” That is the ever pressing question for system integrators and end-users alike. Storing surveillance data can be as important to the efficiency of your security system as having the surveillance equipment itself. We are catapulting ourselves into the future with the constant evolution of technology in all aspects of life including security system components, and surveillance storage solutions are no exception, but not all are created equal.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators are dedicated to providing comprehensive security system solutions that protect people and property. We have been installing security systems at business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years. Our team designs system solutions that meet the needs specific to your organization. Surveillance storage is a security system component that will vary project to project and should be treated with an individualized approach.

In the not so distant past, video recordings weren’t as advanced as they are today in terms of image resolution, clarity, and noise distortion. Recordings would often be deemed unusable due to their lack of clarity and they would typically be discarded freeing up storage space for new recordings. Today, with the advent of IP cameras (internet protocol) and more advanced camera technology the recordings have become critical data sources that are considered valuable. This means more and more end-users are interested in keeping recorded data for longer periods of time. The obvious consequence is the need for more storage space.

There are many factors that affect what kind of surveillance storage solutions can and should be implemented at a facility. The size of the project, existing infrastructure, and client budget are all critical determinants as to what type of storage should be implemented. The camera type, camera quantity, compression standards, frame rates, motion detection, desired length of storage, and overall estimate of desired resolution all should be taken into account as well.

When it comes to storing surveillance data it is paramount that the integrity of the footage is not lost. Traditionally surveillance footage would be stored on a DVR (digital video recorder), but it’s limitations within a networked system make it less than ideal. With so much of the surveillance world developing around IP and network solutions it’s only natural that network storage solutions should arise. NAS (network attached storage), SAN (storage area network), and DAS (direct attached storage) are all potential methods for storing surveillance data. All have different installation requirements. Some may call for extensive cabling and a large closet to store servers, but it all depends on the size and type of project. According to Justin Schorn, vice president of product management for Aimetis, “The critical decision is choosing between a storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS).”

The different storage devices vary in how they present information to the user and how data is accessed. The NAS devices present data in a “file system” same with DAS, whereas SAN is presented in what is referred to as “block storage.” DAS and NAS either attach directly to an existing network or the NVR (network video recorder). SAN is essentially an extension of a DAS, but provides a higher storage capacity.

DAS is typically implemented in situations when expansion is not an option, the system performance requisites are static, and shared access is not necessary. The reason being is DAS devices are limited to singular DVR or NVR applications. SAN solutions are typically used in larger camera applications that may later require scalable options. According to Lee Caswell, founder and chief marketing officer at Pivot3, “Many archivers can share the storage and the SAN platform introduces more reliability over NVR/DVR systems because there is no single point of failure.” Common applications for SAN storage include airports, casinos, and prisons.

NAS devices are typically used in smaller surveillance applications as its performance isn’t as robust as SAN. One of the advantages to NAS solutions is data can be easily accessed by anyone on the same protected network. Lee says, “The advantage of the file system on the NAS platform is that it is easier to support a hybrid storage case as some storage occurs locally on self-contained NVRs/DVRs and extended storage is sent to a specific file on the NAS.”

An additional option is to store your footage in the cloud – with a system like Eagle Eye cameras, you don’t have to worry about running out of storage space, or if your storage device is damaged or stolen. And just like traditional NVR/DVRs, your footage is accessible to you from any mobile device or computer.

Keeping high quality recorded data for longer periods of time can help local authorities with investigations and it can provide insight into your business that you otherwise wouldn’t observe. While storing recorded footage from your surveillance system is critical to your overall security, it’s important to remember that the type of storage necessary will vary depending on the project parameters. It is imperative to work with a licensed security system integrator to help evaluate security risks, the quantity of cameras needed, and how a surveillance storage system can be implemented to meet your requirements. At Perfect Connections, Inc. we are committed to providing security systems that suit your specific needs. We have been designing and installing comprehensive security systems at businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Dennis van Zuijlekom-Flickr-Creative Commons

Why Inspecting and Maintaining Your Fire Alarm Is Vital To Protecting Your Business

Fire Strobe-Alfonso PierantonioFire is an unpredictable force that can wreak havoc on any business. It is imperative as a business owner, facility manager, or building owner that the proper precautions are in place to help prevent catastrophe. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is a leading advocate in fire prevention and safety. They’ve written numerous codes and standards that have been implemented nationwide. These standards are designed to help reduce the risk and effects of fire. In combination with local regulations, NFPA codes and regulations are what system integrators and contractors have to follow in order to pass inspection from local authorities.

While you no doubt have some sort of fire detection and/or suppression system in operation it’s important to maintain it in accordance with national and local requirements. As a security systems integrator, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been installing fire alarm systems in business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years. We specialize in comprehensive security systems that include fire alarms as a major component to a fully functioning system. We do offer maintenance and service contracts helping you preserve a system that will continue to pass annual inspections and work efficiently in the event of a fire.

What goes into fire alarm maintenance? First off, unless you or your staff is trained and licensed, you must hire a licensed technician. This will help avoid accidentally setting off any false alarms which can result in substantial fines. A common starting point, whether the system is fairly new or if you moved into a space with an existing system, is to find out the systems age and maintenance history. The age of a fire alarm system will help determine whether or not components need to be replaced and what type of maintenance might be required.

According to Mike Lohr, director of service marketing for SimplexGrinnell LP, “Systems between five and ten years old may experience component breakdown caused by harsh, but normal, environmental factors. Voltage fluctuations, temperature, and humidity may cause system failure or nuisance alarm problems.” He notes that systems between 5-10 and 10-15 years can provide adequate “life-safety” responses, but those within the 10-15 year marks should be watched carefully. This is even more important if you have a shoddy record of maintenance history as it could have been poorly taken care of in the past.

Aside from knowing the age of your system you have to take any specific regulations the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) might have into consideration. While the NFPA provides codes and standards for the nation, the AHJ will likely have their own set of rules that are specific to the area they preside. This means that even if your system meets NFPA standards it may not pass local inspection because of AHJ specifications. For this reason it is imperative to hire experts that are licensed and educated not only in maintenance specific to your system, but national and local requirements as well.

In most cases fire alarm systems must be inspected at least once a year. Some may require a more frequent assessment. It really all depends on the type of business. During an inspection all components of the system will be tested so if something is not functioning properly, it will likely be taken care of at that time. Before an inspection you should notify the building occupants as the alarms will be tested and it gets noisy. Your alarm system company is the one who should contact the alarm monitoring station and local authorities in advance to avoid false emergencies.

Maintaining a functional fire alarm system is key to preventing potential catastrophe. It helps protect not only the physicality of your business, but everything that goes into running your business, i.e. you, your employees, company records, and equipment. If you ever consider cutting corners when it comes to fire alarm maintenance carefully consider the extent of what it might cost you if you do.

While as a business owner you may not need to know all the fine details of what goes into fire alarm maintenance, it is important to have a basic understanding of what you can expect when the time comes. For further information on fire alarm maintenance and inspections check out our related blog post HERE. If you run a business in northern or central New Jersey do not hesitate to call on our licensed technicians at Perfect Connections, Inc.. We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions including fire alarm installation and maintenance since 1992.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Alfonso Pierantonio-Flickr-Creative Commons

Alarm System Maintenance 101

So you bought an alarm system, what kind of maintenance and service should you do?

Really, you won’t need to do too much. It should work flawlessly for quite some time. The first thing to go will be batteries. All systems will have to have their system battery replaced after 3 to 5 years. When the battery is low, the keypad will notify you as will the central station. The batteries for most alarm systems in service today are 12 volt and 4 to 7 amp hour. Newer graphic self-contained systems have different smaller batteries – for example, the 2Gig Go Control has a 7.2 volt back up battery. All batteries should give you 24 hour back up. It is not a bad idea to schedule replacement of your battery every 3 years to preempt any possible issues.

If you have a wireless alarm system, you will also need to replace the batteries in the various devices such as door and window transmitters, wireless motion detectors, wireless glass break detectors, wireless carbon monoxide detectors, wireless smoke detectors, key fobs, panic buttons, and other wireless devices. Most of the new devices use lithium batteries, from CR123 3 Volt lithium batteries to lithium watch sized batteries. The smaller the device, the smaller the battery. Typically the bigger batteries last longer, 3 years plus, while the watch type batteries last 2 years plus. Devices that are used most often, like entry doors, drain quicker. On the newer systems, the keypad tells you which transmitter has a low battery, making replacement easy.

Make sure your alarm company shows you how to change the batteries during the installation. You should also get a list of the batteries required for all the various devices you have so you don’t have to scramble to find out when they are low. If you choose not to replace your own batteries, the alarm company should be happy to replace them for you.

Older systems use typical alkaline batteries, 9 volt, AAA and AA are common. These need to be replaced more often. Many older systems don’t tell you when the batteries are low so regular replacement is necessary.

Other than changing batteries, not much else is necessary. Make sure devices such as motion detectors and smoke detectors are clear of spider webs and that’s about it.

If installed and programmed correctly, your alarm system should monitor all parts and devices on the system, as well as services it is connected to, like power, telephone, and cellular. If any of these systems go down, your alarm system should alert you to that fact. The first reaction is to think that there is something wrong with your alarm system, when in reality it is working correctly. It is supposed to tell you when it is compromised when a service it relies on is not working properly.

Even though the system monitors itself, testing the alarm system is something that you should regularly do. You depend on your alarm system and you should make sure that it is working properly all the time. The best way to test the system is as follows: Call the central station and put the system on test. Arm the system and then trip a zone. Reset the alarm and then call the central station to make sure they received the right signal. Next week put it back on test and trip the next zone. Go clockwise around your house and you will eventually check all your devices. It is worth the effort to protect your home and family.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, or if you would like us to perform a Home Safety and Security Audit, absolutely free, please call 800-369-3962.

Protecting Your Smart Home – Cyber Attacks & 5G

For those who own alarm systems, whether they are video surveillance, access control, burglary, or fire protection, our systems watch over us and protect us around the clock.

But in today’s day and age, just about everything is connected to the internet. In many cases, this includes our alarm system. And like any device that is connected to the internet, if not taken care of properly, it can be at risk of attack from hackers. With the upcoming launch of 5G, it is extremely important this year to protect anything connected to your home network to prevent these cyber attacks.

“Attackers used an army of hijacked security cameras and video recorders to launch several massive internet attacks” said a news piece by the Wall Street Journal. Many times, these cameras were infected by pre-compromised routers that already existed.

Here are some tips about how to protect your alarm system as well

Router security:
We recommend using WPA2 security for your router. Most routers, unless they are fairly old, are capable of this type of security. For more information on this, check out your router’s brand’s website – Belkin, Linksys, and Netgear are common brands.

Firmware updates: It is very important that any device that connects to the internet, from thermostats to alarm systems to routers to televisions to computers, always has the most up to date firmware. Each device’s manual or website will have instructions on how to do those, and if there is a phone application that interfaces with the device, you can often do it through the application.

Password protection: Many devices come with generic user names and passwords. These are easy targets for hackers. Make sure you change any default passwords, and try not to use the same password on multiple devices. It is most important that this is done on the router.

New hardware:
According to Kenneth White, a security researcher and director of the Open Crypto Audit Project, “If the company that made your [device] isn’t selling that model anymore or offering security updates, that’s a good sign for you to throw it in the trash.”

Is Your Security Provider Licensed?

There are many reasons to make sure the person you hire to do a job is qualified. When it comes to installing camera systems, it’s the law.Video Surveillance-Christian Schnettelker

In New Jersey, a professional surveillance system installer needs to be licensed by the Fire Alarm, Burglar Alarm, and Locksmith Advisory Committee. According to Eric Marcy at Wilentz Attorneys at Law, “many local Informational Technology Companies have begun to dabble in installing CCTV monitoring as part of their product/service offerings.” While it may make initial sense to hire an IT professional to install network-based cameras, they may lack many of the qualifications that a licensed surveillance system installer has due to the training required to obtain the proper license.

Eric Marcy also states that “While Information Technology businesses may find the installation of CCTV and surveillance systems a natural extension of the services the business may offer, failure to have a proper license for such services will result in legal exposure and penalties. Prior to any Information Technology firm from offering, marketing or providing such services it should fully investigate the requirements necessary to allow it to provide such services. IT companies would be well served to consult with counsel to review the proposed services and proposed marketing to insure that the IT firm is not in violation of State law. ”

If you’re not sure if the person or company you are hiring is licensed, you can verify on the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs website.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and are considering installing cameras in your home or business, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE. Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. have been providing custom and comprehensive security system solutions since 1992.

Smart Homes and 5G – How To Stay Protected

For those who own alarm systems, whether they are video surveillance, access control, burglary, or fire protection, our systems watch over us and protect us around the clock.

But in today’s day and age, just about everything is connected to the internet. In many cases, this includes our alarm system. And like any device that is connected to the internet, if not taken care of properly, it can be at risk of attack from hackers. With the upcoming launch of 5G, it is extremely important this year to protect anything connected to your home network.

“Attackers used an army of hijacked security cameras and video recorders to launch several massive internet attacks” said a news piece by the Wall Street Journal. Many times, these cameras were infected by pre-compromised routers that already existed.

Here are some tips about how to protect your alarm system as well

Router security:
We recommend using WPA2 security for your router. Most routers, unless they are fairly old, are capable of this type of security. For more information on this, check out your router’s brand’s website – Belkin, Linksys, and Netgear are common brands.

Firmware updates: It is very important that any device that connects to the internet, from thermostats to alarm systems to routers to televisions to computers, always has the most up to date firmware. Each device’s manual or website will have instructions on how to do those, and if there is a phone application that interfaces with the device, you can often do it through the application.

Password protection: Many devices come with generic user names and passwords. These are easy targets for hackers. Make sure you change any default passwords, and try not to use the same password on multiple devices. It is most important that this is done on the router.

New hardware:
According to Kenneth White, a security researcher and director of the Open Crypto Audit Project, “If the company that made your [device] isn’t selling that model anymore or offering security updates, that’s a good sign for you to throw it in the trash.”

How Lighting Affects Your Video Quality

When it comes to surveillance cameras, visibility is key.  Some of the obstacles surrounding a camera’s capability to retain high video quality such as lighting, camera installation, and type of camera are somewhat within our control, others are not.  Uncontrollable issues of extreme brightness, like light produced from headlights and the sun, or extreme darkness are not necessarily easily overcome.  However, as with anything, technological progression helps change these harrowing limitations.  As industry professionals our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing security system solutions, including surveillance, to organizations throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.  We’ve seen the impact changing technology has on the equipment we install and how it can be beneficial to our customers.

Surveillance systems are in the midst of a transition from using conventional analog equipment to IP (Internet Protocol).  Why? For one, image quality.  The tricky thing with IP cameras is not all are created equal.  There isn’t necessarily a defined industry standard that is accepted by all integrators and camera manufacturers when it comes to “best” image quality.  For example some might argue that the higher the megapixel count the better, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better image.  At least with HD (high definition) cameras there are standards manufacturers must comply with in order to be considered HD.

Aside from pixel count, an IP camera’s display threshold in extreme conditions is critical, but limited.  This limit, specifically when referring to extreme brightness or darkness, is typically known as “dynamic range.”  Wide dynamic range (WDR), “allows cameras to capture much more detail in scenes where there are varying levels of light, much like the way the human eye ‘processes’ these types of scenes.”  You know the feeling of widening your eyes in the dark to try to see clearer because you’re eyes haven’t quite adjusted yet?  It’s sort of the same idea with WDR cameras and how they adapt in both light and dark conditions.  However, their adjustments aren’t a physical strain and transitions are typically quicker than ours.

WDR footageThe images above show the difference between a parking garage being monitored by a camera with no WDR or WDR turned off on the left, and on the right the same area monitored by a camera with WDR enabled.  The difference is clear as day.  Why do they differ so much?  The camera with the WDR enabled has two internal Charge-Coupled Devices (CCD).  The two devices, or sensors, scan an image at different speeds, one low and one high, the image processor then combines the separate images producing a clearer, more balanced picture with better contrast and lighting.  This process happens quickly enough to produce a stream of clear recorded footage.  There are many different manufacturers that produce these WDR cameras in the market today, and not all of them use the same type of sensor and image processing combinations.  The best way to ensure you are getting the best camera for your specific application is to hire a licensed security systems integrator who is educated in which camera specifications will work best in variant conditions.

WDR technology, like anything else, is not perfect.  Depending on the camera manufacturer, you could end up with a camera that takes up to 15 seconds to adjust with varying light levels.  That doesn’t sound like that long, but it could mean the difference between catching a perpetrator and them getting away.  Another issue you might run into are cameras that don’t have the ability to turn WDR settings on and off automatically.  Without the automation the transition becomes the responsibility of someone on site, which can be time consuming and ineffective in a time sensitive situation.  This is why it is vital to consult a professional security systems integrator who is educated in the differences between product specifications and their appropriate applications.

The clarity of recorded video footage is crucial to the security of any organization.  As a business owner you don’t want to be left wondering why your recordings are grainy, washed out, or so dark they become unusable.  No one can control the external factors that affect an organization, but you can be prepared for them by taking the proper precautions.  Licensed system integrators are there to help.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We recognize the importance of utilizing quality security products that not only perform well but perform to their intended specifications.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by IQinVision-Google-Creative Commons

What’s Missing From Your Security System

Missing puzzle pieceWhile businesses have a lot to offer, many are lacking the protection they need.  No I don’t mean stowing an arsenal below your cash-wrap, but rather an effective security system and security features.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we can help you protect what you’ve worked so hard for.  If you run a business in central or northern New Jersey, let us assess your security risks and provide a custom solution to fit your needs.  Many don’t know what they are lacking and how it can be rectified – our licensed professionals can help in that arena.  Don’t fall victim to preventable disasters – find out what a comprehensive security system can do for you and the health of your business.

What’s lacking?

An incomplete security system is a bit like working on a puzzle with missing pieces.  There are essential features that should be included in a comprehensive security system.  Maybe you already have a security system installed at your business, but is it monitored?  What good is a security system if no one, except those in the area, is alerted when the alarm goes off?  Having a 24/7 monitoring service as part of your security system is crucial for the quickest response times.  Surveillance equipment can also help deter employee theft which is, “the fastest growing crime in America,” according to the FBI.  Employee theft costs businesses up to $200 billion each year.  Installing surveillance equipment not only in the main customer space, but in offices, storage, and inventory spaces can help decrease chances of employee theft and misconduct.

Other areas that tend to be overlooked or under-protected are doors and safes.  While a door typically locks, if it’s not sturdy and linked to an alarm, what’s preventing someone from kicking it in?  To protect your entries, exits, and interior spaces be sure that your doors are not only sturdy and alarmed but protected by some sort of access control.  Whether it’s a swipe card, key fob, passcode, or some form of biometrics, access control will help prevent unwanted entrants.  Safes that are out in the open and easy to grab or crack open provide minimal protection for whatever is in it.  If you’re going to store valuables or cash in a safe at your business be sure it’s secure either bolted to the ground or in a fortified room.

Inadequate protection from fire and carbon monoxide can be a killer for any business.  Having detectors and alarms may not be enough if they don’t communicate with emergency services.  It’s the same idea as the unmonitored burglar alarm, if no one is around to hear the detectors go off a fire could easily escalate to the point of no return.  For the quickest response time, fire alarms and detectors should be linked to a monitoring service that communicates with emergency services.  Proper fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be an integral part of a comprehensive security system.  Your business is likely your livelihood, protect it.

There are few certainties in life, but taking initiative to protect what you’ve built by installing a comprehensive security system is guaranteed to help.  No two businesses are the same, therefore no two security systems will be the same.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe in customizing security solutions for each individual business based on their specific needs.  As security systems experts we have been providing security solutions to northern and central New Jersey businesses since 1992.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

How The IoT Can Protect Your Home or Business

Jonathan Briggs-Network CableOur world is constantly changing and evolving. Progression is an inevitable force that influences the way we live our daily lives. This is especially true of advancements made in the techy devices we interact with on a daily basis. Everything from our smartphones to our security systems. It’s the manner in how we interact with all of these devices that is driving innovation and product design. The internet and networking of devices is creating a connected environment that offers ultimate convenience and changes how we perceive the potential of security systems.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators provide comprehensive security systems to businesses and homes throughout northern and central New Jersey. We believe in installing quality systems that are in line with the best technological advancements the market has to offer. This doesn’t mean we use the trendiest devices for the sake of being “trendy,” it means evaluating current products that will add value and provide a platform for future adaptation. With the Internet of Things (IoT) it’s imperative to implement devices that are not only relevant but can stand the test of time, within reason.

The definition of the IoT can be summed up as, “the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing internet infrastructure without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” This means devices that are able to “talk” to one another via an internet connection without third part interference. An example would be a motion detector that automatically uploads a video clip to an authorized smartphone when it senses movement. The IoT is influencing changes in security system components like video cameras, access controls, recording equipment, fire and burglar alarms, locks, and monitoring services. The devices themselves are evolving but so is the manner in which end users and system operators interact with them.

A higher level of remote connectivity to security systems and their components is a result of the IoT. End-users can now login to security systems and their devices via an app on their mobile device. This would allow the business owner who is away on vacation to periodically check-in on the day-to-day by logging into their surveillance system on their smartphone. The homeowner who forgot to lock their doors and arm their system can now do so remotely via a mobile device or computer. Automated notifications can be setup to send an alert when an alarm is triggered, someone tries to gain entry without proper access credentials, when a camera or motion detector capture movement within their range; the possibilities are extensive and continue to be developed.

According to Steve Hausman, president of Hausman Technology Keynotes, we are still at the beginning of the “IoT revolution.” Some research suggest by next year there will be over 30 billion wirelessly connected devices in operation. With everything becoming more and more connected one has to wonder, what are the risks? In this highly connected world, there is a plethora of data being recorded, stored, and shared but who has access and rights to this data? Therein lies the problem.

As with anything connected to the internet, the risk of being hacked or stolen is inherent. In the security world this would be a problem for IP cameras, cloud storage and recording solutions, networked access controls, and basically anything running on or connected to an internet network. With that in mind, industry professionals and developers are continuously working on solutions to prevent and minimize vulnerability.

Hausman says, “Security standards need to be established and enforced at the design and manufacturing levels. As the IoT evolves, we can also expect that society will not only adapt to its usefulness but come to expect that appropriate safeguards be implemented to ensure both privacy and security.” Today, those “safeguards” are being provided by licensed security integrators who understand the risks associated with system automation and the IoT. Often times this means strong encryptions for not only the network, but the connected devices as well.

The IoT isn’t something that’s going to disappear. Its presence in the security industry will continue to shape the way manufacturers develop products and how they are implemented by security integrators. As licensed professionals our integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. provide comprehensive security system solutions to businesses and homes throughout northern and central New Jersey, and have been doing so for over 25 years. Our team has witnessed decades of advancements in the industry. We realize it is our duty to continue our own education as well as offer knowledge to our customers when implementing new technologies and component counterparts.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Jonathan Briggs-Flickr-Creative Commons

Can Your Camera See In The Dark?

West Midlands Police-Infrared FootageNot all surveillance cameras are created equally.  It may seem as simple as selecting a surveillance camera and popping it into place, but what about the external factors that affect the quality of recorded images?  One of the top concerns for industry professionals and end-users alike is a cameras ability to see in the dark or varied light conditions.  Whether you’re using interior or external cameras, their ability to function under varied light conditions is paramount.  Our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of a surveillance system that doesn’t quit when the sun goes down.  We are a licensed security systems company that has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.

What challenges do different lighting conditions pose to surveillance cameras?  The most obvious is the absence or lack of light.  Unless your cameras are True Day Night it is likely that they will not be able to pick up fine details in the lack of light.  Another common issue is the effect of light glare.  Problematic glare can come from car headlights to poorly placed exterior lighting fixtures.  Glare will disrupt the sensors in the video camera and the recorded footage can be rendered useless.  It is important to take lighting conditions into consideration when choosing and installing cameras as it will impact the overall effectiveness of your system.  What good is a camera that captures grainy unclear images or blanks out for seconds at a time?

Fortunately there have been vast improvements in the surveillance industry that are changing the game when it comes to light adaptation capabilities.  According to Greg Peratt, Senior Director of the Panasonic Video Solutions Integration Team, there are IP (Internet Protocol) cameras that can capture detailed footage in lighting less than .01 lux illumination.  Lux illumination is the metric measurement for how much light falls on an object.  A measurement of 1 lux, “equals the amount of light that falls on a one-square-meter surface that is one meter away from a single candle.”  Therefore a camera that can capture detailed images in less than .01 lux illumination is not only impressive, it’s advantageous.

Another helpful advancement in the case of low or varied light is the Infrared Cut-Filter Mechanism (IRCF).  This filter is automatically lifted or lowered in front of the camera’s sensor depending on the light levels.  The IRCF helps block out disruptive infrared light that can come from sunlight or certain lighting fixtures and it ultimately improves the camera’s low-light performance.  When light levels are low-typically at night-is when the filter is automatically lifted from in front of the sensor.  Cameras that have this feature are considered to have True Day Night capabilities.

The only hitch with this technology is color is often distorted or lost completely.  However, the camera is still able to capture a clear black and white image and according to Steve Carney it captures an image, “…that is not only vastly more usable but also cleaner without chroma noise.”  Carney points out another differentiator between True Day Night cameras and the impersonators is what happens when the IRCF is lifted or removed.  In a True Day Night camera a piece of “dummy” glass will take the place of the IRCF in order to maintain focus and, “minimize the spectral offset between visible and IR light.”  In other cameras the ability to remove such a filter doesn’t exist, therefore the full spectrum of visible and infrared light cannot be taken advantage of.

Other features to look for when considering Day Night cameras are the shutter speeds and any tinting on the camera housing.  Varying shutter speeds affect the amount of the light that is able to be captured.  The slower the shutter, the more light is captured which isn’t always better.  Often times a camera will come with a domed or “bubble” exterior housing.  These “bubbles” can sometimes be tinted.  Depending on your application you may or may not need tinting; sometimes the tint can have an adverse effect by decreasing visibility and obstructing image clarity.

Whether you are replacing older interior/exterior cameras or installing new, your best solution is to call on the experts.  Every business and facility is different which means each will have different requirements when it comes to day/nighttime surveillance.  Having a licensed security professional do an in person assessment of your facility will help determine what type of camera should be implemented and where.  Our team of licensed professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses and facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We believe in personalized service that tailors solutions to your individualized needs.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by West Midlands Police-Flickr-Creative Commons