Cameras and Lighting

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 function 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 the past 23 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

Should I Move To The Cloud?

Pattys-photos-cloudsWe’ve all seen those puffy white, wondrous, water vapor creations up in the sky, commonly known as clouds.  These natural wonders are not the clouds we’ll be investigating here.  Instead we’ll be taking a look at what the “cloud” is in relation to business networks and their security infrastructure.

You may be using the cloud in some form already and not even know it.  Think about your everyday, do you use an internet based e-mail account, like Gmail?  If so, then you use a cloud based service.  So what is the “cloud”?  Basically, the cloud takes recorded information and stores it on internet servers.  Instead of taking up space on your computer or on a physical storage device your information is accessible via the internet.  In our physical world of limited space and the desire to streamline as much as possible, the cloud is helping achieve just that.  While it is an exciting technology with seemingly endless applications, it is not without flaw.  That being said, its benefits seem to outweigh its imperfections; and with non-stop progression in technology it can only improve with time.

Where does the cloud fit within the security system industry?  In security applications today, cloud services are becoming a presence in business video surveillance and access control solutions.  As security system components migrate towards a more cohesive integration the need for heavy wiring, cables, and hardware is dissipating making the cloud a more viable option for some.  As a licensed security systems provider our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. strives to utilize current technologies that make sense within an organizations facility and their budget.  We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.

How is a cloud-based security network setup and what are the benefits?  In many cases a comprehensive security system is comprised of multiple surveillance cameras, some form of physical access control, fire and burglar alarms, and an alarm monitoring service.  Surveillance and access control are the areas where the cloud seems to have the most impact these days.

As end-users and integrators move away from analog and switch to IP surveillance systems the video cameras themselves are becoming more advanced.  According to Steve Surfaro, an Axis Communications’ Security Industry Liaison, “Many of today’s network video cameras are actually platforms or small computers, complete with solid-state storage and room for onboard security and video content analysis ‘apps,’ as well as enhanced image processing.”  Otherwise, in a cloud environment cameras are linked to a company’s network and record footage that is stored on encrypted internet servers.  If you think about it, it’s doing the same thing as a traditional surveillance system would as far as recording data and storing it, it’s just the means of conveyance that differs.

When it comes to access control linked to the cloud the possibilities include, but are not limited to, being able to control door, elevator, and card access remotely from a mobile device.  Being able to remotely access a system through a secured network in the cloud opens the door to a world of convenience and efficiency.  As surveillance and access control continue to be further integrated through wireless and IP systems, managing them with the cloud will likely become commonplace.

The benefits of using the cloud include reduced infrastructure, low system maintenance, low energy consumption, flexibility, scalability, and almost unlimited storage capabilities (Griffin, Joel-Securityinfowatch.com).  It helps eliminate the need to use multiple processes to operate a security system, potentially alleviating pressure on a company’s IT department.  This could help cut down on unnecessary manpower costs.  And the capability for remote software updates would eliminate the hassle on both the end-user and system integrator.

While there are many benefits to utilizing the cloud for video surveillance and access control, it is not a perfect system on its own; and it may take time before it becomes a pervasive technology.  Systems that rely solely on the cloud for recording and storage face some obvious risks.  For one, there is the potential for network outages.

According to Pierre Racz, president, CEO and founder of Genetec-a company focused on hybrid cloud solutions-it is likely that you will have network outages with the cloud.  However, these outages are estimated to be no more than 4 hours per year.  Fortunately there are inexpensive solutions to such an issue.  To avoid losing any data a local recording device can be set up to operate for more than 4 hours.  Implementing redundancies like NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives will also help eliminate any potential losses created by outages.

The initial cost of a cloud based system may also be a deterrent to end-users.  However, Racz points out that the maintenance costs for a cloud-based system are far lower than maintaining the extensive hardware that comes with more traditional systems.  Business size is also a factor in the cost.  Cost will vary depending on how many cameras, how much bandwidth, and other equipment is required.  So while a cloud-based system may not initially make sense for a high-rise office building, it may make sense for a singular business or a company with multiple small locations.  Cloud access is another major concern for end-users.  The question remains, what is stopping someone from hacking into my network?  Industry experts believe this concern can be eliminated based on the high level of encryption used to authenticate users.

Even though there might be a few technical hitches with cloud integration in the security industry today, it promises to be more ubiquitous in the near future.  The communication gap between end-users, integrators, and industry professionals on the best way to implement this exciting technology is shrinking.  Once the dialogue becomes clearer the cloud has potential to become standard protocol.  If you are considering making the switch to a cloud-based system or hybrid solution be sure to call on an industry professional.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. can guide you through the process from initial assessment to final installation.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We’ve been able to adapt our services based on the ever changing technological climate, implementing what is best and makes sense for our clients.

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 Pattys-photos-Flickr-Creative Commons

Can My Cameras 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 function 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 the past 23 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