Security Cameras: When Visual Data Is Essential
Vision is the most important sensory mode we humans have for gathering and processing
information about the world about us. The primacy of vison means that security cameras can provide valuable data for any smart home owner. They’re like having virtual eye witnesses on duty 24/7, keeping a look-out for anything out of the ordinary that might need attention. They can:
- Show you who’s at the front door, BEFORE you open it.
- Capture images of suspicious people loitering near your home—while you’re away.
- See which friends you daughter brings home with her after school, before you get home from work.
- Check up on the dog you just adopted.
- Observe the behavior of the new babysitter, while you’re out to a movie.
- Make sure your Dad’s really OK when he says he’s fine.
Security camera technology is evolving rapidly, paralleling the advances in digital photography. Current options include:
- Internet protocol (IP) cameras—wired or wireless—that send images directly to a computer, to your smartphone, and then via the internet to the cloud for retrieval or forwarding to anyone you choose.
- Cameras which capture high definition images.
- Cameras which can Pan left and right, Tilt up and down, and Zoom (PTZ) intelligently from wide angle to telephoto—by remote control.
- Cameras with face-recognition software.
Placing cameras must be done thoughtfully. Covering the perimeter of the home with cameras is a no-brainer. Inside, things get more complicated. Using them at the front and back doors is generally considered non-invasive, as well as in a nursery. And most people might not consider them intrusive in spaces like living and family rooms, especially if there is a legitimate need. But for locations like bedrooms and bathrooms, privacy needs almost always trump security concerns, unless compelling safety arguments can be made. (For example, an aging parent who lives alone and has dizzy spells at night might be safer with a camera installed in the bedroom. But they would still need to consent to the idea). See Surveillance: Balance Safety & Privacy (coming soon)
Used intelligently, security cameras can deter crime, increase peace of mind, and keep track of your home when you’re not there to oversee things. Used inappropriately, they can easily intrude on privacy, or give a false sense of security. Experts in home security can help you find the camera technologies—and the balance in implementing them—that are right for your family and your home.