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How to use surveillance systems to increase your home security

by Intizar Ali
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Modern surveillance systems have improved significantly over the decades.  Security cameras monitor both the interior and exterior of your property.  They are automated and can even be controlled through a phone app.

Benefits

Topmost on the list is peace of mind.  The increased security means more safety for your property and loved ones.  The ability to view live feeds wherever you are is comforting and the immediate alerts of unusual activity can help you act quickly if need be.

In the event of a burglary, you can have better documentation of missing items, versus remembering what was where especially if the property has been torn apart.  This will help with identifying the culprits and recovery of items.

Criminals take the path of least resistance.  They are less likely to identify you as a target knowing you have a security system.

Incorporating facial recognition, you can be notified when your children have returned home from school or other activities.  A push notification is issued to your designated device.  Two-way audio can function as an intercom so that you can see and talk with those at home when you are away.

Features

There are a number of options to consider for a home security camera.  Continuous recording will assure that you don’t miss anything, but will need a significant amount of Wi-Fi bandwidth and won’t work very well with battery-powered wire-free cameras.

Wireless security cameras only record when they detect motion, so they may miss some things but pick up when the neighbor’s dog uses your lawn for a bathroom.  With a complete home security system, cameras can be programmed to record as soon as any feature of the security system is activated.  So a contact sensor, glass breaking, or motion will start the cameras rolling rather than just the few minutes someone passes in front of them.

Footage can be stored either on the camera or on a cloud-based server.  

Pay attention to the resolution.  It won’t help the police much if the image is too fuzzy to identify the suspects.  It also may depend on whether or not you want to zoom.  This can be beneficial to see a license plate or to get a closer look at an identifying feature.  More pixels in the image means better detail.

There are some choices when it comes to power source.  A wireless camera will be powered by either batteries or plugs into a wall outlet (AC).  While AC is preferable, you may not have access to an outlet where you want to place the camera, so battery backup is important.  Be sure to develop a maintenance schedule to be sure the batteries are still in good shape and more importantly, keep to that schedule.  It would be tough if the power was cut and the batteries were dead.

Unless you have motion-activated outdoor lighting, you might want to think about adding night vision.  A built-in audio alarm and/or floodlight is advisable.

Pick a system that works with a mobile app that is easy to use and that you like.

Ancillary Benefits

Some of the extras you may not have thought about include a discount on your insurance premiums.  You will need to check with your insurance agent to see what qualifies and the amount you can expect to save.

It also becomes a very nice selling point when you decide to relocate.

Many home security systems integrate with other systems like smart lighting and thermostat controls.

Common Sense

Don’t underestimate the simple fact that you need to avoid making yourself look like a target.  Keep your car in the garage, don’t put the empty box from a major purchase out by the street for everyone to see.

If you are away post your social media photos when you return, not while you are traveling.  Go for a smart door lock instead of a hidden key.  Notify friendly near neighbors so they can report anything suspicious.  Set timers for table lamps and a talk radio show so that someone lurking around will hear voices.

In short, don’t be a target and get a surveillance system to help with your home security.

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