When building a smart security system, you have plenty of options when it comes to cameras. It may be overwhelming to decide how many you need, which ones you need, and where to place them in and around your home or business. One decision that may weigh on your mind is whether it’s better to equip your home with security cameras or surveillance cameras.
Security cameras, also known as CCTV or “closed-circuit television” cameras, use radio frequency and send images or video recordings of a particular area to a designated storage device like a DVR or SD card. Security cameras connect either wirelessly or by using multiple cables, and typically use a television to broadcast signals. They also usually only activate when motion or sound is detected.
Surveillance cameras, also known as IP or “internet protocol” cameras, send real-time recordings to a central location within a local area network (LAN), such as a monitoring station. Despite the name, an internet connection isn’t always required for an IP camera to work. Surveillance cameras connect wirelessly or through a single Ethernet cable, known as Power Over Ethernet (PoE), and transmit signals through the LAN, Wi-Fi, or cellular network. Compared to security cameras, they provide continuous recording.
While both types of cameras can be used in your home, security cameras are more common in residential areas and private businesses, while surveillance cameras are more typically found in public places. Each type of camera comes with its advantages and disadvantages, and which works best for your property depends on your unique wants and needs.
Helps Deter Crime
This is the most significant benefit of security cameras. If you choose to make your cameras visible or can verbally alert someone of their presence, a potential criminal may see them and think twice about burglarizing your property.
Easy to Observe Scenarios and Activities
Security cameras can be placed anywhere on your property as long as there is a power source nearby. Depending on your needs, you can install either mountable or portable cameras to help monitor the activities of people in and around your home or office building, whether temporary visitors or more permanent occupants.
Easy to Gather Evidence
Because security cameras are often motion-activated, it’s simple to see who entered your property and at what time. With CCTV cameras, suspects are more likely to be identified and caught, making them ideal for police investigations.
Low Video Quality
Security cameras display footage at a lower resolution than surveillance cameras. Limitations in CCTV technology mean the images are often blurry or grainy.
Can Leave You Vulnerable
The daily use of advanced technology like computers and smartphones has led to more tech-savvy criminals in the modern age. However, you don’t need to be a hacker to easily disable or disconnect the power source of a set of security cameras.
Can Compromise Others’ Privacy
The use of security cameras and their recordings can be a controversial subject, especially if the cameras are hidden and someone doesn’t know they’re being recorded. Whether an office employee or a babysitter, many consider security cameras to be an invasion of privacy and a sign that they aren’t trusted. It’s important to check your local and state confidentiality laws regarding security cameras in public and private places.
High Video Quality
Surveillance cameras provide a clearer picture of moving objects, can allow you to digitally zoom or pan a camera, and can even identify an object as a person, animal, or vehicle.
Reduces Crime in Public Areas
Surveillance cameras placed in public spaces like gas stations, retail shops, and parking lots make it effortless to see a crime before or as it’s occurring, as the footage is displayed in real-time. Once alerted, police can quickly be dispatched to that area to stop the perpetrator.
Improves Public Safety
It’s more unlikely for someone to commit a crime when they know there’s a surveillance camera on the premises that could catch them in the act. In case there’s suspicion of crime or a frequency of crime at a given location, the area can be regularly monitored or even cleared as a precaution.
Provides Convenient Monitoring Surveillance camera footage is easily accessible from anywhere, whether or not you’re at your home or business. You can view the camera’s feed when connected to your portable smart device, like a mobile phone or laptop, usually with the help of an app.
Surveillance cameras come with many more bells and whistles than traditional security cameras. If you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, you may find the management and monitoring of these types of cameras too complicated and might prefer something more straightforward.
Easy Target for Hackers and Abuse
Because IP cameras often use an internet or Wi-Fi connection, it makes them prime targets for hackers. Public surveillance cameras are less likely to be encrypted, making them exposed in more ways than one. Visible cameras are often targets for vandals, especially at night. And if you don’t use a reputable security company for monitoring, the person watching the camera could easily misuse his or her power.
The Cost Factor
While IP cameras used to be considered more expensive than CCTV cameras, things have moved in the opposite direction in recent years. The cost of a camera system varies and depends on multiple factors, such as the number of cameras you need, whether you want wired or wireless cameras, and which capabilities you want to include. Features can cover anything from infrared technology to two-way audio to cloud storage to video analytics. Not only do you have to factor in the cost of the equipment itself, but also camera maintenance and if you want them professionally installed. Because of this, camera systems can range anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars.
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