It used to be that remote video surveillance was only possible with closed-circuit TV (CCTV) that connected multiple cameras with monitors via wired connections. In fact, if you had purchased a home security system complete with video cameras 25 years ago, it would have been a CCTV system.
Your cameras would have recorded video images that would have been stored on an external device, like a VHS tape. As for remote access, that would not have been possible. There would have been no way for you to check live video feeds from halfway around the world. Things have certainly changed.
Thanks to the maturity of wi-fi signals and the internet, home security systems no longer have to rely on wired connections. That means they do not have to rely on CCTV either. Video surveillance cameras can be as wireless as cell phones and laptops. But is this good or bad? That is for consumers to decide. One thing we know for certain is that wireless cameras have changed the surveillance game.
Power Can’t Be Cut
The old CCTV cameras of the past not only relied on wired connections to send video images, but they also had to be wired to a building’s electrical system. An enterprising criminal could render cameras useless simply by cutting power to the building. Today’s wireless cameras either run completely on battery or have battery backup. According to Vivint Smart Home, loss of power is no longer a concern with wireless security cameras.
Criminals cannot disable wireless cameras simply by cutting the power. Wi-fi routers can be disabled that way, but a homeowner who knows what he or she is doing can fix that by putting the router on an uninterruptible power supply. Cameras and routers will keep working even if someone cuts the power.
Of course, this has obvious advantages during natural power outages as well. Wireless cameras continue to work even if weather knocks out power for several hours at a time. This could prove invaluable to someone who is away from home when a serious weather event strikes.
Cameras Can Be Moved
Portability is another way that wireless cameras have changed the surveillance game. Again, think about the CCTV cameras of old. They were permanently affixed. That means criminals could find blind spots and exploit them. A homeowner’s only response would be to install more cameras. Not so today.
Wireless cameras can be moved with very little effort. Maybe a homeowner has a camera pointed at the front door in order to catch porch pirates and burglars. After learning about a rash of car break-ins recently, he moves the camera so that it offers a broader view of the front door as well as the driveway. His surveillance capabilities have increased without having to install a new camera.
Portability also facilitates taking cameras with you when you travel. Consider the snowbird who splits time between northern and southern homes. When it is time to head south, some of the cameras can stay behind for real-time monitoring of that home. The rest can be taken to the second home for security monitoring there.
All you need to make wi-fi cameras work is an Internet connection. Your typical snowbird has wi-fi and internet in both homes, so that is not a problem. Portability allows for moving cameras between locations to suit homeowner needs, regardless of how much time is spent in each location.
Feeds Can Be Remotely Accessed
Next up is the fact that the video feeds from wireless cameras can be remotely accessed. Even if a security system is not monitored professionally, homeowners with DIY systems can connect directly to their cameras via the internet, then bring up live feeds on their phones. This changes the game significantly.
Imagine a homeowner on vacation. He gets an alert that one of his cameras has been activated, so he brings up his phone and takes a look. If burglars are prowling around, a quick phone call will have police on their way. If it’s just a dog passing by, he can go back to enjoying his vacation.
Another example is a mother who is concerned that her child is not being properly cared for while she’s at work. In order to see what’s going on inside the home, she installs a couple of wireless cameras in key locations. Now she can watch her child and the sitter throughout the day. She will know fairly quickly whether or not her suspicions are justified.
Her child will eventually grow up and go off to school. Those same video cameras that kept an eye on the sitter during the day can now be utilized to keep an eye on the child after school. Mom can check to make sure Junior has arrived home on time. She can watch him as he sits at the kitchen table doing his homework. None of this was possible 25 years ago.
Cameras Can Be Hacked
Not all the changes affected by wireless video surveillance cameras have worked to the advantage of consumers. One particular change has actually helped criminals. All wireless technologies – cameras included – can be hacked by people with enough resources and the right knowledge. There is no such thing as a wireless environment that cannot be breached.
The good news is that homeowners can do a few simple things that make hacking more difficult than it’s worth. First among them is changing usernames and passwords at installation. Afterward, usernames and passwords should be changed on a regular schedule. Those usernames and passwords should never be shared with anyone who doesn’t need administrative privileges.
Video surveillance has been around for decades. However, the introduction of wireless technologies has changed the game. Today’s wireless cameras bring a lot more to the table compared to their CCTV predecessors.
Homeowners can still opt for wired CCTV cameras if they choose, but there really is no need to. Wireless cameras provide all the same functionality with additional benefits. Best of all, they are fairly inexpensive and easy to install.