Keep your home safe this holiday season
It’s not only Santa who is making a list and checking it twice! With the holidays upon us, people all around the country are starting to plan their annual break. But, before we lock up and head out of town, what needs to be done to ensure our homes and possessions remain safe and secure while we are gone?
Roy Alves, Country Manager, MEA, Axis Communication, shares some thoughts on what should be on your shopping list when reviewing your home surveillance requirements this year. “And it needn’t cost you an arm and a leg,” says Alves. “The commoditisation of both software and hardware is leading to reduced prices, making it even more affordable for the man in the street to protect his home with the very latest in video surveillance technology.”
Together with the aggressive roll out of fibre to the home, bringing with it much faster speeds that allow for the efficient transmission of high quality video, South African homes are about to get a whole lot smarter … and safer.
“Key to effective security lies in being able to detect a potential intruder on the outside of one’s property, before they gain access,” stresses Alves. Axis Perimeter Defender, a scalable and flexible video analytics application for perimeter surveillance and protection, detects intrusion at the earliest possible phase, helping to pre-empt potential crime. “Prevention is always better than cure, and even more so when it comes to the protection of one’s family and assets.”
Whilst the use of analytics in video surveillance is gaining traction across local business, it similarly holds enormous benefit for homes and housing complexes. “There is so much data that is generated by video surveillance systems, even when in residential use,” says Alves. This makes it easy to ‘miss’ certain key triggers or suspicious activity. The use of analytics in video surveillance, addresses this challenge.
“Depending on your requirement, the relevant analytics application can be deployed onto the actual camera itself, as easily as deploying the latest app on your smartphone,” continues Alves. “For example, you could decide to exclude ‘non-human’ movement from being picked up, such as the tree in your garden or family pet, focusing instead of only being alerted when your ‘intelligent surveillance’ registers a human crossing a certain predefined virtual line.” Not only would this allow for easier viewing post incident, but enormous peace of mind while on holiday. A simple SMS notification of any suspicious movement detected, directly to your mobile phone irrespective of where you may be, enables you to request your security company to investigate immediately, before entry is gained.
Alves also goes on to discuss tamper alarms. “The active tampering alarm can detect tampering attempts such as blocking or spray-painting,” says Alves. Once again, a simple alert to your mobile device allows you to take the appropriate action. But as important as the detection of suspicious behaviour, so too is ensuring the smooth and effective operation of your surveillance system. “Axis cameras have intelligence that will notify you as soon as there is any change to the scene being viewed,” continues Alves. This could cover multiple scenarios, from camera theft right through to a spider web being built across the lens. “It ensures you are alerted whenever a situation arises that could potentially obstruct a clear view.”
The devil is in the detail
However, in those unfortunate situations where entry is gained and possessions are lost, Alves stresses that access to clear and crisp images, suitable for forensic analysis, is imperative. Technologies such as Light Finder and Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) is making it easier to identify criminals post incident. “Light Finder technology enables more life-like colours even in low-light conditions, with automatic adaption from sunlight to darkness. This allows for a superior image quality, providing detail across both dark and bright areas simultaneously. WDR manages a wide range of different lighting conditions within a single scene, with a typical example being that of a person or object standing in front of a bright window. Whereas a standard camera would produce an image with objects in dark areas barely visible, WDR solves this by applying various techniques to enable objects in both bright and dark areas to stand out.
Keeping it in the cloud
However, to take advantage of these latest advances in technology, one needs to protect the relevant footage. “It is common practice for burglars to take the recorder or camera, thereby removing any evidence,” continues Alves. The ability to upload video into the cloud prohibits this. “Whilst they may still walk away with either your camera or home PC, storing your video in the cloud guarantees access to one’s surveillance footage no matter what.”
Intelligent surveillance, smart living
However, despite the intelligence of sophisticated surveillance technology, Alves still emphasises the importance and value of certain age old life rules. Using the recent Gauteng storms as an excellent example, he stresses the need for a backup. “Whilst fibre might not be as prone to electrical storms as ADSL, there are many other instances that could result in the loss of power.” Commonly known as a UPS, an uninterruptable power source can provide emergency power during times of power interruption, allowing for just that extra peace of mind.
Whilst technology is constantly evolving, it hasn’t yet replaced the role of humans. “And might never, despite articles to the contrary,” quips Alves. So, phone a friend! Ask a family member or neighbour to ‘keep an eye’ on your property, being on the lookout for anything suspicious from fresh marks through to a moved dustbin or gate left ajar.
And of course, before you head off on your summer break, make sure all valuables are safely locked away and out of sight, that windows and doors are properly secured and that your local security company has been advised of your absence.