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Buyers Guide: Security Cameras and Systems

By Carlos Hazbun | Security | No Comments

Buyers Guide: Security Cameras and Systems

Choosing the right construction security solution can be tricky due to the array of options available and the technical complexity involved. This guide is designed to help take the tedium out of this very necessary decision. Here’s a guide to types of construction cameras and security systems, as well as some tips on how to analyze your specific monitoring needs.

Types of Cameras

Today’s construction security cameras and construction site webcam systems come in a wide variety of options. Here are some of the major categories:

Wired cameras:

Wired security cameras can provide a better picture than their wireless counterparts. This advantage comes coupled with a number of limitations. Wired cameras can only be installed in locations where wires can reach accessible outlets. They typically require professional installation. Their wires may be damaged by weather or other outdoor conditions. They are difficult to conceal, alerting thieves to their presence and providing an opportunity for evasion. They are best suited for situations where you need the clearest possible picture, can easily install wires, have minimal exposure to harsh weather conditions and are trying to dissuade thieves rather than film them without their knowledge.

Wired Security Camera

Wireless cameras:

Wireless security cameras’ lack of dependence on wires allows them to be installed in a wider range of locations than wired cameras. This makes them easier to install and easier to conceal. They are ideally suited for outdoor applications for these reasons. They are also useful for installing at hard-to-reach locations and in covert positions where you don’t want thieves to know they are under surveillance.

Wireless Security Camera

Color vs. black-and-white cameras:

Color construction cameras are better at capturing detail than black-and-white cameras, but they are also more expensive. Conversely, black-and-white cameras can capture tonal contrasts and are cheaper, but can’t capture color details. These factors make color cameras best for locations where your main purpose is identifying suspect details such as hair and eye color, while making black-and-white cameras suited for purposes such as observing motion and general details.

Color vs Black and White Camera

Wide-angle lens cameras:

This type of camera can cover angles of up to 104 degrees within a range of about 40 feet. This type of camera is useful for surveillance of a larger outdoor area such as a backyard or parking lot.

Wide Angle Security Camera

Bullet cameras:

This type of camera has a shape like a bullet or lipstick case. It is designed to point in a single direction and is well-suited for covering a narrow location. However, it cannot change angle or zoom in, and its lack of flexibility makes it easy for thieves to spot which direction they’re being filmed from and avoid exposure. Bullet cameras are best for covering specific spots where it’s not necessary to conceal that subjects are under surveillance.

Bullet Security Cameras

Weatherproof cameras:

While all outdoor security cameras should have some degree of weather resistance, some models are designed to be more durable than others and to hold up under specific conditions. Various models are adapted to heavy winds, heavy moisture, temperature extremes, dust, ultraviolet rays, insects, and vandalism. The best models have hoods to protect lenses from precipitation and thermostatic controls that can prevent condensation from covering the lens. Weatherproof qualities are a must for construction cameras in locations exposed to problematic outdoor conditions.

Weatherproof Security Cameras

Dome cameras:

Dome cameras are shaped like inverted globes. Some models called “speed domes” can spin rapidly to capture a range of angles. They are highly visible, and it’s difficult for thieves to tell which direction they’re filming, so they work best as a deterrent, and for capturing a range of perspectives from a fixed position such as an entryway. They are not intended for concealed surveillance.

Dome Security Cameras

Thermal and night vision cameras:

These types of cameras use infrared and LED technology to capture images in dim-light conditions. The best models can capture color even in extremely low-light environments. Thermal and night vision cameras are ideal for monitoring construction sites at night and in other dim conditions. Their main disadvantage is the expense, so they should be deployed strategically only as needed.

Thermal & Night Vision Cameras

Network surveillance cameras:

Also known as IP security surveillance cameras, this type of camera has DVR capability built in, in contrast to camera systems that require a separate DVR. In addition to capturing images, the camera compresses footage and converts it into a digital format that can be streamed over the internet and to a network video recorder, computer or smart device. Some models come with SD card capability, enabling footage to be stored directly on the card. These types of cameras also have high resolution. Their main disadvantages are expense and high bandwidth and storage requirements. Network surveillance construction site webcams are best suited for situations where online monitoring capability is important and where you have heavy recording requirements, such as when you need to retain footage for liability purposes.

Network Surveillance Cameras

Types of Security Systems

Construction cameras can also be configured using different types of security systems:

Mobile surveillance units:

Mobile surveillance units are portable security systems that can be set up anywhere on a temporary or long-term basis. They can record surveillance footage locally or stream it to a central location or mobile devices. Construction companies often use mobile surveillance units to provide cost-efficient security, especially at remote locations.

Mobile Surveillance Units

Time-lapse video:

Time lapse security systems construct sequences of surveillance footage by taking shots at set intervals over a set duration. Time-lapse construction security systems can be useful for documenting the progress of a building project, which can be useful for purposes such as marketing.

Time Lapse Video

Video-verified alarm:

Video-verified systems use motion detectors to activate automatic surveillance recording, which is then sent to a remote monitoring station to verify whether the alarm is a legitimate threat or a false positive. This is useful for verifying threats at remote locations or in conditions such as bad weather that can generate false positives. It can also help ensure a swift response to genuine threats.

Video Verified Alarm System

Access control:

Access control security systems are used for the specific purpose of controlling who has access to your construction site. They use cameras which are set up at strategic entry points and are monitored by security guards or automated image recognition software that can authenticate subject identity.

Access Control

Surveillance systems:

Surveillance systems record daily activity at a site for the purpose of preventing theft or vandalism or terrorism, and for identifying suspects. They are used to protect valuable equipment such as copper wiring and plumbing materials. They can also be used to monitor employee and contractor behavior during work hours to ensure that time is being used efficiently, as well as to prevent and respond to workplace injuries.

Surveillance Systems

Thermal camera systems:

Thermal camera systems use infrared and LED technology to film low-light activity. They are usually set up to complement other security camera systems by providing coverage during low-light conditions. They are useful for providing security at night and in bad weather. They can also see heat through barriers such as bushes and trees, making them useful for perimeter surveillance. The most sophisticated systems can distinguish between humans, animals, and vehicles.

Thermal Camera Systems

Analyze Your Monitoring Needs (If Any)

To determine which types of construction cameras and security systems are right for your job site, consider the following questions:

  • What are the legalities regarding monitoring your job site? Are you legally required to monitor or document specific types of activity?
  • Which makes you less vulnerable to litigation: a monitoring service or a human patrolling a dangerous construction site?
  • How vulnerable is your equipment to theft? How valuable is your equipment?
  • Which costs less: replacing stolen machinery or paying for a monitoring service?
  • What lighting, weather conditions and other conditions affect your surveillance needs?
  • What locations on your site would make the most strategic positions for camera placement?
  • Which camera locations will be used for theft deterrence and which will be used for other purposes such as documentation or identification of suspects?
  • Would wireless or wired options be more suited to your site location?
  • Will your site be monitored by an in-house or provider-supplied team?
  • Will monitoring require live streaming surveillance?
  • What are your recording storage and bandwidth needs?

Answering these types of questions will help you do an objective cost-benefit analysis to evaluate your various construction security options.