Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why should you install a Video Surveillance System?

The number one reason to install a video surveillance system is for your own protection and peace of mind. 

Being able to see what’s happening outside your property, who’s at your front or back doors, or investigating activities on the street outside -- all from the safety of your own house -- helps keep you safe. 

Should anything bad happen on your property you will have evidence that’s hard to refute – it’s not your word against someone else. In addition, the video footage that you will record  also may be useful to NOPD, as experience in the 8th District has shown.

 It’s generally agreed that there are three things that will make our streets safer:

1. Increase the number of Police Officers

    - More NOPD Officers unlikely anytime soon, however.
    - Security Districts may utilize NOPD Officers working Details and/or hire Private Security Companies to boost police presence in their neighborhoods.

2. Improve Lighting

   - Crime and poor lighting are inter-related
  - Improving lighting on your property will help. Rapidly notify the City by calling 311 when streetlights are not working

3. Install Video Surveillance Cameras

   - Improves your own public safety
   - Helps protect your neighborhood
   - Provides video footage to NOPD to help solve crimes

Video Surveillance System Overview

The following information is providing to help those who are exploring installing a video surveillance system. 

Video surveillance is a rapidly changing technology that keeps getting better and better while prices are becoming much more affordable. 

  Analog Systems

• Standard for many residential application for many years
• Image quality on the higher end systems is good
• 4 camera system can be purchased for $300 - $500

Hi Definition Systems (Residential)

• Significantly improved image quality over the analog systems
• Becoming more affordable
• 4 camera systems can be purchased for $500 - $1,200

Hi Definition Systems (Higher end)

• Even better image quality and superior nighttime images
• 4 camera systems can be purchased for $2,000 - $6,000.

The systems come with cameras,  video recorder, and cables. Each camera is connected to the video recorder by a wire. 

Wireless cameras maybe usable in some situations, but often don’t work well in older properties with thick bricks walls, etc.

Cameras are much smaller than those seen a few years ago. They are usually either a cylindrical/bullet shape or a dome/eye ball configuration. Most cameras have IR illuminators to invisibly light up the field of view during darkness.

If the lighting level at your property is reasonably high, the cameras will record in color at night. If the lighting level is low the cameras may switch to a black and white mode.

A recording device known as DVR or NVR is used to store the video images. Recorders with 4, 8, or 16 channels are available. 

The recording can be triggered by motion or can be set to continuously record. Nearly all recorders can be connected to your network and live feed from the cameras can be accessed remotely by smart phones, tablets, etc.

In addition to the cost of the system the only other costs would be a monitor and a power strip. Depending on where you located the recorder it may be feasible to use your TV to view the recorded videos. 

Most systems can be installed by anyone who is a do-it yourselfer. Or you could use your own handyman. 

If you prefer to use a professional security camera company, the specification sheet provided at the bottom of these postings should help you compare proposed systems.

SafeCam NOLA

SafeCam NOLA is a New Orleans Police Department initiative to enlist the help of community members in  the fight against crime.

NOPD has successfully utilized the extensive network of privately owned cameras to solve crimes in the French Quarter, Marigny, and the Downtown Development District. The program is now expanding into all areas of the city on a NOPD district by district basis.

By registering your contact informationdetectives will know how to reach  you if crime occurs near your property.

Registering your information does not provide detectives access to your cameras. 

NOPD will only contact you if detectives believe your camera could contain evidence relevant to a criminal investigation.

Read more and register your cameras at:

Typical Security Systems for Residential & Small Business 

The following systems have recently been utilized successfully and can be purchased online from Amazon, Costco, Sams Club etc. This is not an all-inclusive list or a recommended list but just represents some typical models. Please note that inventory and models change rapidly so it’s possible that the links may not work.

Option 1 - Affordable High Definition System

This is a high definition 4 camera system and it’s currently available online at locations like Sams Club - at $499 it’s a bargain. It comes with 100ft cables. Downside of the system is it’s limited to 4 cameras.

Option 2 - An even better High Definition System

This is a very good 4 to 8 camera system with better image quality that the one above:

It comes with four cameras but the NVR has 8 channels giving you the opportunity to add up to 4 more cameras at a later date. It also comes with all the wiring (100ft cables) and the only thing extra that you may need to buy is a monitor and a power strip. This system can currently be purchased for around $800.

Option 3 - A good Analog System

This is a very good analog 4 to 8 camera system. Image quality will not be as good as the Hi Defintion systems but it will be OK.

Also it comes with 60ft cables that may or may not be long enough. Longer cables are not that expensive. At $350 it’s a good option if your budget is limited.


Go with the best High Definition system that you can afford. The lower priced Hi-def systems will cost you $150 more than the analog system but it will have better quality images. The sheet below contains a specification sheet if you are considering using a professional installer.