Every night, as a safety precaution, I turn on the front porch light. It illuminates the path to my front door as well as part of my driveway and I feel protected. What I don't see is how many times at night strangers are wandering onto my property and evaluating the accessibility of my front door or the vehicle parked in the driveway. One night, my son's truck, parked in the driveway, was broken into while the street light and my front porch light illuminated the area. I thought those were enough deterrents, along with locked doors, to discourage the criminal, but I was wrong. I started thinking about how I could monitor what is going on outside my front door before I opened it whether it was night or day.
I started by looking in the internet and found a product that not only monitors the area approaching my driveway and front door, but alerts me with an e-mail or text message whenever it detects movement of someone approaching. The Sony Fixed IP Network Camera, model #SNC-M1 priced at $119.99 seems to be a good choice at a reasonable price. It is a video surveillance camera with a built in microphone for 2-way communication. "Popular Science" noted that this type of home security camera is designed for the beginner,"…you don't have to be a security pro to install [it]", and it is "…everything you need to know to watch your world."(Wallach) I especially like the motion detector feature with the automatic alert. It also has night vision capabilities built in which greatly improve the visibility and clarity of images captured in low light conditions. Terence Raim, an experienced helicopter pilot working in night rescue for AirEvac is certified on the use of night vision goggles. He agrees that the advances in new technology are greatly aiding his particular industry by making it possible for pilots to land rescue helicopters in areas previously inaccessible at night do to dangerous terrain or unseen obstacles. This same technology is incorporated into the Sony model marketed toward home security and appeals to "… every homeowners need for security and peace of mind." (Popular Science, pg 82)
I found this product in several places; on line at www.4discountcameras.com and at www.shopnerd.com, in the "Circuit City" ad, in Popular Science magazine and discussed in Rotor & Wing magazine as a type of law enforcement equipment. The articles all were marketed toward home and property owners as a method of protecting their own valuables. It was suggested as an enhancement of home monitoring systems that may already be in place and even takes motion detection to another level by alerting the homeowner with an e-mail to their PC whenever any activity is found. The features that appeal to me are the "…JPEG data compression for smooth, clear images up to 30 frames per second" and "…two-way audio, smart motion detector and email alarm notification."(Persinos)
This item falls under the category of home surveillance and protection. Many law enforcement agencies suggest that homeowners and property owners take a more active role in protecting their valuable property and ensuring the safety and security of their loved ones. After all, DPS can't be everywhere and that is why criminals can take advantage of an opportunity. Even traffic control in Scottsdale is taking advantage of surveillance cameras in their every day operations, as reported in The Arizona Republic. (6 Mar 2006) Traffic flow can be redirected and emergency services dispatched in an instant based on the information detected by the "pan, tilt, zoom" capabilities of the cameras. A similar type of video surveillance camera geared toward private individuals gives the homeowner another level of protection in the form of detection and may even give them enough time to alert the authorities to apprehend the criminal. In a friendlier note, this product even allows me to view and communicate with invited guests and package delivery personnel that I am expecting.
One issue brought up by all the discreet monitoring going on in public and in private, is invasion of privacy. Is it voyeurism or self protection? As mentioned in the article "Dangerous Liasons","Anonymous watching [as] a way to take control…" ( Cooper and Marcus) Should someone approaching your front door have more right to privacy than you, the homeowner, whose private property they are entering? If the surveillance camera is in plain sight isn't it reasonable to expect that they are knowingly giving up their right to privacy as long as you are using the image only for the intent of protecting yourself, your family and your property? In the news article, "Close Watch" (www.cbsnews.com) the discussion revolves around whether anyone, when in public can expect to remain anonymous while knowing their image can be captured by surveillance cameras at any time. I guess it comes down to behavior and intent. If you are in a public place or entering private property you only have something to fear if you are acting inappropriately or have criminal intentions.
I totally agree with being pro-active in protecting my family, myself and my property, and the features in the product I found even allow me to see and communicate with visitors ringing my doorbell. I think this is an excellent idea and a step up in the home monitoring product line. Anyone who has a home alarm really needs to look into adding this onto their existing system or for those just starting out. I am definitely adding this Sony SNC-M1 Camera to my home security system. I may end up installing cameras at my front and back doors as well as the garage and rear gate. The possibilities are as varied as my imagination and important to my peace of mind.
CBS News, "Close Watch" 22 Apr 2002
Cooper, Al and I. David Marcus. "Dangerous Liasons." _CIO Magazine_ 1 April 2001.http://www.cio.com.archive/040101/diff.html
Ferraresi, Michael. "Cameras monitor traffic flow." _The Arizona Republic_ 6 March 2006: pgs B1-B2
Persinos, John. "Law enforcement equipment buyers guide." _Rotor & Wing_ August 2001. Vol. 35 No. 8, pg 28
Raim, Terence. Helicopter Pilot, AirEvac. Personal interview. 29 March 2006
"Wallach, Paul. "Watch your front door from anywhere." _Popular Science_ April 2006. Pgs . 82 & 84
Karen A. Garbacz
Karen A. Garbacz