As a complete one-stop security shop, we provide an entire arsenal of residential and commercial security services. Surveillance has long represented one of our most popular and effective security measures. Installing cameras provides customers with both real-time and recorded video of their property. Additionally, the mere presence of cameras acts as a deterrent to crime. After all, burglars viewing cameras often move on to another target rather than risk getting caught. We’ve spent several posts exploring such important topics as Surveillance System Design and Camera Maintenance. This week, we turn our attention to a unique surveillance service that many customers do not even know about! In this post, we share some options for adding video monitoring services to your camera system.

First, we’ll begin with a look at exactly what these services entail, and how they differ from traditional surveillance camera usage. Next, we’ll share some detailed descriptions of different video monitoring offerings. To begin this conversation, we’ll look at a couple ways our customers monitor their more “traditional,” standalone hardwired camera systems. Then, we’ll also examine how smart camera customers can monitor their cameras. Now, let’s get started with a comparison between surveillance camera monitoring and traditional camera viewing.

Video Monitoring Services Versus Regular Surveillance

When we refer to “video monitoring” services, we have a very specific security service in mind. When most customers view their surveillance cameras, they do so using either an onsite monitor or an offsite computer, smartphone, or tablet. While viewing their cameras, users can search through recorded footage for events of interest. However, video monitoring¬†refers to a process in which your surveillance equipment creates communication with you to alert you to activity. Sometimes, the equipment itself creates these alerts. In other instances, our central station creates this communication with you. Either way, surveillance monitoring services involve alerting users to camera activity, eliminating the need to search through footage hours or days after the fact. With this knowledge under our belts, let’s begin by exploring our options for monitoring hardwired surveillance systems.

Monitoring Your “Traditional” Cameras

When we discuss “traditional” camera systems, we’re referring to cameras that require running wiring from a dedicated video recorder to each and every camera location. In the not-so-distant past, just about every camera system required this type of installation. These days, hardwired surveillance represents just one of a couple popular options for installing cameras. However, we prefer installing hardwired camera systems when our customers’ property and budget allow for it. These systems provide a couple major security advantages.

A call center dispatcher sitting in front of a computer

Customers with central station surveillance monitoring have live dispatchers ready to alert them to activity on their property at all times.

For starters, traditional cameras continue to record twenty-four hours a day at all times. Unlike their smart camera counterparts, hardwired cameras capture video even during periods of non-activity. Additionally, traditional cameras will record video even if a property’s internet connection goes down. As we’ll also discuss in the next section, smart cameras rely exclusively on the internet for their recording. In this section, we’ll tackle a couple different options to add video monitoring services to traditional camera systems. Now, let’s get started with a look at central station-based camera monitoring.

Central Station Video Monitoring

One of the most popular video surveillance options, central station monitoring involves remote camera monitoring by the same central station that we use to monitor our customers’ security systems. Upon a cemars detecting motion, our central station contacts our customers to alert them to the activity. Customers who receive this type of monitoring pay on a per-camera basis every month. Once a customer reaches a certain “quota” of events in a month, additional events cost extra money. For this reason, central station video monitoring can get expensive if not utilized carefully. However, it can provide an ideal solution for those looking to monitor areas with very little action. For example, customers with a room containing valuables, dangerous chemicals, or weapons often install a monitored camera in these areas.

Recorder-Based Motion Detection Alerts

Unlike central station video monitoring services, recorder-based alerts do not carry a monthly charge. This is because these alerts do not involve the use of a third party to help monitor your cameras. Instead, our video recorder can communicate directly with our customers to alert them to activity. These alerts can take the form of either email or text-based alerts. Upon receiving a notification, users can utilize their camera system’s mobile app to view live video and monitor the situation. Once again, cameras in low-activity areas often represent the best application for these alerts. After all, outdoor cameras facing large areas of land can create a truly overwhelming number of motion alerts! However, we often work with our customers to place cameras in locations that provide the most useful alerts possible. Let’s now turn our attention to some video monitoring options for our smart camera customers!

Smart Camera Monitoring

As we mentioned earlier, smart cameras do not require us to run wires from a recorder to every camera. This creates a couple benefits for customers. For starters, it allows us to install cameras in areas where running wiring would prove difficult or impossible. Homes with finished basements and businesses without open attics or basements provide a couple potential examples. Smart cameras provide us with quick, efficient installation for these types of applications.

Furthermore, smart cameras often work for customers with smaller budgets than our hardwired camera customers. Of course, the decrease in labor caused by not having to run wiring to each camera cuts down on overall system cost. Moreover, installing smart cameras also eliminates the need to purchase the most expensive piece of equipment in most camera systems — the recorder! For these reasons, many customers turn to a smart-camera based surveillance solution. Let’s take a peak at a couple smart camera monitoring options now.

An Alarm.com outdoor camera monitoring a customer's yard.

Smart cameras, such as this one by Alarm.com, can monitor your property and send you instant video alerts upon detecting motion.

Motion-Based Notifications

Similar to the recorder-based video alerts mentioned above, these alerts come from your surveillance equipment itself, and not from a central station or other entity. However, in this instance, the cameras create the notifications. In addition to providing an alert, these notifications can also send the live video itself directly to your phone. The ability to receive instant live video alerts impresses many of our customers. However, this does not represent the most unique video monitoring option for our smart camera customers. In the next section, we’ll look at how we offer our customers both event and time-based video alerts.

Time-Based Event Alerts

Our preferred smart camera, powered by Alarm.com, adds a new dimension of video monitoring. In addition to providing live video alerts, these cameras also allow you to create alerts when events that you expect to happen fail to take place. For example, you may expect your kids to come home from school every day by 3pm. If your front door camera does not detect motion by that time, you can receive a notficiation. This adds a new level of security for our smart camera customers. The ability to receive alerts for activity as well as receive a prompt when something you expect to happen fails to occur make Alarm.com smart cameras one of our most popular surveillance options.

Putting it All Together

We hope that this post helps you find the video monitoring services that work for you. Additionally, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about the material presented here. We will happily work with you to create the most effective camera activity alerts possible. Furthermore, we also invite you to take advantage of our free site survey program. We offer complimentary security audits and quotations for customers located in both homes and businesses. While on site, we can address any security-related concerns you may have. Moreover, we can also make our own suggestions based on what we see during our visit. Together, we can design a surveillance and video monitoring system that helps keep your property — and anyone on it! — as safe and secure as possible.