Our guide to smart home security

How do IP networks work with home security?

We, at Micarta, install IP networks alongside home automation systems. Nowadays, CCTV systems are essentially IP networked devices that benefit from being interfaced with a home automation system, as the capabilities of the CCTV can, in fact, control other aspects of an automated home. For instance:

  • CCTV alerts can trigger lights to come on,
  • CCTV number plate recognition can prompt “welcome home” scenes to be triggered where lights, heating, audio or video can be all initiated, depending on the settings of a specific home,
  • CCTV can also be viewed on home automation touch screens and apps for single app viewing. It can be fed into video distribution systems that allow the CCTV footage to be viewed on all TVs within the home system.

When considering CCTV systems, there is an abundance of brands and solutions that offer various features. For the most part, they are quite comparable, however, on the market there are also some more advanced professional systems offered by: Dahua, Axis, Hikvision, and others. Their offer includes a vast array of cameras in different form factors, with different capabilities. Other brands, such as Ubiquiti, also provide good quality products that offer optimal integration with networks, however, they might have a more limited range. The correct choice of the brand and a specific solution that it offers vastly depends on the specifics and needs of your space, whether it is a household or a commercial building. We, at Micarta, are happy to offer our experience and advice on which solutions might be the best choice for you.

What to consider?

  1. New vs older houses
    Installing an IP network in a brand new house is typically an unchallenging task as we can simply run new copper data cables [“or run a wireless solution” – ask Ryan if we should add this] Older houses with legacy systems, on the other hand, will likely use older cabling. That means that unless you are fine with extensive decoration work and upheaval, you will need to choose a system that is capable of utilizing already existing cables. This is where Dahua, Axis and Hikvision products will be particularly recommended.

  2. Choice of supplier vs world events
    Unsurprisingly, the home automation industry – along with IP networks and smart security systems – is heavily reliant upon technology manufacturers and providers from all over the globe. For instance, Hikvision, one of the industry leaders, popular for its high quality and good price, is a Chinese brand that has become infamous for its unsavoury involvement in government mass surveillance. It has been placed under sanctions by the US government as well as some European governments. Hikvision technology has also been blocked for use in high level installations in the UK. Although it still remains an option, some clients prefer to spend more on other systems.

  3. Indoor or outdoor cameras
    Both types of cameras come with various features and installation options. Indoor cameras can be very discrete. They can allow for 360 degree viewing, covering the entire room, though it is recommended that these types of cameras are placed in the centre of a ceiling for the most efficiency and visibility.

  4. Size of the premises
    Depending on how large the premises that you want covered are, the number and type of devices you will need may vary. Large premises may need larger recording devices that can accommodate more cameras and extra memory to store the information.
    Very large buildings or outdoor premises may also need a managed network that is equipped with Network hubs linked by fiber in order to ensure efficiency and reliable performance despite large cable distance. Managed networks can also help organize the additional network traffic, that the security system may generate, in order to ensure problem-free access to the Internet.

  5. Bright light or low light?
    High quality cameras can auto-adjust when lights in the field of view get brighter or dimmed. When the light level drops very low, many cameras switch to viewing Infrared. However, a common misconception is that infrared is always present in enough quantity for a CCTV camera to be able to clearly record what is happening – even after sunset. Infrared light is unperceivable to the human eye and many security systems are equipped with infrared lamps to ensure sufficient coverage for cameras to capture the image. However, these infrared lamps are limited in power, therefore, having longer distance camera coverage may require extra infrared floodlights in areas that the camera should view at night.

  6. Fixed or movable cameras
    Movable cameras are often referred to as “PTZ” (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) as they allow a camera to move around to view many areas. These cameras can either follow pre-determined paths of viewing or pan around in order to detect movement and – if found – follow it. Very often, PTZ cameras are used in conjunction with fixed cameras in smarter systems with analytics that can detect movement, humans or objects.

Latest industry developments

  1. The CCTV technology has been rapidly changing in many ways and introducing various new solutions which include:

    • Improvement in cameras both in terms of pixel resolution and sensitivity,
    • Technology such as thermal that can identify people hiding in bushes, as well as read temperatures of people walking into a building and issue alerts if someone shows increased body temperature and is suspected to be unwell,
    • Software analytics and AI that identifies people, objects and movement. It is capable of identifying people it has seen previously whist reading numberplates,
    • There are even CCTV drones that can patrol large land areas and return to base for charging.

    Smart home security technologies come with a very wide variety of features and options for all kinds and sizes of spaces and premises. We, at Micarta, will be happy to offer our knowledge and experience and help you choose the most suitable solution for your needs and the specifications of your space.

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The Micarta Team are based in Kent, England. We are specialists in professional integrated technologies and provide the highest quality design, installation and service to our customers.