Get smart about home security over the festive season

Get smart about home security over the festive season
Mark Chertkow, Managing Director at Graphic Image Technologies
Get smart about home security over the festive season
Mark Chertkow, Managing Director at Graphic Image Technologies.

We’ve reached that point in the year when the only thing that’s top of mind for everyone is packing up and heading out for the holidays. Given how challenging 2017 has been for businesses and individuals alike, the level of anticipation of the festive season break is understandable. However, nothing ruins a good holiday quite like returning home to discover that a housebreaking has taken place in your absence, and all your valuables have been stolen.

Living in South Africa, we know that housebreaking and other opportunistic crimes increase over the festive period as criminals take advantage of the fact that homeowners have turned into holidaymakers. Data from Statistics South Africa shows that more than 50% of all crime experienced by households in across the country over 2015/16 period was housebreaking. Of all the housebreaking and robberies reported, the police were only able to make arrests in 19% of cases reported with a devastatingly low criminal conviction rate of just 3%. Reading statistics like that just before going off holiday can be upsetting.

What can homeowners do to protect their properties and valuables while they’re away? Are alarm systems and armed response companies adequate? The reality is: alarm systems and security companies can only provide a certain amount of protection to deter intruders, as their response is limited to a perimeter check when an alarm is triggered as they are usually unable to gain access to properties. Often, by the time the armed response arrives it is too late as everything of value has been stolen already. Fortunately, there is a solution that will allow homeowners to enjoy their holiday away, by letting them keep an eye on everything that’s going on back home with remote monitoring of CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) footage via mobile devices. Technology can give homeowners a happy holiday and a secure new year.

Adding visuals to home security

These days, a CCTV solution with remote monitoring on smartphones, tablets and computers is an affordable, essential part of building a holistic home security system. Using this combination of visual tools to intelligently integrate with alarms and other security devices will allow homeowners and residents to remotely check up on their property. This offers greater peace of mind and tighter security which is a worthwhile return on investment (ROI).

As they’ve become more affordable to the domestic market, CCTV solutions have gained popularity and there is a wide range of IP surveillance cameras available that deliver full HD 1080p resolution with evidentiary class capabilities. These cameras capture footage of what is happening at the property, which can give a better indication of events if an intrusion occurs and might act as evidence that could help identify and convict criminals. This means that the most effective way to secure the property is to install an intelligent CCTV solution that enables remote monitoring via mobile devices, allowing residents and home owners to ‘check in’ periodically or if an alarm event is activated. With the correct placement of cameras, home owners can gain a full view of every angle of the house and property, inside and out. When alarms do go off, the source can quickly be identified, and instructions relayed to security companies to ensure that the appropriate reactive measures are taken.

Consider before buying

Before investing in cameras and a CCTV system, it’s important to consider bandwidth requirements. Look for an efficient CCTV video streaming solution, preferably one that is able to stream over GPRS, EDGE, 3G, ADSL or any other IP network infrastructure. This means that no matter the holiday destination, whether remote bush chalet or beach hut, the homeowner will be able to check up on their property. Here, a solution with the ability to stream over almost any data connection including speeds as low as 1kiloByte/sec is advisable.

Smart integration is key

Another thing worth thinking about while building a holistic security system is the ability to integrate the CCTV and monitoring solution into existing security features and solutions in the home. To get the most value out of the system, CCTV and remote access should ideally be able to integrate with alarms, gates, garage doors and so on, with the ability to send alerts via text message or email. This makes it possible for the homeowner to receive instant notification when alarms are triggered, so they can log in immediately to assess the situation. By integrating with electric gates, garage doors and other home access points, it becomes possible for the homeowner to allow the security company access to their home remotely.

Further, with remote integration management, the alarm system can be armed and disarmed remotely, so that the home owner can permit garden services, pet sitters and so on to gain access – all of which helps to prevent the ‘abandoned for the holidays’ atmosphere that criminals are looking out for. The most convenient aspect of remote management of alarm systems? They can be re-armed once service providers have left, ensuring that the home is once again secure until the homeowners return well rested from their holidays.

By Mark Chertkow, Managing Director at Graphic Image Technologies