Smart cameras have featured a lot in the news in 2019, for both the good and the bad. Most recently, the Guardian reported on hackers taking control of a Ring alarm, so it’s understandable if you’ve got reservations about installing one in your home.
We thought it would be useful to analyse the pros and cons of smart alarm solutions.
You can verify whether you’re actually getting burgled
Modern smart cameras will send you a push notification if they detect movement. Then you can check the camera’s live feed to see what activated it. If you actually see a burglar, then you can take action.
You can talk to the intruder
Usually camera doorbells allow you to speak to whoever’s at your front door. Typically useful for couriers and posties, you can also use it to warn off any suspicious persons, like in this video shared by the Independent.
Acts as a deterrent
CCTV is one of the most effective ways to deter a burglar. Many burglars are known to the police will never risk being caught on camera.
More likely to identify the offenders
Following a break-in, police will perform house to house enquiries to gather information and review any CCTV footage. Video footage is one of the clearest and most unequivocal ways to identify the perpetrator, raising the chances that they’ll be arrested and you’ll get your stuff back.
Cost (Hardware + Monthly Subscription)
Smart cameras typically cost between between £50 up to £200, depending on the brand you’re buying from. Then there are also fees for storing the video footage in the cloud. Prices depend on how long you want to keep the footage; at the higher end it’s £20 – £25 per month, per camera, at the lower end it’s £5 a month, for fewer days’ storage.
You need strong WiFi
Video feeds use a huge amount of data. The more cameras you have, and the higher the definition, the stronger the broadband you’ll need. Also, if you are looking at outdoor CCTV, you may need WiFi extenders to ensure there’s no lag between real-time events and your video feed.
You have to self-monitor and the police response is down to you
Currently, there is no smart home camera in the UK which can trigger a police response. To offer a police response, you need a grade 2 alarm (or higher), connected to an alarm receiving centre, which can request the police. If you rarely look at your phone throughout the day or keep 4G turned off, a camera might only be useful to provide evidence, after the break-in has occurred.
This arrangement is much faster than phoning 999, as the monitoring centre doesn’t go through an operator or need to describe the situation. Your property even has its own risk assessment to safeguard the attending officers.
There might not be a police response at all
Following a surge in false calls, the police recently issued guidance on self-install security systems, like smart cameras. The guidance states that “calls should be passed to the police directly from a person at the location of the incident” which indicates you need to be physically at the scene for the police to respond. It goes on to say that “The police response will depend on the quality of the evidence received and if given, [the response] may be significantly slower” [to that given to graded systems].
In the US, we see why police are reluctant to respond to video feeds. Many people are reporting innocent activities which happen to look suspicious. The police have been inundated with footage, and are struggling to respond.
Outdoor cameras have been designed for perfect American weather
Many of the cameras coming from Silicon Valley’s tech giants haven’t been developed for the UK’s more rugged weather. There have been reports of doorbell cameras fogging up in cold weather or blurring in rain. It’s definitely worth investigating whether the camera you’re considering can cope with the UK’s unpredictable weather patterns.
Funny videos / false alarms
Smart home cameras record plenty of things that aren’t burglaries, from pets being silly to strangers licking doorbells. Some of these videos are hilarious, but we reckon the majority are boring things, like a cat ambling past or pedestrians walking by.
If your camera keeps notifying you for these sorts of events, it’s going to get annoying. You might even become numb to the notifications or turn them off.
The feeling that you’re being watched, and sometimes you are!
Rumour has it that Mark Zuckerberg has tape over his laptop’s camera, and there have been many news stories of people’s smart cameras getting hacked.
Whilst these cases are rare, you need to be very chilled person not to be a little paranoid.
Comparison with the Boundary Alarm
With the Boundary alarm you can either self-monitor or pay for professional monitoring, optionally with a police response. If the alarm is triggered, it will notify you, your keyholders (nominated persons) and optionally, an alarm monitoring centre.. The indoor and outdoor sirens will also sound, so that the whole neighbourhood responds.
Some of the advantages of the Boundary smart alarm, over choosing CCTV:
1. The Boundary alarm protects your privacy
The Boundary alarm system secures your home with motion and contact sensors. These can detect humans coming and going, but neither of these sensors have video feeds or sound output. You won’t be recorded covertly or talked to by a mystery hacker.
2. It’s affordable
Monthly plans are from £4 per month up to £25. These plans allow you to use as many security sensors as your home needs and all cloud storage costs are included. Each of our plans will suit a different customer, we recommend you check them out here
3. You have the options of a police response and cellular backup.
A police response is part of our Complete plan and cellular backup costs a little extra. They’re premium features, but they offer total peace of mind.
With the Complete Plan an Alarm Receiving Centre will monitor your alarm 24/7, and will call the police in the event of a break in. This means you’ll get an immediate response – it doesn’t matter if you can’t look at your phone and respond.
4. Notifications will be limited to actual risks
Alarm grades relate to core functionality, and are designed to reduce false alarms and protect you against low quality or faulty products. In practice, this means the alarm will be extremely reliable. You should only get a notification if there’s suspicious activity in your home.
5. We offer an outdoor siren
The Boundary outdoor siren is installed high on the front of your house. It deters criminals day and night, and will alert the neighbourhood if there’s an attempted break-in.
6. You can connect with your neighbours on the Boundary app
Boundary is developing an App which allows communities to collaborate over security. Neighbourhood watch for the modern age, it will help residents look out for each other.
What about Boundary + a smart camera?
A sensor-based home security system offers a fast and reliable reaction to a break-in, without making you paranoid your being watched in your home. A smart camera is useful for visual verification, and boosts the chances of identifying the burglars. Therefore, we’d recommend a combination of both.
Install the Boundary alarm to protect the inside of in your home, then use smart cameras in the garden to monitor your home’s perimeter.
The most popular Boundary subscription is our Complete plan, which is professionally monitored with a police response. If you prefer to self-monitor then your home will still be protected by one of the most reliable and smart solutions on the market.
Is there a Boundary camera?
The Boundary alarm won’t have a smart camera when we launch in May next year but, in the long-term, we intend to design and manufacture our own camera. In the short-term we may integrate with third-party smart cameras.
To design a Boundary alarm for your home, visit our alarm-builder here.