Recommendations For Community Video

I frequently attend and speak at community meetings within the City I work, most of which lately have centered around home owner video surveillance.

Though several solutions have been previously identified and discussed among residents, the one solution I am looking to fill is an affordable and simple to install video surveillance camera that can be mounted on the front of a homeowners house, facing the street, and allowing for high quality video both day and night. The goal of this solution is allow community members to identify vehicles and persons of interest that have come into their community to commit crimes.

Some general specs I am looking for:

Cost: Preferably under $300

Installation: Something an average home owner can install themselves or one that would require minimal installation services, such as a single PoE / Cat 5 cable. Due to the cost goals, I am looking for something that has its own built in VMS that can be easily accessed from the internet. Do not want solutions that require a complete surveillance system due to the fact we need to keep the cost down.

Storage: Thinking on-board SD card storage would be best.

Coverage area: Most installs would typically require a viewing distance between 30 and 60 feet. The width would only need to be in the area of 20' at that distance.

Any camera recommendations would be greatly appreciated, as would simple installation steps for such a camera.

Thank you,

Rick


"... and allowing for high quality video both day and night."

I think you should clarify your specific needs - 'high quality video' is a bit too vague, and can be quite subjective. i.e. what may be considered 'high quality' to you may be only 'medium' quality to someone else.

It's easy to see what you are trying to do in general, but for specific camera recommendations, can you define exactly what you want to do? i.e.:

1. Do you want to be able to identify/capture license plates?

2. Do you need to be able to see (and then be able to use this image for identification of) people's faces at 60 feet (both day and night)?

3. How much light do street lights provide in front of homes?

4. Have you explored any community or municipal funding for you project? This could either help the homeowners defray hardware costs or increase spending on better technology.

5. Have you considered the effort involved in managing all the video from all the cameras if an incident should occur - without the ability to do this from one interface? (i.e. a VMS)

Good points. I'll try to narrow this down a bit.

1. Do you want to be able to identify/capture license plates? In a perfect world yes, license plate capture would be great. Realistically I don't think this will work at night for the price range. I would like to see day time license plates on vehicles moving up to about 35 MPH. For vehicles I am looking for image quality that can identify make/model characteristics, color, and specific variances of the vehicle such as after market wheels, window tint, damage etc. Basically good enough that we can compare and make a positive identification of the vehicle. For night time this may be much harder but the goals would be the same. Basically we are finding price and ease of installation seems to be the biggest factors. We feel any video is better than no video but want the best quality we can get while making it affordable and simple.

2. Do you need to be able to see (and then be able to use this image for identification of) people's faces at 60 feet (both day and night)? For day time video, yes this would be ideal. The distance for a person on foot would likely be closer to the 30 foot mark for most homes. At night I would like to see at a minimum video quality to be able to hopefully identify race, specific clothing etc. Facial identification would be ideal but not necessarily required.

3. How much light do street lights provide in front of homes? Tough to answer this, every community home location can be different. We are in a dense city so there is always some ambient light. Some homes will have a street light right in front of their house and others may have one 4 or 5 houses away.

4. Have you explored any community or municipal funding for you project? This could either help the homeowners defray hardware costs or increase spending on better technology. Some HOA's and communities have collected money to purchase systems however there are many communities that can't come together like this or it just takes too long. My requirements are designed more for an individual home owner that wants to have video and help their community and the police when necessary. The City itself is investing in a video project for entrance/exit points from the City limits but at over 90 square miles, getting video down to the community level is an enormous task, especially considering we have limited access to fiber.

5. Have you considered the effort involved in managing all the video from all the cameras if an incident should occur - without the ability to do this from one interface? (i.e. a VMS) Yes this is a factor and has been problematic. However I think cost and ease of installation outweigh this at the moment. Looking more for something a home owner can easily download or at the very least provide the SD card so video can be pulled and returned to them or have the City replace the SD card completely should the crime be serious enough.

Rick, thanks for asking, good first comment / discussion!

One discussion you might find helpful is this: Recommendations For a Neighborhood Camera System?

What you want definitely makes sense. There are some challenges getting there - primarily getting a low cost outdoor camera that is simple to setup recording. Most of the consumer cameras (like Dropcam / Nest Cam) are indoor only and also require monthly payments for recording.

On the positive side, there are 50+ outdoor, PoE IP cameras with on-board storage under $300 but they do require setting up the VMS / recording by oneself. That might be a list to start from.

In terms of FoV / coverage, I picked one of those cameras from the list as an example:

However, unless you use something like a Dropcam that has built-in cloud access, it could take some effort / frustration from the home user to setup.

Not a perfect solution any way you go, but there are some reasonable options.

Our attorneys have represented a number of cities across the US where (Public-Private Partnerships) 3P's where established for this very thing. Here is the biggest legal issue you face. My camera system on my house or business was used to falsely identify a vehicle, and subsequent arrest. I'm now "shoe-horned" into the false arrest lawsuit. My camera protection my property isn't subject to this type of challenge. We have the legal work needed to create a 3P, the MLU's between the HOA's, 3P's, and local authorities, but you'll never get the price down to $300.

John, Thanks for the links. Your conclusion is basically what I had come to believe, I was just hoping there was a work around the experts were aware of. Esentially I think there are plenty of cameras that could work in the application, I just really need one that has an integrated and simple backend like all the latest interior cameras like Dropcam, Smartcam, etc.

So if there are any manufacturers out there that want to collaborate on a solution.... I'm pretty sure they would get plenty of attention in the market.

Andrew, I am aware of the public-private partnerships and I like the concept but in government work getting projects off the ground like that takes a considerable amount of time. Plus we have to fight all the "big brother" arguements from the ACLU etc. I need a solution that the average joe can buy and install and works. A solution that benedits the community they live in and if that video evidence is captured and needed by the police then they have the ability to provide that to us on their own terms. It keeps it clean and simple and empowers our citizens to work together to protect thier come and their community, which have have seen first hand.

Rick, Sooner rather than later this will become a solved problem. None of this is rocket science to put together, it just takes someone to do it.

One upcoming product that has potential to solve this is Panasonic's Nubo which combines pretty much everything you are looking fo, though it is not scheduled for US release to early 2016.