Video for Locksmiths: Enjoy the View

Identify visitors with integrated video intercom system that includes CCTV.


Professional CCTV systems used (use) specialized time-lapse VCRs. These systems have the ability to record at slower speeds to extend the recording time of the tape. Recording at a slower rate means fewer frames per second; therefore, much detail is lost when recording. The analogy was that a time-lapse recording resembled a Charlie Chaplin movie -- flickering and gaps. That’s why they called them ‘flicks.’

In practice, the usual goal was to achieve enough recording capability to span a long weekend.

Professional time-lapse VCRs also had two other features; timed recording and alarm sensors to trigger recording. If the VCR was on a timer, you might very well miss something. For example, if you had the VCR sensing a door contact or a motion detector, you had to hope first that the VCR worked, and then that the VCR would get up to speed in time to catch the action.

Using digital video, storage capabilities are expanded beyond the fondest dreams of the analog CCTV system designer. The camera is always running. If an alarm event occurs, the system can tag it and even if the event is missed when it occurred, the system operator can go back to the point in time when the event occurred, or just slightly before the time the event occurred, to see the entire scenario.

At the time I am writing this article, the bombing has just occurred in London. The city is saturated with digital cameras and uses digital video archiving technology, so there is an excellent chance that some of the events preceding the actual blasts may be available for forensic use.

The new video is cheaper and more powerful than ever before. Since it is based on digital signal transmission and processing, some familiarity with computers and cameras will be an advantage for those endeavoring to supply and install it. But since the equipment is largely “plug & play,” the adjustments and settings are few and easily learned. The software applications used for viewing and otherwise manipulating cameras and archived video are typically Windows®-based and user-friendly. Essentially no high voltages are used except for perhaps the line cord you plug in for the computer, which is 120 VAC.

Opportunities for Locksmiths

The public’s acceptance of new video is therefore greater than ever, and the demand for these systems makes video a possible market for the locksmith.

Video is commonly incorporated into access control systems. Video intercom systems which allow tenants and homeowners to identify visitors before unlocking the door, the building entrance or the parking gate, are becoming more the rule than the exception.

Employers are requesting cameras to be installed in parking areas and elevators to help improve the safety environment for employees.

Cameras also provide additional protection for the owner to help avert frivolous lawsuits. The camera provides the real story of what actually happened. The money saved by avoiding one litigation, one mugging or one vandalism will easily pay for 20 video systems, not to mention the increased sense of well being video surveillance can impart on employees and building occupants.

Locksmiths are service providers, trusted protectors and skilled tradesmen. If you’re currently operating a locksmith operation, you are probably encountering competition. The pages of Locksmith Ledger frequently report the infringements on the locksmiths’ turf from new interlopers. No doubt the competition is indeed fierce; but the demand for security has never been greater and the variety of products the locksmith can offer also grows.

Most locksmiths take their work seriously. They want to do the best job possible for their customers. When I visit a client to discuss a new project, I never miss an opportunity to bid additional products and services. One client who once counted on us for master keying and lockset installations has grown into a 20-door access control installation. We’ve also supplied this account (to date) with eight door operators and an emergency door release system. Last week we got this client to agree to accept proposals for two complete gate operator systems and CCTV cameras.

Some locksmiths don’t want to get involved in non-mechanical related security products. This is understandable because there are others who only want to deal with electronic security. But an inescapable fact is that for the last 30 or so, years security solutions have become hybrids; combining physical and electronic security technologies to provide the most concise protection for people. New video is an integral and exciting element in this process.

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