Wireless Cameras and the Savvy Locksmith

Aug. 1, 2019
Video surveillance is fast becoming a plug-and-play process with the potential for recurring monthly revenue

There’s little doubt that we’re living in a wireless world where all evidence of metallic cable will eventually all but disappear. In the past it was customary to install a RG59 or RG6 coaxial cable from a camera control system to each and every analog camera, and more recently UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair)--Category 5e, 6 or 7--to each networkable, IP camera in a CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) system. Those days are rapidly coming to an end.

Today, cables are not necessarily required in all instances. Wireless has improved in its effectiveness and reliability. Although there is a list of do’s-and-don’ts that must be observed for a successful wireless installation, for all intents and purposes, video surveillance is fast becoming a plug-and-play process that almost anyone can perform, especially professional security experts, such as seasoned locksmiths.

“With the many wireless options that are now available, we’re seeing a general migration of video connectivity from [metallic] cable to that of 802.11x and a variety of other radio technologies,” says John Larkin, senior partner with Electronic Systems Consultants LLC of Columbus, Ohio.

802.11x, also known as WiFi (Wireless Fidelity), is an electronic communication standard drafted and institutionalized by an organization known as IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). The lowercase “x” in 802.11x is a variable that is determined by the protocol, such as a, b, g, n, ac, b/g/n, etc.

There are other wireless technologies that we’ll also discuss in brief. In this article, we’ll deal primarily with the sale and installation of wireless CCTV in SMB’s (Small to Midsize Businesses) and residential.

Establish the Right Strategy

Before you embark on the sale and installation of any kind of CCTV system, assuming you haven’t already done so, it would be wise to develop the right strategy for your clients and your company. Getting off on the wrong foot will only delay your success while costing you untold time and money.

The first item on your to-do list should be to study and establish who your primary audience is and what kind of CCTV they are likely to buy. For example, if  you deal primarily with  residential, then you’ll probably look at smaller, more consumer-oriented wireless camera systems. Commercial? Your choice will be a more commercial-oriented product.

“There are two directions in which you can go when entering the CCTV wireless market. The first is residential and small-to-midsize commercial, and the second, large businesses that require the use of networkable cameras, also referred to as IP (Internet Protocol)-cameras. The latter will probably use wireless as a secondary technology, while hardwired cameras will run mostly UTP cable. Thus, the requirements of a typical SMB and residence, allows the use of wireless 802.11 (WiFi),” says Larkin.

There are other things to consider as well, such as the issue of image retention through a         third-party cloud service, like Napco Security Technology’s iBridge  (http://bit.ly/2IQe1Og), Eagle Eye (http://bit.ly/2EK2ZID), DMP (http://bit.ly/2YhpGuX), and others. Napco Security Technologies, for example, offers a professional-grade 802.11x wireless video system comprised of domed cameras for outdoor and indoor use as well as a regular free-standing desk camera.

“The Napco line allows you to push video to your client’s mobile devices while saving it to the cloud. The App is free to the customer, but they pay you for the service and you pay the manufacturer or a central monitoring station,” says Larkin. “The great thing about this is you share in the incoming revenue stream along with the central station. With most cameras, images are also stored to an onboard Micro-SD chip as a backup, just in case.”

By “just in case,” Larkin is referring to the possibility that if something were to interfere with the transmission medium and the camera images fail to arrive at the off-site data processing center, the relevant images will still be available to you, the client, and law enforcement through the micro-SD chip that’s inserted into the camera (see photo).

Remote Video Drives Sales

The most compelling three reasons why end users buy video surveillance systems include 1) remote video access, 2) documentation, and 3) video verification.

The definition of “remote video” will undoubtedly differ depending on who you ask, but most security professionals define it as, “A technology that enables clients to view events that take place at a distance without their needing to be there.”

Remote video allows you to provide video clips derived from your customer’s wireless cameras installed in their home and/or SMB under two conditions: First, when something happens and the home or business owner/manager is notified; and second, when they simply want to look in on things to see what’s going on when they’re not there. Both can be achieved using a mobile device with a fee app.

The third reason why people buy video cameras is they need to verify the presence of an unauthorized individual(s) during an alarm. This involves law enforcement, false alarms, and the implementation of false alarm fines -- or no response at all, due to an inordinate number of false dispatches from the same location.

When synchronized with an alarm system your client has, video images--even clips in some systems--can be “pushed” to the customer’s smartphone, tablet, or  laptop thus enabling him or her to view what went on seconds before, during, and seconds after the alarm took place. The central monitoring station can also access them if need be to verify that a break-in did, in fact, take place. In some communities this is required in order to dispatch the police.

When 802.11x Isn’t Good Enough

There are going to be times when WiFi won’t cut it. One example is where the wireless access point (in this case a wireless router) is located deep in the middle of a commercial structure. All the walls and other items will act to absorb the radio signals, resulting in a weak signal and thus an unstable, unreliable connection with the camera. What actually occurs is the metal and other materials between the router and camera absorb the radio waves, converting them into heat. This can especially prove problematic with wireless cameras installed outdoors.

One alternative is to use 802.11x when and where possible in conjunction with other forms of wireless. These other signal transmission technologies must be capable of transmitting video data back and forth with these problematic cameras and the router. There are three that come to mind:

  1. Point to Point (P2P)
  2. Point to Multipoint (P2MP)
  3. Mesh

Without going into the fine details, LMDS (Local Multipoint Distribution Service) and MMDS (Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service) are associated with P2P and P2MP whereas WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) uses several types of radio technology, which includes mesh.

Distance wise, LMDS is good for both PSP and P2MP at a distance of up to 5 miles. MMDS is good for P2P at a distance of up to 35 miles--all pretty much line of sight. Mesh is good for indefinite growth because as the network grows so does its coverage. This is because each radio acts as a repeater, receiving and resending signals as they occur.

Consider the Sale of DIY

For those who are interested in getting into the wireless camera market, be aware that there’s also good money in selling DIY across the counter. Not only that, but it’s possible to program these cameras before they leave your hands. You can send them to the client who can then install them. The underlying benefit is the RR you’ll make.

Consumer video companies such as Guardzilla (http://bit.ly/2Yejwf2), Lorex Technology (http://bit.ly/2Ng86qk), Nest (http://bit.ly/31UAb9L), and others, also provide DIY (Do It Yourself) systems. With that said, as a  professional Locksmith, you really need to find a product/service that will enable you to share in the monthly recurring revenue (RR). Honestly, RR is where the money’s at.

One example is the Guardzilla brand of wireless 802.11x Internet cameras. The 180 Indoor All-in-One HD camera, for example, is a true network device in that it has a built-in MAC (Media Access Control) address which is used by the router when assigning an IP (Internet Protocol) address. If all of this means nothing to you, don’t be alarmed. You really don’t need to know about MAC’s and IP’s, although it can help. All you need to know is how to plug in a modular plug, what the encryption key to your client’s router is, and how to program the camera.

Like many other makes and models, the Guardian 180 features a 180-degree, HD (High Definition) view along with motion detection; night vision; two-way audio communication; a built-in 100dB siren; auto arming; and cloud storage. Power is provided by a 5-VDC plug-in, low-voltage transformer. There’s a free App that makes quick work of basic programing and enrollment. Unfortunately, there is no affiliate program and the company does not work through a third party on the RR component with regards to cloud storage.