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When considering an electronic watch program, you need to become familiar on how to start. A good place to start is mapping out the area to be surveilled. One can do so at using online maps (i.e. google maps) which will help see the best areas to put a camera. You can also look at SpotCrime (or the Dallas Police Department Crime Viewer) to see where the crimes are being committed so a system can cover those areas. Now if you are working as a neighborhood (as we should) there are great options available for using several cameras and linking them together. This style of monitoring is increasing exponentially in neighborhoods due to better technology and affordable costs. I have done some reviewing of systems and cameras and will offer a brief discussion below regarding key features of outdoor security cameras.

Wired cameras usually require professional installation. Wires can be difficult to hide and are vulnerable to the weather. They may offer a clearer picture than the wireless versions. The wireless cameras are ideal for outdoor installation. There is no reliance on a power source (they run on batteries), so there is no restriction where they can be installed. The cameras also can be removed if a tenant moves to another location. Color cameras provide a higher degree of footage vs a black and white camera but can be more expensive. Wideangle lens cameras are useful when covering a large area. Some cameras offer wider angles than others. Once you determine the area of coverage you can figure out the best camera and angle, which can help determine the number of cameras needed. Discreet vs non-discreet cameras is another feature worth considering. If you want people to know you have a camera and you are looking to deter, a dome camera is an option. We see these in department stores where it is in their best interest to let you know they are watching you. A more discreet camera can eliminate knowledge of the camera, which helps prevent a “snooper” from avoiding the line of sight. Infrared and night-vision cameras are helpful, especially since crimes occur in the house when most occupants are sleeping. You also want to pick a good camera, which can withstand the outdoor elements of rain, hot or cold temperatures, and wind. Now with that information, I will include a few of the better reviewed outdoor cameras.

The best outdoor camera I found, or at least the most talked about, is the Nest Cam Outdoor. This camera offers 24/7 streaming to a phone, tablet or computer with 1080p recording and good night vision. It offers motion and sound alerts, two-way audio (so you can hear and talk), and digital zoom. There is a 130-degree field of view. It is a wired camera; so if you are not savvy with electronics, you may need some help. You can buy Nest Aware cloud storage ranging from $100-300 dollars per year depending on how much storage time you need. This camera also communicates with other Nest home products which include smoke alarms and thermostats which could be a side benefit.

Another brand worth mentioning is the Netgear Arlo Pro. This is a wireless camera. This one has a nice rating with regards to outdoor weather. You can get some cloud-based storage for no additional cost. The night vision may not be as good at the Next Cam. However, this camera does have a very long battery life, wireless connectivity, and durability when exposed to outdoor elements.

Now, the information mentioned is very small in the scope to what is available. I urge anyone interested in getting an outdoor camera to do their research. Again, the best part about outdoor cameras are the technology and cost. A substantial improvement has occurred in both areas. If a neighborhood is interested in creating an electronic watch program with this technology, it is very possible given most of the data can be stored on the cloud with accessibility by several people.

Until next time…. Be observant, vigilant and neighborly.

Submitted by: Joseph Schill