Author Archives: Ben Software

Remote Access via Mobile/Cellular or Satellite Internet Connection

In order to connect to any server over the Internet (such as SecuritySpy’s built-in web server for remote access to your CCTV system), the server must be exposed to the Internet via a public IP address.

Most standard home and commercial Internet connections (Fibre, ADSL, Cable) provide a public Internet address, which makes setting up remote access to SecuritySpy fairly straightforward, as described in the Remote Access section of the SecuritySpy Installation Manual.

However, Mobile/Cellular Internet connections (i.e. those that use a 3G, 4G or 5G modem to connect wirelessly over the cellular network) are becoming increasingly common, as their speed and reliability increase and costs decrease. Unfortunately, most mobile Internet connections do not provide a true public IP address, but rather provide a private address within the Internet provider’s network (this is called Carrier-Grade NAT). Therefore it is not possible to set up remote access in the same way. Typically, this is the case with Satellite-based Internet connections as well.

Some mobile Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can provide a true public IP address for an extra fee, but not all do.

The solution to this problem is to use a service called ngrok, which allows you to set up a secure tunnel to your server in order to provide access to it from the Internet. Here’s how it works: Continue reading

Optimising SecuritySpy’s AI Object Detection

The new AI-powered motion detection features in SecuritySpy version 5 use deep neural networks to detect the presence of humans and vehicles. This allows for highly-accurate triggering of recordings and notifications of just the events that you are interested in.

The AI algorithms output a prediction probability, indicating the likelihood for the presence of a human or vehicle, and you can choose the threshold at which this triggers recording and notifications. Generally, a threshold of around 85% gives good results.

However, the accuracy of the AI depends on many factors such as the distance to the subject, lighting, resolution and quality of the camera. You might find that a threshold of 85% is letting through too many false-positive triggers, or conversely is preventing real motion from generating a trigger.

To see how the AI is performing on your system, create a folder called “SS AI Predictions” in the SecuritySpy folder within your Home folder (to get to the Home folder, click the Go menu in the Finder and select Home). Then, whenever a video frame is passed through the AI, SecuritySpy will annotate the frame with the motion area and prediction probabilities, and will save it to this folder as an image file. Inspecting these images allows you to determine what the AI is “seeing”, and will therefore allow you to adjust your trigger thresholds for optimum results on your system.

Here are some examples of these annotated images (cropped to just the relevant area):

annotated1 Continue reading

10 Recommended IP Cameras 2019

Here are our network camera picks for 2019. They are listed in no particular order (they are quite varied in terms of cost and feature set, which makes them difficult to rank as a “top 10″ list), however they are all cameras that, due to their impressive features, we recommend to our customers for use with our SecuritySpy CCTV software for the Mac.

Some abbreviations used below are as follows:

  • MP – Megapixels – the number of millions of pixels in the image sensor. The higher this number, the more detailed the image, but resolution isn’t everything: the optical quality of the lens system is also extremely important.
  • PoE – Power-over-Ethernet – when using a PoE switch, the camera draws power over the ethernet cable and therefore doesn’t require a separate power supply. This is very useful for easy installation and ongoing reliability. Note that some cameras require the higher-powered PoE+ standard.
  • IR – Infra-Red – some cameras include Infra-Red LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) for night vision. Usually the manufacturer will specify the maximum useful range of the IR in meters.
  • P-Iris / DC-Iris – These features allow the camera lens to automatically adjust its aperture size, based on the amount of incoming light. P-Iris is more sophisticated and will give better results than than DC-Iris, but both are far better than a Fixed-Iris lens, especially for outdoor applications.
  • Varifocal – These lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes motorised), in order to adjust the field of view at installation time. A focal length of 2.8mm is very wide-angle; 4mm is standard; 8mm is moderately telephoto.
  • PTZ – Pan, Tilt, Zoom – motorised remote control of the camera’s horizontal and vertical angle, and focal length.

BASIC OUTDOOR DOME: DAHUA TECHNOLOGY N44CG52 / N44CG53

Dahua N44CG52 IP Camera

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10 Recommended IP Cameras 2018

NOTE: this post has been superseded by our newest post 10 Recommended IP Cameras 2019.

Here are our camera picks for 2018. They are listed in no particular order (they are quite varied in terms of cost and feature set, which makes them difficult to rank as a “top 10″ list), however they are all cameras that, due to their impressive features, we recommend to our customers for use with our SecuritySpy CCTV software for the Mac.

Some abbreviations used below are as follows:

  • MP – Megapixels – the number of millions of pixels in the image sensor. The higher this number, the more detailed the image, but resolution isn’t everything: the optical quality of the lens system is also extremely important.
  • PoE – Power-over-Ethernet – when using a PoE switch, the camera draws power over the ethernet cable and therefore doesn’t need a separate power supply. This is very useful for easy installation and ongoing reliability.
  • IR – Infra-Red – some cameras include Infra-Red LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) for night vision. Usually the manufacturer will specify the maximum useful range of the IR in meters.
  • P-Iris / DC-Iris – These features allow the camera lens to automatically adjust its aperture size, based on the amount of incoming light. P-Iris is more sophisticated and will give better results than than DC-Iris, but both are far better than a Fixed-Iris lens, especially for outdoor applications.
  • Varifocal – most lenses have a fixed focal length, whereas varifocal lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes motorised), to adjust the field of view. A focal length of 2.8mm is very wide-angle; 4mm is standard; 8mm is moderately telephoto.
  • PTZ – Pan, Tilt, Zoom – motorised remote control of the camera’s horizontal and vertical angle, and focal length.

INEXPENSIVE OUTDOOR BULLET: HIKVISION DS-2CD2042WD-I

hik-bullet

Hikvision has a huge range of IP cameras, with quite a few outdoor bullet-type models at very good prices. This particular models offers a good all-round feature set, with 4 MP resolution, great low-light sensitivity, PoE support and 30-meter IR night-vision. It’s also great value, retailing at around $100.

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10 Recommended IP Cameras 2017

NOTE: this post has been superseded by our newest post 10 Recommended IP Cameras 2019.

Here are our camera picks for 2017. They are listed in no particular order (they are quite varied in terms of cost and feature set, which makes them difficult to rank as a “top 10″ list), however they are all cameras that, due to their impressive features, we recommend to our customers for use with our SecuritySpy CCTV software for the Mac.

Some abbreviations used below are as follows:

  • MP – Megapixels – the number of millions of pixels in the image sensor. The higher this value, the more detailed the image, but resolution isn’t everything: the optical quality of the lens system is also extremely important.
  • PoE – Power-over-Ethernet – when using a PoE switch, the camera draws power over the ethernet cable and therefore doesn’t need a separate power supply. This is very useful for easy installation and ongoing reliability.
  • IR – Infra-Red – some cameras include Infra-Red LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) for night vision. Usually the manufacturer will specify the maximum useful range of the IR.
  • P-Iris / DC-Iris – These features allow the camera lens to automatically adjust its aperture size, based on the amount of incoming light. P-Iris is more sophisticated and will give better results than than DC-Iris, but both are far better than a Fixed-Iris lens, especially for outdoor applications.
  • Vari-Focal – most lenses have a fixed focal length, whereas Vari-Focal lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes mechanically), to adjust the field of view. A focal length of 2.8mm is very wide-angle; 4mm is standard; 8mm is moderately telephoto.

INDOOR / OUTDOOR DOME: VIVOTEK FD8164 / FD8164V

Vivotek FD8164

Vivotek FD8164

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Hikvision DS-2CD2432F-IW Camera Review

Hikvision is a big name in the IP camera industry, offering a wide range of cameras that cover the whole spectrum from small home-use cameras to professional high-resolution industrial models.

Features

The DS-2CD2432F-IW is an inexpensive ($130) compact camera suitable for indoor use, with an impressive feature set. The 3 MP sensor offers higher resolution than many competing products from other manufacturers (Hikvision themselves also produce a DS-2CD2412F-IW model with a lower 1.2 MP resolution, but the price difference is not large, so we we would recommend going for this 3 MP model). It has both WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, and can be powered either by PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) or by a 12v power adapter, making it easy to install in any network environment. The sensitivity of 0.07 Lux, combined with built-in infrared (IR) illumination, allows it to function well in low-light situations, and it has a built-in microphone and speaker for two-way audio.

Hikvision DS-2CD2432F-IW

Hikvision DS-2CD2432F-IW Front View

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Case Study: The Raven Hotel

For any organisation still using analog cameras, SecuritySpy offers an easy upgrade path to a digital solution, allowing you to keep your analog cameras while gradually moving to a system based on megapixel IP cameras.

The Raven Hotel was in exactly this situation, and used SecuritySpy as their video surveillance solution. Below is their experience of SecuritySpy, in their own words.

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Siselectron SCI1132 Camera Review

Siselectron Technology is a new player in the IP video security market, with a limited but impressive range of IP cameras designed for demanding applications.

Features

The SCI1132 is a box-type camera that is suitable for indoor usage, with some impressive features that you won’t easily find elsewhere. To start with, it has a built-in 3x zoom lens (3-9mm), which provides a very useful zoom range, from wide-angled to moderately telephoto. It has an impressive 4 MP resolution (twice the number of pixels as 1080p), and it can stream at its full resolution at up to 30fps. In addition, it has auto-focus (rather than the fixed-focus lenses found on lower-quality cameras) as well as an audio input (to be used with an external powered microphone), and power-over-ethernet.

 

Siselectron SCI1132 Side View

Siselectron SCI1132 Side View

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Using an iPhone as a CCTV Security Camera

Most Mac users have an old iPhone or two lying unused in a drawer. One great way to repurpose these devices is to turn them into security cameras – all you need is an app that does a good job of capturing and streaming video from the iPhone’s camera. In this blog post we review a few such apps, which work with our Mac NVR software SecuritySpy. To turn an iPhone into an effective CCTV surveillance camera it should be permanently connected to a power supply, and have access to a good WiFi signal for reliable transmission.


wireless-camera-small1. Wireless Camera

This is a well-designed app that has some nice features, such as control over the camera’s flash LED, a range of resolution options, and the ability to switch between front-facing and rear-facing cameras. It’s very easy to configure and provides good video quality – from 640×480 at 10fps to 1920×1080 at 5fps.

Pros

  • Inexpensive ($1.99)
  • High resolution
  • Reasonably good performance

Cons

  • JPEG only (no H.264 encoding)
  • No audio

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Review: Merit LILIN LD2222 and IPD2220 IP Cameras

Merit LILIN is an established manufacturer of quality IP surveillance products, and has an extensive array of network cameras available for sale, from inexpensive consumer-level cameras to top-quality professional models.

Features

The LILIN LD2222 and IPD2220 are both dome-type indoor 2 MP cameras with very similar feature sets. They are small and discreet, and can supply 1080p HD video as well as audio via a built-in microphone. Both support Power-over-Ethernet, making them easy to install when using a PoE-enabled switch. The main difference between the two models is the low-light performance: the LD2222 is rated down to 0.6 lux while the IPD2220 is specified to produce useful images at down to 0.2 lux, due to what LILIN calls “Sense UP+” low-light technology. This potentially makes the IPD2220 particularly useful for installation in locations with poor lighting.

Here we are testing the LD2222E4, which has a 4mm lens (there is also a LD2222E2 model available with a 2.8mm lens), and the IPD2220ES2, which has a 2.8mm lens (there is also a IPD2220ES4.3 model available with a 4mm lens). The shorter the focal length the wider the angle of view, however lenses with very short focal lengths (such as 2.8mm) tend to exhibit significant barrel distortion, resulting in a mild fish-eye effect.

LD2222 IP Camera

LD2222 IP Camera

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