INTRODUCTION TO SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS
Timber Security: surveillance
INTRODUCTION: As wood moves through the fiber supply chain, oftentimes the hand-offs between suppliers expose owners to possible theft and fraud at a variety of touch points. Most hand-offs are conducted in remote locations, adding to the exposure. Camera surveillance systems play a key role by:
- Providing an “eye witness” at critical points where there’s little control or oversight.
- Serving as a deterrent for potential fraud.
- Documenting events for legal proceedings.
Fig. 1: Outdoor surveillance system: sturdy and portable.
This Technical Release provides a brief introduction to the world of surveillance systems. It’s impossible to make specific recommendations or explore the dozens of options in such a short space. To learn more about features and the Five W’s that guide your decision-making process, click here
GENERAL FEATURES: Before purchasing a surveillance system, determine specific needs unique to size, processes, exposures, and level of control. A well-thought-out solution should both be cost effective and meet your performance expectations.
Once you have clearly identified your needs, primary considerations for your system features include:
- The system’s portability
- The system’s durability
- The system’s accessibility
- Available power sources
- Ease of installing and maintaining the system
- The system’s documentation capabilities
- The ease of monitoring
- The system’s cost
This discussion focuses on remote surveillance systems deployed in the woods to monitor vandalism, illegal trash dumping, and log hauling patterns. Remote environments will test your system’s “remote readiness” against weather and temperature extremes, dust, and even the occasional rodent seeking a snack of electrical wire.
For this discussion, a camera surveillance system includes a power source, camera, monitor, recording device, waterproof enclosures, and connectors.
APPLICATION: As with most things, there is a range of possibilities to choose from.
Low-end systems are simply DVRs (digital video recorders) that record to a memory card. The lowest of the low end is a simple set up known as a Trail Camera or "Deer Camera." The unit includes batteries, camera, and recording medium all in one device. Set it up by mounting the entire device to a tree or fence post, ensuring a clear view. On the downside they are difficult to hide, as they need to be close to the action to be effective. Mounted to a tree, it may fool deer but not necessarily intruders.
The next level up is a DVR system that is pixel motion-activated and can be “programmed” to monitor only one aspect of the picture. For example, you could focus the camera on your house and then program it to activate automatically only when someone moves at the front door. The rest of the picture is ignored. Many “off the shelf” DVRs aren’t designed for outdoor exposure.
The same pixel motion activity is utilized in almost all DVR systems sold today. With higher-end models you gain greater flexibility in programming, lower power requirements, and longer manufacturer warranties. Once footage is captured, most systems allow for playback on a computer. One of the more expensive systems available has over 20 programmable menus and can record continuously on up to four cameras at once.
Sensors - Sensors can provide set-up flexibility in many different situations. Sensor types include Passive Infrared motion sensors (PIR), seismic sensors, beam break sensors, and even sound sensors. Each type triggers the camera to activate and record after it senses its unique activity. The trick is to know what works best in each environment and take the time in the field to "tailor" your setup to that site. Quick set-up is critical. The more time it takes to install the system, the greater the likelihood of discovery. Although there is a deterrent factor in having a known camera on site, effectiveness is improved when the camera is not visible or known.
Cameras - Cameras come in all shapes and sizes. Generally, the higher-priced ones provide the greatest flexibility. A good system should make it easy to change out and replace cameras as your needs change. Typically, in the field, bullet-style cameras provide a good picture and are small enough to mount close to the action without being easily spotted. Of course cameras do come in pinhole size (which is literally about the diameter of the writing tip of a pencil) and can range up to the size you see mounted above the bank parking lot.
Power Sources - For remote locations, lead acid batteries provide the most economical way to power surveillance systems. The trick is to find a battery-operated system that runs continuously and yet is light-weight enough to be carried easily.
Low end units - These units are sold in most outdoor stores and range from $200 to $500.
Mid-level to high-end systems - These systems normally run from $2,300 to $9,000. Although you might find a DVR system for $500, those ones are generally not built for outdoor use.
Dendro Resource Management, Inc.
P.O. Box 1386
Lugoff, South Carolina 29078