The experts tell PCR about the emerging home security market

On the record

A Northampton couple hit the headlines earlier this year when video clips from their home security system got their antisocial neighbours evicted. Paul and Carol Mitchell presented CCTV footage to their neighbours’ landlord, who then removed the abusive family that had committed, in the words of The Sun, “more than 200 yobbish incidents in under a year”.

While extreme, it seems the Mitchells are not unique. Surveillance equipment is no longer the preserve of city centres and business premises – up and down the country private citizens are installing cameras and monitoring equipment of their own, whether it be to record evidence of anti-social behaviour, to deter burglars or simply to keep tabs on the kids.

“The media has a massive impact on people’s awareness of their own personal security and their belongings. With this in mind, many home owners are now looking to protect their own personal surroundings – we have seen a massive uptake in home DIY camera kits,” comments Dean Langford, EntaTech’s CCTV product specialist.

As the technology becomes more affordable and accessible, its popularity with home users increases. “We have seen a major growth in the capturing and recording side of our business. With storage and memory prices coming down we’re able to sell products with an increased video capacity,” says Alastair Park, Swann Security’s sales manager for Europe.

One element of the surveillance sector that has seen significant growth in recent years is IP cameras – also known as network cameras. Although technically available since the nineties, use of the device has only become widespread since broadband, and later wi-fi, hit the mainstream. Unlike traditional CCTV, network cameras allow the user to view their footage from anywhere via a secure web log-in, even from a 3G phone. With high-resolution images and the capability for digital zoom, the picture quality is often superior to analogue systems.

“Given the availability and penetration of broadband and the increasing simplicity of IP cameras, they’re coming into the fore as the next step in the evolution of how individuals would like to protect the people and places important to them,” says Paresh Morjaria, MD of EyeSpy247.

Recent developments in networking equipment have also had an impact on the home security sector – HomePlug technology, for example, utilises existing power sockets to extend the user’s network. “People don’t like running new cables around the house, so HomePlug technology is popular. Wireless is a poor alternative as it requires constant replacement of batteries, which will, inevitably, be flat the day somebody tries to break into your house,” explains Toby Williams, business development manager of CE products for Logitech UK and Ireland.

Although many home users might be daunted by the prospect of physically installing a surveillance system, Williams insists it’s not the arduous task it might seem. “The latest systems are very easy to install – just plug a camera into a mains socket, and load the software onto your PC, and you’re away. It’s a 15-minute job to be up and running. Adding further cameras is simple as well – just plug them into a mains socket and tell the PC to scan for new cameras. Compared with systems that require professional installation, the latest selfinstall systems are very affordable,” adds Williams.

However, Micro-P’s networks product manager, Rods Slater, believes that sometimes installation is best left to the experts. “If you’re using wireless home security products then it is easy to do it yourself. However, I would always recommend using an installer as they have the equipment and training necessary to safely carry out installation of cameras and provide advice on the best placement of the security products,” he suggests.

According to research conducted by Swann, its security products are most frequently used among low to middleincome earners – dispelling the notion that CCTV equipment is used only by the super-rich. “The internet has helped drive down the price of the overall solution, while technological developments and the sheer volume of cameras on the market today mean that CCTV is no longer a specialised solution,” observes Tony Howard, business unit manager at CCI. “It will continue to grow, as long as the fear factor remains – be that anti-social behaviour in the community or fear of local and global terrorist activities.”

Ben Asher, senior account manager at KMS Components, echoes this view: “It is a sad fact that in this day and age it is not just theft that we need to protect ourselves from. Vandalism, anti-social behaviour and bullying are prominent in most areas, regardless of a household’s income. Home security has become much more affordable recently and can be adapted to be suitable in any sort of area.”

As CCTV products become more affordable, is there still a decent profit to be made? According to Slater, the answer is yes. “Online resellers of boxes still see a good margin – particularly with the newer technologies,” he notes. “For installers who actually go and do site surveys and installations, the margins are excellent with service revenue – i.e. installation and maintenance – being the larger part of the profit pie.”

Langford agrees, telling PCR that Enta’s CCTV range offers much larger margin opportunities for resellers than other sections of the distributor’s portfolio. Putting the benefits for the channel aside, are surveillance systems a good deterrent? The media may focus on tales such as the Mitchells’, but there are an almost equal number of stories claiming that criminals pay no attention to a camera, even if it’s pointing directly at them.

“The prevalence of outdoor CCTV in and around most city centres has desensitised most people to the extent that they no longer regard it as a deterrent and accept that their actions will be recorded,” says Morjaria. “However, statistics have proved CCTV inside individual properties does have the ability to act as a deterrent, as interlopers are more keenly aware of them.”

Asher adds: “CCTV may not stop anti-social behaviour altogether, but it certainly helps to keep it away from your family and personal space. And if the worst happens, it can provide you with the information needed to catch offenders and send a warning out to all those who would disturb the peace.”

SRP: £159.99
Distributor: Direct
They say: View your home 24 hours a day from your mobile
Specs: Two weatherproof cameras with up to 15 metres infrared LED night vision, USB PC digital video recording device and software that allows the system to perform functions including motion activation, scheduled recording, pan tilt zoom (PTZ) and speed dome camera control, remote access via web and 3G

SRP: £233.97
Distributor: Gem Distribution
They say: Lets you keep an eye on your property – even in harsh conditions
Specs: Weather-resistant design, scalable resolution up to 640 x 480, motion-activated mobile alerts, remote viewing from anywhere via a password-protected, web-based account, multiple mounting options, homeplug connectivity

SRP: £279
Distributor: Gem Distribution
They say: Gives you peace of mind even when you’re not around
Specs: Includes software, USB receiver and indoor camera, homeplug and ethernet connectivity, footage can be stored and viewed later, motion activated mobile and email alerts, remote viewing online, support for up to six indoor and outdoor cameras

SRP: £235
Distributor: Smithie UK
They say: A power-saving and easy-to-use solution for monitoring up to six IP cameras
Specs: Two USB ports, VGA video output, 3.5mm stereo audio jack, four or six channels, PTZ capability, records at D1 resolution

SRP: £299, £349 (HD)
Distributor: KMS Components
They say: Super compact design, low power consumption
Specs: Multitask processor for simultaneous recording and network surveillance, four-channel playback support, motion detection, day and night cameras, Linux operating system, up to 500GB capacity hard drive

SRP: £329, £399 (HD)
Distributor: KMS Components
They say: High quality playback, longer recording and less storage required
Specs: H.264 compression, multitask processor, four-channel playback, motion detection, Linux operating system, up to 1TB capacity hard drive, 510 x 492 standard camera resolution

SRP: £179.99
Distributor: Direct
They say: A low cost, secure way to watch over your home or business
Specs: Day and night use, wired and wireless capable, body heat detection, night vision, motorised pan and tilt capability, 4x digital zoom, two-way audio, MJPEG and MPEG4 compression, alarm input/output

SRP: £99.89
Distributor: Direct
They say: A high quality, compact, easy-to-use indoor IP Camera
Specs: For use in daytime or low light, wired and wireless capable, 4x digital zoom, two-way audio, MJPEG and MPEG4 compression, movement detection

SRP: £165.95
Distributor: Micro-P, EntaTech
They say: Superior wireless speed and range for a flawless connection
Specs: Wireless N technology, simultaneous viewing from a computer or 3G device, high light sensitivity for low light conditions, 16x digital zoom, built-in microphone, records directly to a hard drive or NAS device

SRP: £499.99
Distributor: EntaTech
They say: The DVR4-950 kit protects your home or business with total security coverage
Specs: Four all-weather day and night cameras, seven-inch LCD monitor, two remote controls, hard drive capacity up to 320GB, simultaneous viewing and recording of all cameras, motion detection

SRP: £199.99
Distributor: EntaTech
They say: Professional-grade security at a fraction of the cost
Specs: Plug and Play, PTZ controller that can be used from up to 30m away, flexible mounting options, 360-degree viewing, up to 32 preset viewing points and 16 programmable viewing tours, high resolution CCD video image sensor

SRP: £608.99
Distributor: Micro-P
They say: A comprehensive solution for displaying, storing and managing video data
Specs: Simultaneous real-time viewing and recording of up to four D-Link cameras locally or via the web, up to 3TB of storage space (HDD not included), direct connection to the internet, automatic backups to mirrored hard drives

SRP: £152.33
Distributor: EntaTech
They say: A versatile and unique surveillance solution for your home or small office
Specs: Works in low light, 16x digital zoom, builtin CPU and web server, wireless G and ethernet connectivity, full duplex two-way audio, simultaneous MJPEG and MPEG-4 streams for dual recording, snapshot mode for taking stills, remote access online

SRP: £756.70
Distributor: CCI Distribution
They say: Affordable, yet packed with exceptional features
Specs: Continuous/manual/schedule recording, motion-JPEG, MPEG-4 and H.264 recording, smart control of PTZ and speed dome cameras, digital zoom, alarm recording by motion detection or sensor triggered, multi-channel playback

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