Do you ever get the feeling you are being watched? Chances are that feeling is accurate. With the video surveillance market now worth more than $75 billion annually, cameras are everywhere. They are as ubiquitous as automobiles and smartphones. So yes, you are being watched. We all are.
Stats published in 2018 show that the video surveillance market in the U.S. generates in excess of $16 billion just by itself. The U.S. has the largest number of surveillance cameras per capita while video surveillance itself is one of the most widely used security technologies. In short, we love our video.
No one should be surprised by this. Video is an exceptionally valuable tool for monitoring property, conducting criminal investigations, and winning prosecutions in court. Video surveillance is a valuable tool in deterring crime as well
Home Video Systems
The biggest growth of video surveillance in America is arguably the home. Where entry-level home security systems rarely included video cameras a decade ago, that is no longer the case. Even the most basic monitored systems usually include at least one surveillance camera. Many include multiple cameras for interior use along with a doorbell camera.
So what has fueled the growth of video surveillance at home? Wireless cameras. Prior to the wireless age, video surveillance was prohibitively expensive. That is because there was a lot of labor involved with installing cameras and running cables. Wireless cameras solved that problem. They are essentially plug-and-play devices that require almost no effort to install.
If you can set up a home Wi-Fi network, you can set up a typical wireless camera. And once installed, you can monitor your cameras from just about anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. It is all pretty amazing.
Video surveillance at home serves a number of valuable purposes. It acts as a deterrent to criminals looking to burglarize homes or cars. It offers a means for parents to monitor their kids in the hours between school and them arriving home from work. Video surveillance allows homeowners to keep an eye on the babysitter or contractor. They allow homeowners to keep an eye on their properties during bad weather events.
Commercial Video Systems
Video surveillance in commercial settings has been more common over the last couple of decades. Commercial property owners started looking to video surveillance years ago as a way to fight crime. The most interesting thing about commercial systems is that many of us do not even know we are being watched.
Take your average big box retailer. There are hundreds of video cameras installed throughout the store. Many of them are in the ceiling, disguised in such a way that you would not know what they were unless you recognized the disguise.
Additional surveillance cameras outdoors keep an eye on the front of the store as well as the parking lot. Cameras out back allow for monitoring rear doors and shipping docks. You really cannot go anywhere around the building without being watched.
Government Video Systems
As long as there are video surveillance systems for homes and commercial properties, you can bet there are systems for government use as well. Some of these systems are good while others are open for debate. An example of the latter are red light camera systems.
Municipalities argue that red light cameras reduce violations and accidents. Critics say they are just a way for municipalities to raise money. That debate will continue to rage as long as red light cameras are still in use.
Governments also use video surveillance on toll roads to catch drivers who would use said roads without paying. Pictures are snapped as each car passes through a toll plaza. The pictures give enough information to identify make, model and, in some cases even license plate number.
The reality is that video surveillance is everywhere. Surveillance cameras are watching you when you shop at the grocery store or the mall. They are watching you come and go at the movie theater and gas station. Like it or not, we are all being watched whenever we go out in public.