Security Camera Installation Advice?

security_camera
Photo by PoPville flickr user John Sonderman

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a 10-unit condo building and would like to take advantage of the security camera rebate program offered by the DC city government. I was wondering if others have recommendations on installation. Is it easy enough for someone with little/no experience figure it out, or is it better to hire a professional? If so, any specific recommendations would be greatly appreciated!”

11 Comment

  • We took advantage of this program for our house and used Arlo cameras. They are wireless and easy to install yourself.

  • For those who have installed cameras, have you found them to be useful? Did you notice a decrease in crime/problems around your building and/or where you able to use footage to catch someone?

    My building has debated putting in a camera for a couple years but we keep hearing that the footage doesn’t do any good when turned over to police and that something like a security light may be more cost effective for deterring crime – what do you guys think?

    • Hasn’t been useful for catching any perps, but I find it immensely satisfying to be able to see the face of the person who stole my package. Maybe doesn’t work the same way for a condo association.

    • gotryit

      I haven’t noticed a drop in crime, but it has been useful to catch several criminals. From things as small as package theft to more serious things. Criminals in DC tend to be so dumb that they commit crimes in front of a camera even when they see it and are well known to local police.
      Having multiple quality cameras in multiple locations at different angles is a lot more useful than one camera because it’s too easy to have bad lighting / a bad angle.
      Even when the criminal wasn’t caught, it has been helpful for insurance / recovery purposes. For example, it made it very easy to prove a hit-and-run on my parked car, which lowered my deductible for repair.

    • We have a 360-degree setup on our old house/now rental house. A couple package theft videos have been posted on Popville of ours. The high res videos have absolutely been used by MPD and resulted in one arrest for a package theft (known criminal that they recognized), a couple kids from a nearby school were identified for a near-theft (opened box, didn’t want to dog food bowl (haha)) and we allowed the school to handle them and not the police. It’s been a big deterrent and those that were caught just didn’t see the cameras or didn’t know the resolution was as good as it was (those kids put on a mask in view of the camera but their faces were clear before the mask went on).

  • You should know that the program was given a specific amount of funding ($500,000). When the money runs out, the program stops issuing rebates (unless the Council coughs up more money). If you’re only buying because of the rebate, it would make sense to confirm they still have funds remaining before you purchase.

  • The issue will be wireless access and bandwidth for the cameras and associated cloud storage in a condo building. It’s unrealistic that an owner share their internet connection for the purpose of an association asset. We used Datawatch for the installation in an 8-unit building and have been pleased with it. You might start with the company that monitors your fire safety equipment and/or call box; odds are they also do access control.

    I’m unconvinced it helps deter or prosecute thieves, but there is some advantage to at least being able to solve “mysteries” and knowing what happened.

    The DC rebate ended up being about 10% of total equipment and installation costs, so wouldn’t let that program drive your decision.

  • Our 3-unit Condo replaced outside fixtures with integrated light, motion detector and camera from Kuna that we installed on our own. Total cost for 4 fixtures and 1 year for stored recordings is < $800. The process was simple and the devices work reliably – as long as wireless internet connectivity remains stable. Use http://getkuna.refr.cc/6S8GX9M to purchase and you get 20$ discount + we earn 20 bucks. Woo-hoo!