Looking for a quality surveillance system? Many modern surveillance systems are PC-based- that is, instead of a complex system of cameras and monitors, they use a digital camera and your computer to capture and view images.

The advantage of a PC- based surveillance system is that not only can you do a lot more with the footage you record, but you can do it all from one spot-and if you’ve got a wireless or IP camera, that spot can be just about anywhere. In order to do this, of course, you need the proper software. The software provides you with the programs you need to capture and record images, upload video files to the internet, enable motion detection, and much more.

How Do Home Surveillance Systems Work?
Before you start taking videos, you have to set up the camera to work with your computer. Once you’ve installed the software, you can set various properties of the security system, such as the camera’s pan/tilt/zoom functions, motion detector sensitivity, audio, and more advanced features like alarms and scheduled monitoring. You can also get software that works with multiple cameras and integrate them all into the system, so you can watch more than one location at a time.

If you want to watch a live video feed from a remote location, you should also install remote-monitoring software. This enables you to stream the video footage via the internet. Just hook up to the web anywhere in the world, and you can watch whatever’s going on in your living room or office or wherever else you choose to put the camera.

After the camera captures the video and sends it to the computer, your surveillance software also takes care of recording the material for later playback, uploading it to the internet, sending alerts, and analyzing details in the recorded footage. In short, the software brings the whole system together and gives you the tools to identify and catch an intruder in the act.

Surveillance System Software Features
Along with compressed video files that take up less storage space and high-resolution digital pictures, computerized surveillance allows for some pretty advanced security features. Here are a few you might want to look for in your software:

■Motion sensors with color trackers. This type of motion detector not only starts recording when it senses movement, but also follows certain colors around the room-human skin tone, for instance, or the color of your valuables.
■Audio deterrents. You can program the system to distract an intruder by playing an audio file when it senses movement in the area-a barking dog, a ringing phone, a slamming door, an ordinary alarm, or anything else that suits your fancy. You can also get the computer to automatically activate other programs when something moves-anything from a facial identification program to a game of solitaire. The sky’s the limit.
■Broadcasting capabilities and alerts. If you prefer to keep your guest unaware of being watched, you can program the computer to broadcast the footage when it senses movement. You can also have the computer alert you-or the police-via phone, fax, or email. Then, if you have remote-monitoring software, you can log in on the nearest computer and see exactly what the problem is.
These are only some of the features you can find in surveillance system software; different companies offer different software features. Assess your security needs, decide what you want, and shop around. When it comes to ensuring that your home is safe, a solid digital surveillance system with the right software can make all the difference.

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