Webcams are not suitable for reliable surveillance

Everybody knows that webcams are great for socially driven activities like meetings, streaming, and video-chatting. However, a webcam can also serve as an impromptu security camera.

Such was the case when popular video game streamer, Nikki Elise, and her boyfriend were robbed at gunpoint within their own home in Tempe, Arizona on June 9th, 2014. The events were recorded and streamed online via a desktop webcam. Fortunately, viewers acted quickly in contacting local police resulting in 1 of 2 suspects being apprehended.

While the webcam played a pivotal role in saving the lives of the two victims, it is likely the situation could have been avoided altogether with a few strategically placed security cameras.

Why isn’t a webcam enough?

Cameras manufactured specifically for the purpose of security come equipped with physical and technical features that webcams lack.

Webcams require a working computer in order to function properly which is the source of most of its weaknesses. This makes it impractical to have more than one camera because that would require a computer designated for each in operation.

Being constantly connected to a computer with internet access makes it more susceptible to hacking. It also inhibits its placement to an extent that it is not likely to be located in a strategic position such as an entrance, exit, or other high traffic area.

Furthermore, if the computer were to encounter technical issues and shut down, the attached camera ceases to function.

Maneuverability is another issue for webcams. Changing the range of sight or perspective of the webcam must be done manually. Because of this, it would be impossible to view any movement or check for any disturbances outside the camera’s set position.

Ethernet cable

What is a better alternative for home security?

An internet protocol (IP) camera is similar in design to a webcam but its purpose is solely for surveillance. Perhaps the most important difference between a webcam and an IP camera is the ability to be powered over Ethernet (PoE).

So long as an Ethernet cable is connected, the camera will be able to monitor and record activity. This also frees the camera of all constraints in regard to placement. Not being tied to a computer encourages strategic positioning and also allows monitoring from a number of computers or dashboards.

The maneuverability of an IP camera is not restricted by physical means. Digital controls give the user the capability of changing perspective, zooming in and out, and rotating the camera.

A wide range of monitoring capabilities accompanied with higher resolution capability means the IP camera can pick up details a webcam would not be able to. This is an important feature to consider concerning security and surveillance.

To wrap it up, a webcam is not a suitable substitution for a purpose-built security camera. Security cameras such as IP cameras are designed specifically for surveillance and possess the necessary features to do so, while a webcam's purpose is for all things social.