Covert Field Surveillance Video-Based Devices

Learn how covert video equipment such as video-based devices can help law enforcement agencies to monitor and secure parks and recreational areas. Part 2 of 3 of a 3 part blog series.

Check out the links below to learn more about leveraging portable covert video surveillance.

Covert Technology

For technology, there are several great choices of covert video gear designed specifically to meet the field surveillance needs of law enforcement. All of these can be placed into three main categories, trail cameras, video-based devices and cellular-based devices.

Video-Based Devices

Video-based devices were originally developed for marijuana eradication activities and have evolved over the years to digital based devices with low light cameras that are easier to use and have lighter, more compact designs.

Like trail cameras, most video-based devices are designed to hibernate until activity is detected. Once activity triggers the device, the unit assumes full operation for a predetermined amount of time. However, there are some clear differences between this technology and trail cameras:

  1. It is video – Get a clearer picture of the who did it and what happened.
  2. Little need for infrared – The cameras used in video-based devices generally have great low light performance - so low that they require little or no infrared illumination. This benefits operators in two areas:
    • Easier concealment without an IR array
    • Less current draw and longer run-times without an IR array
  3. Modular Cameras and Lenses – You can swap the cameras and lenses to adjust to a variety of scenarios. Additionally, when using a board camera or micro video camera based covert system the micro lenses can be swapped for more telephoto focal lengths. For example, most micro video cameras come standard with a 3.6 mm lens and can be swapped for larger lens such as a 25 mm lens for license plate capture.
  4. Easier Concealment – Smaller camera form factors, typically bullet style and just 3/4 inches in diameter, now make concealment easier than ever. Due to its small size in some applications the camera can be deployed with little to no added concealment. At 15 ft away, the camera becomes virtually invisible and at 30 ft away it's impossible to see.
  5. Pre-concealed systems – Personally, I think the concealment of video-based devices is very easy because they are designed to be buried. However, if you don't want to dig, or in some cases can't, then pre-concealed versions are right for you.

When searching for a video-based system for field surveillance of parks and large properties, I recommend the following features:

  • Hibernation mode for longer run-times
  • Solid state memory for shock endurance, smaller size and heat tolerance
  • Burial ready
  • Interchangeable cameras
  • Wireless sensors for increased likelihood of recording activity before and after it happens

« Part 1: Trail CamerasPart 3: Cellular Based Devices »