Realtime surveillance: how much do we really want to know?

Author Melanie PitthamPublished 2 Min Read

As someone who had the pleasure of being burgled last Summer, I’m now something of a control freak when it comes to home security. It took me all of 10 seconds to decide to hand over £800 to the local security firm for a ‘state-of-the-art’ alarm system the very next day.

The average burglary takes only 8 minutes

Hopefully its obvious presence will put off any would-be burglars, or if someone did try and break in the alarm would spook them. Then again it’s possible I’d still get robbed – but with annoyed neighbours to boot. So I’m always interested in the latest in smart home products and security applications. Take Netatmo Welcome, the stylish home camera that keeps you updated on the comings and goings of your household. It pairs with ‘tags’ placed all over the house to alert you of any motion, but more impressively recognises individual people and alerts you when a stranger is detected.

I love the concept of using biometrics for security, it becomes deeply personal and infinitely complex. ADT’s Pulse is another great example, this time using voice recognition to enable the user to remotely command realtime actions such as unlocking doors, turning on lights or triggering a set of user-defined actions with a code word. These innovations are clearly the way to go, giving control to the owner on a seminal level, but in their nature they also raise a nagging question within me... how much do I really want to know? Am I going to be on a knife-edge every time my phone bleeps – or doesn’t? Do I start to worry that the kids aren’t home 3 mins after they ought to be?

And how accurate can these early systems really be? What if I have a cold, or a haircut... INTRUDER ALERT!

If I’d had any of this kit back in August, would it have changed the outcome? Doubtful. Even if I’d had that dreaded tip off that something was amiss, I still couldn’t have reacted in realtime. The average burglary takes only 8 minutes. Plus I’m no have-a-go-hero. So what’s the point? At least I got to enjoy that day last summer.

That said, keeping one eye on what’s yours is second nature, and I think I would prefer to know sooner rather than later. In the end, the alternative to being in the loop would be like turning a blind eye, which would mean I’d relinquished control altogether. So I’ll be opening my home up to realtime surveillance, with all that it might entail. I just hope whatever system I end up with still recognises me when I’ve just got out of bed.

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