What is Webcam Surveillance?

G. Wiesen

Webcam surveillance is the use of webcams, or similar security devices, to visually monitor an area through video images that can be accessed and viewed over the Internet. This type of security surveillance is often preferred for use in a home or small office. The fact that it is a simpler system may add to its appeal for small-scale surveillance, as some users do not wish to invest the time or money into a more elaborate security system for a home office or other area.

A webcam.
A webcam.

A webcam is a small camera that captures video images and can be used to store these images as video files on a computer or to transmit the images through the Internet to another location. Webcam surveillance uses this type of device to establish security surveillance in a given area, typically an interior location such as an office or home, though the equipment could be used outside with proper wiring. The benefits of using webcam surveillance are that the equipment is relatively affordable, especially for setup in an area that already has a computer, and requires only additional software to easily use.

A laptop with a webcam built in.
A laptop with a webcam built in.

Users of webcam surveillance will typically set the system up in an area where a computer already is in use, such as an office or a room with a desktop or laptop computer. A webcam is then plugged into the computer and once the proper software is installed, the webcam can be easily used for a variety of purposes, such as video chat or posting video clips to the Internet. Webcam surveillance software can then be purchased and installed on the system to allow a user to easily turn his or her computer into a security device.

Different software programs may offer different features, including the ability for the program to constantly be running and only begin capturing images when movement is detected. This turns the system into an otherwise expensive motion-triggered security device. The software will usually allow a user to establish what kind of file the images should be saved as, and allow a user to setup a website with a username and password that can be accessed to allow remote viewing of the video. Notifications are often a part of such programs, and a user may be notified through an instant messaging (IM) program or at a specified phone number when the system is activated, to allow instantaneous remote viewing from anywhere in the world.

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