Safety & Security
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Security: Web Surveillance

By Mark R. Johnson
Published: August 1, 2005
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Security cameras monitor the local convenience store. Protective parents monitor the nanny with a hidden camera. Cabin owner Scott Stevens keeps his cabin under video surveillance with a Web cam.
Stevens’ place is on Waneta Lake in the Finger Lakes region     of New York state, and his primary home is far away. “I use the technology several ways,” he says. “I have cameras that record motion and store it, and can even page me. That provides peace of mind that everything is okay. I check to see if I need to call the lawn guy to mow. And gazing at my dream place, the sunset  and the wildlife provides a badly needed stress break.”
A Web cam is simply a video camera hooked up to an on-site computer so that images can be seen over the Internet by people at off-site computers. The technology typically works one of two ways. The images are either uploaded to a Web hosting service for display on a Web page, or the images are streamed live as people on the Internet connect directly to your on-site computer to access your camera.

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Stevens started small with only an old PC, a $50 camera, $25 in software, a modem and dial-up Internet service. Now, it’s “grown to the exorbitant” – two high-speed computers, four cameras, a battery back-up, weather station and cable Internet.
While paying for and maintaining Web cam technology may be more practical for groups like land associations or lake associations, Stevens’ Web cam is his own pet project.
But he has found that many other Waneta Lake part-time cabin owners visit his Web site too. “This site lets us peek at the lake any time, even though we may be far away.”

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