Frequently Asked Questions

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Should I increase my hard drive capacity to 1 terabyte?

Crime Point takes pride in providing top quality equipment that will last users for years to come. We have tested and approved 1TB hard drives for use, however, for maximum security we still recommend 500GB hard drives for most users. 1TB hard drives are safe, but 500GB hard drives are extremely safe.

Can I increase my storage to 2 terabytes?

Crime Point takes pride in providing top quality equipment that will last users for years to come. The Hard Drive is an important part of your system. As a result, we only use top quality, 2.5” (designed to handle vibration), Single Platter (much safer) hard drives. At this time Hard Drive manufacturers are not building Single Platter drives larger than 1TB, so we cannot provide these larger drives to our customers.

Why do I need a DVR? Can’t I just stream to my server?

All Crime Point systems allow users to stream to their own server. However, Crime Point recommends against streaming as a long term strategy for several reasons:

  1. Streaming to a server introduces many additional points of failure outside of the control of Crime Point and the end user.
  2. Modern internet connections do not yet provide sufficient bandwidth to stream full framerate, full quality, evidence grade MJPEG video to a central server.
  3. Many internet service providers will limit bandwidth or shutdown connections entirely after a certain threshold is reached each month. Many of our customers have experienced this despite assurances from their service providers that they would not.
I want to rely on an SD card for video storage, will that work?

We have heard many a story about customers successfully saving evidence to SD cards, however, we highly recommend against this practice and do not provide support for it for several reasons:

  • SD Cards (and flash memory in general) are notoriously unstable. Flash memory degrades with each write cycle. When using a digital still or video camera operated by a person (like a Go Pro), this is acceptable because the card is not subjected to continuous writes 24/7. However, in a surveillance scenario, the card is constantly written to and degrades at a much higher rate.
  • The method used by many SD card recorders can easily result in corrupted data if power is lost during a recording.
  • Most SD card recorders do not provide any sort of “hashing” algorithm to verify the integrity of the video when used in court.
What should I consider when I purchase a portable surveillance system?
  1. Ease of Use – Does not waste precious resources
  2. Reliability – If the system does not work, it will not capture evidence
  3. Tech Support – When something goes wrong, who will you turn to?
  4. Quality of Evidence – Should record high quality MotionJPEG with hashing for usability in court.
Do I want a wireless camera for my mobile surveillance unit?

All Crime Point systems provide cellular modems for wireless backhaul to view cameras over the internet from anywhere in the world. While we do provide some systems that use Wi-Fi to communicate between the camera and NVR, we highly recommend against this for most deployments. Wired connections are exponentially more reliable than Wi-Fi and should be used whenever possible.

What will happen if my battery fails?

Crime Point mobile systems include circuitry to protect against electrical faults and prevent over discharge of batteries. If a battery connected to a system drops below the discharge threshold, the system will failover to its next power source (if available) or shutdown.

What software is required for recording?

Crime Point systems include onboard ViewCommander NVRs to record video. Video can be exported from this NVR in either the native ViewCommander format or as AVI files that will play in any computer.

Why do I need to monitor the battery life of the recording device?

Depending on the battery connected to the system, it can operate anywhere from 3 hours to several days. Monitoring the battery level enables the user to make an informed decision about when to replace the battery pack for the system.

How long can I record to a 500GB Hard Drive?

There are 5 components that typically affect recording time on a given system:

  1. Resolution
    1. The higher the resolution of a recorded image, the more space it takes up and the less time the system can record for.
  2. Compression/Quality setting
    1. Compression and Quality are two terms used to describe the same thing. Compression is the more accurate term. A camera should never be set to lower than 10% compression (or higher than 90% quality). This is because the visual appearance of the image will not improve beyond these settings, but the space required to store the image increases significantly.
    2. The lower the compression setting (or higher the quality setting), the more space is used and the less time the system can record.
  3. Frame Rate
    1. Frame rate is inversely proportional to storage time. Doubling the frame rate cuts the storage time in half.
    2. For most applications 5fps is sufficient.
    3. To capture hand to hand transactions, 15fps is usually sufficient.
    4. Remember, 30fps gives half the record time of 15fps, and 1/6 the record time of 5fps.
  4. Light available to the camera (Daylight vs Night)
    1. Low lighting conditions create noise on the image. This causes compression to become less efficient meaning that images captured at night take more space than images captured in the day time.
  5. Depth of field
    1. Sharper images are compressed less than blurry images. A greater depth of field (more of the image in focus) will cause more space to be used and therefore less recording time will be available.

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What is the battery life when I record with a Crime Point System?

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Can I power my system from my vehicle battery, for example a cigarette plug?

Crime Point mobile systems can be powered from any 12V source and will operate properly when powered from any consistent power source, however you should never power any surveillance system from your vehicle’s starting system for several reasons:

  1. Most vehicles use flooded lead acid batteries. These batteries are designed to provide very high current for a very short time (like when starting a vehicle). They are not intended for running a device for a long period of time. Flooded batteries have a higher “dead” voltage than sealed batteries and are far more easily damaged, potentially being destroyed from a single over discharge event. Additionally, flooded type batteries likely would not provide the desired runtime even if they were safe to use.
  2. Cigarette plugs do not provide a consistent, quality power connection. Crime Point does not provide cigarette adapters with our systems.
  3. Vehicle charging systems (ie alternators) are designed to provide enough power for the electronics in the vehicle to operate when the engine is running, and to top off the charge on the starting battery following the rapid discharge required to start the vehicle. Typically the charging system is not able to properly charge a battery that has been deeply discharged, especially if the vehicle is only idling and not traveling at freeway speeds. This would likely lead to a damaged vehicle battery.
  4. A discharged vehicle battery could put an officer in danger if they are unable to start their vehicle.
Can I use a HermitCam® somewhere else besides a pole camera?

Crime Point offers many complete systems that are for mobile use as well as standalone HermitCam® cameras that can be used in any disguise.

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Should I use motion detection?

All Crime Point systems support advanced motion detection. Motion detection can be advantageous for reducing the time required to review video, and increasing overall recording time on a hard drive. However, there are also risks involved using motion detection. If motion settings are not configured properly, an incident may not be recorded. Motion detection settings also need to be changed to work properly under different lighting conditions (day/night). Motion detection settings must be changed with each movement of a PTZ camera. Additionally, motion settings must be changed between deployments. If motion detection is still configured from a previous deployment it can cause evidence loss during the current deployment. There are also common scenarios where proving that an incident DID NOT take place is as important as showing that an incident did take place.

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My “off-the-shelf” IP camera claims to be a day/night camera, why doesn’t it perform as well as the HermitCam® in low light conditions?

Most IP Cameras are designed for deployment in a “Security” scenario. This means that in addition to the installation of the cameras themselves, nighttime lighting conditions must be controlled to provide adequate light to the sensor. These cameras also have complex algorithms for determining internal settings so that they work in a variety of lighting conditions, however these algorithms must make decisions without actually knowing what the camera is looking at and can never compete with the human eye. The Urban Low Light™ setting on the Hermit Cam brings control of the low light settings directly to the user, allowing the camera to work under much more dynamic lighting conditions.

Can I record video directly to a USB drive?

While our hardware is just as capable of recording to removable drives as the next, Crime Point software does not allow recording to removable drives. USB and other “Hot Swap” technologies are designed to make connection of new devices easy with minimal user interaction. If it doesn’t work the first time, simply unplug it and try again. Unfortunately this does not lend itself well to critical situations where uptime and reliability are of the utmost importance. We have seen USB drives that successfully work the first time for years, while other drives of the same make and model constantly need to be unplugged and re-plugged just to get a computer to recognize them. Even if USB were to work properly 90% of the time, we view the 10% as an unacceptable risk to an investigation.