San Antonio

The Double-Edged Sword That is Video Surveillance

Video cameras are everywhere. Pay a visit to your local big-box department store and you can bet that video cameras will be watching your every move. Your car was probably spotted by multiple cameras on your way to the store. When you stop to get gas on the way home, there may be a camera at the gas station. You might even have cameras in your own home.

Wireless technology has made video surveillance so easy that just about everyone is doing it to some degree. Is that good or bad? Actually, it is both. Video surveillance is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. Each of us must decide for ourselves how much of it we want in our lives.

Video Surveillance at Home

Wireless video cameras have really taken off as a home security feature. Consumers have come to understand that a few well-placed cameras can provide good views of the front door, the family room, the garage, and so on. Families have been known to use their video cameras to keep track of the babysitter or watch contractors as they work in the home.

Video doorbells are another hot product. According to vivint.com, video doorbell is one of the hottest consumer products for protecting against porch piracy. Some homeowners combine video doorbells with smart locks to provide access to their homes without having to give family or friends physical keys.

Source:vivint.com

All of this is good for the most part. Home surveillance allows us to keep track of our homes even when we are away. Whether at work or on vacation in a faraway land, all it takes to bring up video camera views is an internet connection and a smartphone app.

Video Can Catch Criminals

Another very good aspect to video surveillance is its effectiveness and catching criminals. For example, the San Antonio Police Department arrested a man in mid-May and charged him with burglarizing a storage facility one month prior. They successfully identified him using footage captured by on-site security cameras.

In addition to identifying him, the cameras also showed him pulling off the actual crime. He could be seen in the footage breaking locks and carrying duffel bags full of items away.

The San Antonio police joins nearly every other police agency around the country in using video as an investigative tool. Moreover, footage doesn’t have to come from the actual scene of the crime to be helpful. Police agencies sometimes use surveillance video from multiple locations to piece together events occurring prior to, and after, the crime being investigated.

Again, these are all good things. Video surveillance used appropriately can help authorities catch criminals and win convictions. As such, they can be a deterrent to crime as well. If you want to protect your home and your loved ones, click here to check out some great custom video surveillance systems

Intrusions into Our Privacy

With two positives acknowledged, let us look at the other edge of the sword. Prolific video surveillance immediately brings to mind concerns over intrusions into our privacy. This post began with an explanation of how such intrusion occurs. No matter where one goes these days there are video surveillance cameras keeping an eye on things.

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It is bad enough that red light cameras are paying attention to how we drive while store security cameras are spying on us as we shop. But it gets worse. For example, we must acknowledge that it is now possible to combine surveillance video with facial recognition software to identify people without their knowledge. What are the implications of such technology?

We will not get into issues involving government and law enforcement here. You work through them in your own mind. But imagine something as seemingly benign as social media sharing. We already know that platforms like Facebook rely on facial recognition to tag photos. Do we really want Facebook tagging our videos too?

Are any of us comfortable with retail stores following us around and recording everything we do in order to better understand our shopping habits? If they can identify us with video and facial recognition, they can build better profiles about our habits. This is not to say that such surveillance is happening, but it is certainly possible with the technology we have.

Intrusions into the Home

Things get worse when you are talking about intrusions into our homes. There have been plenty of stories of video surveillance cameras being hacked by creeps who torment homeowners and their families. Who knows how many of these creeps are just fooling around and how many pose a serious threat to personal safety?

In another story out of San Antonio, a cybersecurity expert showed KSAT News how easy it is to use the internet to access home security cameras. He explained that untold numbers of residential and commercial cameras are vulnerable because they are on unsecured networks. That doesn’t sound good, does it?

We Need a More Measured Approach

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Video surveillance is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. This post is not intended to convince you one way or the other on the veracity and need for video surveillance. Rather, it is simply to point out the fact that society needs to take a more measured approach to surveillance.

Every technology has its positives and negatives. No technology should be fully embraced by society without significant forethought and research. By the same token, no technology should be dismissed or rejected without making an attempt to fully understand it.

The challenge for us right now is that so many people seem to be too welcoming of video surveillance. There are too many people who have no idea they are being surveilled as they go through their daily lives. This sort of ignorance only allows bad things to happen. We all need to pay more attention. We all need to make a better effort to think things through.

In the meantime, expect the proliferation of video surveillance to continue. Every time we turn around there seems to be a new camera keeping track of our comings and goings. It is the world in which we live.

The Best US Cities to Invest in Real Estate

Many people have enough money left over from their paycheck to save at least a small amount. Over time, this can grow to a much larger amount. Part of being able to build up money and create a nest egg is knowing where to invest. Real estate can form a vital part of this plan for everyone. Everyone can buy a house. People can also find ways to invest in other forms of real estate such as multi-family homes and fixing up a home in the area that might need just a bit of tender loving care.

Some people go beyond. They choose to make all or part of their living as real estate investors. For them, real estate is not just something they do sometimes. It is a real passion. Real estate investors are in luck today. There are many housing markets in the United States that offer incredible possibilities. From the delights of sunny Phoenix to the fun of living in Seattle, investing in real estate in the United States can yield impressive results. These are the best places to invest in real estate in the country right now. Many factors go into making them a good place for any capitalist. From mild climates to low living costs and lots of people who have moved in recent years, these are a good choice for real estate investors large and small.

Atlanta, Georgia

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Atlanta, Georgia is home to millions and continuing to see incredible growth. This quintessentially southern city has a proud heritage that continues to develop today. Once a sleepy little town in the center of Georgia, it’s now a major destination. Home to the busiest airport in the United States, Atlantans are happy to leave and even happier to return. They need housing. Real estate investors who can provide it are likely to see a timely and hefty rate of return. It’s a good place to look to the long-term as the real estate markets in this city are only likely to see even further growth as the city continues to move in all directions.

Orlando, Florida

With nearly five percent population growth and unemployment numbers at under four percent, Orlando is thriving. It’s a major tourist destination both in the United States and for those in other parts of the United States. When it comes to real estate investing, Orlando offers incredible opportunities for those who have done their homework. Real estate is seeing a ten percent plus growth rate. This number is likely to continue over time and go even further. Property owners who can take existing housing stock and add a few improvements are likely to find lots of people qualified and delighted to move in. The market in this part of the world continues to be strong for the renter as well. Many people choose to stop here on their way to somewhere else. They also choose to put down temporary roots to see if this is where they want to be for a longer period. Thoughtful investors can join be right there with the housing they need.

Phoenix, Arizona

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Phoenix, Arizona has taken center stage in recent decades. What has once thought a sleepy little town in the middle of the west is now something a lot more. This is a great place to bring capital. It’s been the single fastest-growing county in the entire United States for three years in a row. Low property and business taxes make it an excellent place to begin a new venture of any kind. The overall lower cost of living means those who want to start a business don’t have to worry about paying too much for the basics. Investing in real estate can take many forms from merely adding a room to bring in people for a few nights via Airbnb, to putting up brand new homes. According to The Kay-Grant Group, a leading real estate firm in Scottsdale AZ, the low housing inventory means that the demand vs supply will take years to even out. It also means prices on a per square foot for housing basis are also likely to continue to rise ever upwards. Unlike some other markets, this one is no artificial bubble driven by forces that may not continue over the long-term. This is one market that is likely to continue to dazzle investors and keep impressive revenues flowing into any investor’s coffers.

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus Ohio is a pleasant city in the heartland of the Midwest. Low unemployment rates and a low cost of living make it a good choice for those just starting out and those who are looking for a place to retire. It draws people from the surrounding areas in search of big city life. This is a good place to buy a home. The average home price is about $180,000. Low mortgage rates make it easy to pay that off and own a property free and clean. Renters face comparatively steep rental costs so any investor who can bring in lower-cost rental housing is likely to find many tenants happy to stay here and make that home their own.

San Antonio, Texas

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Charming San Antonio has seen lots of solid population growth. It’s a hub for science and technology as well as a place to put down long term roots and enjoy family life. For those who are looking at parts of Texas that might be a favorable place for their investment dollars, San Antonio is a useful stop. Unemployment is well under three percent so there’s an incredible opportunity for anyone who wants to find a job. For the real estate investor, this is a city on the move. Many types of real estate in this area including condos make it an easy and profitable place to get into real estate and enjoy the ongoing benefits

St. Petersburg, Florida

Just like nearby Tampa, St. Petersburg is a city that is attracting lots of people in search of a dream and a chance to make it come true. It’s a city with lots of sunshine and an appealing climate all year long. For those who are planning to make this one their home in their golden years, it’s also a fabulous place to retire that offers lots of things to do. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico make for easy swimming year-round along with pleasant outdoor parks. Investors will find a highly growing area with many different kinds of housing waiting for them right here. This is a good place to get a start in the Florida real estate market. Housing options like small apartments can be purchased for a small sum and rented out to people in search of some fun in the sun for a week or longer. Real estate here has done even better than the stock market in recent years.

Seattle, Washington

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Seattle is one of the capitals of life in the northwest. Population growth here is nearly six percent. This makes it a ready market for all those who are looking for housing and want to stay. For the investor, the Seattle real estate market is one that offers incredible rewards. It’s a market that has seen home values climb as more and more people are learning what it has to offer. As one of the nation’s high tech capitals, it is only likely to continue to be a magnet for those in search of a great job. The real estate investor can be right there with them.