According Joe Freeman of security firm J.P. Freeman, while only 20 percent of the cameras sold in 2006 were IP cameras, manufacturers expect that within five years that number will rise to 60 percent. As IP systems become the norm, the price is declining rapidly.
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While high-end IP cameras can cost $3,000 or more, the WiLife LukWerks Digital Video Surveillance System sells starter kits to small businesses for as little as $300. With these systems, companies simply plug in the camera and install the software. Supervisors can then monitor what happens at the office from any Internet connectioneven their cell phones.
Digital technology is also transforming the way video is stored and retrieved. Instead of searching forwards and backwards through VCR tapes, supervisors and security personnel can call up any point in time instantly from the DVR or NVR.
"Intelligent" cameras can be programmed to analyze and respond to a variety of situations. On the most basic level, this can mean recording only when a motion detector is set off. Other more advanced systems link video images to the cash register tape for theft prevention. And on the cutting edge, Panoptic Systems claims to be only 10 months away from using input from multiple cameras to create a 3-D view of every person throughout a facility.
As the lines blur between work and home life, so do the lines between what is and isn't acceptable for employers to monitor. The National Workrights Institute Reports that 20 million people work from home at least one day a month. "When this occurs, people's home computers are subject to monitoring by their employer. Workplace computer monitoring systems monitor the entire network, including a home computer that is temporarily part of the network."
That means the Web sites you visit, e-mails you send, and documents you save while connected to the corporate network not only can be tracked by your employerthey probably are.
The new range of GPS-enabled devices gives employers another window into their employee's activities. In the latest AMA survey, 5 percent of companies used GPS to track cell phones, 8 percent used GPS to track company cars, and 8 percent used GPS to track employee ID or Smartcards. And in most cases, companies aren't required to tell you if they use GPS to track your location.
In other words, when your boss calls and asks where you are, he or she may already know the answer.