I posted a piece earlier called “The pitfalls of self-surveillance”. My thoughts haven’t changed; I don’t think more surveillance makes the world a better place; it presents a serious risk to personal privacy; and the distraction of alerts & notifications coupled with obsessing with who’s visited your home can be a source of anxiety. So, I bought a video doorbell system.
There are two main reasons for the purchase; first, I need to validate that it played well with my privacy system Off Hours currently in development. Second, the opinions expressed in the pitfalls post were based on things people have reported as opposed to what I’ve experienced. After reading several product reviews I purchased the Eufy Security smart doorbell. It’s well built, and the high-quality video is stored locally which was paramount.
A quick review of my issues with smart doorbells:
The more upsetting the content of captured video the more it’s promoted – as opposed to its newsworthiness. Shared videos make crime seem rampant. It’s not, and to think so doesn’t make you a better neighbor. In my opinion Ring doorbell camera is the worst because of their affiliation with Police Departments across the US, their social media app called Neighbors, and the cloud-based architecture that takes the video out of your direct control. There’s no technology fix forthcoming, it’s best to just try to not be part of the problem.
I’ve had my Eufy camera installed for a few days now. It tolerates network disconnects created by Off Hours well, and it stores events that occurred when the network was off. So far, I receive regular notifications when I let the dog out, a few false alarms, and positive confirmation that the mail carrier left that package at my door (which felt a little voyeuristic – not in a good way).
I wouldn’t be comfortable hearing a motion notification coming from my phone in the middle of the night – especially since I’d have to walk past the front door to get to my phone. That won’t happen because Off Hours keeps my system off at night. Reminds me of the home alarm my dad had installed for my mom to enable when he was away. She NEVER enabled it. When I asked her why, she said it would give her a heart attack if it ever went off.
I’ll keep an open mind and send an update in a few weeks.
February 11, 2020