Do you know if your security camera automatically updates the timestamp for daylight savings time? If you're unsure, here is why you should find out and how you can fix the time stamp if it's ticking to the beat of a different timezone.
The Importance Of Time Stamping
Lets suppose, your security was breached and law enforcement is asking for your surveillance footage for legal purposes. As history has proven, evidence must be accurate for it to be approved for use in a court of law. Without an accurate timestamp (date and time), your video evidence could be thrown out simply due to a lack of accuracy. In some court cases, surveillance footage was ruled as invalid simply because the timestamp was off by an hour. Accurate time stamping is essential in order to convict criminals of crimes like shoplifting, break-ins, physical assault and even credit card theft.
A Note about electronic evidence
For a moment, since we're on the subject of using surveillance evidence in the court of law, another very important item of consideration, is proving the authenticity of video footage. For example, in an American Express case, the judge requested proof of the genuineness of digital records. American Express attempted to prove the authenticity three times and each time failed. Although the types of digital files are not clarified, keep in mind this applies to all types of files, not just digital. Judges are fully aware timestamps can be easily tampered and will thus request proof of authenticity. How do individuals or small businesses do this?
One solution is the use of a digital watermark. It's quite similar to a paper watermark used on electronic documents, however it is not visible on the video itself. Instead, a specific reader program is used to reveal the watermark, giving the assurance the image does in fact belong to the correct DVR (digital video recorder) and is not corrupt or from another source. The digital watermark also automatically includes the date and timestamp. Another reason to ensure your timestamp is up to date! A digital watermark is only available on high-end DVR's and a few DVR capture cards. But more to come about digital watermarks in a future post, let's get back to accurate timestamps.
Each security camera system is different. When installed by professionals, most systems will be using a DVR (digital video recorder) or an NVR (network video recorder) . Think of these as the "mothership" of your security system. This is where video is received and stored. These types of systems are programmable and typically include an option to automatically update the time stamp for DST. Knowing whether or not this is happening may take some detective work or some cases a call to your local security camera professionals.
"Simply because professionals installed your system does not ensure it is correctly displaying the date and time as well as updating for DST"
One very important notable item, is your system will display a timestamp whether it was initially set or not. Regardless of the actual day and time, your system began ticking away the moment power initially hit it. What if your system was installed by professionals? Will the timestamp be accurate and update automatically?
Simply because professionals installed your system does not ensure it is correctly displaying the date and time, as well as updating for DST. Not all security camera systems are capable of automatic updates for DST. Each DVR/NVR is different, some with more capabilities than others. If you know your "mothership" is configured to automatically adjust for DST, you should be all set. When this is the case, the time will automatically sync with the time from the internet server. But, don't forget to sync any clocks appear in the video frame of your surveillance system!
However, if your "mothership" does not have this capability, you will need to set a task twice a year to update the timestamp manually. Instructions for how to manually adjust the time vary depending on the brand and type of DVR or NVR you are using. Do some research online. You should be able to find simple instructions for your particular device. If you have trouble, contact your local security camera experts to help show you how. They should be able to help you fix the timestamp and show you how you can do so in the future.