Tech is always on the move, and that’s good news for busy PIs. Today’s surveillance equipment can help you save space, time – and even money. But it’s important to know what’s worth upgrading, and what technology investments will give you the best returns for the price. Let’s take a look at some of the best-advised upgrades for 2022. We’ll talk about why these are important on the job, and what to look for when buying.
Switch to a Digital Camera
If you haven’t yet made the switch to a DSLR camera, it’s really time to make the change. High-grade DSLRs are easy to use, compact, and have an incredible variety of lens options including powerful long-range zoom lenses. They can also automatically pair with devices like laptops or phones to immediately view large-sized versions of photos and choose which to keep, and where to save them. The combined benefits are excellent for any surveillance where you’ll be snapping photos.
The only downside to a DSLR or similar model is that they can become very expensive. It’s a good idea to budget well ahead of a purchase so that your funds are impacted.
Buy a Power Bank
A power bank is a battery pack design to help charge up today’s mobile devices. Charge it up, keep it in your car, and it can help recharge your phone, camera, and other devices. This has quickly become a necessity for long-term surveillance jobs, and if you don’t have a large power bank yet, it’s time to get one. You may even want to buy two.
Try a Wireless External Hard Drive
External hard drives are a necessity for surveillance jobs where you’ll be taking plenty of photos or video shots. With an external drive, preferably a compact SSD model, at your side, you don’t have to worry about running out of storage space on a phone or laptop. That’s especially helpful when you are juggling high-res image formats that can hog a lot of space, if you aren’t careful with them. Wireless versions of external hard drives include a battery pack and a Wi-Fi connection to wirelessly transmit photos, but other types of connections are also available.
Mobile trackers have never been more common or effective, from Apple’s own AirTags to the variety of options from the Tile brand. These trackers can be used in anything from wallets or backpacks to vehicles and pet collars. They use apps that link to detailed maps for tracking locations and can last for months without needing to be recharged.
A Great Pair of Headphones
Headphones can help you analyze audio much more effectively and block out distractions while you are focusing on specific details. Wireless headphones that work via Bluetooth connections are the best choice, because they are generally compatible with any devices you are using and there are no cables to worry about tangling – you’ll just have to make sure they are fully charged before a job.
A Dash Cam
If you don’t have one, it’s time to invest. Dash cams are helpful for liability issues involving any kind of vehicle accident, which PIs may have experienced on the job before. Even if accidents don’t happen, any kind of tailing or scouting out a new location will benefit from a dash cam that can automatically record anything that happens for later review.
Forget old-fashioned flashlights: It’s time to upgrade to an LED (light-emitting diode) light. They’re bright, long-lasting, and incredibly compact. They come in every form possible, from tiny flashlights to flexible stands you can wrap around things like the head of your car seat or steering wheel. You’ll find they can have a dozen uses on surveillance jobs that extend into the dark hours.
Apps like Detectify or Wireless Device Detector can help you find hidden surveillance devices like bugs or cams. They aren’t foolproof, but they’re usually free or very affordable, and can help you do a quick scan of a room at a moment’s notice.
If you’re still taking notes the traditional way, try out a note-taking app instead. These apps, popularized by brands like Evernote, allow for quick note taking and organizations of all kinds. Many also include dictation options for automatic note-taking while you’re talking aloud or recording options for recording and storing interviews. Plus, these apps can generally sync across your devices, so wherever you save updates, other versions of the app will be updated back on your computer or phone.
When upgrading your equipment, it’s a good idea to keep your old equipment around, at least for a while. You may find alternative devices work well in particular jobs. Or you may want to expand your investigation firm with additional employees and having extra equipment nearby could be useful.
Additionally, you may want to check out the warranties for any expensive devices you choose – longer warranties may be important for equipment that’s frequently used on the go.
Finally, remember best practices for security and privacy. Use strong passwords and keep your devices in secure locations. Don’t use your professional equipment for personal uses off the job. This also helps avoid liability issues or compromising clients if your equipment is lost or stolen!