What is a Mobile Surveillance Trailer?

We've all seen them, these strange Star Wars looking robot on wheels, eyes in the sky, parking lot security camera trailers. Why are they there and why do we need them? The answer is; they are the only cost-effective and reliable response to crime and public nuisance behaviors available to business owners, construction managers and municipalities.

Surveillance security trailer examples

The 2024 Version of a Security Guard

The tried and proven solution in the past has been to hire a security guard to patrol, deter and report crime. The problem with this old school solution has been the lack of reliability and the excessive cost.

The first big problem is staffing. Our younger generation shows up to scheduled job interviews 13% of the time. Who schedules a job interview but never shows up? Answer: most individuals under the age of 25 never show up to an agreed upon (in person) interview. It's impossible to staff a guard force with unreliable employees who show up late, cannot unglue their phone from their hand and who feel entitled to everything but hard work. It just does not work.

The cost of a guard is also prohibitive. A guard service providing afterhours service (12 hours a day) will cost $10,000/month for a single guard.

The Market for Surveillance Trailers

What business owners, police and community safety managers need is a solution that never calls in sick, never takes a break, never steals, deters crime, provides live response, and video documents all events at a reasonable cost. Surveillance trailers do this, and that is why the demand for these trailers is exploding. The market for these trailers is predicted to be 2.7 Billion dollars in 2024.

The Need for Surveillance Trailers

One driving demand for these trailers is the explosion of crime and theft sweeping our nation. A construction site for example can easily incur $30K worth of damage and theft in one night mainly due to midnight scrappers looking for copper, metals, and tools. Anything they can swap or pawn to support a drug habit. The $30k worth of damage they cause usually generates maybe $500-$700 worth of scrap metal.

The trailers are so effective in deterring this type of crime the insurance industry is now requiring many construction companies to deploy the trailers or they will not insure the project. That's a very strong indication to their effectiveness.

But surveillance trailers are not just for construction sites, many organizations are seeing the value in their deterrence. City governments and police departments are deploying them in crime problem areas as well as HOA's, retail chains, and any other applications needing a security guard or crime deterrence.

Technology & the Past

Surveillance trailers are not new to the market; they have been around for a decade. What is new is the technology. Trailers have two main requirements: power and communication. The solar technology can now support the power demand of high-performance surveillance equipment and the maturity of the national cellular networks and bigger band width capabilities have solved the communication bottlenecks of the past. In other words the technology now provides the performance needed to make trailers effective.

What do Surveillance Trailer Cost?

The costs are all over the board. There are as many variations of surveillance trailers as there are models of cars. Everyone has their version and price. In general, they range from $35,000 to $100,000 for a high-end version. The trend has been to rent the units rather than buy due to the large capital cost to own one. Rentals range from $1,700-3,500 per month. The monthly fee covers the equipment rental, cellular data plan and live monitoring of the cameras. Some view the cost as excessive but remember what one security guard costs each month ($10,000). Trailers are more effective than a security guard and much less expensive.

How do Surveillance Trailers work?

Trailers are equipped with the latest camera technology; the technology uses advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) to monitor the video feeds. The AI can now automatically detect the human form with a 99.8% accuracy. This leaves the argues task of watching the live video feeds to AI and not humans. When the AI detects the human form, event alerts are transmitted to the monitoring center who takes over the live monitoring and response. This process is reliable and efficient.

When a monitoring representative confirms the intrusion by monitoring the live video feed, they have the ability to broadcast live warnings to exit the area or the police will be dispatched. If the intruders do not comply, the police are dispatched. This dispatch request (being visual confirmed) takes high priority with authorities.

Site Management

Surveillance trailers are not just for deterrence and security. Companies are using them to remotely manage construction sites and business operations. The user can access the live video feeds using a smart phone or computers. The on-board NVR will store up to 4 weeks of 4K video for download and review. This puts managers on-site no matter where they are with the ability to review documented events.

Live Monitoring & Deterrence

The main value of a surveillance trailer is the ability to respond to events in real-time. The only way to do that is to monitor the human detection alerts coming in from the system and having the ability to first deter a crime and second dispatch the authorities. The monitoring service does all of this and more. They first detect a potential problem, then they monitor the situation in real-time, if needed they broadcast warning messages and can trigger a siren to draw attention to the area. Then they dispatch the police and notify the customer. They then communicate with the authorities as to the result of the dispatch. When resolved, an event report is prepared and sent to the customer for review and then archived. The footage of the event is also copied and saved.

Does Live Active Deterrence Work? You decide...

How to Build a Surveillance Trailer

Lets walk through the components needed to construct an effective surveillance trailer. We'll start from the ground up.

Prefabricated Trailer frame & Chassis


First you will need a platform to mount the surveillance and power equipment. But the solution also needs to be mobile for deployments. You have two options, manufacture your own chassis, or use a prefabricated light trailer chassis. We at Backstreet build our own, we have found the extra steel we put in our frames provide several security and durability benefits.

Solar Trailer Leveling Jacks

Leveling System

The chassis must have the ability to level itself. Why is this important? No matter which mast is used to support the cameras (telescoping or tilt-up), if the mast is not level, the pan-tilt-zoom cameras will not operate properly, and the horizontal view will not be horizontal. A small error in leveling the chassis will cause a magnified problem at the top of the mast.

All solutions use some variation of the crank leveling stands used for normal trailers. Four are required, one on each corner of the chassis. Some trailers extend these leveling supports out from the chassis in an effort to stabilize and create a larger footprint, making it more difficult to tip over. But if you keep the batteries and electronics low in the chassis, the center of gravity will not allow two or even three individuals the ability to tip the trailer. Keeping the center of gravity low is also a good design for the transportation benefits.

NEMA Controls Enclosure

NEMA Enclosure

You're going to need a environmentally controlled enclosure for the power inverter, batteries, communication and surveillance controls. The box should meet IP67 standards and have a temperature control system. By the virtue of operation, the controls generate enough heat to keep them operational except in the most extreme cold. It's the heat that causes the biggest concerns. An automated fan system should activate when temperatures reach above 85 degrees and turn off when below. With air moving through the enclosure (even if its hot air) the flow disperses the heat keeping the systems operational. Good trailer design calls for this enclosure to be protected from direct sunlight. Many designs leave these control boxes in the sun to bake all day. We chose to go with an outer shell design which keeps the direct weather and sun off the control enclosures and helps deter vandalism.

Power Controls

Power System

Most trailers are now solar driven. In the past when the solar technology was not so good, many trailers had a gas generator which turned on during the day to charge the batteries. You can still order trailers with this feature but they are becoming rare due to the efficiency of the solar systems.

The power system consists of three components: the inverter, the solar panels and the batteries. The inverter manages the power flow to the controls and recharges the batteries. The solar panels must be selected based on the power draw of the equipment you plan to use. The system should have sufficient solar charging capability to recharge the entire system within 8 hours of sun light. The batteries should provide a minimum of (3) days of operational power. If you'll plan for (3) days of zero sunlight you will end up with (5) days of actual operational backup power. This occurs because even during the most overcast days there is ambient light coming through the clouds which helps charge the system to some degree. Our trailers are consistently getting (5) days of actual battery operation.

Surveillance Equipment

Trailers are equipped with many types of cameras. They include long range pan-tilt-zoom, passive infrared, thermal, license plate capture, and any application specific camera you can mount to a mast. We know our systems best so we'll describe how and why we designed our systems the way we have.

CCTV Surveillance Controls

Our systems offer (3) long range PTZ cameras standard with an option for a (4)th. The cameras have extreme zoom capability and can identify the human form up to 500 feet at night. We offer the option to replace a PTZ camera with an LPR camera for license plate capture.

The cameras report to an on-board NVR/PoE unit which is equipped with adequate storage for 4 weeks of 4K video. The NVR is the "server" for the remote access to live video feeds and recorded playback.

An outdoor 120db speaker/siren is also installed on the mast. The unit allows the monitoring center to broadcast warnings and if needed trigger a siren. The unit is also equipped with a microphone providing two-way communication within 50 feet of the unit. The specifications we targeted are listed below as well as a link to our spec sheets for the trailers.

Rental Program - Specifications Sheet - Sentry 10 Minute Setup

      Sentry All-terrain Features

      • • Re-enforced Frame & Chassis
      • • Steel One-piece No-Sway Mast - 18ft
      • • Heavy Duty Suspension
      • • Climate Controlled
      • • Full-body Skid Plate
      • • Cellular or Satellite Data Comms
      • • 10 Day Battery Backup
      • • 14 Day Event Recording
      • • Human & Non-human Detection
      • • Line Cross & Perimeter Alerts
      • • Public Broadcast Speaker 120db
      • • Two-way Audio Communication
      • • 50ft Radius Wifi Hot Spot
      • • Emergency Call Service
      • • 800 Watts Solar Charging
      • • 800 Amp Battery Backup
      • • Long Range Night Vision
      • • 360 Degree Viewing
      • • LoJack GPS Locator
      • • Custom Wraps


There are two types of masts which the cameras are mounted, telescoping and tilt-up. We prefer the tilt-up mast for several reasons. First the telescoping masts have a big design flaw. They sway, they sway in the wind a lot. Some even require support guide wires from the top of the mast to the trailer frame just to stabilize it. The real problem is when a PTZ camera is zoomed in to a target area and the mast sways half an inch, the zoomed in view sways 2 to 3 feet horizontally. This makes AI human detection less reliable and the system less effective. Our tilt-up mast has no such problems with the wind, our single piece no-sway mast puts the cameras at the 18 foot height as others, without all the wiggle. Tilt-up masts require less moving parts and deploys quickly and reliably.

Trailer Mast Options Telescope vs Tilt-up

Solar Array

Power Controls

The size of the solar panels needed are a direct function of the power draw, which is a direct function of the equipment selected. Remember you really need to over engineer when it comes to solar. Our systems are equipped with 800 Watts of solar charging. This allows a completely drained system to fully recharge in a 6-8 hour period of sunlight and is ready for another 3-5 days of battery operation.

The solar panels should point true south when they are deployed. You can use an iPhone's compass to find true south. Remember to go into settings in the phone and select the "true north" option for the compass tool.

The angle of the panels to the sun also matters. Depending on your location in North America, the panels should be set between 35 to 45 degrees (35 degrees southern Florida, 45 degrees North Dakota). The simple rule to follow is: since 80% of North America is best set to 40 degrees, if you set your panels to 40 degrees and over engineer your solar system just a bit, the angle of the panels (no matter where you are in North America) will not be an issue.

Power Controls


The most cost-effective way to link the system to the monitoring center and provide user access is a cellular data plan. A hotspot is located in the control box and provides broadband access using any smart device, computer or tablet. Satellite service is also an option, it does cost more and has a greater power draw, but sometimes satellite is the only option available.


Now you know all the major components of a surveillance trailer, its time to design the assembly. The key to a functional design is to harden the entire system against adverse weather conditions and human vandalism, while keeping the setup and deployment easy and reliable. Some trailers are so complicated to setup it takes a trained technician. A good design keeps setup easy while eliminating vulnerabilities. In other words, reliability is a result of simple design.

Operational Support

Surveillance trailers are complicated in operation. The goal is to have the user oblivious to the challenges and to deliver a simple and reliable experience for the end user. There is a lot to consider besides the equipment. Mobile apps must be constantly updated for the latest phones, operating systems will need periodic firmware updates, and the user will need support accessing and managing the system. The monitoring center will also need to seamlessly interact with the technical support staff and the end user. Backstreet orchestrates all this behind the scenes and provides a complete "one call that’s all" support experience.

Surveillance Trailer support staff


Now you have a choice, you can spend the next 2 years learning all the things it took us years to learn, or you can purchase one of our trailers. We've already done all of that other stuff, no need for both of us to do it.


Cameras can be selected for the application. If you have a specific application which is likely to require specialty cameras, give us a call, we'll have a solution. Direct purchase trailers have the option of generic or a custom wrap for a small customization fee ($500). Rentals are branded Backstreet.

Custom wraps for surveillance trailers

Cheers, and thanks for reading.

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  1. Sentry-Pro Trailer Monthly Rental
    Monthly Rental Program
    • 24hr Monitoring & Police Dispatch, Vandalism Insurance, Factory Support, Unlimited User Access, 4 Weeks Video Storage, Data Services, Shipping & Pickup, NO Hidden Fees.
  2. Sentry-Pro Mobile Surveillance Trailer
    Customers #1 Choice
    • Compact, high performance, 4K Video Surveillance Trailer. Supports (4) PTZ Cameras & 120dB Talk-down Speakers. Solar-powered with (4) days of battery backup.
  3. Sentry-X Solar Trailer Generic Platform
    You Provide the CCTV & Comms
    • 800W Charging, 400Amps Backup, 18ft No-sway Mast, Supports any IP Device, 6-8hr Charge, 3-5 Day Battery, 3500lb Wheelbase. Outfit it your way!
  4. Axis-Pro Solar Surveillance Trailer
    Axis Communicatons Platform
    • Axis Camera Equipped Surveillance Trailer. With (3) Axis PTZ Cameras & (1) Axis 110dB Talk-down Speaker. Solar-powered with (4) days of battery backup.
  5. Hanwha-Pro Solar Surveillance Trailer
    Hanwha Vision Platform
    • Hanwha Camera Equipped Surveillance Trailer. With (3) Hanwha PTZ Cameras & (1) 110dB Talk-down Speaker. Solar-powered with (4) days of battery backup.
  6. Sentry All-Terrain Surveillance Trailer
    Off-Grid Surveillance Trailer
    • When the road in...is not a road. Or when power & communication options are nonexistent, this self-sustaining surveillance trailer is your solution.
  7. Axis All-Terrain Surveillance Trailer
    Off-Grid Axis Surveillance Trailer
    • When the road in...is not a road. Or when power & communication options are nonexistent, this self-sustaining surveillance trailer is your solution.
  8. (Sentry-Mobile) Mobile Surveillance Trailer
    Battery Powered - 120v Charging
    • Box Style 4K Video Surveillance Trailer. View live & recorded 4K video anywhere. Requires 120v on-site power, 8hrs for recharge, 5 day battery operation.
  9. (Sentry-Solar) Mobile Surveillance Trailer
    Solar Powered - Box Style
    • 4K Video Surveillance Trailer. View live & recorded 4K video anywhere. Solar-powered with (5) days of battery backup. Supports up to (6) Cameras.
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