by Shawn Scarlata
Whether you’ve just signed a first-time lease on a new building for your business or are profitable enough to be opening up a second location, keeping your business protected should be at the top of your move-in list. Installing a video surveillance system can not only help you solve a crime once it’s been committed, but can also act as a deterrent for would-be criminals.
However, just like with computers, phones, tablets and all of your favorite electronic gadgets, video surveillance systems come in many shapes and sizes. Depending on the type of business you own, or the kind of insurance you have, certain features of video surveillance systems will be more beneficial to you than others.
Before installing any video surveillance system, it’s important to understand what kinds of additional functionality you might need at your business. For example, ADT business solutions include email notifications, motion detection and cloud storage solutions. Another company, Dropcam, a cloud-based monitoring service, allows users to turn their cameras on and off at specific times of the day or week via a scheduling option.
After you’ve determined the functionality you need and have purchased the equipment, it’s time to install your video surveillance system. No matter what video surveillance system you choose, there’s a few commonalities all video surveillance systems share. Here are some tips to installing your new safety monitoring system.
Although it may be tempting to break open your new equipment right away, you’ll want to make sure you have the items necessary to complete the installation of your video surveillance system. According to VideoUniversity.com, you’ll need:
- Surveillance camera kit
- Drill with bits
- Fish tape coil for mounting wires (unless you’ve chosen a wireless system)
- Video monitor for viewing
While every video surveillance system will likely come with its own user manual, it’s important to have the materials noted above so you can install your system right away. The user manuals will come in handy when it’s time to learn how to operate the camera and how to troubleshoot any issues that may arise during installation.
Before you drill any holes in the wall, it’s a good idea to survey the area(s) where you’ll be placing your cameras and map it out. For example, depending on how many cameras you purchased for your monitoring system, you may have to prioritize certain areas of your business above others. Business Insider suggests that beyond understanding crime in your area, knowing how employees use your exits, entrances and parking lots can help you make good decisions on where your cameras should be placed.
If you’ve got a good idea on where you’d like to place your cameras, VideoUniversity.com advises you connect your first camera to a power source as well as your video monitor. Then, you can hold the camera where you think you’d like to mount it. After you check via the video monitor that the camera placement gives you the range that you want, make a mark on the wall to determine the location of the camera mount, which will come with each camera you purchase. You’ll want to mark where you’ll be using the drill and screws to secure the camera mount.
If you’re not an electrician, it might be worth checking with one to ensure you aren’t drilling in or around any electrical wires, which could have serious repercussions. Once you’ve confirmed it’s a safe zone to drill, VideoUniversity.com recommends drilling pilot holes (holes smaller than screws) before placing the mount and screwing it onto the wall with real screws. This way, you can be sure the first time you screw the mount onto the wall, the mount is in it’s rightful place and won’t need to be moved again, which can be a hassle depending on the amount of cameras you have.
Here’s where the camera user manual might come in handy! Depending on the video surveillance system you purchased, you likely have a host of features that you can choose to take advantage of, like recording schedules, mobile phone alerts and more. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with your options on how to monitor and stay connected to the video surveillance you’ve purchased for your business, now is the time.
After you’ve mounted the cameras, you’ll want to pull out the control box, which is the virtual home base for your cameras. VideoUniversity.com instructs folks to connect the cable that comes with the camera to both the camera and the control box. If you’re keeping the control box in a back room or out-of-sight, this may require another hole in your wall, so checking again for electrical wires is a must. Once the camera is connected to the control box, you can test the video recording and monitoring as well as any other feature you’ll be utilizing in your video surveillance system.
Installing a video surveillance system can be easy, but only if you come prepared with the materials and knowledge of your new system and how you’ll be using it to protect your business. Understanding the features as well as having a general plan for the layout of your cameras will make installing your video surveillance system a breeze.
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These days, it’s not hard to find the video surveillance cameras that exist in many brick-and-mortar stores. One reason is because this popular surveillance technique can be relatively inexpensive in comparison with other costly surveillance methods, like hiring a security guard. In fact, businesses may be able to benefit from government-funded video surveillance grants, as the Department of Homeland Security awards billions of dollars per year to U.S. cities for safety purposes like video surveillance.
And business owners aren’t hiding these cameras, either. In fact, having them in plain sight is part of the plan: video cameras are not only useful for recording crimes in order to identify thieves, but also to deter criminals from committing crimes in the first place. Knowing that your behavior could be caught on camera can sometimes be enough to prevent crime, if not also supporting evidence for the crime after it’s been committed.
Video surveillance can prevent crime before it happens, but only if your video surveillance system has the support it needs to work that way. Here are three attributes your video surveillance system needs in order to prevent crime before it happens.
- A Well-trained Monitoring Staff. Depending on your business, you may have a small number of cameras that focus on one room or a large number of cameras that can see the span of several large areas, inside and outside. No matter what your setup is, having a well-trained staff to oversee what’s happening on these cameras is one way to prevent crime before it happens.
Video monitors or camera operators should be trained in not only the systems and processes your business sets up for when a crime is in progress or has been detected, but also those “soft skills” that can make a team of people watching your business work for you. For example, according to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, a surveillance team can often come to know the faces of local offenders, giving them a leg up on possibly preventing crime. Being well-versed in the community, the types of recurring local crime and even basic training like how to recognize someone who is high on drugs, can help prevent crime before it happens.
- The Right Number of Cameras. When installing your video surveillance system, it’s tempting to fill every nook and cranny with a camera to catch everything that happens in or around your store. And the intention there is right — as a business owner, you want to secure your location, which is why you are setting up video surveillance in the first place. However, an unmanageable number of cameras can have a negative effect on your surveillance plan.
GCN, a website that delivers technology assessments, says that the best approach is to start small and place cameras in your area carefully and thoughtfully. You’ll want to start with cameras that film the most vulnerable spots in your store, like the cash register or the entrance. Then, as your staff becomes more well-trained on how to respond to activity seen on the video surveillance system, you can feel secure in adding more cameras into the mix to strengthen your method of crime prevention.
- Integration with the Right Technology. While training your monitoring staff to be well-versed in your surveillance plan and preparing them to know what to do to prevent and report crime is important, it’s not enough. With the technology we have at our fingertips today, it’s extremely beneficial for business owners to evaluate ways to integrate their video surveillance systems into technologies they are using every day, or processes and systems that make communicating the crime faster and easier for all involved.
The Urban Institute, a research organization dedicated to bringing objective analysis and expertise to policy debates, says that in their evaluation of three cities, integrating video surveillance technology into all manners of law enforcement activities proved to strengthen their surveillance technique, as doing this created a more effective system overall. For businesses, that could mean streaming your video surveillance to mobile devices or discussing possible integrations with your local police department.
Business owners can more efficiently prevent crime if they make it easier to communicate the situation, whether that’s seeing the video or an automated alert, using technology we use every day.
Video surveillance systems can not only be effective at catching criminals after the fact, but when set up properly, these systems can prevent crime before it happens. Having a well-trained staff, the right number of cameras and proper integrations with other communication systems will leave business owners with a setup that works to protect their business in multiple ways.
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These days, safety in the workplace means having more than a first-aid kit on hand when one of your employees needs a Band-Aid. For example, keeping your company data safe and secure is a rising concern as cybersecurity becomes a hot topic among business leaders today.
But it’s not only your company data that needs security. It’s your environment, too. Businesses today have to consider not only protecting the data they hold, but their workplace as well.
Physical security like video surveillance or security guards can help deter employee theft, breaking and entering and even robbery. While traditional security guards have been around since the Stone Age, advancements in technology have made it possible to keep an eye on your business even if no one is physically present. And the improvements aren’t minor, either: video surveillance systems now offer top-of-the-line features like thermal imaging and panoramic technology.
While there may be precedence at your company to hire a security guard to keep your workplace safe, it’s important to understand the benefits of video surveillance and why it might be a better option for managing the safety of your business.
The following are two benefits to implementing video surveillance over a traditional security guard to protect your company.
Technology. Every year our iPhones get bigger; our gadgets get smaller; and our computers get smarter. Using video surveillance, you can tap into the latest technological advancements in this industry to keep your business safe. By combining video security and video surveillance, you can create a system that is automated and works faster than any human can. According to Security Magazine, today’s systems incorporate “smart” cameras, include internal storage and analytics, and have the ability to stream to mobile devices.
SightLogix Inc, a manufacturer of intelligent video surveillance systems, combines video surveillance with smart technology that uses computers to watch what’s happening on-screen, and will alert folks in real-time when an intrusion is taking place. SightLogix helps you create a comprehensive video security solution with detection and video verification, taking the best parts of a human and machine solution to security.
Price. Budget is always a factor when it comes to security for your business. As of January 2016, the average pay for a Security Guard is $10.49/hr, or $29,084 annually. Video surveillance pricing isn’t as cut-and-dry. For example, a comparison of business security systems from FitSmallBusiness has different pricing for installation, monthly services, warranties and more.
Price is a benefit when it comes to video surveillance systems because businesses can pick and choose which services and items they want based on their needs, or their type of business and what they sell. It’s not about hiring one or more guards — it’s about choosing what security you want and where. For example, CostOwl.com says that you should expect to pay about $1,000 per camera for the total package.
The Hybrid Approach
While video surveillance has it’s benefits to keeping your workplace free from intruders, it’s important to understand the risks involved with choosing one solution over the other. Neither are foolproof, and taking a hybrid approach may make the most sense for your business.
To help make the best decision for your company, consider your main goal in implementing a surveillance solution. For some companies, it’s monitoring employees internally for theft. For others, it’s keeping non-employees out of the building or keeping what’s inside your building safe and secure.
Christopher Lara, StarKnight Incorporated’s marketing director, makes the point that video cameras don’t always have that 360-degree view a human has, and they’re not always evenly distributed throughout the building. If your video surveillance solution is not set up properly, it could do more harm than good, weighing your budget down with a solution that isn’t working for you.
Security guards have the ability to react in real-time to security issues that arise, and can follow up accordingly on the spot. However, they also can’t be everywhere at once, and therefore can’t see the entire scope of what they need to keep secure. Hiring multiple security guards could be a strain on your budget, and may not be a sustainable option for your business.
Although there are benefits of using video surveillance versus a traditional security guard, businesses have a duty to themselves to figure out their true security needs and implement a system that works best for them. Considering both options when vetting out how you’ll keep your business secure will allow you to understand the benefits and risks of workplace safety when applying security systems like video surveillance or traditional security guards.