Security camera on a building

Video surveillance for Security

by Angus Jones

Securing your business can take three forms physical, visual, and digital. Physical security is the ability to lock or bar access. Digital security is all about keeping your data safe, make sure you read our essential guide on data security. Video surveillance is the subject for this guide in which we will look at your options and help you make a decision as to what will suit you best.

Video surveillance systems are one or more video cameras on a network that send the captured picture and audio information to a certain place. The images are not public like television. They can be live monitored or stored for later viewing.

WHY should I consider using video security?

Small businesses need to protect their assets by taking measures to ensure they are not stolen, vandalized, or tampered with. A video security surveillance system can provide you that peace of mind.

With a video surveillance system, you can use your camera’s motion detectors to prevent employee theft before business hours. You can record customer interactions to catch potential shoplifters during the day. And you can check-in via your mobile device after closing time to make sure your office is secure.

An extremely useful feature is receiving an alert on your smartphone if movement is sensed during certain hours allowing you to check the footage and respond appropriately.

Video surveillance can assist with the following situations:
  • Alerts of intruders
  • Prevent theft day & night
  • Video evidence of an incident
  • Audit of employee behavior
  • Night vision footage
  • Remote monitoring
  • Police evidence
  • Entry door person identification
  • Carpark security and liability surveillance
  • Congestion monitoring
  • Vandalism monitoring
  • Safety and false claim evidence
  • Progress tracking

WHAT are the video surveillance options available?

Modern innovation and mass production have meant what has been traditionally cost-prohibitive for a small business is now possible.  Traditionally you would have had professional surveillance cameras installed at great expense and have a similar cost hurdle to monitor any activity. This is still an option for you and can be explored by contacting a commercial security provider.

However, now you can buy a solution at your local electronics retailer and have it installed and operational yourself in as little as 20 minutes.  Then with the use of smartphones and the internet, you can receive real-time alerts of suspicious behavior.

The cost per camera starts around $100 and depending on your storage requirements a monthly fee may also be applicable.

Two key features will determine your search for your solution:
  1. Connection – This is how the camera physically connects within your business.
    • Wireless – Means no cables.  A camera will need power and the ability to transfer the image.  Some cameras use Wi-Fi and a battery so they are completely wireless, others plug into power but transfer the picture via wireless. These solutions are easy to install as no new cables need to be run.  They also increase your installation location options.
    • Wired – A physical cable carrying image and power is required to be run between the cameras and a control unit – a more robust solution with no battery needing to be charged and not relying on a Wi-Fi solution but harder to install.
    • 4G –4G refers to the mobile phone technology, this solution is a complete stand-alone solution allowing video surveillance to occur on a site with no fixed internet connectivity, such as a building site.  If bundled with a solar panel all that you need to also consider is a mobile data plan/SIM from a telco.
  2. Storage – All mainstream solutions will not only allow you to have a live feed but also provide various options to store recordings for later viewing. Video stored can be set as continuous or by a triggered event.
    • Local – This could be via an SD storage card within the camera or via a base station with storage. This allows for recordings up to your storage capacity i.e. a larger SD card capacity will allow more footage to be recorded (once full it starts to wipe the oldest content). The advantage is no ongoing fees and potentially having a longer archive of the recordings.
    • Cloud – This is a cloud-based solution with more details available in our cloud solutions guide. Camera vendors will offer a cloud-based storage solution which means the vision from the camera is captured in the cloud for remote viewing from anywhere even if the camera has been disabled. Some offer free storage but upgraded monthly subscriptions will allow you to have footage for longer and have a continuous record if required.

HOW do I decide which security camera is right for my small business?

There are a growing number of brands in this space and picking the right one is dependent on your business’s specific needs.

Below is a list of features you should consider when making your decision;
  • Weatherproof – Indicates the camera can be mounted outdoors as well as indoors. Indoor-only cameras are cheaper.
  • Viewing angle – represented in degrees of vision the camera sees. 180 deg would be a half-circle showing anything in front of the camera, 90 degrees would be quarter of a circle centered by the direction the camera is facing.
  • Activity zone – This is the ability to set movement triggers to activate recording only to certain portions of the screen.  If a camera has some parts of a road in its field of vision you may not wish every car passing to trigger a recording/alert event.
  • Image quality – refers to image resolution. HD or 4K resolution is best if you want to clearly see a face or number plate.
  • Motion detection – This is a sensor which senses movement or sometimes heat to trigger recording/alert –  some models can distinguish between a pet and a human.
  • Night vision – The ability to record in low light settings without a spotlight
  • Cloud storage – Review which plans if any will best suit your needs.
  • Wireless – Some cameras will use your Wi-Fi, others will set up their own separate wireless network. The latter will mean less congestion on your Wi-Fi network.
  • Battery life – With battery models understand how often the battery will need to be removed and charged.  A spare battery can simplify the process.
  • Solar Panel – Allows a battery camera to work outside without charging.
  • Playback options – Review the smartphone app to ensure it meets your needs. Some additionally support Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
  • 2 way – This may allow light or a siren to be activated or speech via 2 way talk.
  • Expandability – Check the number of cameras each solution will support.
  • Specific solutions –  May be available including baby monitor, doorbell, security light, and camouflage options.
  • Support – If you need help or things go wrong what support is available?

HINTS

A surveillance camera is not just about having the ability to watch and record footage. It is also the fact that individuals can see they are being watched, so it acts as a deterrent as they believe they may get caught doing the wrong thing.

Position camera’s so they will protect what you want to secure like cash registers, entrances and items of value.

SUMMARY – Economical business video surveillance

Beyond locking the door and protecting your computer files a video surveillance solution can help protect your business, your staff, and your customers.  Economical self-installed solutions are available with easy smartphone access.  Visit our sister site Gadget Guy for reviews on different models available.

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