CCTV surveillance cameras. Once seen only at banks and over the check-out desks of retail stores, now you see them everywhere — at gas stations, restaurants, traffic intersections, mini-storages and almost every business and location one can imagine.
Over the course of their proliferation, security cameras have been coupled with developing technologies, like the internet, cloud-computing and even automation to expand their capabilities, improving their ease of use and increasing their efficiency. With this augmentation of technology, these cameras, once primarly used for security purposes, are now also used for other applications such as in marketing, like for traffic and behavioral studies, and for human resources, for obtaining visual record in case of workers’ compensation claims, for example.
So if you are looking at taking advantage of this new surveillance camera technology to help your business, whether for security or for other applications, here are some tips to consider.
Place cameras appropriately for viewing area
Similar to the point above, always place the cameras where they will be able to view the space you intend them to survey. Placing them at the corners of your buildings, for example, may create blind-spots and limit your cameras’ views.
Consider your lighting
Make sure the area to be under surveillance has consistent and sufficient lighting for the camera to be able to pick up identifying details, such as facial features. Where you don’t have adequate lighting, consider using a night-vision capable CCTV camera.
Place CCTV cameras to monitor hidden entry points
Burglars typically use back windows, back doors and basement windows and doors to break in buildings. Your cameras should be positioned to view these areas.
Watch the front door
Burglars also use the front door to make entry, so install camera to watch that area too, and also any incidents of mail or package theft.
Use the appropriate security cameras for their application
Don’t get too caught up with pan tilt zoom (PTZ) cameras. They are great, but require more moving parts, are limited in their viewing area, even with their ability to move, and really only work best with a security officer sitting at a desk watching the video feeds and manipulating the cameras. Rather, go with fixed, wide-angle cameras set in strategic locations to view a large area. If you want, you can set up a PTZ camera to work with a wide-angle. In this case, through your software, you can tie the two camera systems together so that if the wide-angle identifies motion in a quadrant you specify, the PTZ will use its motion capabilities to turn and zoom to record the specific area for the amount of time you specify and then resume its normal view. This way, your software is your security officer, watching over everything and giving attention to events when needed.
Protect or hide your cables
Don’t leave easily reached cables exposed as they can easily be severed. A professional security camera installer will hide the cable in conduit, protecting it or at least making it more difficult to access.
Install only outdoor surveillance cameras outdoors
Don’t place indoor cameras outside. Doing so will subject your camera to moisture, bugs and other factors for which it was not designed, resulting in problems with moisture, condensation, insect nests and so on, and the resulting reduced image quality, if any you get any image at all.
Stick with wired security cameras
Unless you’ve got a large budget, don’t install a wireless camera system as a commercial grade of this variety can be quite expensive. Besides, the whole idea of video surveillance is to increase security. While wireless technology is better than it used to be, it is still more “hackable” than a wired camera system.
Secure your equipment
To the point above, if you are using an IoT (Internet of Things) connected camera system, you must be sure to secure it from outside hacking. Change your factory-set, default passwords and employ whatever security feature your system may have. Web-based cameras have long been hijacked and used to launch DDoS attacks. You want your CCTV system serving you, not malicious actors — so secure it.
Consider you video management, retrieval and storage
CCTV cameras gather information. You need some place to send the data and a way to retrieve it. Will the data go into hard-drive storage or to cloud storage? Do you have enough space to hold all the data? How will you retrieve the data should a burglary happen and you need to give the police a video file. These are important considerations you must make as you plan for your CCTV surveillance program.
Seek professional advice or services
You may be able to DIY a simple system for your home and it may be sufficient, but professional installers live and breathe video surveillance. When it comes to installing a CCTV system for your home, but especially for your business, they are experts and as such will know things to do and look for that you probably won’t. You might consider at least leaning on their experience and expertise if not hire them to work their magic for you. When you consider your time and effort, it might actually save you money to talk to a professional surveillance camera installer.
Hire only a professional, reputable security camera installer
Don’t go for cheap when looking to hire an installer. Go for expertise. Go for established. Your friend who installs security cameras as his side-job may cost you less, but will not likely not be able to help you later when he moves, gets a promotion at his real job or finds another side-gig. When you do find an installer, ask for his license. Many states require CCTV installer to carry licenses.
Generally, if you’re looking at installing a video surveillance system for your business location, do your homework first. Ask yourself why you think you need cameras and answer that. Determine what you want out of the system. Specifically, what is it you want to see?
Armed with the above tips and those answers, you should be well on the road to determining what your security camera system should look like.
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