Security surveillance cameras provide both real time monitoring for businesses and homeowners as well as a priceless resource to law enforcement following a criminal act. However, this is only the case when the proper system is in place. To maximize security and effectiveness, it is essential that you obtain video surveillance equipment that will provide quality images in both daytime and nighttime (low light) conditions. Keep in mind that inexpensive, over-the-counter security systems are generally ineffective (especially at night). Poor video quality provides very limited value to police investigators. However, those cameras could provide a possible deterrent.
A few features and benefits.
Security cameras can act as a deterrent.
It's true that the presence of security cameras will not deter a professional thief from gaining access to a property. However, It will make the would-be thief think twice before following through with an attempt at gaining access. Typically once they see that you have cameras they will fine another target without cameras. The less experienced criminal needs as many things in their favor as possible. Security cameras are not one of them!. 85% of all break-ins are committed by non-professionals that are usually more desperate and dangerous.
Low LUX cameras can see in almost complete darkness.
How well a camera can see in the dark is dependent on the LUX rating of the camera. The lower the LUX rating of a security camera the less light is needed for the camera to produce a usable picture / video. Most security cameras operate with a LUX rating of 1.0 or less. Some cameras have LUX ratings as low as .003 LUX. If a camera has a rating of 0.0 LUX it must be an infrared camera because a rating of 0.0 LUX means there is no available light and therefore an image can not be captured, unless it is through infrared imaging.
System can notify you of activity via email or text.
This is really a function of the digital recorder than of the camera itself. Some DVRs (digital video recorders) have the ability when it sees motion to send you an email or text along with a few pictures of the event as it's happening. This gives you the ability to take appropriate actions while the event is taking place.
System can be accessed over the internet for remote viewing.
Security cameras can be viewed from a remote location using special software installed on your computer. If you're vacationing and want to look in at work or your home you could do so from anywhere in the world that you have internet access.
Can be set to record only when it sees activity.
The software that comes with your DVR can do many things, but it depends on the type of DVR you purchased. Lower end DVRs have less features than Higher end units. When using the software that comes with your DVR, you may be able to set up your cameras to record only when it sees motion. It may also have special features that allow you to mask out areas within the camera's view that you don't want recorded. For example, you typically would not want to record a moving escalator or a waterfall since they are constantly moving. Using these special settings you could block out those moving items saving recording space on the storage device by only recording other activity the camera sees.
Any combination of cameras can be used.
Fixed cameras are the more common camera type used on buildings; they get mounted on a building in a fix position pointed towards an area and don't move. The other type of cameras are the ones that move through the use of software or by using a controller operated by a person. These cameras are known as PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras. Using the controller you can pan to a subject and than zoom in on them to obtain a better look. You could even tilt the camera up or down to see right below or above the camera. These cameras are most effective when you have someone monitoring your camera system, such as a guard service.
Cost effective due to its digital format.
Today most electronic devices have some digital circuits. As a result, prices have dropped on digital components because they are being mass produced and in high demand. This has brought the pricing for digital cameras down making them more affordable to the everyday user. While the cameras have become less expensive, camera lenses could drive up the price of a camera depending on what your trying to achieve.
Can be viewed at your desk using your computer monitor.
Depending on the camera system you may have the ability to access your cameras from your desktop monitor. This would be convenient for the person responsible for security that has other duties at the company. This typically requires that the camera system be tied into your company's network.
Can be covert or a mix of several types of cameras.
The selection of security cameras are plentiful. Digital circuitry has produce very tiny cameras down to the size of a dime and can be hidden almost anywhere. It's not unusual for a system to have several styles of cameras within the system. Cameras are selected based on the function you want them to serve. There are bullet cameras, day & night cameras, dome cameras, box cameras, PTZ cameras, covert cameras, IR cameras, IP cameras and wireless cameras. This is where it's important to get a professional involved to design a system specific to your needs.
May help Increase productive.
Yes this happens. Have you ever heard the saying, "what get measured gets done". If employees know they are being recorded while working, less socializing and more productivity occurs. It almost happens instantly. We had a customer who had us installed cameras on the perimeter of their building viewing the parking lot because cars were getting damaged. Two things happened, (1) damage to cars almost dropped to zero and (2), (and they were not expecting this) employees were sneaking out the side door for a smoke during work hours. Management stop that practice but only after who knows how many hours of wasted productivity this caused them. If they didn't know about the unauthorized smoke breaks, who knows what else could have been going out the door. If you had 4 employees sneak out 3 times a day for a 7 minute smoke it would equate to 364 hours a year in lost production...what does that cost you? That's over 9 weeks of production time!
Can help reduce liability due to fraudulent claims.
In todays' workplace business owners must protect themselves against fraudulent injury claims from customers and employees alike. A security camera system can help you do just that by capturing video in areas of concern; rear steps, parking lot, staircase, warehouse, shipping & receiving, etc. Besides proving or disproving a injury claim, it can help you determine how an accident occurred and provide the information you need to address safety issues thus avoiding future injuries in that area.
Can help reduce both internal and external shrinkage.
The presence of security cameras will act as a good deterrent to the average employee who would only steal when the potential gain comes with low risk. Security cameras raises the risk level of being caught making it less desirable for the wood be thief. There are employees and customers who will steal regardless of the presents of cameras. Installing security cameras in areas such as over cash registers, near the exits, by dressing rooms, in stockrooms, cash management areas will help with the bottom line.
Can be expanded as your needs change.
Camera systems are easily expanded when it becomes necessary. You can start out with a few cameras and add additional cameras as needed. One of the more expensive components of a security camera system is the DVR (digital video recorder). Each camera you have in a camera system requires one channel on the DVR to record the footage it captures. You can get from 4 to 32 channel DVRs; the more channels the higher the cost and the higher cost the more features the DVR will have. If you think you'll be expanding your camera system in the future, it's best to purchase a larger DVR now with the amount of channels you anticipate needing than to have to buy a whole new DVR later to expand. We recommend purchasing a DVR with at least two more additional channels than what you need now.
Can be setup on your network for access by others.
Your camera system can be set up on your company's network so the video can be viewed by anyone authorized to do so. It involves installing viewing software at you workstation or on your server so you can access the system using passwords. If this is something that you might be interested in doing you should get your IT person involved with the project from the beginning. Issues could arise that does not allow you to add anything to the company's network.
Wireless cameras are available
Yes, security cameras can be wireless. They can send their video signal over the air to a receiver where it can be recorded onto a DVR. However, they still require a 110 volt receptacle nearby to plug in a transformer that will power the cameras.
Other things you might want to be aware of.
If you have security cameras at your commercial business, you must install signs saying that video recording equipment is in use.
Dummy cameras are not a good idea!. Case in point, a female worker was getting off work from the swing shift and was walking out to her car in the company parking lot. She was attacked and injured. The Police were called and requested to see the video footage from the camera in the area where she had parked her car in. There was no video because they were dummy cameras. The woman said she parked her car in that area because she felt safer knowing there was a camera there. She sued the company and won her case because the judge said the company gave her a false sense of security by installing the dummy cameras. She said had she known the cameras were fake she would have parked in front of the building.
Not all recorded video can be used in court. Anyone with a security camera system installed has the responsibility to disclose any relevant footage from his/her security cameras that might help law enforcement agencies to apprehend criminals. Legislation allows for such disclosures, regardless of the purpose for installing the cameras.
Law enforcement is permitted to request, or confiscate security footage from any individual or business, whose cameras might have recorded relevant events that may help with investigations. Such footage could also be presented as evidence in a court of law. However, certain requirements must be met for any video or images captured on security cameras to stand as evidence, namely;
a. The footage or images should be watermark and time stamped.
b. The preservation and storage of the security footage should ensure that its integrity has not been compromised or tampered with.
Therefore, if you want your camera footage to be admissible in court you must make sure that you select the proper system that watermarks and time stamps all footage. At the same time, the CCTV system should offer a secure medium through which one can store the recording equipment and keep it restricted to authorized parties only.
The DIY 4 or 6 camera systems you see at stores like Costco, Harbor freight, or Target typically are not anywhere near the quality of a professionally installed system. There is no way an off-the-shelf system will provide you anything more than general use quality. Professionally installed camera systems are design for your specific situation. The lenses, cameras, lighting conditions, DVR, and even cabling all have been selected based on your needs and the surrounding conditions. The DIY Camera systems are not expandable, the connections are not standard to the industry, and the recorder and monitor are all together so if one goes bad the whole unit needs to be replaced. These types of systems are considered not repairable because parts are not available and the labor would cost would be more than the system was when purchased. You can't get different lenses for them. In some situations a system like this may be good enough for its intended use, just don't expect it to give you much detail. If you purchase a kit like this and need it installed, don't rely on your local security company to install if for you, because they will not. Time and time again, a customer purchases a poor quality DIY camera system and asks a security company to install it for them and when its not the quality the customer had envisioned, they blame the security company for not installing it correctly. The same reason applies to not wanting to service a camera system like this.
5. The hard drive storage capacity of your security DVR is very important for security applications because these applications can place considerable demands on storage. The greater your recording needs the more hard drive storage space you will need to store the video. It's always best to choose a DVR with more built-in hard drive space than you think you may need. Consider your storage needs when selecting a security DVR with a built-in security grade hard drive. There are a few things you need to consider when calculating the amount of hard drive storage you may need:
- Number of days of video storage needed
- Number of cameras
- FPS per camera
- Hours per day of recording
- Days per week of recording
- Recording resolution
- Video compression
Your security consultant will be able to help you determine the amount of storage space you'll need. Consider getting a DVR with a larger storage capacity than what your current needs are. This will allow for adding additional cameras or increasing recording times when needed.
Get the most out of your security camera system
1. Know the reason why you want to install security cameras. It helps us determine the type of system you're looking for.
2. In the areas where you want cameras know what you want to see and with how much detail. For example, if you want a camera looking at the parking lot, we are going to install a camera that's going to give you a wide general view with medium detail. If you say you want to read licenses plates on cars in the parking lot, then that's a whole different camera that has a very specific application. So its important to know what you want to see and how much detail you want. One camera
does not do it all. Be very specific with your security consultant on what you want to see and the level of detail you want to see for each camera you want installed. Say something like "I want a camera pointed at that door with enough detail so I can recognize who the people are coming through the door". That's different than saying "I want a camera pointed at that door". Those are two different types of camera setups. If you want a camera system that you're envisioning then make certain you are specific on what you want to see and the level of detail you want.
3. Have a location in mind for the setup of your DVR where it can be kept secure. If a location cannot be found, DVR security cabinets are available. Its important to secure the DVR from tampering because it can be turned off, unplugged, wires cut or completely destroyed.
4. We will train a few key people after the installation is complete on how to operate the camera system with the idea that they can train others as needed. Be thinking about who is going to be responsible for the system so at the end of the project they're available for training.
5. If a selected camera location does not have adequate lighting, lights may need to be installed or IR cameras may need to be used depending on the situation.
6. Become familiar with your new camera system and all of its features. Practice with all the basic functions first and than move on to the less used features because at some point you'll need to use them. Keep the DVR manual close to the DVR so its handy for reference but not so handy that it disappears from the area.
7. Have your cameras and DVR serviced annually.
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