Video surveillance systems are a great way to ensure the security of your property, and the use of video surveillance systems is on the rise in both commercial and residential locations. However, before jumping into the deep end of video surveillance, in order to maximize your system and your dollars, it is best to have a plan for your system before you start making purchases.

Plan Your Surveillance System Before You Start

Before spending all of your hard earned money on video surveillance components, it is best practice to have an idea of what your needs are, the potential location of your system as well as any necessary wiring, the target areas to be under observation, and your budget. By taking the time to create a vision for your video surveillance system, you will be in a much better position to understand the components needed as well as the multitude of options available for your future surveillance system, which in turn will make shopping for individual components or locating a knowledgeable installation technician that much easier.

Define Your Video Surveillance Goals for Residential and Commercial Property

Defining the goal(s) for your video surveillance system is a great way to set up a strategy and keep costs in check. While residential and commercial systems have a lot in common the goals of the video system are not necessarily the same. Yes, they both help cut losses to property and protect people in and around the premises, but from there the paths diverge.

Residential video surveillance not only records actions as they are occurring, but they also act as a deterrent for criminals when cameras are placed in obvious locations. Many people have motion detectors at their residences; however, while a motion detector is great at detecting movements at a premise, they do not actually show you what is happening at that moment. Is it a cat or is it the car thief that struck at the neighbor’s house two nights ago? Motion detectors can’t tell you the answer, but a video camera will. Examples of goals for residential video surveillance systems may include:

  • Monitoring your property for intruders
  • Monitoring the movements of family members, which may be very useful for families with elderly or handicapped members
  • Monitoring your children and their babysitters when you are away from your home
  • Monitoring pets and pet sitters
  • Monitoring visitors’ actions while on the premises
  • Catching restricted individuals attempting to enter the home
  • Capturing on video instances of vandalism

Commercial video surveillance systems are a must for businesses. These systems act as crime deterrents, crime detectors, alarm verification, a control for owners and managers, and even aid in premises set up. What better evidence of a crime being committed is there than video evidence of the event occurring? Commercial systems provide a wide variety of benefits to business owners.  Examples of goals for commercial video surveillance systems include:

  • Monitoring the business for theft
  • Ensuring the safety of employees
  • Capturing criminal acts
  • Having on hand easy access to evidence of criminal acts
  • Monitoring employees for professionalism
  • Monitoring vendors during delivery or repairs/maintenance for professionalism
  • Monitoring customers’ traffic inside the store, helping to decide the best locations for certain products
  • Monitoring your cash register or till
  • Analyzing the number of customers that frequent the business and their timing patterns
  • Visual confirmation and recording of a security or emergency event
  • Improving business analytics for reporting

Identify Video Surveillance Target Areas

After defining the goals of your residential or commercial system, the next step is to identify the target areas of your system. There are multiple uses for video surveillance and knowing what is important for your security needs will ensure you prepare the right setup with the proper amount of cameras to fulfill those needs. When it comes to protecting your property, you don’t want to be caught without the necessary equipment. Analyze your premises and note both problem areas and high-priority areas. For residential locations, perhaps the concerns surround the protection of a vulnerable family member. In this instance, perhaps a camera in the room, one monitoring the door, and a camera at each entry point make the most sense. Perhaps there are issues with theft in the neighborhood or vandalism. If this is the case, ensuring your setup includes outdoor cameras to monitor the perimeter of the property is the best choice.

Commercial video surveillance systems also benefit from planning out and identifying the target areas of the system. These target areas are defined based on the needs of the business. For some, marketing is the goal. Setting up cameras that document the flow of customers in a store would help with the setup of the store and show the owner or manager how best to make certain products more visible to the customers. While we always want to trust our employees, sometimes employees make poor choices and steal from their employers. If employee theft is a concern, setting up cameras monitoring the till or cash register, monitoring the aisles or high-priority areas, and monitoring back rooms may be right for the business. Many times, businesses have vital business information stored on-site. Video surveillance systems will help ensure that vital information is protected, and should the unthinkable happen and the information is stolen, there is time and date-stamped video footage of the crime being committed.

Identifying target areas will help keep costs in check as you are able to develop a clearer understanding of what a complete video surveillance system for your property entails.

Explore Camera Options

The next step to planning your system is deciding what camera is best for you. Any video surveillance system is obviously going to require video cameras. Of course, there exists a wide range of different cameras for different needs that vary based on placement, power, storage, shape, recording, and connectivity. The options seem almost limitless. That’s why determining your needs, defining the goals for your system, and identifying your target areas are crucial steps in planning before you decide on the camera choice. Examples of the variety of camera options for your video surveillance system include:

  • Indoor cameras for monitoring the inside of the home or business which may be wired or wireless
  • Outdoor cameras for monitoring the grounds and perimeter of the property
  • Video doorbells that monitor the entryways
  • Wired cameras
  • Wireless cameras
  • Wi-Fi-connected cameras, like IP cameras or digital cameras, provide live-streaming capabilities
  • Analog cameras that record to a card
  • Cloud recording cameras
  • DVR recording cameras
  • Bullet shaped cameras
  • Pan or tile cameras

Other options to consider when choosing your camera(s) include whether the location requires night vision, the video quality required to ensure the goals of the system are met, camera zoom, and field of view.

Is There a Network Infrastructure Already in Place?

Already having a network infrastructure in place will help protect any budget so higher quality components, like cameras, may be purchased. The appearance of IP cameras on the scene has helped to reduce the installation time and man hours required to install the video surveillance system. IP cameras can now be installed on networks just as you would any other device like a printer or scanner. This innovation of technology has helped business owners in several ways. The first is cost. Having the infrastructure already in place negates the need of having to create the required infrastructure, which saves considerable costs. The second benefit is security. Utilizing a single infrastructure setup allows the same policies, procedures, and regulations to existing across the board, without any shift to the standards. A third example of how an existing infrastructure benefits business owners are through the flexibility of use. As networks expand and bandwidth requirements grow, needs change. It is much easier (and cost-efficient) to expand one network system as opposed to multiple networks. Further, once integrated into the main network, video monitoring may take place at any location, providing mobile monitoring solutions.

Should the System Integrate with Existing Security Capabilities or Stand Alone?

Once you have planned your video surveillance system through the network infrastructure stage, another consideration should be whether it makes sense to integrate your new video system with your existing security system. Having a plan and determining your goals will aid you in making the decision of whether to integrate or not. Integrating your system helps bring all of your security capabilities together to provide maximum protection. Video surveillance integrated with an access control system is a powerful security option. However, video surveillance systems may also be an effective tool for protecting your property on their own. From deterring criminal behavior to understanding the patterns of your customers, video surveillance has the potential to help your business thrive.

Video surveillance systems may also integrate with voice assistants like Alexa. This is a great benefit to homeowners who are able to arm or disarm cameras using voice assistant technology. This is an easy way for homeowners to control their video surveillance without having to move an inch.

Should the System Be Protected Against Cyber Attacks?

Absolutely. Cyber-attacks are real, and they can be devastating to businesses, especially to businesses that store private customer data. Hackers are out there and don’t care about the repercussions of their actions on your business. They can be ruthless. That’s why having cyber-secure video surveillance is critical. One easy way to protect your system from cyber attacks is by creating a strong, complex password for your video system, and changing the password frequently.  Another way to protect your surveillance footage is by limiting the number of devices between each camera. Each component may be hacked, therefore, the more components, the greater the chance of being hacked.

Will the System Be Protected Against Power Outages?

There are many options on the market that protect video surveillance systems from power outages. Battery-operated cameras or battery backups for cameras are great choices as they will continue monitoring and recording when the power goes out or if an electric line is intentionally cut. The use of solar-powered cameras is also on the rise. A more expensive and extensive solution to the problem of potential power outages is to have a backup generator on standby should access to electricity be unavailable.

How Much Data Storage is Needed to Meet the System’s Goals?

There are two types of storage possibilities:  local and cloud. Local storage is done through the use of micro-SD cards or through an external hard drive where the video records directly onto the card or drive. Cloud storage requires the use of a cloud server where the video feeds directly to the cloud. Utilizing both types ensures you have a backup in the event one type fails. But how much storage does a system actually need? That will depend on the type of system you have planned. Low-resolution cameras require less storage, typically in the 6GB-60GB range. Higher quality cameras with higher resolutions require more space ranging from 600GB-6TB, depending on the type of camera.

How Do I Put My Video Surveillance Plan into Action?

Securing valuable property and ensuring the safety of our employees and loved ones is a priority to homeowners and business owners. Once a plan has been formulated and an understanding of your specific scenario’s needs and goals have been explored, the smart path would be to engage the services of a professional to install your video surveillance system. Find a reputable company with years of experience that hires certified technicians to install your system. This will ensure that all of your needs are met and that the system is installed correctly the first time around. For the Tampa Bay area, A Total Solution is the answer to your video surveillance system needs. Formed in 1988, they provide high-quality service using top-of-the-line products.

Protect your property today! Contact ATS today to discuss your video surveillance options.