Security and Surveillance are becoming a more and more important part of everyday lives. In airports, train stations and department stores, we oftentimes are not only used to the sight of surveillance cameras, but they even give us a sense of safety – we feel more comfortable knowing that the bad guys can be caught in action. The same applies to your business: a surveillance system will give you piece of mind as an owner, but it will also provide a sense of safety and security to your employees and customers, as well as a visible deterrent for anyone attempting to inflict damage.
But just like any other technology the choice is vast and as diverse as can be – from the technology used to features and functionalities and finally price. Here are five things to look for when you are wanting to get started on a surveillance system or are looking to upgrade an existing system.
- Surveillance is a Reactive System
Although visible cameras often are a clear deterrent for wrong-doing and may notably decrease incidents such as vandalism or theft, they are a reactive system, meaning they do not proactively keep an incident from occurring. This seems obvious, but is oftentimes overlooked when considering security for your business. If you are worried about someone actually breaking in, you may be better off with a security alarm system that will detect and immediately alert you of any breach to your premises. Surveillance cameras on the other hand may provide you with the necessary evidence to prosecute offenders after the fact. Surveillance applications are great if you have any concerns with vandalism, theft, outdoor areas or areas that people usually have access to (e.g. store area, warehouse, cash register area, etc.).
- Digital vs Analog
Although analog has been a dying dinosaur for years, it still seems to be a popular choice, even for brand-new systems. At first glance that may makes sense: it is usually only a fraction of the cost and is easy to set-up. However, it is comparable to getting a dial-up modem for your Internet connection in times of fiber connectivity. Analog has serious draw-backs when it comes to image usability and quality, as well as video management applications. Many times, you can reduce the amount of cameras by as much as 50% to cover the same ground with digital cameras as you did with analog. And remember, if the task of upgrading your whole system seems daunting, you can always do it in stages.
- Hardware – Features and Reliability
When looking at the many options for cameras manufacturers, make sure to consider features as well as the quality and reliability of the hardware. Pick a manufacturer with low fail rates, so you are not constantly replacing cameras. For more extensive or diverse systems, assessing your needs for each location rather than going with an “all-in-one solution” is key – Do you need vandal-resistant or outdoor-rated enclosures? Do you really want or need a 360 degree panoramic view or could you be better served by two fixed cameras on opposite ends? Is the area well-lit at all times or do you need to consider low-light or nighttime conditions? How detailed of an image do I need? Not every camera needs to be a 5MP camera, but image usability is important!
- Video Management Software
As with any other amount of data, video footage is worthless unless you can manage it in an easy way to get the information you need. Make sure your VMS has a user-friendly platform that you can manage without an IT degree. Hopefully you also picked motion activated cameras, so that you don’t have to sieve through hours of footage to find an incident, but can quickly jump to the occurrences with action. And again, image usability is essential: a good VMS can provide multiple viewing angles of the same shot, e.g. zooming in on different aspects of the whole image, and the ability to cut-out some areas of the image, so that a moving tree won’t set your camera off. This way you don’t need to compromise on motion sensitivity in order to cut down on footage. Many manufacturers provide an embedded software that gives you basic features, while you will have to purchase a license for more advanced applications. No matter what VMS or camera you decide on, always make sure to get a real-time demo to see what the picture will actually look like!
- It’s All in the Set-Ip
Just as with anything, your surveillance system will only perform as well as it is set-up. DYI is great when you really know what you’re doing, but let’s face it, most of the time we only kind of do. You are diminishing your investment if you don’t get your surveillance system professionally installed. Find a service provider you trust and who is certified (!) to work on the equipment! Have them train you on the VMS and communicate exactly how you would like to use the system and what concerns you have, so that it is set-up to fit your needs. Finally, make sure they can support the soft- and hardware in the long run, so you are not scrambling if anything fails.
If you are curious about what else a surveillance system can do for you, join us with Axis at Tech Edge on June 9, for a deep dive into features, applications, and more! To register for the event, visit www.nex-tech.com/techedge.