How to Choose a Video Surveillance System for Your Business
Protecting assets should be—and always has been—a significant concern for businesses. Some forms of protection include locking vehicles in shops after operating hours, protecting storefronts with an electronic intrusion detector, hiring security guards, or installing a security camera system. Whatever system you choose, your business needs protection.
Most businesses can't hire security guards, so cameras are a more reasonable solution. Security cameras for business owners are an excellent investment that provides protection and proof of wrongdoing in the event of an incident. They are probably the best way to protect your business.
Security system technology has dramatically improved in just the last decade, and it continues to improve with every leap in technological capabilities. You can access cutting-edge security cameras regardless of your price point. However, if you're a business owner looking to install a surveillance system, you might be confused or overwhelmed by all the different terms and systems on the market.
Let’s look at different things about security cameras that will help you choose the best one for your business.
Important Things to Consider
When shopping for security cameras for your business, there are many different aspects of these systems that affect their recording ability, data storage, mounting locations, and countless other things. Below, we'll discuss each characteristic of these security camera terms, their meaning, and how they relate to your business.
IP vs. Analog Cameras
In general, two camera styles dominate the video surveillance market: analog and IP cameras.
Analog cameras are much older and tend to be cheaper than modern cameras. Analog cameras send videos through a cable to a centralized recording station which stores their data. These cameras have inferior video quality, resolution, and overall capability.
Analog cameras also lose video quality when their cables run long distances. In addition, they can rarely transfer their video format to meet the demands of modern digital systems. Overall, IP cameras are slowly phasing analog cameras out of the market.
IP cameras are great equipment all around. They have high video resolution, even at a similar price point to analog cameras, are easier to install, and are reasonably flexible with different systems. These cameras are compatible with varying connection styles, including wireless connections, and are often modular, meaning businesses can upgrade them as needed.
Overall, IP cameras are better in every way. Only a business getting a good deal on analog cameras should consider installing them. Even then, only keep them for long enough to save money to buy higher-quality IP cameras.
We recommend IP cameras for every installation.
When buying security cameras for business spaces, one thing to consider is your filming location. The most critical place that needs surveillance is where you store products, money, tools, or other valuables, which is where you should have more and better cameras.
You also need to consider lighting for these areas. If you want your cameras to see anything, consider installing dim lights that turn on when the lights in your business go off. However, most higher-end cameras have night vision or infrared capabilities, so you don't need to worry about lighting.
Another important consideration of the film area is the connections and cameras you use. For example, you should consider a wireless camera system if you can't renovate the walls to install cables or connectors. Additionally, if you don't own your building, talk with the owner to ensure they're okay with you installing the system.
One final consideration of the filming site is the legality. These rules change in every state, but overall there are some similarities. Generally, filming without consent is permissible if you're in a common area where you would not expect privacy, like an office, front door, or waiting area.
However, in areas where patrons or employees expect privacy, you cannot film. These locations can include bathrooms, changing and dressing areas, or other places where someone will be exposed. Check with your local city, county, or state guidelines to ensure compliance with these rules before installing a security system.
Hidden or Visible Cameras
Whether your cameras are hidden or visible is a personal preference. It does affect cost somewhat since hidden cameras will be more expensive. Overall, hidden cameras have the same technology as visible ones, so price won’t really affect the functionality.
You should note that the presence of visible cameras is enough to deter many unplanned thefts or break-ins. Visible cameras prevent most break-ins but leave you vulnerable to more adept thieves. Consider using a mixture of visible and hidden cameras for best results.
Resolution is the clarity of your video recording. Generally, you want the best resolution you can afford. If you’re filming a large area, or your cameras are distant from their target, you want even more resolution, so you can zoom in on the video to see finer details.
For context, older cameras film at 480p or less. However, most modern cameras shoot at a minimum of 720p, which is high definition.
Another form of resolution measurement is megapixels. 720p is about 1 megapixel, and 1080p is about 2 megapixels. Most manufacturers sell cameras and systems in pixels, but megapixels are still relevant.
The frame rate of your camera affects your overall video quality. The frame rate measures the smoothness of your video, helping you see the action better. In general, security cameras for business spaces need decent frame rates.
30 frames per second (FPS) is perfect, but 60 is even better. Don't let a company try to sell you on a higher frame rate than 60 FPS. The human eye can only see about 60 FPS, so any higher is just wasteful.
Outdoor and Indoor Capability
Indoor cameras are generally cheaper but aren't weather-resistant. Meanwhile, outdoor cameras cost slightly more but are more rugged and resistant to extreme temperatures and water damage. They are also more resilient against damage from blunt force.
You can’t install an indoor camera outside, and installing an outdoor camera inside your business is unnecessary. Ensure you pick cameras that fit the environment where they will stay. Putting the wrong camera inside or outside may result in constant repairs or dissatisfaction with performance.
Wired or Wireless?
Wired camera systems are much more energy and data-efficient, especially for internet connections. However, a wireless connection is more versatile, especially for businesses that can't run cables. Each one is better for different situations, so choose one that best fits the needs of your business.
If you’re concerned about digging through hours of useless camera footage to find the culprits who vandalized your dumpsters, consider installing cameras with integrated motion detection. These cameras will only record when they sense movement in the designated area.
Pricier motion-detecting camera systems can even use AI to decide whether or not to alert you, the authorities, or other security systems. However, a regular motion-detecting camera is a significant upgrade for most businesses.
Most security cameras for business spaces don't record audio. This is for several reasons, including customer information privacy and the unreliability of audio in court. However, for a slight price increase, business owners can upgrade cameras to include audio-capturing equipment.
These cameras will draw more power and internet bandwidth for online systems. Still, the audio can help you determine suspicious individuals' intent in and around your business.
Some cameras even have two-way audio functionality. This capability allows the person in control of the cameras to speak to the person close to active cameras.
IP cameras are excellent for many reasons. One reason is that they can draw power from multiple sources. Some IP cameras have Power over Ethernet (POE) switches that allow them to pull energy from the modem or recorder to which they are connected.
POE switches allow for more versatility and customization in security camera systems. These security cameras for business spaces allow for more complex and remote connection locations where power cords aren’t easy to run. They also allow for simple installations by limiting the number and type of wires to each camera.
Data Storage Solutions
There are several different data storage solutions for security cameras for business spaces. Each system has its pros and cons, but they are all handy. The five main ones are:
DVR (Digital Video Recorder): This is the most common and oldest technology for storing and relaying video footage. Initially stored on VCR tapes, they now work with digital storage solutions like hard drives. DVRs usually offer a 720p resolution.
NVR (Network Video Recorder): NVR systems are similar to DVR systems but have higher video resolution capabilities. These systems are the newest video recording technology available. If you're installing IP cameras, we recommend these systems.
HVR (Hybrid Video Recorder): Hybrid recorders are excellent for systems that haven't entirely updated their equipment. They combine the technology for IP and analog cameras into one system.
SVR (Streamed Video Recorder): SVR systems utilize the latest internet technology to stream a live feed of your video surveillance over the internet. These usually have apps where authorized computers, tablets, and smartphones can access the video feed. The video feed is optimized for your internet bandwidth, barely affecting your internet connection; slow internet connections still affect the video quality.
Cloud-Based Video Storage: Instead of storing your video in an in-house server, you can store the footage in an off-site, cloud-based location. These systems protect your footage from looters, keeping them entirely online. These connections require a strong internet connection.
As always, cost should be your chief concern. There are so many different security and camera systems at various price points that you can reasonably get what you want for any price. However, you should note that cheaper systems will have less functionality than superior systems.
If you can, choose a system that will fulfill your needs and provide extra functionality so you can build your business protection strategies around it. Good security cameras for business spaces should be the foundation of everything you do to protect your business.
Common Camera Styles
While there are many different kinds of cameras and manufacturers, there are three common styles that most manufacturers use. These are bullet, dome, and turret cameras. Each one can come with indoor, outdoor, or night-time surveillance capabilities.
Let's briefly look at each one and go over their designs and capabilities.
Bullet cameras get their name because each one looks like a giant bullet. These cameras have a very focused, narrow view that can easily pinpoint distant targets and locations, which means they are great cameras for parking lots and yards. However, since they have such a narrow view angle, ne’er-do-wells can easily avoid them by maneuvering around them.
Dome cameras have vast dome-shaped structures covering most of the camera. These domes often consist of darkened glass to help cut back on glares and hide the cameras. These cameras are the most common in large shopping areas and stores because of their immense view angle and sharp resolution.
Turret cameras are the most common low-cost camera style because of their standard body style and easy construction method. Despite the lower production costs, these cameras are popular for a reason and can come with numerous upgrades to suit your needs. Turret cameras—also called eyeball cameras—are easy to adjust and sometimes motorized for even easier rotation and movement.
Protect Your Business with Sonitrol New England
Now that you know how to distinguish different security camera systems, you can make an informed, intelligent decision to help better your business. However, if you're looking for answers to security concerns, you likely already have those problems. You should consider hiring a company like Sonitrol New England to help protect your business.
Our company offers many services, including fire monitoring and protection, intrusion detection, and installing or maintaining security cameras for business owners. If you are in the market for business security solutions, call Sonitrol New England at (860) 407-5677 to schedule your first consultation and learn more about our security system solutions.