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Find the Right Video Surveillance System for Your Business

Here’s a checklist of what to consider—hardware and software—for any IP-based solution.

I’ve talked before about the benefits of video surveillance, including enhanced physical security, protecting valuable assets, and improving productivity. As a small business, though, a video surveillance solution may not be on your short list. You may think your money is better spent on those things that will help grow your business and increase revenue.

The truth is, video surveillance can provide your company with a strategic advantage by delivering data on customer preferences and responses, for example. As well, IP-based video surveillance is a cost-effective solution, because you can integrate it into your existing network.

Recognizing the value of video surveillance for your small business is just the first (albeit very important) step. Finding the solution that best fits your company is a longer path, involving hardware, software, and other considerations.

Lights, cameras, action!

There are a host of camera models to choose from—all offering a variety of options. To ensure you select the right cameras for your company, you’ll need to evaluate the physical requirements of your video surveillance needs, such as:

  • Indoor/outdoor: Determine where you plan to locate the cameras—inside or outside a building. If you need cameras to monitor a parking lot or a grimy environment like an auto repair shop, you’ll want cameras with dust- and moisture-proof housings.
  • Field of view: Consider whether you need a camera that’s fixed on one particular location, such as a bank teller station, or that has the ability to scan a wider area like a manufacturing floor. A camera with a wide angle lens will cover more area. Or, you can get a camera with an adjustable lens, such as the Cisco VC220 or Cisco VC240, to accommodate your choice of a field of view at installation. Also consider whether you need a camera with pan/tilt/zoom (PZT) capability. This allows you to remotely adjust the camera’s field of view or have it pan in response to a particular trigger, for example a specific door if an alarm is tripped.
  • Image quality: Will you be monitoring areas with a lot of detail or harsh lighting conditions, for example reading text on boxes as they enter a warehouse or sunlight coming in through windows creating bright areas and shadows? If so, you’ll need a camera with a higher resolution or Wide-Dynamic Range (WDR).  If you’re just watching for customers entering your front door, a lower resolution camera may suffice.
  • Recording frequency: If you need to observe an area with fast-moving objects, such as a parking lot, choose a camera with higher recording frequencies (frame rate).
  • Time of day: Will you be monitoring areas with low- or no-light conditions? If so, you’ll want a camera with infrared LEDs to accommodate surveillance for both day and night.

  • Two-way audio: This is a useful feature for environments in which a user needs to communicate with others in the camera’s field of view, such as a gas station or a shipping dock entry.

Better software provides better data, faster responses

Cameras are only half of a video security solution—surveillance and management software is the other key component. The software not only helps ease camera installation and configuration, but also can include features that allow you to respond faster to security incidents, including:

  • Event-triggered recording, such as motion detected by the camera or the software, for areas that only need to have activity recorded occasionally
  • Email and SMS notification to your phone or mobile device when suspicious events are detected Remote browser access to view live footage at night or when away from the office
  • Ability to quickly search video archives to find footage

Some video surveillance solutions offer more advanced features, such as business analytics, with optional software. For example, Cisco Video Monitoring System can track customer reactions to promotional signage and has the ability to link with point-of-sale (POS) systems.

In addition to the camera hardware and management software, there are some other factors to consider when selecting the right video surveillance solution for your business. For example, if you’re installing cameras in hard-to-reach locations that aren’t currently wired into your network, you’ll want a solution that can deliver video over a wireless network. You can also save on the cost of additional cabling and electricity with cameras that support Power over Ethernet (PoE) and use existing data lines to power the devices. And if you have other security systems installed, consider a video surveillance solution that can integrate with alarms and door sensors.

Finally, look for a solution that can grow with your business. Choosing an IP-network solution that can support multiple cameras and can expand with your video surveillance needs provides investment protection for the long term.

See how Skye Dental’s video surveillance solution meets the needs of this small two-person practice.

Does your small business use a video surveillance system? What features were important to you?

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