How to make the most of your commercial CCTV system

Commercial CCTV systems have come a long way. They are no longer bulky, static cameras attached to VCRs in a dusty back office, generating grainy footage of a limited area. They have evolved into truly flexible, agile and cloud-enabled devices that deliver a host of business benefits.

Why not take advantage of these technical enhancements? Here’s how to make the most of modern commercial CCTV:

Think ahead

Don’t wait until someone breaks into your premises. Prepare for that possibility and manage your business risks with a strategically planned installation. When used to the maximum, the benefits of CCTV systems extend beyond simple stock protection and catching burglars in the act. Visible cameras are an excellent deterrent too, making it clear to anyone considering crime that they are being monitored, often in real time and that their chances of arrest and prosecution are high.

Think strategically

Multiple lightweight cameras can be placed around your business premises to ensure full coverage, not just of important, high value areas but also of typically neglected zones like outbuildings, car parks and storage areas. Each camera can be seamlessly linked to your control centre and cloud for immediate access wherever you happen to be.

When planning your installation, consider whether a static or PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) camera would be the best choice for a particular location. On the face of things, PTZ models might seem the best choice, because they are not fixed and can be panned to scan adjacent areas. But they have some disadvantages too: they can only be controlled if they are being actively monitored at the time, and panning to a new area means the original camera zone will no longer be covered. A mix of both camera types, static and PTZ, is the approach recommended by security professionals.

Think quality

It’s key when considering a commercial CCTV system to think about how the images you capture will be used. If you intend to hand footage over to the police as evidence, it must comply to strict regulations to be admissible in court and the footage must be high enough quality that the individual or vehicle is clearly identifiable.

It is also paramount that your CCTV system meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act. This requires that personal data, including photographs and video, is not used to the personal detriment of the individual pictured (i.e. misidentification or wrongful prosecution). You must also:

  • Make sure you don’t invade anyone else’s privacy
  • Put up clear signs to say that CCTV is in operation
  • Only use the footage for its intended purpose
  • Only keep footage for as long as it is needed

Think mobile

It’s no longer necessary to sit down in front of your CCTV control station to view footage. Your smartphone allows you to stay connected 24/7 and modern CCTV makes full use of this ubiquitous technology. All the footage recorded is uploaded to and accessible from the cloud, so you can view it wherever you happen to be.

CCTV monitoring software allows authorised users to receive notifications on their smartphones whenever certain events occur – including movement within a defined area if motion detectors or smart video analytics have been included in the installation.

Many businesses use off-site CCTV monitoring which allows for a dynamic response to any issues on site; including audio challenge and key holding response services, which can dramatically improve the outcome of a situation.

Think innovation

Modern CCTV technology is adaptable and its uses extend beyond video surveillance. Integrated facial recognition systems can be used to automatically regulate entry to sensitive areas or your entire premises.

Facial recognition access control can even function as a time recording system for businesses that prioritise knowing when their employees have ‘clocked on’ and ‘clocked off’.

CCTV can also be used to track movements around a site or building providing valuable POS and occupancy intelligence. The list of applications that professionally designed and installed CCTV systems can be integrated with is almost endless; access control, point of sale software and intrusion detection to name a few.

Think long-term

Commercial CCTV is a long-term investment that goes beyond the initial installation, so look out for modular designs that will allow you to easily adapt and expand in the future. Ask questions about the cost of upgrades and any maintenance plans available: the cost should be relative to the value generated by having a CCTV system in place. Rather than simply comparing initial costs, look at a forecast over the next months and years before making an informed decision.

Why wait? Talk to a CCTV expert and start planning a 21st century security solution for your business today.

Darren Gibbons
Written by Darren Gibbons

Darren is a security systems, life safety and fire protection specialist and Managing Director of Ace Fire & Security.