Whether your business involves storing stock, handling cash, or using valuable equipment, maintaining a high level of security at your premises is vital. Steps you might need to take in order to achieve this can include installing a state of the art alarm system, fitting high security locks, or reinforcing doors and windows.
Increasingly, however, business owners, site managers and security personnel, alike are reporting that the most important tool at their disposal when protecting businesses from opportunistic thefts, break-ins and vandalism is a high quality, properly installed CCTV system.
There are many reasons behind this, not least that only CCTV technology has the ability to provide an advance warning that a crime could be about to take place at your premises, and record the evidence to ensure a successful prosecution. Criminals themselves are often aware of this, which means CCTV also acts as an effective deterrent, and because monitoring can often be handled by a single operator or off-site, running costs can represent remarkably good value for money.
However, ensuring that this potential to deliver affordable, optimised security at your business premises is fully realised requires careful attention to detail at every stage, from the selecting the right CCTV equipment, to installation, right through to deciding exactly how your system should operate once in use.
With that in mind, we've put together a brief guide detailing the major factors you need to take into consideration when installing CCTV for the first time at a new property, or renewing an existing security system.
Due to Data Protection laws, businesses have a legal obligation to inform the public if a CCTV system is in operation on their premises. The law specifies that signs must be 'clearly visible and readable'. In practice, standard 'CCTV in operation' type signage is perfectly sufficient to fulfil this criteria.
However, taking further steps to increase the visibility of your CCTV system, for example by using extra large or reflective signage or brightly coloured cameras, can be used as a simple, cost-effective means of increasing the degree to which your CCTV system acts as a deterrent. Your premises are particularly vulnerable after dark, so consider integrating security lighting into your CCTV system to enhance this even further. If preferred, cameras can be installed discreetly for a less invasive appearance, for example by using a more neutral colour scheme in keeping with your property.
In recent years, the advent of High Definition digital photography has increased the range of CCTV cameras available dramatically, while also making it far more economically viable for businesses to adopt high definition cameras on their CCTV system. Mainstream cameras are available to Ultra-HD or 4K resolution now capturing superior resolution images that can reliably be used to convict in a court of law.
These HD cameras work over a CAT5 or CAT6 cable but there are a range of cameras available that work over Coax using Ethernet-over-coax technology. These cameras are referred to a HD-TVI or HD-CVI, both of which will provide far superior image quality than an analogue system, and up to twenty times the picture resolution achievable using 4K UHD cameras.
If the cameras are located in vulnerable areas and could be subject to vandalism or damage we would suggest the use of Vandal Resistant cameras to protect your investment and ensure security of your premises.
In particular, ANPR systems - previously accessible only to larger businesses and organisations - can now be used by most businesses to record the number plates of vehicles entering and leaving their premises. This not only helps to optimise security, but can also increase on-site efficiency by improving traffic flow, save on staffing costs, and provide an additional income stream when used in conjunction with a barrier gate and ticketing system. ANPR cameras are now very low cost and available on most mainstream CCTV systems.
Number of Cameras
How many CCTV cameras you install at your business premises will depend on a number of factors, including the nature of your business, the size of the property, the objectives of the cameras/system and the available budget. There is no one-size-fits all approach to designing an effective CCTV system. You should select the location, resolution and number of cameras by the objectives you have set for the CCTV system. We can help you putting this plan together! Also, remember that the cost per unit of adding extra cameras at a later date will be higher, so it pays to install as many cameras as possible in the first instance. In addition to the savings this can lead to in avoiding losses through theft or acts of vandalism. Insurers will often revise premiums or excess downwards if they are informed that an improved CCTV system is in place.
As a basic requirement, business owners and site managers will usually require cameras to be installed to monitor any entrances or exits at their premises. If possible, coverage will extend around the perimeter of the property, with cameras installed at intervals regular enough so that little or no ‘blind spots’ remain. If this is not practical for your business, ensure that any vulnerable areas such as doors and windows are covered.
Internally, businesses are advised to focus their CCTV systems on key zones such as stock storage areas, showrooms, clocking in areas and cash registers. However, if the budget allows, consider installing a CCTV system capable of monitoring all or most of the interior of your premises. This will provide maximum protection from theft both by the public and staff members, and will also enable management to monitor and assess productivity.
Monitoring and Recording
How CCTV footage is monitored is another area of commercial security which has benefited considerably from recent advances in technology. While in the past it would have been necessary to employ staff to monitor several VDUs (visual display units) on-site, today businesses are able to use remote monitoring services which are far more cost-effective and less susceptible to vulnerabilities associated with human error. Additionally, advanced CCTV systems have the capability to enable business owners and managers to 'check in' on their CCTV system using their personal laptop, tablet or smartphone via an online interface.
Similarly, the vastly increased capacity and reduced cost of computerised data storage now available means that the footage recorded by modern CCTV systems can be stored far more efficiently, a single hard drive offering the same storage capacity as whole libraries of the old video tapes many business owners and managers remember all too well. As revolutionary as this may be, however, it is essential to remember that all data should backed up. This can be done on-site using an external hard drive, via a cloud storage service, or preferably using both of these options. Utilising RAID storage systems can reduce the risk of losing your CCTV data if a hard drive fails.
While businesses are not expected to store CCTV footage indefinitely, the police recommend that it is kept for a minimum of 31 days. Remember also that, due to data protection laws, members of the public are entitled to view any CCTV footage of themselves that has been recorded. Should such a request be made, businesses are legally obliged to provide access to the footage within 40 days.
Finally, when planning the installation or replacement of a CCTV system at your business premises it is essential to put measures in place to ensure that it is properly maintained. In addition to arranging for your supplier or maintenance contractor to conduct an annual assessment, make a note of the location of all cameras, signage, and other associated equipment, and schedule regular checks so that any faults which might develop are quickly identified. This will ensure consistent optimal CCTV performance, safeguarding your business premises, and ultimately the business itself.