By: Alex Wasson

When you’re a smaller business competing with a giant chain or big box company, every dollar makes a difference and theft can be the divide between making it or breaking it. So how do you deter theft from dishonest patrons or employees? A video surveillance system is probably one of the first solutions that come to mind.

We’ve seen technology evolve into things we used to only imagine as a plot in a science fiction film. Smart TVs, connected phones, refrigerators, garage doors, even lawnmowers; the list goes on. The Internet of Things (IoT) infiltrates every facet of our life. Today, you can set up cameras in your home to watch what your pet really does during the middle of the day, or swap out your front porch lightbulb for one with a built-in HD camera to keep an eye out for your next delivery.

The home security camera market is predicted to be worth over $8 billion in five years. The technology and the software behind those cameras are pretty robust for the intended residential market, but are they ready to make the move to the business world?

Before you take the DIY route on your business’ security, I would like to encourage you to consider the following:

Where, Why, What

DIY: When assessing your security needs it is essential to think through the entire scope of the plan. The placement of the cameras or sensors cannot be established until you know the capabilities of the products you will use. You can’t figure out the type of product you’ll need until you understand what it is you’re really trying to capture. Is there a particular area on your campus that is high-risk and any movement should be alerted immediately? Are you simply recording the store floor for liability in the event that a customer slips and falls? Consumer IP-cameras are going to be incredibly limited on support, which places these decisions directly in your hands.

Commercial: The benefit of working with a professional security provider is their incredible depth of product knowledge, experience, and genuine expertise of customer expectations and needs. Additionally, when your system is installed by a professional, the dispute in the case of a product warranty is typically their responsibility, not yours.

The Security of Your Security

DIY: In the world of IoT devices, network security cameras carry the highest risk of a potential malicious attack. Their vulnerabilities reside largely in the management of network settings, protocols used, and the location of the servers in they communicate with. Hackers are utilizing these weaknesses to spread malware, perform large-scale attacks, or steal sensitive data and credentials. They are also using the cameras to hack into a surveillance network to view physical environments. With this information, they know what locations aren’t monitored; they are able to observe employee breaks or schedules, which can put employees’ safety and the company’s assets at risk.

Commercial: When you partner with an integrator, software and firmware updates from the manufacturer can be performed immediately. They can monitor the inbound and outbound traffic for drastic spikes or changes and take immediate action when notified. Network settings and applications are configured using industry best practices to mitigate the risk of potential threats.

The Questions of Quality

DIY: IP-Cameras are the newest trend in home security and, as such, manufacturers are happy to accommodate any budget. Starting at around $30, online shoppers can purchase a small HD camera that allows them to view the feed live on a smartphone. That is an adequate solution to home monitoring, but probably not a solution you want in place to secure your business and employees.

There is much more to the selection of a camera than referencing which one has the most reviews. Going back to what we mentioned before, you have to know what you’re looking for and what functions are critical to your system. Cameras placed outside should be weather-proof (not resistant).

How many frames per second (fps) do you need? What resolution is necessary for this application? Do you need a camera with PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) capabilities? What power source will it be feeding off of? Will the video be sent digitally via Wi-Fi or through a wired connection? How long will you store the data for and where will it be stored? Can your network handle the increased bandwidth? How will you know if a device is down and not recording? How do you filter through all that video to locate a certain event? (You probably get the point, but I assure you, these questions will keep coming.)

Commercial: You’re busy trying to run a business. Why not bring in someone who knows the answers to all of your questions? Although the DIY route might seem like a better (okay, it’s cheaper) solution upfront, it’ll end up costing you more to maintain and then ultimately replace after a year.

It’s a lot of information to process and there are even more things for you to consider, but you’re not alone! Feel free to give me a call to further discuss a security solution that meets your business’ needs.