The use of closed circuit video surveillance cameras, or CCTV, is now a common sight in many public places, corporate and large retail venues, and government facilities. It is taking longer for small businesses to join the trend, but the decreasing cost of video surveillance equipment, advances in wireless technology, and the many advantages of having a video security system are rapidly changing that fact.
The reasons for having CCTV systems on public transport and in airports and banks are much the same as the reasons for having one in a small business. Video security cameras offer several kinds of protection. They are more than just a way of combating crime, although that is certainly a major reason for installing one.
In a survey of small business owners done by Harris Poll, 66 percent said video was the most important component of their business security system. Besides deterring crime, CCTV cameras provided small business owners with remote oversight of business activities, reduced losses from theft and fraud, and provide documentation for insurance claims and police reports.
Here are the details on these four ways your small business can benefit from installing CCTV cameras.
CCTVs Help Deter Crime
The effectiveness of CCTV video recording devices in deterring crime was analyzed recently by the independent research group the Campbell Collaboration. When looking at the results of 44 studies on the subject, they found CCTV are most effective for deterring crime in parking lots. Parking lots with CCTV surveillance had an average 51 percent decrease in theft, robbery, and vandalism.
The same study also found an average decrease of 23 percent in crimes committed on public transportation when CCTV cameras were installed on trains, buses, and stations. While the results were less impressive in other public settings, this review of the research did not specifically examine how CCTV cameras do in deterring crime in small businesses.
Until more research is done, the experience and opinions of law enforcement and business owners is the best guide available.
Many law enforcement agencies, as well as business owners, report that CCTV systems help prevent crime in small business locations and say they also provide evidence which aids in police investigations and prosecutions when a crime does occur.
However, police departments caution that these systems are only effective if they are placed conspicuously, so that people know they are being recorded. They also recommend the use of signage at entrances to let people know cameras are present before they enter the location.
Remote Workplace Supervision
Unfortunately, not every employee is honest, and theft of merchandise, illicit discounts to friends, and stealing of office supplies and equipment are all too common in many businesses. Besides deterring crime from the outside, CCTV systems can also be used for reducing employee crimes inside the workplace.
Monitoring employees with CCTV systems must, by law, be done with the knowledge of the employees, and employees have the right to privacy in restrooms and under certain other conditions. When placed properly with employee knowledge, the presence of surveillance cameras can reduce the incidence of many types of theft and misuse of business property.
CCTV cameras also allow you to be present remotely at your business location to supervise and oversee your business operations. This protection can assist you in evaluating employee performance, monitoring safety issues, and enforcing good conduct in the workplace.
A CCTV system can also allow you to monitor how people move around in your business space. In a retail store, this might help you locate merchandise where it sells best. In a warehouse or office space, analyzing traffic and movement patterns can let you see safer and more efficient ways of organizing inventory, equipment, and people within the space.
You have the right and responsibility of overseeing your workplace environment, and CCTV systems give you a more advanced way of doing that.
Increased Worker Productivity
Using CCTV monitoring for improving worker productivity can be tricky, but knowing someone is watching you is often a powerful performance inducer. If not implemented carefully, it can create distrust and resentment in employees and even reduce job performance and retention. However, if used judiciously and with the full understanding and cooperation of employees, the presence of CCTV cameras can have a positive impact on worker productivity, reduction of workplace theft, and the incidence of job site harassment claims.
When introducing CCTV to a workplace for the first time, being open and transparent with workers about the situation is usually the best option. It is not usually legal to use CCTV cameras to monitor employees without their knowledge anyway, so being upfront about all of the purposes of video monitoring is an important first step.
Creating a written employee policy which includes details of where and when CCTV monitors are used is a good way of getting the subject out in the open and ensuring that everyone has the same understanding. It also gives employees more trust in management on the issue of video monitoring. Telling employees how CCTV can protect them in the event of an emergency, work place accident, and for documenting work-flow and safety practices is one way of seeking buy-in and cooperation from your workforce.
It is also important to limit the use of surveillance cameras in areas where employees have a reasonable right to privacy, such as bathrooms and locker rooms. Keeping CCTV cameras out of break areas and lunch rooms can also help employees feel more comfortable about a video security system in the workplace.
Evidence for Insurance Claims and Police Reports
CCTV systems for small businesses can provide important evidence if there is a crime at your business location which then results in an insurance claim for damages. Recordings of non-crime events, like earthquakes, floods, and accidents can also be presented to insurance companies to validate claims of loss and damage.
A camera may even capture important information for a crime happening to someone else nearby, and there are many reports of crimes being solved with the help of business and public security camera footage. Law enforcement officers often rely on the network of private security cameras in an area to track the movements of criminals and their activities.
A security camera at a cash register protects the employee against unwarranted claims of theft while also protecting the employer against employee stealing. A camera can also help resolve disputes with customers about what size bill they used to pay for a purchase and how much change they should get in return.
Getting a CCTV System for Your Small Business
Depending on your skills and the size of your business, installing a CCTV system on your own can be a challenge. There are a wide range of devices and technologies available, including hardware which does not require computer skills and some that does.
Before talking to a CCTV installation specialist, here are some questions to answer about your location and needs:
- Do you need low-light or night time video capabilities?
- What are the temperature ranges where cameras will be located?
- Is 24/7 recording necessary or is a motion sensitive system better for your location?
- How long do you want to store video recordings before they are recorded over?
- Do you want remote access?
- Do you want real-time video access?
Looking to install a security gate for your New York based business? Get in touch with New York Gates at 718-614-0616.