By Kevin Santelli
VP, Commercial and National Accounts Business at Guardian Protection
This article originally appeared in Facilitator: December/January 2023
Why Cameras Continue To Be One Of The Most Exciting Advancements in Security
Security cameras are better and more affordable than ever before. One of the most important security advancements for facilities managers in nearly every industry is the improvement, accessibility, and affordability of cameras. Fine and fast casual restaurants, retail food outlets, manufacturing plants, and multi-location dining establishments continue to experience the remarkable impact of having a second and third set of “eyes” on the job 24 hours a day.
If you already have cameras onsite, you may be able to further leverage what you have at little cost. If you haven’t yet had the benefit of leveraging these hardworking security devices, then it’s worth getting a 101 intro. And safe to say that the next three minutes of your time could turn out to be highly productive. Let’s take a look.
The Four Most Meaningful Improvements to Security Cameras
1. Analytics Have Replaced Anecdotes
When it comes to the “what happened and how?” you can listen to the opinions of on-site staffers, but you can put your trust in analytics. Analytics is the computational analysis of data. For cameras this can refer to learnings you’ll gain from precisely defined, pre-targeted areas of camera scope, and viewing the movement of people or objects. The addition of sophisticated analytics to video has increased the value a camera can bring to a business.
For facilities managers, restaurant operators, and business owners, camera analytics can be a game changer in loss prevention, marketing strategy, and profitability. Today’s analytics-based cameras can tell a supervisor whether, and how long, the scheduled number of workers were present and working on the assembly line. They can report when and how many patrons walked through the door of an eating establishment or clothing store. They can serve up stats on how long those patrons sat at a table having dinner or spent sifting through a display of denim jeans. Analytics can also pinpoint for managers and owners the areas most likely to experience shoplifting and inventory theft.
2. “Lost” is Now “Found” – in the Cloud
Advancements in video storage have expanded the capabilities of everyone who is dedicated to reducing loss. The slip-and-fall your employee waited 60 days to tell you about is still readily available on video, thanks to limitless, cloud-based storage. The team member who you’ve suspected of cash register theft can be more easily caught and convicted using evidence your camera has captured and stored for you in the cloud over an extended period of time.
Say good-bye to on-site DVRs that are susceptible to damage, theft, power outages, and mechanical failure. And bid adieu to the thumb drive once needed to download video. The lift provided by cloud-based storage is more meaningful than ever for busy managers and owners. Simple, easily shared video links straight from the cloud are today’s welcome, new norm.
3. Clip Quality Brings New Clout
If you’re still wondering about the identity of the shadowy figure lurking outside the rear delivery door, it’s time to invest in the HD-quality found on newer cameras. There is a striking difference between the footage that was once collected on camcorders and low resolution surveillance devices. Striking enough to produce an ID – human, vehicle, license plate – that yields a conviction by law enforcement and an end to the chapter named “missing inventory.”
Your list today should include a camera that records at the resolution of two or four megapixels (MP) and heightened night vision capabilities. These can be installed in both indoor and outdoor settings and have become extremely affordable, even for small businesses.
4. Mobile Tools Put Time Off (and a Lot of Other Good Things) Within Reach
Security teams, facility managers, and restaurant owners are a 24/7 crowd. Their concerns about the status of assets and employees are very real and always-on. The emergence of mobile security management tools is cause for celebration thanks to new levels of reassurance and efficiency they bring to management routines, as well as to the potential of the camera systems themselves.
Questions as to whether a location in another part of the country has opened on time, whether a restricted room has received a visit by an unauthorized team member, and whether camera operating status is in good health, are answered quickly and easily by a mobile management tool that is camera-connected. Another critical contribution of these tools is reporting that tells if camera views are unobstructed and if video storage is being properly managed.
A mobile management dashboard puts knowledge and data within reach, anytime and anywhere. A constant travel companion as close as one’s smartphone, the dashboard can reduce the stress of taking personal time off and/or being physically apart from property sites. The benefit of having operational reporting insights and a single platform that bring together cameras, intrusion systems, and access across all property locations can result in a new level of efficiency for the entire team. And perhaps some well-deserved downtime for same.
Advancements in Cameras are Only as Good as the Company Who Stands Behind Them
The Importance of Customer Care and Support
If the newly installed multi-camera system goes down, the bells and whistles don’t count for much. The company who sells the system must have a strong bench to support troubleshooting and emergency onsite repair the moment it’s needed.
A strong bench of support talent is more critical today than ever because of the nature of advancements in camera systems. Many now reside on information networks and are integrated with other security infrastructure. The most reliable providers will, at the least, provide access to an experienced Information Technology (IT) employee if needed.
Taking the time to advance-investigate the camera provider’s team size, locations, and customer support hours of operation is well worth it and can help to avoid costly headaches later. At minimum, it should be expected that a provider operates seven days a week, offers 24-hour emergency repair service, has a technically skilled team who will troubleshoot by phone or virtually, and a team of expert repair technicians available to service any location.