Over the past few months, we’ve designed and installed camera surveillance systems for several of our clients. In that time, I’ve had several discussions on the topic and the questions I’ve heard have led me to put together this blog post. Remember that a good camera system should accomplish two general tasks: protect company assets and provide peace of mind to management. There are several ways the system actually does this, and they are enumerated below. Hopefully this information will help you make informed decisions regarding a camera system for your business, either now or in the future.

Check on Your Business, Anytime, Anywhere

I have a client who has motion detection trip beams covering his yard. If the beams are tripped between certain hours their security company will receive an alert and start calling cell phones and sheriff stations. The beam is so sensitive, however, that often someone will end up driving 30 minutes in the middle of the night only to find a stray cat in the yard. With their new surveillance system, the 30 minute drive is replaced by a 30 second glance at their cell phone.

A surveillance system is also able to send customized alerts based on time frames, letting you know if there is movement in your office at 4:00 in the morning. That, coupled with built-in microphones and infrared lighting, allows you to see and hear what is happening. Anytime. Day or night. Light or dark.

Keep People Safe

Many employees feel that, if they’re being monitored, it’s because managers mistrust them. While that may be true in some cases, the best managers I know have an entirely different motive: protecting their employees from harassment, suspicion, and injury. Cameras can cover reception areas where customers may intimidate or harass employees. Cameras can cover cash registers, thereby absolving employees of blame or of malicious intent. Unsafe or inefficient workplace practices can be discovered, verified, and addressed. Employee harassment can be substantiated and dealt with. The possibilities are endless.

Keep People Honest

Unfortunately, not everyone has standards that measure up to our own. For example, a friend at a food processing facility in northern California noticed a trend amongst his seasonal workers. Reported injuries related to slipping and tripping would spike dramatically in the last two weeks of the seasonal contract. This trend repeated year after year. As nothing changed in the workplace during those weeks, he was left to assume that many of these injuries were simply an attempt to get access to worker’s compensation funds after their contract term ended. Unfortunately, assumptions were all he had—until he installed a surveillance system. Once the employees knew they were being monitored, both the spurious claims and his worker’s compensation premiums dropped significantly, and he was able to verify and address any actual claims that came across his desk.

Reduce Insurance Costs

In addition to worker’s compensation savings, having a camera system can save you money on business insurance. Many insurance providers today offer discounted insurance rates when you buy surveillance cameras for your store or office.

Protect Company Assets

Finally, there are times when a surveillance system, not surprisingly, becomes a security system. A few years ago, a firearms dealer had gang members break into their retail establishment late at night. The intruders were armed and high on drugs. The police, who arrived before the perpetrators had a chance to flee, wanted to enter the building in a rather dramatic way–one that would have certainly raised insurance premiums. However, because of the client’s newly installed surveillance system, they were able to collaborate with police and communicate where the perpetrators were located at all times. This allowed the police to infiltrate the building without undue damage, administer tear gas precisely, and round up the felons without any police injuries. It may very well have saved some lives that night.

Far less exciting examples of protecting company assets include catching shoplifters and vandals, minimizing shrinkage, or simply minimizing inappropriate leisure time for employees. All these can be addressed quite simply with the right camera system.

Surveillance is a Swiss Army Knife

These examples, whether dramatic, mundane, or cat-related, all emphasize the point that a surveillance system is a tool with multiple uses—many of which aren’t immediately apparent. Whether stopping armed intruders or identifying vandals, whether monitoring customer traffic or spotting inefficient workflow, proper surveillance can be invaluable for a business owner as they manage their business better and better each day.