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Michael LeBlanc: Tips for effective video surveillance

Do you know what’s going on at your organization when you are away? Is it clear how your valuable assets are being managed or if your employees are being productive? Might you have visitors to your property after hours causing mischief?

As reported in US News & World Report, the University of North Carolina studied the motivations of incarcerated burglars. The survey, titled “Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offenders Perspective,” was conducted by Joseph B. Kuhns of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.

According to the study, most of the burglars were dissuaded by the presence of deterrents such as outdoor cameras, alarms and other surveillance equipment when choosing a potential home or business target.

Video surveillance systems have been around for decades. Companies, schools, nonprofits and government agencies have used cameras and recording servers to keep tabs on property and assets with great success. Today’s systems are significantly easier to use and installation is faster and cheaper than the old days. Here are some of the benefits from a properly installed video surveillance system:

• Reduce theft, both internal and external.

• Minimize the likelihood of vandalism.

• Improve employee productivity and reduce waste.

• Minimize frivolous lawsuits.

• Enforce user permissions, allowing access only to certain cameras.

• Only record when there is motion detected, saving hard drive space.

• Deter undesirable behavior on your property.

I asked our staff to tell me some success stories our customers shared with us after we installed these systems. Here are a few of the incredible anecdotes they told me:

• A shipping company had someone climb over a security gate and start a fire in an empty stairwell, but all was caught on camera.

• A plastics company discovered that an employee was pulling up to a side door where they had a time-clock, clocking in for the day and then driving away, only to return at quitting time to clock out.

• A car rental agency had fraud committed by someone pretending to be an old woman. “We were able to capture the woman’s identity and the license plate of her friend’s car to nab the perpetrator.”

• One employee working in a secure area was stuffing valuables in his socks and underwear. This was quite a discovery, I’m sure you can imagine.

Today’s systems use network wires to hook up the cameras. These high resolution cameras (most with infrared night vision) get both their power and server connection from a simple Cat 6 computer network wire. The advantage to this is how easy and inexpensive it is to add cameras, versus bringing in electricians, as used to be required.

Here are a few things to remember when considering a video surveillance system for your organization.

• Be sure your camera system has a mobile app for you to view any/all cameras, and be notified of unexpected activity.

• Ensure you choose different resolutions (in megapixels), viewing angles and weather resistance (for outdoors) that you require for each unique place at your building.

• Buy the biggest set of hard drives (for long-term storage) you can afford and is offered, allowing you to go back weeks and even months to find an event.

• Ensure that outdoor camera wires are piped in metal conduit so that your wires don’t get cut.

• Consider adding your home or vacation house to your business system. Most systems will allow this, as long as the proper firewall settings are configured.

• Ask for a feature we call “Smart Search” to allow you to pick a small area of the video image to search for activity. This could save hours of searching to find just the right event. One example is to see who parks in a certain parking spot or who entered a certain door in your facility.

In case you are wondering about “cloud” video surveillance to avoid buying the on-site Network Video Recorder, so far we would recommend against it, as prices for online storage are still much higher than having your own on-site server. However, be sure your server is in a safe place, unlikely to be compromised by an intruder.

We hope you get to enjoy improved security and peace of mind by installing a reliable and easy to use video surveillance system. Let us know if you need any help or have questions. We love to give free advice and share our technology passions with new friends.

Michael LeBlanc is president and CEO of CCi Voice in Redding, Connecticut. For information, visit CCiVoice.com.

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