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Which CCTV system for a small business? We answer the FAQs

15 July 2022 11:34
Electronic Security technician maintaining a PTZ CCTV camera

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If you’re exploring small business CCTV systems or plan to upgrade your existing CCTV installations, there’s a lot to consider. We’re here to help you get the right security cameras for your environment and operational needs by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about CCTV for small business. Read our FAQs below to find out more.

Q: Where to start?

The best commercial CCTV installation for your small business is unlikely to be an off-the-shelf purchase. The system needs to be tailored to your specific requirements – so start by deciding why you want a security camera system. For example, do you want to record footage that can be viewed retrospectively? Or are you planning to use a CCTV and alarm system combined and have them monitored and responded to in real time? It’s important to really think about your requirements as this will help determine the type and level of CCTV coverage you need.

Q: Why do SMEs have CCTV Installations?

Our recent survey amongst SMEs* revealed that 92.5% of respondents had CCTV systems installed. The most common reasons for doing so include:

  • Deter crime and antisocial behaviour
  • Detect intruders and fire (monitored CCTV systems)
  • Prevent theft
  • Provide evidence
  • Improve staff safety and customer experience

Q: What's the difference between CCTV systems and surveillance cameras?

Generally, ‘surveillance’ refers to cameras that are monitored in real time by a security team, for example at a shopping centre or event venue.

CCTV bullet camera installed on a building

Q: What are the most common types of CCTV camera?

Forget the black and white, grainy images of the past. Thanks to the continued advancement of both analogue and IP (Internet Protocol) video technology, most CCTV cameras now record in High Definition (HD), providing much clearer images which make identifying people and vehicles much easier. However, there is a variety of cameras available which offer different features:

  • PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) - allow the camera to pan left or right, tilt up and down and zoom in or out. These cameras tend to be monitored and operated live by surveillance or security officers.
  • Hemispheric/dome – offer an uninterrupted 360° field of vision and are ideal for a wide range of environments, both indoors and outdoor.
  • Optical fixed bullet camera – works well in situations where you want long-range video coverage.

Q: What is the best CCTV system for small business protection at night?

Many cameras include thermal/infrared features that are good for night-time surveillance or in locations with no/low light. Infrared cameras can pick up moving figures in darkness, thermal image cameras can see over long distances and thermal radiation (indicating body heat for example) can be picked up through visual barriers.

CCTV camera monitoring a car park

Q: How many security cameras will I need for my business?

This will depend on the requirements of the site and the risks that you want to mitigate against. Each case will be different, but here are some typical SME sites and the areas that might benefit from IP HD CCTV coverage:

  • CCTV for shops – entrance and exit points, tills, all areas that customers have access to. Storage and back office, staff and/or customer car parks
  • CCTV for offices – IP HD cameras at entry and exit points e.g. reception, storage areas, location of expensive equipment, staff car park
  • CCTV for manufacturing sites – entry and exit points, production lines, loading bays, warehousing and storage, plant and machinery, car, and lorry parks

Q: What’s the difference between analogue and IP CCTV?

An analogue camera sends CCTV footage over cable to VCRs (video cassette recorders) or DVRs (Digital Video Recorders), where the footage is stored and can be played back locally. IP cameras are all-digital cameras that can send larger amounts of data over cable to be stored on your network or in the Cloud. Many security camera systems today are hybrid systems incorporating both analogue and digital components.

Q: Are IP cameras the best for small business CCTV systems?

Yes, typically as they offer the most flexibility – for example changing the viewing field by zooming in or out – and overall they provide higher quality video.    

Viewing CCTV images on a mobile device

Q: What is a smart cctv system?

Some CCTV systems can be connected to a secure network via the internet, allowing you to view your cameras from wherever you are in the world. All you need is a smartphone or web-browser, complete with compatible App. As well as streaming images directly to you, some systems can also be programmed to send you notifications, triggered by events such as movement.

Q: Does my business have to use security cameras?

Not necessarily. CCTV camera coverage may however be company policy, part of your duty of care towards members of staff or the public, or a requirement of your insurance provider.  

CCTV dome camera monitoring people enter a room

Q: Can commercial security cameras be used anywhere in or around my premises?

Any CCTV system must be considerate of other people’s legal right to privacy – so for example, you can’t install business security cameras in staff restrooms or changing rooms unless there are exceptional circumstances. If the areas under surveillance are part of a shared space or overlook neighbouring property, some privacy masking might have to be applied to the cameras.

Q: What legal requirements must commercial security systems meet?

Your use of CCTV must comply with your own company policies on privacy and, importantly, UK GDPR laws. This can be a complex area, so we advise you to seek professional guidance from a registered CCTV supplier/installer like ourselves.

Q: Can I install a CCTV system myself?

Yes, if you have the relevant equipment, knowledge, and skill. However, for the installation to comply with your insurance requirements it will need to conform to the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) code of practice for design, installation, and maintenance of CCTV surveillance systems. As NSI Gold approved installers, this is another area where our professional expertise can be invaluable.

Electronic Security technician working on a PTZ CCTV camera

Q: Will my CCTV system need servicing or maintenance?

Yes, to ensure the cameras and feed continue to operate properly the equipment should be inspected annually and serviced by a qualified engineer.

Q: Is a WI-FI camera system suitable for my small business?

There are many Wi-Fi camera systems available but do research them carefully. Remember, Wi-Fi can suffer from buffering and interference that can adversely impact the performance of the camera and quality of the footage. It may not be secure either.

CCTV alarm monitoring for your business

Q: What is the best way to monitor CCTV?

Some businesses refer to CCTV footage only in the aftermath of an incident, when it may help identify what happened and provide evidence in the event of a prosecution. A more effective use of a CCTV system is to have the live feed from the cameras monitored remotely. For example, our security officers can monitor customers’ live CCTV feed at any time from our central-UK Securitas Operations Centre. In the event of an incident, they can issue an audio warning (if the customer’s CCTV system is enabled for this) or despatch a mobile patrol if necessary.

Q: How much does it cost to install and run a small business CCTV system?

The cost depends on your requirements, for example the type and number of cameras to be installed and whether remote monitoring is to be included. Some small businesses worry that they can’t afford to invest in CCTV, but Securitas overcomes that concern by enabling customers to spread the cost over time through a straightforward monthly payment. Our contracts can also include monitoring, response, and maintenance costs.   Increasingly, businesses are getting added value from their CCTV investment by using data analytics (gathered via remote monitoring) to gather intelligence and information about their operation – for example, customer behaviour, peak traffic times and so on.

To sum up…

CCTV is an effective way to protect your small business. But it’s about more than just buying and installing the equipment. The process should start with a professional evaluation of the security risks and challenges your business faces every day, combined with a site survey and discussion about the approach to monitoring and response. Only then can you be sure of getting a tailored solution that delivers the appropriate type and level of CCTV protection, fully compliant with GDPR, local bylaws, insurance, and company policies. Securitas UK’s end-to-end service can help you at every step, from site and security risk assessment, supply and installation, monitoring and response services, and regular maintenance.

Get in touch to find out more

*Research commissioned by Securitas and conducted by GCL – February – May 2022

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