Where is the best place to put security cameras? Overview
There are several factors to consider when deciding where you should place security cameras. The level of activity in the area you want to monitor will determine how many cameras should be placed at each location.
If there is a high level of activity, you may need one camera per surveillance point; if there isn’t much motion around them, you can get away with putting in more cameras. Furthermore, the location of the cameras has to be carefully selected so that they are not easily visible.
A) What level of activity is there?
The first thing you need to consider is what kind of activity will be taking place around your camera. You can’t set up a camera at an exit or entrance if the only thing that occurs at that spot is people leaving and entering the store. Although a camera will discourage shoplifters, it won’t stop them from coming in if they know your cameras aren’t recording anything.
B) One camera for each surveillance point?
If you have a high level of activity around your security cameras, you’ll need several of them covering any suspicious behavior. You can watch all these cameras simultaneously on a monitor. But you have to figure out where to place the cameras so that they cover as much of the action as possible. In other words, you’ll need one camera for each containment point.
A containment point is any spot where someone could commit a crime. For example, if there’s only an exit and no entrance in your store, then you’ll only need one camera covering the exit.
However, you will need more than one camera if your store has both an entrance and an exit and/or a high level of activity around the cash registers. If there are several containment points or a lot of people moving in and out of the building, then you may require many cameras to properly monitor all the activity.
Tip: You may also need to place some cameras inside the restaurant if there are not many people or activities around. Sometimes, too many cameras will scare customers away and no one will come to eat. There is always a balance between the number of cameras and what you desire to achieve with your security system.
If you’re setting up security cameras, you’ll probably want them to remain unseen. Openly displaying the presence of a camera usually has no effect on shoplifters and can actually stimulate shoplifting attempts.
If word gets around your store is under video surveillance, it will only encourage more criminals to come in and try their luck. The cameras should remain hidden so that they can’t be seen and so the shoplifters won’t know where to look for them.
When you’re choosing a camera, make sure it is not obvious in any way. If you have a store with very high ceilings, then choose a dome camera because it looks more like a light.
If you have an unobstructed view of the surveillance area, then choose a camera that transmits video in black and white only. Choose a camera that is small enough that it can be discreetly placed in corners or high up on ceilings where criminals won’t think to look for it.
If you’re buying your security cameras from a supplier, ask him to help you with this decision. He might have some ideas on where to hide your cameras and how expensive they can be.
D) What about the location of the cameras?
The placement of the camera has a great effect on its field of view and effectiveness in deterring or capturing shoplifters and vandals. You want to find a position that will give you the best possible coverage of all activities in the store.
Never place a camera on an exterior wall, next to glass doors or windows, or even across from large plate-glass windows. People walking by can see them easily and know where to avoid stepping. You won’t get any footage of people trying to break in or vandalize the outside of your store.
Tip: You’ll need to place your security cameras on an interior wall, up high where they can capture all movement inside and not be seen by passers-by. Also, the camera should have a good view over anything it’s supposed to monitor. For example, if you’re using the security camera to monitor your cash registers, place it in a corner of the ceiling.
E) Do they need to be high-definition?
Digital video surveillance cameras record in high definition compared with analog systems that produce poor quality images. High definition images are necessary for identifying suspects caught on tape because blurry or low-resolution footage will not be identifiable.
So, if you’re going to be reviewing your security footage regularly and running a business that depends on the ability to see every detail on tape, then it’s a good idea to purchase HD cameras.
However, if you don’t have time to continuously review your footage or you feel more comfortable knowing someone is always on the lookout for any suspicious activity, then you can use standard definition cameras.
Tip: If you’re choosing HD security cameras because you want to be able to playback the video multiple times and take screen captures of everything that happens in your store, then make sure your digital surveillance system is compatible with HD TVs. Also, get one or two large TVs so you can playback your footage in a timely manner.
F) Do they need audio?
Armed with the ability to see what is happening in your store, not knowing exactly what’s being said or being played on the radio can reduce the effectiveness of your security cameras. Security cameras are capable of recording audio when you set them up that way.
If your store is in a quiet area, then audio is unnecessary and it’s better not to have the distraction on camera as people figure out what they want or as employees whisper about customers or events as they occur. However, if you’re in a busy shopping center with lots of sounds, conversations, and music playing from different stores, then having audio on your security cameras will really help you understand what is going on.
The downside to recording sound with video cameras, however, is that you’ll also be recording everything else in the surrounding area, including conversations of people not connected to your store or any other events you’d rather not record. Another consideration is that high-definition cameras often don’t capture sound very well while standard security cameras capture audio easily.
All in all, a security camera is great to have no matter where it’s placed. If you’re worried about the placement of your security cameras because you don’t know how well they’ll work or if they can capture everything, talk to an expert or someone experienced with video surveillance systems.
They might have some ideas on where to hide your cameras or where to put them so they’ll never be seen.