Video surveillance systems for businesses guide and checklist

Using video cameras to enhance building security is nothing new. Most people are familiar with CCTV, or closed-circuit television systems, and many commercial security system professionals have experience with on-site video surveillance technology. However, the security industry is evolving, and there are now more options than ever for business security camera systems. While commercial video surveillance can help improve security, there are some important considerations that will maximize the visibility and functionality of the system over time. This guide will cover the different types of commercial video security systems, and the best practices for using them to secure your space.

The best security cameras for businesses

There are many options on the market for business video surveillance cameras, depending on the type of space and level of security needed. When selecting video security camera systems for business installations, these are the key differentiators to know about:  

  • Wired vs. wireless security cameras. While wireless video security camera systems for business applications do offer greater flexibility, it’s often at the expense of image quality or functionality. A wired video surveillance system will require professional installation, but is recommended for businesses that need multiple cameras and enhanced security capabilities.

  • IP cameras vs. analog video security cameras. IP or network video security cameras transmit images over the Internet, and many don’t require a power source or cable. Analog cameras are often less expensive per unit, but may require costly wiring and offer limited functionality when it comes to analytics and recording. We recommend IP cameras for commercial video surveillance systems. 

  • Motion-triggered vs. continuous video recording. A motion-triggered office video security system will only record footage if it detects movement within the frame. A video surveillance system with continuous recording will record everything 24/7. Depending on your space, compliance requirements, and security needs, you may only need one type, or a combination of both. 

  • Night vision cameras. Lighting is important for security. Especially for after-hours and outdoor monitoring, business video surveillance systems may benefit from cameras equipped with HD and full-color night vision capabilities. The best commercial video surveillance systems can capture crisp, clear images even in the dark. 

  • Cameras with pan/tilt/zoom lenses. Depending on where your video surveillance cameras are installed, you may want the ability to zoom in, tilt, or rotate the view for added versatility. These types of security cameras are typically more expensive than a simpler dome camera or bullet camera, which can only show one view.

Commercial video management systems 

What is a video management system (VMS), and why do you need one? A VMS is the software component of a commercial video surveillance system that allows you to control the cameras and monitor the system. Most providers of business security camera systems also offer management software for their customers. If you have a specific VMS in mind, or want greater flexibility, make sure the camera hardware you install is compatible with the recorder and management software. When it comes to choosing a video management system provider, these are the features security professionals recommend to get the most functionality from your surveillance system: 

  • Cloud-hosted storage. While many businesses use an on-premise video surveillance system, locally hosted storage can be limiting. Because storage capacity is one of the biggest factors impacting a business video surveillance system, most security experts agree that cloud-hosted storage is a safer bet. With an on-premise system, you’ll need to ensure your local servers have enough capacity to store vast amounts of recorded video data, without overwriting archived footage you might need. In the cloud, you get limitless retention that can scale with your needs. Plus, cloud-based storage is more secure than storing footage locally, as there’s less likelihood of a physical breach. 

  • Integration capabilities. One of the best ways to improve physical security is to integrate your commercial video surveillance system with other building systems. Choosing a VMS and business security camera provider with an open platform makes it easy to connect access control systems, alarms, safety platforms, and other software tools for a more holistic approach to security. Some VMS providers claim to be “open” platforms, but have limited integration capabilities with only a select few technology partners. Always ask about the specific technology you want to integrate before committing to a system.

  • Hybrid video recorders (HVR). As the name suggests, HVR systems support both IP and analog cameras, so they are more versatile for business video surveillance. For businesses that have existing security cameras and are adding newer models to the system, or for businesses that anticipate scaling up, an HVR ensures you don’t need to rip-and-replace every camera, and can still have all your footage in one place.

The power of pairing access control and video surveillance

Two of the most common physical security components in any commercial space are access control and video surveillance, so it makes sense that these systems should be interoperable. With open API architecture, integrating VMS and access control systems is effortless, and creates a powerful tool for improving safety and security both for single office spaces and entire enterprises.

While access control is the first line of defense when it comes to preventing unauthorized entry, most access control systems lack the visibility to confirm people’s identities beyond the credential they use. When it comes time for an audit or investigation, for example, it can be hard to verify if the person who entered the IT room at the time in question was actually Steve from IT, or if it was somebody else using Steve’s credentials. If you have a video surveillance system, you could log in to the separate VMS, do a separate search for the incident, and verify the identity. However, you could save precious time and hassle with an integrated security platform.

Integrating office video security systems like Cisco Meraki and access control from Openpath prevents teams from having to go back and forth between platforms to audit/collect information, with everything configured in a single interface. Using two cloud-based systems, the integration makes it easy to configure custom alerts for access events, with video thumbnails of the event embedded right in the notification for faster verification. Open and integrated platforms are a smart way to take advantage of automations across IoT-connected devices, streamlining security operations.

There are many security providers that offer a combined video security and access control solution. While the benefit of this is that you have one provider for both systems, the downside is that you’re likely going to be limited in functionality, flexibility, and security. As an all-in-one solution, the Verkada video surveillance system has security vulnerabilities that has made the cameras a target for hackers, and resulted in an international data breach affecting 150,000 Verkada cameras. Often, all-in-one solutions won’t support third-party integrations, and usually offer a limited range of features compared with a company that is only focused on only providing the best of one specific technology. Therefore, if you want best-of-breed solutions, open and cloud-based platforms with limitless integrations are the way to go for your business video surveillance.

Use cases for video access control 

The enhanced visibility you get by pairing access control and office video security systems goes well beyond just seeing who’s at the door. The benefits of how commercial video surveillance and access control systems can protect your business also extend to safety, cybersecurity, and return on investment.

  • Improves asset protection. Commercial video surveillance systems allow you to view footage of real-time access activity, allowing teams to track and monitor 24/7 for enhanced physical security. Paired with a mobile, cloud-enabled access control system, businesses can triage security issues with faster and more accurate response, including the ability to remote unlock and lock entries, instantly revoking user access, adjusting permissions, or activating a system lockdown in the event of an emergency.

  • Enables occupancy tracking. With native occupancy tracking features and the ability to set capacity thresholds, an integrated access control and building surveillance system helps businesses identify hotspots for overcrowding and enforce social distancing in the workplace. Over time, occupancy tracking can also inform better decision-making for space management and amenity needs.

  • Streamlines compliance auditing. With integrated video surveillance and access control, businesses can compile detailed audit logs quickly and efficiently without having to switch between platforms. Exporting custom reports with visual snapshots of activity throughout the space takes only a few short minutes, expediting requests and investigation proceedings. 

  • Enhances business intelligence. Creating smarter spaces is a huge benefit of an integrated commercial video surveillance system. By ingesting data from all security and building systems into business intelligence tools, you can empower decision-making with granular and behavioral learnings. These AI-powered analytics improve space usage, streamline operations, and reduce overhead costs. 

  • Fortifies cybersecurity. Even though access control and commercial video surveillance systems are both used for physical security, they can actually improve cybersecurity as well. With compliant hardware and IT-approved software like those offered by Openpath, your data is protected with end-to-end encryption at every level. Plus, cloud-based management merges physical and logical security with less investment for smarter, more agile buildings and businesses.

How Openpath ensures system security

Learn about the security measures and processes we’ve put in place to safeguard our system and protect our customers.

Best practices checklist for commercial video surveillance systems

An office video security system is only beneficial if installed, configured, and used correctly. Even the most robust video surveillance system for businesses can fall short if best practices aren’t followed properly. Use this checklist to audit your commercial video security system and ensure you’re getting the most out of this essential safety tool.

Complete a site audit and determine how many cameras you need in your space.

Often, you’ll be able to mix-and-match camera types, lenses, and features to provide the necessary visibility both inside and outside the building.

  • How many exterior entries does the building have?

  • Which internal spaces need video surveillance, and what kinds of cameras give you the visibility you need?

  • Are there parking lots, garages, or other spaces that should have visibility?

Confirm your auditing and compliance requirements.
  • What are the local and industry minimums for video retention?

  • Does your current storage solution have enough capacity for the required video data?

  • Does your VMS allow for easy search, filter, and video export?

  • Do your data protection policies extend to video footage? Ensure your systems meet encryption requirements, and that video surveillance hardware and data is protected with controlled access, MFA, and SSO policies.

Oversee proper installation for the commercial video security system.
  • Hire a security professional to install the cameras in your space.

  • Use a project management tool to track installation progress and QA each component before signing off.

  • Work with an integrator that’s certified and experienced with all your security systems.

Ensure the video surveillance system’s recording and playback quality meet your standards.
  • Can you clearly see individuals on camera? You may need to upgrade to security cameras with higher-definition video or facial recognition.

  • Is the playback lagging or glitchy? Make sure all wiring is configured correctly, and that Internet speeds can support your video system.

Determine how you will monitor the video surveillance system, and what the budget is for operating the security system.
  • For 24/7 monitoring, some commercial video surveillance providers offer a subscription for professional off-site monitoring, or your own internal staff can monitor the footage.

  • For a more cost-efficient option, choose a VMS system with real-time alerts to keep the team informed without the overhead expense.

Configure your system for remote access to real-time footage. If the current VMS does not support this functionality, it may be time for an upgrade to a cloud-based video management platform.
  • Ensure all authorized personnel are able to easily access real-time video from their devices at any time, without having to be on-site.

  • Configure single sign-on for integrated systems to streamline your operations.

  • Set up custom alerts and notifications for security events so the right people are notified of possible issues as they are happening.

Consider the types of integrations and automations you want.
  • Check with your VMS provider to make sure their hardware and software can easily integrate with your other physical security system components.

  • Select tools that run on open platforms to keep your options flexible. Providers with single sign-on support and native integrations offer the most seamless experience.

  • Utilize features like Openpath’s Advanced Rules Engine to automate processes across your business.

Creating agile video access control systems with Openpath

Built on a completely open, cloud-based platform, Openpath access control gives you the flexibility to seamlessly connect with the most popular VMS solutions on the market. The remote, mobile-based access control platform gives businesses unprecedented control and visibility to manage their space, and strengthens physical and cybersecurity posturing when paired with commercial video surveillance. Our growing list of video surveillance technology partners includes some of the most advanced systems available, including:

  • Cisco Meraki

  • Milestone

  • Rhombus Systems

  • Camio

  • AVA

By integrating your VMS system with Openpath, you can take advantage of customizable notifications and alerts for access activity and visual verification in real time. Our technology partners have capabilities and features designed to protect against tailgating, track and manage occupancy with powerful AI analytics, and identify users with facial recognition. Openpath’s detailed logs improve compliance and accountability, with easy search and filter in the remotely accessible dashboard. Plus, Openpath’s open architecture enables full-system automation by integrating with all your software tools and apps across IoT-connected devices and sites. Talk to our sales team today to learn more and receive a demo of our video access control solutions.

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