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We all want to protect our assets when we start a business. From offices to parking lots, if you have employees, you must consider some kind of security surveillance system. Cameras also have a psychological effect on people. Just knowing that they are being watched, your employee theft levels will go down and productivity will surely go up.

Very often people consider putting up a security camera system AFTER the unfortunate event had occurred, but a few dollars that you save by not securing your place properly will cost you a lot more in the future.

Running your business “blindfolded” is not the best practice in today’s world full of fakers, scammers, and accident liability claimers… So how do you pick the best security camera system? First, you will need to identify your needs and wants.

1. Coverage areas

The following are some areas that are usually considered the most vulnerable:

Entrances and exits

You will need a good security camera at the entrance door and any places where people may exit. The entrance camera is sometimes called a “doorbell” camera and there are many options available on the market today.

Many of these cameras also come with a two-way talking feature. These cameras are used to filtrate people that you would allow coming in, but you should ALWAYS consider having a good close-up camera facing your front door or any other doors that people may exit.

This is your evidence and face-recognition measure in case of theft.

Cash registers

This is a very vulnerable area that may require several cameras of different types installed. To see a general picture of what is happening with 4-5 cash registers, you may want to consider a PTZ camera that can zoom in on any needed event if necessary.

If your store is rather big, you may want to have a dedicated camera at every register, taping all the transactions and all actions of the cashier constantly. Cash register theft may include, but is not limited to, – no ring sale (where the clerk rings nothing and pockets the item cost), where the cashier charges the lower price for an item (by scanning a completely different item) and pockets the difference, or employee simply cancels the sale if the customer does not ask for a receipt.


Areas, where something is being put up for sale, are also very vulnerable, especially if you have many low-paid employees working mainly by themselves and really tempting products, like alcohol or cigarettes. You will need to watch for shoplifters and employee theft as well.

Dedicated (narrow-angle) cameras for every isle and a few cameras (depending on the size of your store), – for your storage areas should do the basic coverage job. Don’t forget that cameras that face exits will give you a clear picture of the shoplifter’s face, so you can use this footage later to press charges.

Gas stations

Have a clear view of the accidents and theft with a properly installed security camera near your gas pump! Locations for the cameras could be the following: one dome camera above the pumps and direct narrow-angle cameras with a good resolution facing car lanes from both sides to give you a clear picture of the license plate.

Do not place the camera very near the gas pump where it could be easily vandalized by somebody or damaged in case of collision. Surveillance cameras in your convenience shop are also very important and they should cover the isles, exits, cash registers, and storage areas.


It is uncommon, but sometimes people leave without paying for the food that they just ate. If you want to catch them, you will need several general wide-view cameras to cover your whole area and several direct view cameras that face exit doors.

Don’t forget that cameras should also be used in kitchens and any other place where you keep some kind of inventory. For privacy reasons, you should avoid placing cameras in employee break rooms, guest lounges, and bathrooms.

Construction sites

There are several areas of interest that construction site security monitoring can help you with.

  1. Since construction requires a lot of materials and equipment (with some being very costly), your inventory should generally be under good surveillance control, especially if you leave it unattended overnight.
  2. Construction sites are a good lure for random liability scammers that would like to sue your business to make a few dollars. Even though worker injuries are quite common on construction sites, only a good surveillance system will tell the difference between the actual injury and a fake one.
  3. Worker monitoring is also very important since this type of job offers many opportunities to skip work and do nothing.

Parking lots

When choosing a security camera for the parking lot it should have at least a few of the following features: weather resistance, night vision, wide-angle lenses, vandal resistance, and motion detection. Another camera may be considered at the parking lot exit, with narrow view lenses and a high FPS (frames per second) rate to capture license plate numbers.

Don’t forget the all-mighty “you are under surveillance” sign to discourage potential criminals.


Garages security cameras don’t have to be so weather-resistant, but should also come with night vision and motion detection (will save you disc recording space). A vandal-proof camera like Dome, which also gives you a 360° view may be the best option for that area.

Don’t forget that cameras facing exits with a high FPS (frames per second) ratio and resolution will give you the best capture of the license plate number.

Loading docks

As being the main part of warehouse operation, who will take responsibility for damaged goods, employee negligence, or even theft? In order to get a clear picture of what is happening with your shipments, you will need to have dedicated, well-placed cameras, that record everything that is happening on your loading docks.

In the end, it’s up to you to prove to authorities that the product shortage took place and the only way to do it, is by reviewing your recorded camera footage. Cameras are also needed to check on accidents that may take place during the operation of heavy machinery, for example, and as a loss prevention measure.

You will probably want a camera set that includes one with a live view and two-way talking features. The motion detection feature will alert you if truck drivers have arrived and are ready for unloading.


Security dumpster cameras should not be overlooked! There are two main reasons to keep your dumpster secure and under surveillance:

  1. If people start dumping their trash into your dumpster without you knowing about it, you will end up paying for it.
  2. If your company is big enough, it might be a lure for your competitors go through your sensitive data shreds and confidential information. Trash cams should only be activated when activity near them is detected and watched live at that moment to take preventive measures.

2. Business needs

The following are common reasons for surveillance camera installation:

Employee control

Surveillance cameras should be placed around different areas that your staff is visiting frequently. Don’t forget about privacy issues.

It is considered illegal to place your surveillance cameras in the areas where your workers would reasonably expect some privacy (like lounge areas, showers, lockers, bathrooms). How informative you have to get with employees about using CCTV, varies from state to state.

Theft prevention

One of the major concerns of many businesses is theft. Anything could be stolen, even food! In order to protect your valuables properly, you will need to place cameras in the areas where you keep your most important documents and equipment.

Exits and entrances should be secured with a good resolution narrow-angle camera to be able to recognize faces if something is missing or inventory is shrinking on a regular basis. To secure your customer’s personal property, your cameras should be placed in easily targeted areas, where belongings are sometimes left without supervision.

If you will not be able to identify theft, you may end up being liable for the customer’s lost possessions due to the lack of evidence. It is also useful to set up a security center with a live camera feed to be able to identify any misbehavior and take measures accordingly.

Vandalism prevention

Not every area can be easily monitored by security personnel, that’s where surveillance camera comes in handy. Vandalism can be captured on video along with face recognition, and hopefully, some other traces that could be used against the misbehaving person.

Evidence for liability claims

People will always try to sue your business for something. It is unavoidable, but you can reduce your liability claims if the captured video will be good evidence in your favor. Video surveillance cameras could easily expose the “slip and fall” fakers and give you an edge for injury liability claims.

Safety for customers and employees

The surveillance system in any business is very important to ensure the safety of your customers and employees.  Having security cameras around will give your customers a piece o mind and your employees – motivation to do their job properly.


A camera with motion detection will definitely notice if there is a suspicious person hanging around your property with no obvious reason for doing so. When you notice somebody like that, you may want to ask the security staff to figure out what is going on and take preventive measures.

3. Surveillance methods

We are all being recorded all the time and most of us are already used to it. No one is asking us for permission to do so and it is usually done without us knowing anything about it.

You really never know when you will end up on some kind of camera recording footage or somebody’s screen! Video recording itself, does not violate anybody’s rights, as long as it is done properly without invading people’s privacy.

Whether you go with obvious or less obvious camera placements, you still have to notify everybody that they are being watched on camera. Audio recording is only allowed with expressed (and usually written) consent from your employees.


If your camera set up respects people’s reasonable privacy levels, then all you have to do is to advise them that they are being watched and recorded on camera. Usually, no one has any problems with this, since this is also for their own security and safety.

Your overt cameras can gently “blend” into your surroundings, making them less noticeable and more attractive.


This is a hidden security system, that you will hide from your customers and employees. Hidden video surveillance is allowed in the United States if:

  1. It respects people’s reasonable privacy expectations.
  2. People are notified that they are being watched and recorded on camera.

Voice or audio recording

This is a very delicate issue that has many rules and regulations against it. If you are looking for a camera with audio recording ability, please check with your state laws because it may be illegal. Here is a quick guide on audio recording laws (pdf file).

4. Choosing a camera type

There are 3 different main shapes of cameras and 2 main features that these cameras can come with or be completely different cameras on their own (PTZ and Fisheye):

Bullet Camera

This type of camera actually resembles its name. It is great for specific spots in less crowded places (to avoid vandalism). Multiple bullet cameras could be used to cover bigger areas.

You can place this camera facing exits, narrow alleys, and parking lot entrances to catch specific actions, faces, or license plate numbers.

Dome Camera

Again, the name here also resembles its shape. This is a vandal-proof camera, that could be used either indoors or outdoors.

It comes with a fully covered lens (in a form of a dome) and has an IR rating (which measures how much tampering exactly it can handle). ~ see above This great camera also comes with PTZ capability or 360 degrees panoramic view. ~see below

Turret Camera

Similar to the Dome camera, it just doesn’t have the actual glass dome over its lens. This means that this is NOT as vandal-resistant as a Dome camera, but it is also not as easy to break as a Bullet camera.

Either one of those cameras can come with a PTZ feature, which is the capability to pan, tilt and zoom. PTZ could be easily accessed and controlled through a mobile app.

PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) Camera

This is a narrow field-of-view camera that will allow you to monitor larger areas by tilting, panning, and zooming. These cameras could also automatically follow any specific object or activity and be scheduled to show you different views at different times.

They come with a different range of movement, with 360-pan being able to show you a view in a complete circle.

360° panoramic view or a fisheye camera

With these cameras, you will get a full view of the property with the ability to digitally zoom in on anything you want. It can come as either Dome, Turret, PTZ, or as a completely different style of camera.

5. Choosing a camera output

Video surveillance cameras are generally divided by signal output into 3 categories:

Analog over COAX CCTV

This is an older and less expensive camera technology that proved itself for years and years. Usually comes as a “4 in one” system which includes: CVI, TVI, AHD, and ANALOG.

It is known for its easy installation and less problematic operation. If you are looking to update your current system and already have COAX cables installed, this is something you may want to consider.

This system connects to a DVR (digital video recorder) and can broadcast video to your computer, phone, or tablet via modem.


It can work over a coaxial cable, that you may already have installed or may require a SIAMESE COAX CABLING. This new technology enables you to record and transmit 2MP 1080p HD quality video footage to your mobile device or PC.

These cameras will not work with regular digital video recorders, they need a DVR recorder with HD-CVI (High Definition Composite Video Interface) capability.

Network IP

This type of system is more popular, as it is expensive. It works over Ethernet CAT5e or CAT6 cables and delivers a much higher resolution picture. Works with NVR (network video recorder).

6. Other camera variations

Besides the technology used, cameras come in several convenient variations:

Wireless (no wire for network)

The range of these cameras is about 300-500 feet and their footage is usually stored in the cloud. Some of them may still require a hard-wired power source, while others can run off batteries (and are usually called “wire-free”).

They come with many same features as regular cameras (night vision, weather and vandalism proof, etc), but transmit their data wirelessly.

Wire-free (no wires at all)

This is the name for cameras that run off batteries and are wireless as well.

Hidden cameras

Some cameras do come with housing that resembles a smoke detector, for example. Others just look like something else, but definitely not the camera.

It is useful to have some of these around your property. There is no specific law against it if it does not invade anybody’s privacy.

Micro cameras

This is another form of hidden surveillance camera that could be placed (or hidden) practically anywhere because of its tiny size.

Here is an interesting article about micro cameras (link to another page).

7. Camera features and options

Commercial-grade security camera systems generally are of higher quality than regular home security cameras and they come with a wide variety of options such as:

Types of lenses

It is very important to figure out what type of area needs to be covered for your business and what lenses will help you achieve that. The two common options are:

  1. Fixed lens. These lenses come in a certain size and offer digital zoom only. Most cameras come with preset lenses that cannot be changed.
  2. Varifocal (Adjustable) lens. These lenses offer optical and digital zoom as well. They can be either manual or motorized. Manual lenses will have to be manually adjusted by you and motorized – you will be able to adjust via a software program or an app.

Image quality or resolution

The higher the resolution of the camera, be better the quality will be your video footage. This is especially important for face or license plate recognition.

FPS (frames per second) or Frame rate

Since video is really just a long photo session with many photos (also called frames) being shot one after another, the higher the frame rate, the clearer will be the video capture. This is especially important if you are trying to get a good shot of moving objects (and their license plates, for example).

Any rate above 30 fps, will do the trick. Another good use for this feature is when you need to review your recording by slowing it down, where higher fps will give you a better view and understanding of what happened. Certain frame rates are restricted on what kind of resolution you can use.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)

This is a light correction technique, that enhances your image and makes it more clear. Usually used in overlighted and undelighted areas with shadows.

  1. WDR comes in true (optical) and digital variations, measured in dB (dim/bright ratio) with a higher rating being better.
  2. HDR is a software-supported variation that is on the lower end of quality.

Infrared night vision (IR)

Being able to see in the dark is a good option for preventing vandalism, robberies, and misbehavior. Don’t forget to avoid placing the IR camera behind or near the glass, because infrared rays will bounce off it and mess up your image.

IR distance is measured in feet.


This ranking is measured in IP, which stands for Ingress Protection. Your camera has to have at least an IP66 ranking to be able to withstand different weather conditions.


This is highly important if you will be placing your camera where people can see and break it (just for fun or in order to leave you without security surveillance). There is actually a rating that will help you understand how much impact can your future camera system withstand.

This rating is called IK, with 10 IK (20-joule impact) being more vandal-proof than 1 IK (0.15-joule impact). These cameras come with a metal housing and usually are in the form of a dome (the kind that you cannot grab on to and break).

8. Other things you may need

This is not a full list, and maybe you will think of something else yourself, but this is what I would consider to be quite important as well when selecting a security surveillance system:

Recording hardware

This is usually a DVR (digital video recorder) that works with analog cameras over coax cable and an NVR (network video recorder) that works with IP cameras over Ethernet cable (CAT5e or CAT6).

Cloud storage

Commercial security cameras with cloud storage are a very popular option right now since no one can temper, erase or even steal the footage if it’s not stored locally. The only concern would be possible hacker attacks. With cloud storage, there is no need to use NVR (network video recorder) or SD cards.

Software with video analytics

DVRs and NVRs usually come with their own software, but there are some intelligent software systems out there that are designed for the very specific needs of a business. For example, some programs are designed to prevent miscalculations at the cash registers and others will notify you if there are some people around your property that are hanging around a bit too long.

iPhone or Android app

These apps can do so many things! Anything from zooming the camera in, to scaring off potential thieves with a two-way talking feature. Not to mention a LIVE VIEW option which you can use to check on your property at any given moment.

Easy installation

Consider that the easier the installation, the faster the camera will be installed by a professional (assuming that you don’t want to do it yourself), and the less troublesome it will be to change its location if needed.

24/7 tech support

Tech support is usually really good at solving problems. This is very important if you have trouble with your camera and you need it to be solved RIGHT NOW! If they work round the clock, it will give you peace of mind.

Warranty (may be extended warranty)

How do you know if you are getting a reliable camera? Check its warranty! Warranty will clearly indicate how sure the manufacturer is about the quality of their camera.

They will not be willing to pick up the cost of shipping, repairing, and even exchanging, if their product would be breaking all the time.

Power outage backup system

You will need a solid plan on how your business will run in case of a power outage. Having a backup power source is very useful since security cameras can sustain serious damage due to power outages.

Not to mention you don’t want to lose control over your cameras when lights are out and alarms are off.

Backup plan

Anything can happen and it’s not an excuse for having things going out of control! If your cameras are being tampered with or just stopped working, you need a good set of replacement cameras to keep your facility under good surveillance control.

Hope this guide helped you with choosing the best possible camera for your business.

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